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Climate shift ushers in subtropical butterfly

Butterflies are full of surprises and this year they have saved their biggest until last: in the midst of an awful November, subtropical butterflies have been spotted on England’s south coast. The remarkable appearance of the long-tailed blue, a butterfly happiest in the heat of Africa or Australia, raises a mystery: will these insects simply die this winter?

Until recently, the long-tailed blue, or Lampides boeticus, very occasionally arrived in hot summers: notably in 1945, and 1990 when it pitched up in Gillespie Park, north London. In 2013, however, there was an unprecedented invasion. Summer arrivals laid eggs on everlasting peas (ironically a garden plant gone wild, imported from Italy) and in October offspring emerged: 109 were counted. This year it’s happened again. But the emergence of a British born generation has been delayed by the gloomy autumn. If it stays mild and the rain stops, more could yet hatch.

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Source: Guardian Environment

Events in Egypt put Sinai reefs at risk | Letters

In recent, soon to be published work, we show that the coral reefs of the Egyptian Sinai are the most valuable in the world, generating fine sand beaches, calm water and fabulous opportunities for world-class snorkelling and diving, all within a short flight from Europe.

The tragedy of recent events (Report, 11 November) is complex and manifold. Of course there is the loss of innocent life. And there is also the loss of critical foreign exchange to Egypt, and of employment and income locally.

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Source: Guardian Environment

Coal from Carmichael mine 'will create more annual emissions than New York'

Australia Institute calculations show average annual emissions from burning coal from Adani’s proposed mine would be more than many countries and big cities

Coal from Adani’s proposed $16bn Carmichael project will create annual emissions similar to those from countries like Malaysia and Austria and more than New York City, according to calculations designed to highlight the scale of the mine’s environmental impacts.

Related: Conservation group challenges approval of Carmichael coalmine as ‘illegal’

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Source: Guardian Environment

Don’t fence it in – like the lion and the unicorn, the hedgehog must roam free | Hugh Warwick

To thrive, the threatened beast needs more holes in our back gardens. Let’s make it our national symbol, and start digging for a prickly victory

Last night the MP for Plymouth, Sutton and Devonport, Oliver Colvile, stood up in parliament and made an impassioned speech in defence of the hedgehog. He suggested that in order to protect it, we should make it the national symbol of the UK.

The speech was met with some wonderful responses, including a quote that was new to me, the Pashtun saying that “in every happy home is a hedgehog”, along with more predictable references to Mrs Tiggy-Winkle and William Shakespeare. This is the first discussion in parliament to take place since 1566 – and it is the first time I have been given a mention in Hansard – though being labelled as eccentric might take some living down.

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Source: Guardian Environment

Defra hit by largest budget cuts of any UK government department, analysis shows

RSPB and Wildlife Trusts economists say cuts to environment department equal 57% in real terms over course of two parliaments

The UK’s environment department is facing the largest cuts to its resources budget of any government department since 2009, according to an analysis by two of the country’s largest wildlife charities.

The Treasury and the departments for the environment, transport and local government and communities have agreed to average annual cuts of 8% in their operating costs, a total of 30% over the next four years, the chancellor, George Osborne, announced on Monday.

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Source: Guardian Environment

Energy companies back National Grid blackout planning

E.ON and SSE endorse planning by National Grid as UK heads into potentially tough winter which could challenge stability of gas and power supplies

Energy companies E.ON and SSE have given their support to the National Grid, after it pledged to secure sufficient power supply to avoid blackouts over what some forecasters predict will be one of the most severe winters ever recorded.

“We’ll continue to diversify our investment in new and existing plant as we firmly believe that it’s important to have a broad range of generation assets as we move to lower carbon technologies. Our efforts are helping the UK to maintain the necessary generation mix so that the country can have secure energy, affordable energy and sustainable energy in the long term,” E.ON’s UK chief executive, Tony Cocker, said.

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Source: Guardian Environment

Brancheau, Blackfish and San Diego shutdown: a SeaWorld in turmoil timeline

As SeaWorld announces an end to its killer whale shows in San Diego, here is an overview of its recent troubled history, following trainer deaths, a critical documentary and social media action

24 February 2010
SeaWorld trainer Dawn Brancheau dies during a training session with Tilikum, the largest orca held at SeaWorld Orlando. Brancheau drowns after Tilikum pulls her underwater by her ponytail, in front of horrified visitors.

30 July 2010
Outside Magazine publishes an investigation by reporter Tim Zimmermann into Brancheau’s death. Entitled The Killer in the Pool, the article details the psychological effect of keeping orcas in captivity – and the risk this poses to trainers.

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Source: Guardian Environment

Indonesia's forest fires: everything you need to know

The fires devastating Indonesia have been called a ‘crime against humanity’. How did they start, what damage are they causing and who’s to blame?

As satellite data of the fire hotspots shows, forest fires have affected the length and breadth of Indonesia. Among the worst hit areas are southern Kalimantan (Borneo) and western Sumatra. The fires have been raging since July, with efforts to extinguish them hampered by seasonal dry conditions exacerbated by the El Nino effect. As well as Indonesia, the acrid haze from the fires is engulfing neighbouring Malaysia and Singapore and has reached as far as southern Thailand.

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Source: Guardian Environment

Tibet’s plea: fix the roof of the world before it’s too late | Lobsang Sangay

My beautiful country is suffering the effects of climate change. To avoid catastrophe, leaders need to act urgently at the UN Paris conference

The roof of the world. That is what Tibet has long been known as. The phrase conjures up images of summits, with their mountain peaks, glaciers, permafrost and the nomads who live on the land.

But a roof is also symbolic of a home, and is the structure that protects those who live there. And, as we all know, if the roof is structurally compromised, then so is the home.

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Source: Guardian Environment

Boris Johnson: Treasury is endangering community renewables

Mayor of London calls on the government to reconsider plans to remove tax relief for investors in community energy projects

Boris Johnson has warned the Treasury it is endangering efforts by local communities around the UK to build their own renewable energy projects.

In a letter to the financial secretary to the Treasury, David Gauke, the mayor of London and Tory MP called on the government to reconsider its proposals to remove various forms of tax relief for investors in community energy.

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Source: Guardian Environment