Breaking Waves: Ocean News

01/24/2020 - 11:08
Cheaper labour and welfare costs have driven animal exports from Denmark to Poland, but critics fear corners are being cut ‘Something is wrong’: MEPs say EU is failing to regulate live animal exports The Danish government has been labelled “unsatisfactory” and “ineffective” in an audit of its ballooning piglet trade published today. In 2008 3.2 million live pigs were exported from Denmark; by 2018 that number had risen to 9.6 million. But the government continued to carry out just 100 checks a year up until 2018, according to the audit, with just 0.4% of transports being checked. Continue reading...
01/24/2020 - 10:05
Damning assessment by group of leading architects and engineers describes government plan as ‘a step backwards’ Proposed changes to building regulations in England and Wales are likely to make buildings less energy efficient not more, a group of leading architects and engineers has warned.In a damning assessment of proposals to reform Part L of the Building Regulations, which sets the minimum energy performance standards for new dwellings, a growing coalition of professionals has described the changes as “a step backwards, in a climate where we need a huge leap forward”.“The proposals are framed as an improvement, but they actually represent a reduction in the energy performance standards of buildings,” says Clara Bagenal George, a building services engineer at Elementa Consulting and founder of the London Energy Transformation Initiative (Leti), a voluntary group of more than 1,000 architects and engineers that has been calling for radical changes to how building energy consumption is assessed.Under current regulations, all new building designs are assessed against a “notional” benchmark design, using parameters such as the thermal performance of materials, the orientation and size of the windows, airtightness and heating and ventilation systems (pdf). The proposed building must meet the performance of the notional design to pass the test. Critically, the new changes to the regulations would remove something called the Fabric Energy Efficiency Standard, meaning a building designed next year could be allowed to perform much worse than one built in 2013, when the current standards were introduced. Similarly, a building that would fail to meet the current regulations would pass under the new system. Part L applies to all buildings, although the current consultation covers only dwellings.Secondly, Leti warns that a proposed emphasis on overall carbon footprint will help to mask the actual energy performance of new homes. The government intends to introduce a new factor into the assessment, related to the energy efficiency of the grid, not the building itself. Because the National Grid has been rapidly decarbonising over the last few years, as more renewables have been connected, the new method of assessment would show that a home produced lower carbon emissions than before – despite the design being exactly the same.“The new proposals totally mask the actual energy efficiency of a home,” says Clare Murray, head of sustainability at architecture firm Levitt Bernstein and member of Leti. “They make the building look like it is performing better, when the reality is it could be much worse.” Continue reading...
01/24/2020 - 09:31
Experts say wildlife sold for human consumption raises risk of new epidemics Wild animal markets must be banned worldwide, say experts in and outside China, warning that the sale of sometimes endangered species for human consumption is the cause both of the new coronavirus outbreak and other past epidemics. The Huanan seafood market in Wuhan, which has been closed down as the source of the infection, had a wild animal section, where live and slaughtered species were on sale. An inventory list at the Da Zhong domestic and wild animals shop inside the market includes live wolf pups, golden cicadas, scorpions, bamboo rats, squirrels, foxes, civets, hedgehogs (probably porcupines), salamanders, turtles and crocodiles. In addition, it offered assorted parts of some animals, such as crocodile tail, belly, tongue and intestines. Continue reading...
01/24/2020 - 08:30
Judges say greater leniency should be shown in cases of non-violent civil disobedience A fracking protester’s sentence has been reduced by the court of appeal, which said greater leniency should be shown in convictions for non-violent civil disobedience. Katrina Lawrie, 41, was found guilty of contempt of court in June last year for breaching an injunction that banned trespassers blocking access to the energy firm Cuadrilla’s site on Preston New Road in Lancashire. Continue reading...
01/24/2020 - 07:53
Brown ants herd and milk giant pale aphids, building barns for them from beetle exoskeleton Britain has a new farmed animal, which is kept in barns, milked and moved between high and low pastures – but not by humans. The giant pale aphid, Stomaphis wojciechowskii, has lived undiscovered for thousands of years on English oak trees, where it has been looked after by brown ants. Continue reading...
01/24/2020 - 05:07
Blend of hydrogen and natural gas is being used to heat homes and faculty buildings at Keele University Zero-carbon hydrogen has been injected into a UK gas network for the first time in a groundbreaking trial that could help to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. The 20% hydrogen and natural gas blend is being used to heat 100 homes and 30 faculty buildings at Keele University in Staffordshire. Unlike natural gas, when hydrogen is burned it produces heat and water as opposed to carbon dioxide. Continue reading...
01/24/2020 - 04:00
Climate crisis and socioeconomic factors, combined with critically unprepared governments, bring high risks for some countries Intense floods and storms around the world could double in frequency within 13 years, as climate breakdown and socioeconomic factors combine, according to a new study. The authors of the analysis say it’s the first to incorporate historical local and global climate data and information about population density, income and poverty to estimate how many hard-hitting disasters to expect. They counted floods and storms that would affect 1,000 people or kill 100 people. Continue reading...
01/24/2020 - 03:27
Exclusive: Almost £2bn went to oil and gas despite a UK pledge to support cleaner energy in African countries More than 90% of the £2bn in energy deals struck at this week’s UK-Africa investment summit were for fossil fuels, despite a government commitment to “support African countries in their transition to cleaner energy”. Prime Minister Boris Johnson opened the summit on Monday, citing the climate emergency: “We all breathe the same air, we live beneath the same sky, and we all suffer when carbon emissions rise and the planet warms.” Continue reading...
01/24/2020 - 03:00
Revealed: emails show Trump and appointees tried to craft a narrative that forest protection efforts are responsible for wildfires Political appointees at the interior department have sought to play up climate pollution from California wildfires while downplaying emissions from fossil fuels as a way of promoting more logging in the nation’s forests, internal emails obtained by the Guardian reveal. The messaging plan was crafted in support of Donald Trump’s pro-industry arguments for harvesting more timber in California, which he says would thin forests and prevent fires – a point experts refute. Continue reading...
01/24/2020 - 02:20
Mining giant intends to fully take over the mine’s operator, Energy Resources Australia The mining giant Rio Tinto will be able to go ahead with a plan to clean up the Ranger uranium mine after admitting it intends to fully take over the mine’s operator, Energy Resources Australia. The admission fulfils conditions set by the Takeovers Panel, which last month threw Rio Tinto’s plans to help fund the cleanup – estimated to cost $830m – into disarray after a Singapore hedge fund objected to the proposal. Continue reading...