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Poor globally being failed on sanitation | Letters

WaterAid shares the global concern for the world’s top athletes dealing with the sewage in Rio’s bays (Report, 4 August). But the heavily contaminated waters don’t only put at risk the health of Olympians, it’s clear they also adversely affect the millions of people facing this faecal nightmare, day-in and day-out. Despite Brazil being an upper-middle income country, nearly 2% of Brazilians, or 3.5 million people, have no access to clean water, and 17%, or 35 million people, live without good sanitation. In Rio alone, 30% of the population is not connected to a formal sewerage system. It is a travesty that anyone should have to live like this.

Sadly, Brazil is not alone in facing a water and sanitation crisis. One in three people globally live without decent toilets, and one in 10 are without clean water. These Olympic Games have put the spotlight on one of the most urgent yet beatable crises of our time. World leaders must address it. The UN global goals for sustainable development were agreed by these leaders last year. The challenge now is to put those promises into action, ensuring that everyone, everywhere has clean water and sanitation by 2030.
Margaret Batty
Director of global policy and campaigns, WaterAid

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Source: Guardian Environment

Wallabies flourishing in the wild on Isle of Man

Animals native to Australia living happily on island ever since a pair escaped from wildlife park in the 1970s

Wild wallabies, normally attuned to warmer climes, are thriving on the Isle of Man. The animals, native to Australia and Tasmania, have been flourishing on the tiny island in the middle of the Irish Sea ever since a pair escaped in the 1970s from a wildlife park in the Curraghs, an area of wetland in the north-west of the island.

Related: Rare wallabies spotted in Western Australia national park for first time in 20 years

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Source: Guardian Environment

Zika virus: Floridians fear 'Pandora's box' of genetically altered mosquitos

Scientists say Key Haven is ‘the perfect’ island for releasing the genetically modified insects – but locals refuse to be ‘lab rats’ in FDA-cleared experiment

The Florida Keys are three months out from a straw poll vote on whether to release millions of genetically modified mosquitoes on an island just east of Key West, and the tourist destination is awash in lawn signs.

Alongside the typical signs to vote for court clerk, judge, sheriff or school board, are signs that showcase the overhead view of a mosquito and read: “NO CONSENT, to release of genetically modified mosquitoes”.

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Source: Guardian Environment

Can we feed 10 billion people on organic farming alone?

Organic farming creates more profit and yields healthier produce. It’s time it played the role it deserves in feeding a rapidly growing world population

In 1971, then US Secretary of Agriculture Earl Butz uttered these unsympathetic words: “Before we go back to organic agriculture in this country, somebody must decide which 50 million Americans we are going to let starve or go hungry.” Since then, critics have continued to argue that organic agriculture is inefficient, requiring more land than conventional agriculture to yield the same amount of food. Proponents have countered that increasing research could reduce the yield gap, and organic agriculture generates environmental, health and socioeconomic benefits that can’t be found with conventional farming.

Related: American farmers are struggling to feed the country’s appetite for organic food

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Source: Guardian Environment

Crown estate wades into Hinkley Point nuclear debate

Body says, with government reviewing £18.5bn project, benefits of renewables such as offshore wind should be looked at

The crown estate has waded into the battle over Hinkley Point, pointing out that offshore windfarms are already being built at cheaper prices than the proposed atomic reactors for Somerset.

While not arguing the £18.5bn nuclear project should be scrapped, the organisation – still legally owned by the Queen – said that the government’s current Hinkley review makes it a good time to consider the advantages of other low carbon technologies.

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Source: Guardian Environment

Hinkley C's future is in doubt. Let's turn our sights to offshore wind | Huub den Rooijen

Falling costs and increased reliability mean this clean power now offers a mature part of the solution for the UK’s energy mix

With the government re-examining the case for new nuclear reactors at Hinkley Point, it’s a good time to reflect on recent breakthroughs in another low carbon technology: offshore wind.

Offshore wind is already meeting about 5% of the UK’s electricity demand, more than any other country globally, and is on course to meet 10% by 2020. The sector has undergone a sea change over the last few years, driven by rapid advances in technology, cost, and industry’s ability to deliver on time and to budget.

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Source: Guardian Environment

World's largest vertical farm grows without soil, sunlight or water in Newark

AeroFarms has put $30m into a green revolution that seeks to produce more crops in less space, but whether it’s economically viable is an open question

An ambitious, almost fantastical, manifestation of agricultural technology is expected to come to fruition this fall. From the remains of an abandoned steel mill in Newark, New Jersey, the creators of AeroFarms are building what they say will be the largest vertical farm, producing two million pounds of leafy greens a year.

Whether it even qualifies as a “farm” is a matter of taste. The greens will be manufactured using a technology called aeroponics, a technique in which crops are grown in vertical stacks of plant beds, without soil, sunlight or water.

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Source: Guardian Environment

Louisiana flooding cuts off roads and thousands of homes

At least three people dead and huge rescue effort under way after heavy rain causes rivers and creeks to burst their banks

Emergency crews plucked motorists from cars stranded by high water along a seven-mile stretch of highway in southern Louisiana and pulled others from inundated homes and waist-deep waters, conducting at least 2,000 rescues.

Pounding rains swamped parts of south-east Louisiana, leaving whole subdivisions and shopping centres looking isolated by flood waters, which have claimed at least three lives.

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Source: Guardian Environment

The heart of darkness that still beats within our 24-hour cities

With technology man has conquered the night. Yet walk the streets alone at 3am, and still the magic and mystery seep through…

Meet the late-night radio DJs: ‘It’s like a confession and I’m the priest’

On some nights, in the insomniac intervals between rumbling goods trains, and beneath the sound of ambulance sirens, I can hear owls calling mournfully to one another from the trees that screen the railway tracks running past the back of the house in which I live in inner London. On most nights, alongside the shouts of people fighting or having sex, I hear cats and foxes screaming intermittently, as if they are being tortured. On some mornings, when a thin light first leaks through my blinds, I can hear a cockerel croaking from a garden in which chickens are kept a couple of streets away. Occasionally, when the mornings are resonantly still, the insistent tapping of a woodpecker chiselling at a tree trunk wakes me.

The city at night is far eerier, far more feral than it is in the day. It is far harder to anthropomorphise, far more difficult to domesticate. In fact, the city doesn’t necessarily sound and feel like a metropolis, a centre of advanced civilisation, when most of its population is fast asleep. It can sound and feel closer to nature than culture. As Virginia Woolf once pointed out with a noticeable sense of frisson, “we are no longer quite ourselves” after dark. She relished “the irresponsibility which darkness and lamplight bestow”. Our cities, like ourselves, can seem alien and unfamiliar at night. And if you listen to them attentively, as though through an echo sounder, you can hear the encompassing darkness transmit from its depths the noises and pulses of the capital’s pre-modern past.

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Source: Guardian Environment

Security is not the only reason to cancel Hinkley. There are many others

China’s involvement in a UK nuclear project is potentially sensitive. But that need not be the pretext for withdrawal when the plant has so many problems

The proposed new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point in Somerset has turned into the first headache for Theresa May’s government. The issue is now about far more than Britain’s energy policy. It is about foreign policy too.

May is yet to say anything publicly about the government’s decision to review the £18bn project. The only official comment was from Greg Clark, the new business, energy and industrial strategy secretary, who welcomed EDF’s approval of the project but added: “The government will now consider carefully all the component parts of this project and make its decision in the early autumn.”

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Source: Guardian Environment