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Flinders University staff and students keep fighting Bjørn Lomborg centre

An open letter signed by 6662 students, teachers and alumni rejects any plan for the university to host a Lomborg-run research centre

Climate activists and academics are scaling up their opposition to Flinders University hosting a Bjørn Lomborg-run research centre in an attempt to shut down the last avenue apparently open to the project.

It is understood that the heads of three of the four Flinders faculties that could host the “consensus centre” have rejected the idea, leaving just one, the school of social and behavioural sciences, available.

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Source: Guardian Environment

Deforestation surges in Queensland ahead of crackdown on land clearing

WWF reports landholders ‘panic clearing’ under the new Labor government in anticipation of protections being restored

A surge in deforestation across Queensland has continued under the new Labor government, suggesting landholders are “panic clearing” before protections can be restored, according to conservation groups.

A report by WWF has identified 94 locations that make up a “map of shame” for tree clearing in the state, which has more than tripled to 278,000 hectares in the five years to 2013-14.

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Source: Guardian Environment

South China Sea images reveal impact on coral of Beijing's military bases

As China races to extend its military reach, it is turning pristine habitats into permanent islands. Satellite images of the South China Sea show rapid destruction of some of the most biodiverse coral reefs in the world. The reclamation of land in the contested Spratly archipelago to build runways, military outposts and even small towns is endangering ecosystems that are key to maintaining world fish stocks and biodiversity

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Source: Guardian Environment

Olympic organisers destroy 'sacred' South Korean forest to create ski run

Green campaigners say recent removal of 500-year-old virgin forest is an ecological disaster and dismiss officials’ ‘patronising’ offer to restore habitat

Campaigners in South Korea have accused organisers of the 2018 winter Olympics of destroying a “sacred” forest to make room for a ski slope, and dismissed official assurances that the site will be restored to its original state after the Games.

Environment groups say the recently-completed removal of tens of thousands of trees from the slopes of Mount Gariwang, including ancient and rare species, amounts to an ecological disaster.

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Source: Guardian Environment

Denver park closes over risk to visitors trying to take #bearselfies

Waterton Canyon park closes to the public with blog noting that visitors get ‘sometimes within 10 feet of wild bears’ while taking pictures with the animals

A recreation and hiking area in Denver has been closed to the public after one too many hikers tried to take the perfect selfie with a bear.

The park, Waterton Canyon, which sees more than 100,000 visitors a year, initially closed on 28 August “due to increased bear activity in the canyon”, according to the initial news release. A biker was chased by a bear in the canyon but was not injured. According to Melanie Kaknes, Colorado parks and wildlife district manager, the decision to close the popular park “was made to reduce the likelihood of a negative encounter from occurring”.

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Source: Guardian Environment

The Guardian view on the Paris summit: outlook fair, but storms still possible | Editorial

The political support for a deal is broader and deeper than ever before. But the real crunch comes in October, when the IMF and the World Bank Group meet to assess progress towards the $100bn of climate aid

The chances of a deal at the Paris climate change summit that starts on 30 November look better than anyone might have thought possible even a year ago. But if success seems more likely than failure, failure – as President François Hollande warned last week – is still possible. The negotiations on the text that have been going on in Bonn were supposed to be nearly complete, but progress has been slow and possibly insufficient. Only this morning the UN’s climate chief, Christiana Figueres, warned that the targets for carbon emission reduction that 62 nations which account for 70% of emissions have so far submitted for agreement in Paris are not good enough to keep global warming below 2C.

All the same, the mere fact of nationally rather than globally agreed targets marks an important innovation. In total, targets covering 85% of emissions are expected. That would be enough to prevent global warming reaching catastrophic levels. It is the start of a process, and that is one of the things that makes the framework for a deal very different from the failed attempts at Copenhagen six years ago. Then, the developed world was being asked to bear the costs both of moving to a low-carbon economy and of mitigating the impacts of climate change; the US still lacked a climate change policy; and the fastest-growing polluters, China and India, did not take part.

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Source: Guardian Environment

More people die from air pollution than Malaria and HIV/Aids, new study shows

More than 3 million people die prematurely each year from outdoor pollution and without action deaths will double by 2050

More than 3 million people a year are killed prematurely by outdoor air pollution, according to a landmark new study, more than malaria and HIV/Aids combined.

Wood and coal burning for heating homes and cooking is the biggest cause, especially in Asia, but the research reveals a remarkably heavy toll from farming emissions in Europe and the US, where it is the leading cause of deaths.

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Source: Guardian Environment

Paris climate summit pledges won't avoid dangerous warming – UK and UN

UN climate chief and UK government sources say carbon cuts pledged by countries will see temperatures rise 2.5-3C, but could be ratcheted up later

The greenhouse gas emission cuts being pledged by the world’s nations will fall short of restricting global warming to 2C, the UN’s climate chief and UK government sources have warned.

A rise beyond 2C, the internationally agreed safety limit, may push the climate beyond tipping points and into dangerous instability. The expected pledges are likely to limit temperature rises to about 3C.

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Source: Guardian Environment

Predictable evolution: bad news for toads, good news for their predators | @GrrlScientist

Researchers reveal that, under certain circumstances, the process of evolution can be highly predictable, especially when there are limited solutions to a particular problem, such as resistance to dangerous toxins

A research paper that was published a few days ago in the journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, reports that evolution can follow predictable pathways when available solutions to a particular problem are severely limited. This new study found that resistance to heart-stopping cardiac glycoside toxins produced by some plants and animals for defensive purposes has independently converged across several lineages of insects, amphibians, reptiles, and mammals, after following a highly predictable evolutionary pathway.

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Source: Guardian Environment

New wave of fracking licences threatens hundreds of key English wildlife sites

Nearly 300 sites of special scientific interest, home to rare animals and plants, have been opened up to fracking by the Tory government, RSPB study shows

Hundreds more of England’s most important wildlife sites are now at risk from fracking after the government opened up 1,000 sq miles of land to the controversial technology, a new analysis has found.

Among the 159 licences issued last month to explore for oil and gas onshore in the UK – likely to include fracking for shale oil or gas – are 293 sites of special scientific interest (SSSI), the definition given to an area protecting rare species or habitats.

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Source: Guardian Environment