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Whales to gain 'long-sought protections' as navy limits sonar use, activists say

Court orders settlement after Earthjustice, Greenpeace and other organizations take legal action amid concern over the impact of military training activities

A federal court has ordered a settlement in two cases that challenged the United States navy’s training and testing activities off the coasts of Hawaii and Southern California.

Environmental legal aid organization Earthjustice tells the Guardian that the settlement will secure “long-sought protections for whales, dolphins, and other marine mammals by limiting navy activities in vital habitats”.

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Source: Guardian Environment

The Arctic loses its grip

Any day now Arctic sea-ice is going to hit its lowest extent for the year, and once again it’s set to be one of the lowest years on record (the four lowest years have all occurred since 2007). Already a number of ships have glided safely through the fabled northwest passage, unencumbered by sea-ice.

Typically the Arctic sea-ice minimum occurs in mid to late September and the signs so far suggest a lean year. Back in August the sea-ice covered 5.61m square kilometres – the fourth lowest August average in the satellite record. And by the end of August the area of sea-ice was already in sixth lowest position.

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Source: Guardian Environment

California drought: Sierra Nevada snowpack falls to 500-year low

Last winter’s snow accumulation in the mountains that provide state’s most important natural water system was just 5% of what is normal, study finds

The Sierra Nevada snowpack that is a critical water source for California fell to a 500-year low last winter – far worse than scientists had estimated and underlining the severity of the current drought, according to new research.

The snow accumulation in the mountains was just 5% of what is normal, inflating the risk of wildfires, drying up wells and orchards, and pushing communities into water rationing.

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Source: Guardian Environment

Two untamed wildfires displace 23,000 people in northern California

Valley fire incinerates 95 square miles in just two days, while 10,000 people flee a second blaze, the Butte fire about 200 miles away in the Sierra Nevada

Related: By the numbers: a look at the California wildfires so far

Two explosive wildfires have displaced 23,000 people in northern California and threaten to wreak more devastation in rural communities, which have lost hundreds of homes.

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Source: Guardian Environment

Nine out of 10 new diesel cars in breach of EU pollution rules, report finds

Road test reveals cars emit seven times the legal limit of exhaust emissions under the new Euro 6 standards

Nine out of 10 new diesel cars break new EU pollution limits when tested on roads rather than test tracks, according to a new report.

On average, the cars emit seven times the permitted level of NOx gasses, with the worst car producing 22 times the legal limit. Models from every major motor manufacturer breached the limit when they were evaluated in real-world conditions.

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Source: Guardian Environment

African nations work together to rid supply chains of conflict materials

A new certification framework developed by a group of African nations now makes it easier for companies to weed out conflict minerals from their supply chain

A group of African nations have developed a framework that will make it easier for companies to keep conflict minerals out of their supply chains.

The new certification framework, known as the Regional Certification Mechanism, was developed by the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR), an intergovernmental organization of 12 African countries, and released in August. It includes multiple steps and a system of checks and balances that experts say will make it easier for companies to clean up their supply chains.

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Source: Guardian Environment

Republicans are becoming the party of climate supervillains | Dana Nuccitelli

They’ve moved beyond pure domestic policy obstruction to sabotaging international negotiations

As Politico recently reported in a news story that seems better suited for bad a Hollywood movie script, Republican Party leaders are actively trying to sabotage the critical international climate negotiations that will happen in Paris at the end of this year.

Top Republican lawmakers are planning a wide-ranging offensive — including outreach to foreign officials by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s office — to undermine President Barack Obama’s hopes of reaching an international climate change agreement that would cement his environmental legacy.

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Source: Guardian Environment

The day the movies came to an indigenous Colombian village

Unexposed to cinema, the Arhuacos are captivated by their first ever screening of a film that shows them the unexplored, wild Colombia, reports El Pais

A prison guard opens the grey metal door to free four detainees. In Nabusimake, an indigenous Arhuaco village of circular mud huts with straw roofs and stone floors near the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta mountains in northern Colombia, prisoners are not made to suffer. Imprisonment is synonymous with reflection and change. It is not associated with punishment. The prisoner remains in custody for several days or months, until his body and mind are ready to return to the community of 8,000 people who live in Nabusimake or, as locals call it, “the heart of the world.”

The four prisoners – who have been jailed for offences that vary from stealing food to trying to seduce another’s wife – are crossing that grey door towards freedom not because their meditation time is over, but because they and the rest of the village are going to sit in front of a movie screen for the first time. For a community accustomed to living by daylight and moonlight, the arrival of a giant luminous screen is shattering their reality. They have been hearing about this event for months and finally here it was right before their eyes this Sunday: Colombia: Wild Magic, a film about the remotest parts of the country that is receiving its premiere here with the help of Ambulante, an NGO that organises documentary screenings across Colombia.

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Source: Guardian Environment

Nemesis: One Man and the Battle for Rio by Misha Glenny review – from ball boy to boss of the world’s biggest slum

Brazil’s dark side is exposed in this exhaustive study of Nem, a very unlikely gang lord

In 1992, I went on my honeymoon to Brazil. Our first stop was Copacabana, its famous beaches and its glitzy hotel, made famous by Brigitte Bardot, Orson Welles and many an A-list scandal. It is also only a few miles from Rocinha, one of the largest shanties in the world. Rio is the epicentre of global inequality, where extraordinary wealth and angry poverty are rarely more than a few streets away.

That year happened to be one of the most violent in the city’s recent history. This was a period of hyperinflation and the arrival of cocaine. Drug traffickers became paramilitary forces, transforming their capacity for violence into political power. The curiosity is that – apart from the odd shoot out or car chase – for most of the time the wealthy residents of the South Zone of Copacabana, Ipanema and Leblon, and the tourists, are blissfully unaware of the struggles to survive taking place almost on their doorsteps.

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Source: Guardian Environment

Study Finds That Smart City Innovation Could Save $22 Trillion

The economic case for low-carbon smart cities has been put forward in a recent study conducted by the Global Commission on Climate and Economy. The research found that the world could save £22 trillion by 2050 if a programme of smart city development was widely adopted.

Licensed under CC - credit Flickr user: Mariono Mantel
Licensed under CC – credit Flickr user: Mariono Mantel

The study looked at a number of areas, including transport, buildings, waste disposal and heating, offering possible smart city strategies for each. The report does focus mostly on government backed and led initiatives, but smart city business opportunities are also outlined.

This work represents an interesting step towards a deeper interrogation of the potential benefits that a smart city can provide from an economic perspective. In some cases, the estimates are ambitious, though even the report’s conservative estimate suggests that an economic gain of $17 trillion could be achieved.

Source: Low Carbon Smart Cities Could Save World 22tn Finds Study

The post Study Finds That Smart City Innovation Could Save $22 Trillion appeared first on Circulate.

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