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Portugal runs for four days straight on renewable energy alone

Zero emission milestone reached as Iberian country is powered by just wind, solar and hydro-generated electricity for 107 hours

Portugal kept its lights on with renewable energy alone for four consecutive days last week in a clean energy milestone revealed by data analysis of national energy network figures.

Electricity consumption in the Iberian country was fully covered by solar, wind and hydro power in an extraordinary 107-hour run that lasted from 6.45am on Saturday 7 May until 5.45pm the following Wednesday, the analysis says.

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Source: Guardian Environment

The sea monsters are coming to tell us how little we know of nature | Philip Hoare

Even eco-protesters show by their actions the disconnection between humanity and the rest of the animate world – which just wants us to leave it alone

This spring is proving to be spectacular when it comes to its quota of sea monsters. As if reports of a sea serpent in the Thames and the Loch Ness monster being “found” weren’t enough, reality bites back with some true-life beasts beyond all expectation.

A bizarre beaked whale washes up on an Australian beach like a primeval message from prehistory. A narwhal, complete with spiralling tusk out of some medieval bestiary, turns up in a Dutch estuary. And last Sunday a bowhead whale – an animal that may reach 300 years in age, and which surpasses all description with its huge, arching mouth filled with plates of fibrous baleen four metres long – surfaced off Cornwall, 1,000 miles and an ocean away from its designated domain.

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Source: Guardian Environment

India set to start massive project to divert Ganges and Brahmaputra rivers

Ambitious scheme to channel water from regions with a surplus to drought-prone areas could begin in days, but Bangladesh has raised concerns

India is set to start work on a massive, unprecedented river diversion programme, which will channel water away from the north and west of the country to drought-prone areas in the east and south. The plan could be disastrous for the local ecology, environmental activists warn.

The project involves rerouting water from major rivers including the Ganges and Brahmaputra and creating canals to interlink the Ken and Batwa rivers in central India and Damanganga-Pinjal in the west.

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Source: Guardian Environment

Boris's remarks on 'buried' air pollution report leave unanswered questions

London’s former mayor says he knew about the report showing deprived schools were disproportionately affected by air pollution, so why wasn’t it made public?

The former mayor of London’s response to claims he buried a report on how toxic air disproportionately affects deprived schools was trademark Boris Johnson bluster. To allege there was a cover-up was “absurd” and “risible”, he said. Of course he hadn’t hid the impact of dirty air.

But in defending his record on air pollution, he also seemed to make things worse. On Monday we didn’t know if Johnson himself was personally aware of the findings of the unpublished report that the new mayor Sadiq Khan accuses him of suppressing.

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Source: Guardian Environment

We must rebuild farmers' resilience after Ethiopia's catastrophic El Niño

Before this year’s drought, farmers’ yields were tripling in some regions. With the right investment, Ethiopia can get back on track for middle-income status

A year ago, Ethiopia was on the verge of achieving something remarkable. Having been the second poorest country in the world as recently as 2000, Ethiopia was on track to becoming middle-income by 2025. The 1980s image of a country ravaged by famine, poverty and conflict was fading.

A large part of Ethiopia’s phenomenal growth was thanks to more than a decade of investment, with a particular focus on transforming agriculture. This sector employs more than 80% of the population of 91 million people (pdf), and accounts for more than 60% of exports. Agricultural yields were tripling in some regions, with the farmers I visited proud to be harvesting more, earning more, and sending their children to school and university.

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Source: Guardian Environment

Last stand for Europe's remaining ancient forest as loggers prepare to move in

Government plans to fell Poland’s Białowieża forest have divided families, led to death threats against green campaigners and allegations of an ‘environmental coup’ by government and state timber interests

Europe’s last primeval forest is facing what campaigners call its last stand as loggers prepare to start clear-cutting trees, following the dismissal of dozens of scientists and conservation experts opposed to the plan.

Poland’s new far right government says logging is needed because more than 10% of spruce trees in the Unesco world heritage site of Białowieża are suffering from a bark beetle outbreak. But nearly half the logging will be of other species, according to its only published inventory.

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Source: Guardian Environment

Great Barrier Reef: who's profiting from the destruction and devastation?

The fossil fuel industry, fee-hungry lawyers, banks and those that stay silent are profiting from the reef’s destruction. It’s time for them to say no more

It’s the worst crisis ever to hit the Great Barrier Reef and the extent of the devastation is only just coming to light. The reef is in the middle of the worst bleaching event ever seen, with unusually warm water killing as much as half the corals in the northern sections, with the trend set to continue for the next 20 years.

Who’s to blame for this destruction? And which businesses are profiting from the activities that are causing this havoc?

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Source: Guardian Environment

GM food generally safe for humans and the environment, report says

Regulators should focus on end product of food, rather than crops that went into it, says US study

Genetically manipulated food remains generally safe for humans and the environment, a high-powered science advisory board declared in a report on Tuesday. The National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine concluded that changing the genetics of what we eat does not produce the “Frankenfood” monster some opponents claim – but is not feeding the world with substantially increased yields, as proponents promised.

With the line between engineered and natural foods blurring because of newer techniques such as gene editing, the 408-page report said, regulators need to make their safety focus more on the end product of the food that is made rather than the nuts and bolts of its making.

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Source: Guardian Environment

National Trust offers farm tenancy for £1 a year

Trust sets unusual terms because property in North Wales is on land that requires time-intensive, ‘nature first’ approach

The National Trust is offering the tenancy of a £1m farm for £1 a year to a farmer who will help protect its rare and fragile landscape. Last year the organisation bought land on Great Orme in north Wales, including the 145-acre Parc Farm, which has views of Anglesey and grazing rights to 720 acres of headland. The move aimed to protect the habitats of unique and rare plants and animals and save fragile grasslands from being turned into a golf course.

As part of its 10-year vision to reverse declines in wildlife, the Trust is looking for a farmer willing to take on the “nature first” approach to grazing the coastal headland, which may go against the grain of modern farming.

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Source: Guardian Environment