Breaking Waves: Ocean News

12/16/2018 - 02:00
When we talk about saving the planet, we employ the narrative of war. Does it only deepen our divisions? Each dead house fly was worth a quarter, my mom told us kids, but I never earned any money. Every time I cornered a fly, I pictured goo marks left on the wall – spots splayed with tiny black guts and twisted legs. My halfhearted swats gave even the most sluggish fly time to escape. That I genuinely couldn’t hurt a fly might have been something I picked up in church. I grew up attending a Mennonite congregation in Indiana. We weren’t the bonnet-wearing, buggy-riding sort, but we embraced some traditions, like the Anabaptist teaching of nonviolence. This sometimes expressed itself in an instinct for conflict avoidance. Continue reading...
12/15/2018 - 18:22
Bill Shorten announces new Environment Act and says he wants ‘an Australian republic with an Australian head of state’. This blog is now closed Labor unveils $6.6bn affordable housing plan at national conference Labor announces environmental overhaul, avoiding pre-election internal battle Bill Shorten launches Labor conference with unpaid super election pitch Katharine Murphy: Shorten gets smart on populism as Labor paints PM as a ‘grinning fool in a baseball cap’ 6.59am GMT So that is day one done and dusted. There are two days to go, but a lot has been worked out. We know what is happening on the environmental front – no outward attack on Adani, but a commitment to change the environmental protection act, which Lean appear to be quite happy with. 6.47am GMT And we are done – for the day. Continue reading...
12/15/2018 - 17:43
Nations agree on implementing 2015 Paris agreement, but put trickiest issues on back burner The UN climate change talks ended late on Saturday night in Poland with a deal agreed on how to put the 2015 Paris agreement into action, but with other contentious problems left to be resolved next year. Countries thrashed out the complex details of how to account for and record their greenhouse gas emissions, which will form the basis of a “rulebook” on putting the Paris goals into action. But difficult questions such as how to scale up existing commitments on cutting emissions, in line with stark scientific advice, and how to provide finance for poor countries to do the same, were put off for future years. Continue reading...
12/15/2018 - 14:28
Federal court in Virginia says officials were trusted to ‘speak for the trees’ as it tosses out pipeline permit A federal court in the US has cited the classic Dr Seuss children’s book The Lorax as it lambasted the US Forest Service for granting an energy company permission to build a natural gas pipeline across two national forests. “We trust the United States Forest Service to ‘speak for the trees, for the trees have no tongues’,” the three-judge panel of the fourth US circuit court of appeals in Virginia wrote this week as it threw out the permit. Continue reading...
12/15/2018 - 10:59
When uranium was scarce, reprocessing was all the rage. Two decades on, the Cumbrian plant, though still a major source of jobs, has outlived its mission Deep in the heart of Sellafield, Britain’s biggest nuclear waste site, a small piece of history is playing out. Technicians are about to use a huge amount of force to slice nuclear fuel into thin sheets, so that it can be dissolved in nitric acid, then chemically separated into uranium (for power stations), plutonium and highly radioactive waste. But first they face a computer-says-no moment. Taut minutes pass as on-screen red boxes indicate issues with the shearing machine, which is safely ensconced behind a metre of leaded glass. Finally, the boxes turn green. Continue reading...
12/15/2018 - 07:39
Struggles remain on enacting 2015 Paris accord despite more clarity on emissions The UN met on Saturday in Poland to discuss a draft agreement on climate change, which sources said was likely to pass, as exhausted delegates made compromises on some key issues but left other contentious problems to be resolved next year. The result will not be the breakthrough campaigners and some countries were hoping for, but will keep discussions alive on formulating key aspects of the implementation rules for the 2015 Paris accord. Continue reading...
12/15/2018 - 03:00
Small bits of plastic packaging from waste food make their way into animal feed as part of the UK’s permitted recycling process Plastic traces in animal feed could pose a risk to human health and urgently need to be the subject of more research, experts have told the Guardian. Their comments came after British farmer Andrew Rock contacted the Guardian, having noticed plastic shreds in his animal feed. Rock was told by the suppliers that this was a legal part of the recycling process that turns waste food, still packaged, into animal feed. Continue reading...
12/14/2018 - 19:25
Governor proposes destroying dams, repairing habitats and limiting whale-watching in bid to save struggling creatures Five months after twin tragedies cast a spotlight on the state’s ailing orcas, Washington plans to spend more than $1bn to stave off extinction. If enacted, a proposal from the governor, Jay Inslee, would knock down two dams, repair habitat and place a three-year ban on orca watching. Crucially, Inslee hopes to shore up salmon runs that feed the orca while cleaning and quieting the waters in which they live. Continue reading...
12/14/2018 - 13:28
Slow progress on 2015 Paris agreement comes as scientists warn of need to get on track Negotiators at the climate conference in Poland have inched closer to an outcome, as the official deadline for finishing a deal ran out. The conference was meant to approve a rulebook which would govern how nations put into action the goals set in the landmark Paris agreement of 2015, when the world resolved to hold global warming to no more than 2C above pre-industrial levels, with an aspiration to limit temperature rises to no more than 1.5C. Continue reading...
12/14/2018 - 13:27
At the COP24 conference, leaders lack the urgency felt by communities on the frontlines of a global threat As wildfires burn, as temperatures rise, as the last remaining old-growth forests in Poland are logged, world leaders are in Katowice to negotiate the implementation of the Paris climate agreement. To outsiders, UN climate talks may seem like a positive step. Unfortunately, this is COP24. For 24 years, world leaders have annually talked at each other instead of to one another in hopes of reaching an agreement on how to mitigate the climate crisis. In all that time, they have barely scratched the surface of an issue that the world’s top climate scientists say we now have 12 years to stop – and that is an optimistic estimate. Continue reading...