And a rare day with no new news from Fukushima and the nuclear power front. . .
From Deutsche Welle, flu news:
Dutch authorities confirm second case of bird flu
Officials have detected the second case of bird flu in a week in the Netherlands. All 43,000 chickens at the affected farm are to be slaughtered and a nationwide ban on poultry transport has been imposed.
Dutch officials on Thursday confirmed the detection of another case of bird flu at a chicken farm, the second time this week that the disease has been found in the Netherlands.
The Dutch food and safety watchdog NVWA said the latest outbreak was detected at a farm in the village of Ter Aar in South Holland, 25 kilometers (15 miles) from a farm where an infection was found last week. All the 43,000 chickens at the farm were being destroyed and the farm disinfected, the NVWA said.
Officials say tests are being conducted to establish what strain of bird flu is involved. The earlier case in the Netherlands was confirmed as H5N8, which is considered as posing a low health risk to humans, but is highly contagious among poultry.
From Grist, temperatures rising:
No surprise, October was the hottest one ever
It’s cold outside, which means it’ll soon be time for the annual rousing chorus of climate change denial from people who think snow means global warming is fake.
Good thing NOAA is here to help. Today the agency released two new maps illustrating that even if you’re cold right now, the planet is still getting hotter. In fact, 2014 is on track to be the warmest year on record.
And it’s not just October that was remarkably warm. The entire year so far, since January, has also been the warmest on record – a good 1.22 degrees Fahrenheit above the 20th century average. If the trend persists, 2014 will beat out 2010 as the hottest year on record:
BBC News ups the ante:
Climate fund receives $9.3bn pledge
Thirty nations meeting in Berlin have pledged $9.3bn (£6bn) for a fund to help developing countries cut emissions and prepare for climate change.
The Green Climate Fund was to have held at least $10bn by the end of 2014, so the pledge is just shy of the target.
The South Korea-based fund aims to help nations invest in clean energy and green technology.
It is also designed to help them build up defences against rising seas and worsening storms, floods and droughts.
The Guardian covers a preview of a coming attraction:
Merchants of Doubt film exposes slick US industry behind climate denial
- Robert Kenner’s forthcoming documentary lifts the lid on the ‘professional deceivers’ manipulating US debate on climate change
Who remembers that climate change was a top priority early in George W Bush’s first term as US president? Merchants of Doubt, a new documentary film released in US cinemas this week, reminds us that in June 2001 Bush and the Republican party were 100% committed to curbing carbon emissions causing global warming.
Six months later everything changed. The film shows Republican party leader John Boehner calling the idea of global warming “laughable”, said Merchants of Doubt director Robert Kenner.
With the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center occupying attention, Americans For Prosperity, a powerful, fossil-fuel lobby group founded by the billionaire Koch Brothers, launched a decade-long, multi-pronged campaign to sow doubt about the reality of climate change.
By equating the findings of climate scientists as an attack on personal freedoms, they cleverly shifted the focus away from science to political opinion. “Creating a focus point away from what is actually going on is how magicians pull off their tricks,” said Kenner who directed the Oscar-nominated documentary Food Inc.
From Los Angeles Times editorial cartoonist David Horsey, a look at a favorite project of the climate denial funding Koch Brothers:
Fueling health problems, via Environmental Health News:
Coal’s black wind: Pregnant women in parts of India advised to stay away
In some regions of India, a married woman will return to her mother’s house for the last trimester of pregnancy and the birth of her child. But in Mettur, pregnant women are advised by their doctors to stay away.
“Black wind” from a coal yard wafts constantly across poor neighborhoods, settling on rooftops, walking paths and even indoor furniture. People complain of asthma, wheezing and frequent colds.
In its bid to industrialize, India relies heavily on energy from coal. Accounting for 71 percent of India’s electricity, coal will remain a key player over the next decade, with 455 new plants proposed, according to energy experts.
A cutback ordered, from Environment News Service:
EU Court Rules British Government Must Limit Diesel Exhaust
The United Kingdom must clean up illegal levels of air pollution “as soon as possible,” the European Court of Justice ruled Wednesday, in its first decision on the European Union’s 2008 air quality law.
The case was originally brought in the British courts by ClientEarth, a London-based environmental group concerned about the 29,000 people who die early in the UK each year as a result of air pollution.
ClientEarth asked the British courts to require the UK Government to revise its plans to meet the statutory limits for nitrogen dioxide under the Air Quality Directive as soon as possible, and by January 1, 2015 at the latest.
EcoWatch covers a reduction proposal:
How Oil and Gas Industry Could Cut Methane Pollution in Half
Leading environmental groups—Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council, Earthjustice, Environmental Defense Fund, and Clean Air Task Force—released a summary report today to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) laying out how the agency can cut methane pollution in half with low-cost technologies and practices. The report, Waste Not: Common Sense Measures to Reduce Methane Emissions from the Oil and Natural Gas Industry, shows how the U.S. EPA must meet its obligations under the Clean Air Act by requiring the oil and gas industries to halt methane emissions. The full report will be available later this fall.
One of the simple solutions highlighted in the report shows that “most of the industry’s methane pollution comes from leaks and intentional venting that can be identified and curbed with existing, low-cost technology and better maintenance practices.” Mark Brownstein, associate vice president for U.S. Climate and Energy at the Environmental Defense Fund, agrees. “Methane leaks are simply a waste of a valuable national energy resource. The good news is that there are simple technologies and practices that the oil industry can use to substantially reduce this waste, creating new opportunities for American companies and new jobs for American workers.”
The big takeaway from this report is that these standards would cut up to 10 times more methane and up to four times more smog-forming pollutants than other proposals because these standards would apply to oil and gas infrastructure across the country, not just to equipment located in certain areas.
And from the Guardian, fracking funded:
Chemicals giant Ineos to announce £640m UK fracking investment
- Operator of refinery at Grangemouth recently acquired 729 sq miles of fracking exploration licences in central Scotland
The chemicals giant Ineos is to announce a plan to invest up to £640m in shale gas exploration in the UK. The company, which runs a huge refinery and petrochemicals plant at Grangemouth, on the Firth of Forth, recently acquired 729 sq miles of fracking exploration licences in central Scotland.
The move would make Ineos one of the largest shale gas players in the UK and will be welcomed by government ministers who are seeking to speed up exploration. Ministers see fracking as an opportunity to develop a new domestic energy source as fields in the North Sea decline. Shale gas and oil have transformed the US energy market, although experts say the idea that it will lower energy prices in the UK is “baseless economics”.
Chief executive of Ineos Upstream, Gary Haywood, said: “I want Ineos to be the biggest player in the UK shale gas industry. I believe shale gas could revolutionise UK manufacturing and I know Ineos has the resources to make it happen.”
On to the threatened, first from StarAfrica:
Over 1,000 rhinos poached in S/Africa so far in 2014 – Official
South Africa has lost over 1,000 rhino to poachers so far this year, an official from the country’s Ministry of Environmental Affairs announced on Thursday.
According to the official, some 1,020 rhino have been poached for their horn since January this year, exceeding the 1,004 rhino that were poached in 2013.
The largest number of rhino poached has been in the world famous Kruger National Park in the north of the country, where 672 rhino have been poached this year.
The official said addressing the scourge was not simple, and that the ongoing killing of the rhino for its horns is part of a multi-billion dollar worldwide illicit wildlife trade.
And other critters on the brinks from Agence France-Presse:
Great apes facing ‘direct threat’ from palm oil farming
The destruction of rainforests in Southeast Asia and increasingly in Africa to make way for palm oil cultivation is a “direct threat” to the survival of great apes such as the orangutan, environmentalists warned Thursday.
They said tropical forests were tumbling at a rapid rate, with palm plantations a key driver, despite efforts by the industry’s Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) to encourage sustainable cultivation.
The concerns were voiced at the sidelines of the annual RSPO meeting, held this year in Malaysia and which concluded Thursday.
“Orangutan and ape habitats are being destroyed,” said Doug Cress, from the UN Environment Programme’s great ape protection campaign. “The destruction of rainforest in Southeast Asia and increasingly now in Africa is a direct threat to the great apes.”
Finally, via the Guardian, yet another corporocrat spared:
Italian supreme court’s asbestos ruling could have major implications for Brazil
- Court’s cancellation of Swiss asbestos polluter’s jail sentence dismays activists in Brazil, where substance is widely used
The Italian supreme court ruling on a case brought against Eternit, a Swiss-based building firm, could have major implications for the continued use of asbestos across the world.
On Wednesday, the court in Rome cancelled an 18-year jail sentence on the firm’s former owner Stephan Schmidheiny, who was facing charges of environmental disaster, having been found guilty of failing to comply with safety rules in two previous rulings.
The basis of the court’s ruling was that the statute of limitations had passed – Eternit left Italy 25 years ago – but the local trade unions and the Italian asbestos victims’ association, Afeva, who brought the case jointly, now intend to take it to Strasbourg.
Victims’ families shouted: “Shame on you!” as the verdict was pronounced. The group consisted of about 200 people, most of them from Casale Monferrato, a north-west Italian city where victims of asbestos-related diseases have been numbered in the thousands. Others came from countries including Switzerland, the UK, the US, Argentina, Belgium and Brazil.