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Josh Frydenberg puts 'strong moral case' for coal exports to prevent deaths

Energy minister says Australia’s coal exports to India can stop millions dying from burning toxic fuels, citing WHO figures that include deaths from coal stoves

There is a “strong moral case” for Australia to export coal to countries such as India in order to help prevent millions of deaths, Josh Frydenberg, the federal resources and energy minister, has claimed.

Related: Tony Abbott wrong on coal being ‘good for humanity’, Oxfam report finds

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Source: Guardian Environment

Thousands of rhinos, 500 poachers; grim toll in the hunt for prized horns

Hundreds of illegal hunters of the rhinoceros in South Africa’s Kruger national park have been shot dead by rangers in the past five years, but the temptation of a rich reward to end an impoverished life in Mozambique keeps them coming

The well-heeled tourists filing through the modest airport at Hoedspruit – Afrikaans for Hat Creek – look carefree and expectant. Guides are standing by to transport them to luxurious bush lodges offering spa treatments, campfire dinners and dawn and dusk game drives offering a potential glimpse of Africa’s “big five”.

But something is different from the safaris enjoyed by the privileged generations of the past. At the 36,000-acre Moditlo private game reserve near Kruger national park, for example, the rhinos do not have horns – they have been removed for their own safety. And during night safaris on dirt tracks under the majesty of a star-studded sky visitors are warned not to use torches, lest they be confused with poachers. When guests – usually affluent and white – gaze from air-conditioned bedrooms into the perfect darkness of the bush, few are likely to consider the murderous chase taking place there between poacher, ranger and rhino. For the poachers – usually poor and black – the risks are immense, but so are the rewards.

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Source: Guardian Environment

Prospect of TTIP already undermining EU food standards, say campaigners

Opponents of Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership say EU negotiator has admitted to approving entry of banned goods

EU negotiators will resume controversial trade talks with the US on Monday amid claims that multinational companies have jumped the gun in advance of any agreement to import goods that are currently banned – including genetically modified crops and chemically washed beef – into European markets.

A campaign group says that a report in a US journal concerning the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) talks show that Europe is already capitulating to huge pressure from the US to allow imports of previously banned goods before an agreement is reached.

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Source: Guardian Environment

Arctic powers gather for Alaska talks as pace of global warming threatens ice cap

US to host summit of polar nations as fears grow that the Earth’s frozen wastes are losing their ability to deflect harmful rays

Scientists in Alaska will raise the vexed issue of methane and “black carbon” pollution as they discuss tipping-point dangers posed by global warming in the Arctic.

A crucial meeting of the Arctic Council, in Anchorage, comes amid evidence that the polar region is warming faster than any other place on Earth and that sea ice coverage there has shrunk by nearly a third since 1979. Researchers now fear that new threats to climate stability are about to be unleashed in the Arctic. Warming in high latitudes is causing permafrost in Siberia and northern Canada to thaw and release plumes of methane stored there, they say. Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas and these releases threaten to trigger secondary rises in global temperatures.

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Source: Guardian Environment

Fall colors in North America: Send us your best photos of autumn foliage

Wait for the light to be right and then snap stunning scenes of fall colors. Share your best photographs via GuardianWitness – we’ll feature our favorites

Beautiful fall leaves have started to paint hills and valleys across the United States and Canada. Whether you’re enjoying the warm autumn hues in the park, the forest or your own backyard, we’d love to see the colors of the season wherever you are. Share your best photo with us.

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Source: Guardian Environment

Sierra Leone's stinking seaweed linked to Caribbean invasion

Proliferation of thick brown algae is affecting fishing, tourism and marine life on both sides of the Atlantic, say scientists

The pristine white beaches may not be as famous as those of the Caribbean, but their unspoilt beauty makes them a haven for locals and tourists alike.

But now the shimmering coastline of Sierra Leone is being destroyed by a mysterious brown seaweed which scientists link to a similar invasion affecting beaches thousands of miles away on the other side of the Atlantic.

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Source: Guardian Environment

American coast braced for El Niño return

Oceanic warming event could wreak havoc in western Pacific but provide respite from US fires

Back in March, following months of speculation, the US Climate Prediction Service declared the official start of El Niño. The first such event since 2009 and currently building across the Pacific, El Niño refers to a period of oceanic temperature changes coupled with atmospheric effects that can be a blessing or a curse for those on the receiving end.

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Source: Guardian Environment

Scientist under attack after he kills bird that took decades to find

Case of the moustached kingfisher pits those who think ‘collecting’ can save a species against those who believe we should never kill rare animals

For Christopher Filardi of the American Museum of Natural History, there is nothing like the thrill of finding a mysterious species. Such animals live at the intersection of myth and biology – tantalising researchers with the prospect that they may be real, but eluding trustworthy documentation and closer study. Indeed, last month, Filardi waxed poetic on the hunt for the invisible beasts that none the less walk among us.

“We search for them in earnest but they are seemingly beyond detection except by proxy and story,” he wrote. “They are ghosts, until they reveal themselves in a thrilling moment of clarity and then they are gone again. Maybe for another day, maybe a year, maybe a century.”

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Source: Guardian Environment

Thinking ethical pays off as good guys come out on top

You can’t be entirely sure where your cash will go, but funds that have steered clear of controversial sectors such as gas and oil are prospering

They have been ridiculed by some and overlooked by others, but ethical investment funds – and the people who have put money into them – are having the last laugh.

The funds appear to have benefited from their low or non-existent exposure to sectors such as mining and oil, where share prices have collapsed in recent months.

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Source: Guardian Environment

Feast for four-legged vacuum cleaners

New Forest The older pigs are intent on the job but the younger ones are behaving more like a bunch of playful children, bumping and chasing each other all over the place

Four-legged vacuum cleaners are out. It’s been an excellent fruiting year. Hollies are heavily berried. Hawthorn hedges have a magenta sheen where the ripened fruits are increasingly hidden in colouring foliage. The strippings of cobnuts lie under many hazel bushes. Wild apples have produced an abundant crop, their fallers a magnet for foraging cows. The woodland floor is already white-speckled with the star-shaped shucks of the prickly cases of sweet chestnuts, occupied now by only the two outer nuts in the case, poor apologies for a fruit, their juicy swollen companions already stored away to be winter-life sustaining for squirrel – and jay.

Three ponies block the lane but on this grey day they are not in summer mood, motionless apart from a constant flick of the tail, enjoying the slightest breeze that keeps the flies at bay. Head down, side by side, rumps towards me, they are oblivious that they are blocking my way as they gorge on the acorns the wind has scattered across the tarmac. As I wait to get past them, more acorns bounce off the roof of the car. I sense that once the ponies have cleared the road in front, they will turn to feast on those already dropping behind.

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Source: Guardian Environment