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The week in environmental news – Dec 4, 2015

  • The House has voted against Obama’s plan to curb greenhouse gas.
  • The coast of southern Chile has turned into a mass grave for more than 330 whales.
  • Unilever, a multinational consumer goods company has vowed to become “carbon positive” by 2030.

What issues to be watching during the Paris climate talks [Nature]

There is a little more than week left of the climate talks in Paris and tension has been building among negotiators. Here is a list of the six crucial issues that will be discussed during the second week of talks.

Helping our youth to help the world [UN News Centre]

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has launched a digital mapping initiative called ‘Act Now For Tomorrow’. This project was started as an effort to help young people identify local climate issues and find ways to address them.

Poorer countries are refusing to let this issue slide at climate talks [Guardian]

Rich countries have committed to providing $100bn to developing countries by 2020 to help them combat climate change. However, there seems to be a large contrast among developed and developing nations on how they define adequate climate assistance.

A lion in Kruger South Africa. Photo by Rhett Butler.

The House votes to block Obama’s plan to curb greenhouse gas [CNN]

While Obama is pushing for the Environmental Protection Agency to enforce limits on electric utilities and coal plants, the House has made it clear that they are not supporting the president’s plan.

Possibly the worst disaster of its kind [Deutsche Welle]

Just months ago, more than 20 Sei whales were reported stranded in Patagonia. After further investigation, researchers have uncovered the full extent of the horror in Chile. The coast of southern Chile has turned into a mass grave for more than 330 whales.

Leaders arrived in Paris with high expectations and promises to act [CNBC]

World leaders have launched an ambitious plan on Monday to hold back rising temperatures with the hopes that the climate summit in Paris will go down in history as mark of when we determined how to save our planet.

Torres del Paine National Park, Chile. Photo by Rhett Butler.

A new study reports that marine species are grossly under-protected [Mongabay]

Large gaps exist between where marine protected areas are located and how well they protect marine species. A recent study found that over 97 percent of the marine species they examined have less than 10 percent of their ranges formally protected by marine protected areas.

Consumer goods giant announces environmental commitments [Business Green]

Unilever, a multinational consumer goods company has vowed to become “carbon positive” by 2030. Among their commitments is the pledge to source all energy across their operations from renewable sources and to support the generation of more renewable energy than the company consumes.

Google makes a huge clean energy investment [The Verge]

This week Google announced six new solar and wind energy project deals in an effort massively increase the amount of renewable power flowing to its data centers. These deals are part of the company’s plan to triple the amount of renewable power it uses by 2025.

These two major agencies disagree over whether a popular herbicide is safe [Deutsche Welle]

The world’s most-used herbicide, glyphosate, is under debate by the European Food Standards Agency (EFSA) and the World Health Organization (WHO) on whether it causes cancer. Monsanto, a transnational chemical company, developed glyphosate and doctors, environmentalists along with some farmers have long called for a ban on the pesticide.

School of fish in Belize (Central America). Photo by Rhett Butler.



Many critics of Japan’s whaling activities are unconvinced

This Tuesday Japan re-launched their controversial whaling program. The whaling fleet will kill as many as 333 minke whales per year over the next 12 years. While Japan maintains that the killings are for research purposes, a group of scientists say there is no scientific validity to Japan’s killing of whales for research.

These developments could be a “nail in the coffin” for pink dolphins

The future of Chinese white dolphins — also called pink dolphins — in Hong Kong waters could be severely imperiled. Proposed expansion of the Hong Kong airport and ongoing construction of a new bridge from Hong Kong to Macau could be a “nail in the coffin” for the dolphins, conservationists say.

Conservationists want to track biodiversity – from space

Experts say that a vantage point in space could prove invaluable in documenting Earth’s biodiversity and preventing its loss. However, conservationists have to work around several problems before they can effectively monitor large-scale changes in biodiversity from space.

Researchers call on zoos to step up amphibian conservation efforts

There is a feeling of disappointment in the conservation community regarding the response of zoos to the amphibian crisis. Only 6.2% of globally threatened amphibians are currently represented in worldwide collections.

The iconic Earthrise photograph, snapped by an Apollo 8 astronaut on the first manned mission to the moon on Christmas Eve, 1968. Image courtesy of NASA.