A round-up of recent environmental news from around the world.
In Australia, the New South Wales government has approved two new power stations which will emit greenhouse gas equivalent to almost three million cars. Greens say renewable alternatives were not properly evaluated. The stations are apparently needed due to rising demand for electricity.
Satellite pictures of India suggest Himalayan glaciers have shrunk 16% since 1962. The glaciers, under threat from global warming, feed some of India's most important rivers – rivers upon which millions of people rely. Meanwhile, the same warming is reducing the yields of four key cereal crops – maize, rice, wheat, and pearl millet.
In Ireland the crochet of two Australian sisters, Margaret and Christine Wertheim, has gone on display. The artworks highlight the beauty of the Great Barrier Reef and the threats to it. Warming means much of the coral which makes up the reef can expect to die through bleaching over the next century. Last week a Chinese ship laden with coal ran aground on the reef, releasing a two-mile-long oil spill.
Research in New Zealand has shown that environmentally conscious shoppers in Europe need not worry too much about food miles when it comes to New Zealand lamb. Though the meat travels halfway around the world, only 5% of the product's greenhouse gas emissions come from shipping. Methane released by the animals in the farm make up 80%. For every pound of meat, nineteen pounds of CO2 equivalent are released. More evidence to show that cutting meat consumption is one of the best things one can do for the environment. Stubborn customers are urged to prefer refrigerated meat over frozen, and not to defrost frozen meat in the microwave.
In Niger, locals are fighting back against a French company, Areva, and its lenders. The local Tuareg people have been dying from a mysterious illness. Meanwhile, Areva has been mining uranium, leaving radioactive waste and contaminated water sources, and distributing the profits elsewhere. Citizens worried about the nuclear industry always face a challenge, but that challenge is so much greater when it is the very rich against the very poor.
The shores of the largest lake in the United Kingdom, Lough Neagh, have become a microcosm of the world's oceans. Litter thrown into rivers feeding the lake is washing up on the beaches and has become such a problem it seems beyond the power of local government and concerned groups.
As the epicentre of the Internet, the United States is home to vast data centres run by companies like Apple, Facebook, Google and Yahoo. Unfortunately, many of these data centres are located in US states which generate most of their electricity by burning coal. Coal-fired power stations emit twice as much CO2 as gas-fired stations. Greenpeace is urging the Internet companies we all use to consider where they build new data centres, and asking them to lobby the government for cleaner energy supplies. Ten years from now data centres may use more electricity than Brazil, Canada, France and Germany combined (that's 370 million people).
Zimbabwe lost more than 20% of its forest between 1990 and 2005. Since then, the problem has been exacerbated by lack of electricity. People need the wood for fuel and are becoming so desperate that much-needed fruit trees are being sacrificed. Many of the trees felled are not being replaced.