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Barnaby Joyce says business case for big new coalmines 'no longer stacks up'

With coal at $60 a tonne and upfront costs of $1.3bn, Shenhua may as well buy a secondhand mine in the Hunter Valley, says minister in a swipe at huge projects

Barnaby Joyce says the business case for big new coalmines “no longer stacks up” given the low price and slowing global demand for the fuel.

The agriculture minister’s comments were directed at the $1.2bn Shenhua Watermark coalmine planned for the fertile Liverpool Plains in his New South Wales electorate, but he conceded the financial argument applied in principle to all new coalmines.

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Source: Guardian Environment

Lake District forests hit by ash dieback disease

Sites affected by Hymenoscyphus fraxineus fungus include areas of woodland near Ambleside and Keswick, with disease already widespread across Europe

Trees at four different sites in the Lake District have been found infected with ash dieback disease, according to the Forestry Commission. The sites include areas of woodland near Ambleside and Keswick.

It is not known how the trees became infected with the Hymenoscyphus fraxineus fungus (which was originally called Chalara fraxinea). Charlton Clark, a spokesman for the Forestry Commission, said: “The disease can be spread either by spores of the fungus being carried by the wind or by movement of infected ash plants, whose spores can then be blown to neighbouring trees. It could have arrived in the Lake District by either or both these means.”

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Source: Guardian Environment

Burning all fossil fuels will melt entire Antarctic ice-sheet, study shows

Oceans would rise by over 50m sinking land inhabited by a billion people and changing the face of planet Earth, say scientists

Burning all the world’s coal, oil and gas would melt the entire Antarctic ice-sheet and cause the oceans to rise by over 50m, a transformation unprecedented in human history. The conclusion of a new scientific study shows that, over the course of centuries, land currently inhabited by a billion people would be lost below water.

“For the first time we have shown there is sufficient fossil fuel to melt all of Antarctica,” said Ricarda Winkelmann, at the Postdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany, who led the research published in the journal Science Advances. “This would not happen overnight, but the mind-boggling point is that our actions today are changing the face of planet Earth as we know it, and will continue to do so for tens of thousands of years to come. If we want to avoid Antarctica to become ice-free, we need to keep coal, gas and oil in the ground.”

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Source: Guardian Environment

Pacific leaders respond to Australian minister's sea levels remarks

Tony de Brum, Marshall Islands foreign minister, joins others in expressing offence at comments by Peter Dutton, caught on microphone in Canberra

Pacific leaders have hit out at the insensitivity of an Australian minister’s apparent joke at the expense of low-lying nations struggling against rising sea levels.

Immigration minister, Peter Dutton, was caught on a microphone chatting with Australian prime minister, Tony Abbott, and social services minister, Scott Morrison, while waiting for a community roundtable to begin on Friday in Canberra.

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Source: Guardian Environment

Chris Packham: ‘It has a psychopathic element, taking pleasure from killing’

The Countryside Alliance says he is an extremist and wants the BBC to fire him. But the conservationist insists he is on farmers’ side, and unafraid to go on opposing foxhunting and badger culling

Related: Countryside Alliance urges BBC to sack Chris Packham in conservation row

Even though it started over a hen harrier – and there will be those of us, shamingly, who don’t know what one of those looks like – there was something quintessential about the row that broke out this week between Chris Packham, hero of Springwatch, and the Countryside Alliance, champions of blood sports. Packham wrote a column in the BBC’s Wildlife magazine in which he criticised wildlife charities for being too meek. Frankly, it could have been said by anybody, of whatever political stamp, about any charity; they’re all way too meek about everything. But he was making a specific point, which he elaborated to me, on his garden bench near Southampton, looking out on to a view so perfect that I had the sense of imminent disaster. “The way the wildlife NGOs evolved is that they were instigated by people who had split interests. They were interested in country pursuits – shooting, hunting, fishing, farming – and also natural history. And they were brilliant natural historians with a genuine desire to protect that legacy. We should no longer be sleeping with these people, but we should be in constructive dialogue with them. We need to move on.”

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Source: Guardian Environment

No water to shower, cook or clean: life in California's drought valley

Bucket showers, no flushing toilets and daily trips to collect bottled water are the reality for many people in East Porterville, after years of dought, reports Mother Jones

Glance at a lawn in East Porterville, California, and you’ll instantly know something about the people who live in the house adjacent to it.

If a lawn is green, the home has running water. If it’s brown, or if the yard contains plastic tanks or crates of bottled water, then the well has gone dry.

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Source: Guardian Environment

Vivienne Westwood drives tank to Cameron's home in fracking protest

Designer drives military vehicle through Witney to Chadlington, Oxfordshire, to carry out fake ‘chemical attack’

Used to sticking two fingers up at the establishment, Vivienne Westwood has driven a tank to David Cameron’s constituency home in a protest against fracking.

Related: UK backing bid by fossil fuel firms to kill new EU fracking controls, letters reveal

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Source: Guardian Environment