Environmental News

UK risks losing contract for new climate research centre because of Brexit

Proposed centre with up to 250 jobs is linked to EU Copernicus satellite programme

The UK is at risk of losing the contract for the expansion of a flagship European weather research centre based in Reading because of Brexit.

The European Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) has been based in Berkshire for the last 45 years but its future EU-funded activities are now the subject of an international battle.

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China's carbon pledge will require complete inversion of existing system

Country will need to kick addiction to coal and build eye-watering amount of wind and solar capacity

China’s President Xi Jinping stunned climate action observers in a speech at the United Nations general assembly last week with a pledge to reach “peak carbon” before 2030, and drive down emissions to virtually zero by 2060.

The pledge from the world’s biggest climate polluter is considered by environmentalists to be the most important step in tackling the climate crisis since the Paris Climate Agreement galvanised global governments to reduce carbon emissions in an attempt to cap global heating well below 2 degrees C above pre-industrialisation levels.

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Blasts from the past: how ice age ponds are coming back to life

Once watering holes for mammoth and elk, Herefordshire’s neglected ancient ponds are being restored

Ecologist Will Watson is hunting for Britain’s largest blood-sucking leech in a 14,000-year-old pond in Herefordshire. The elusive medicinal leech (Hirudo medicinalis), grows up to 20cm long and has only officially been recorded three times in the county in the past two decades. In the ice age pond in Moccas Park national nature reserve it was last found in 2000.

Watson shakes his net in the water. Most creatures shy away from such disturbance but this leech – the only one in Britain that sucks human blood – is attracted to the vibrations as they suggest the movements of large mammals trampling around the edge of the pond, which could signal a potential meal.

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Why David Attenborough is the doomsayer we still adore | Rebecca Nicholson

Ever eager to get the message out about climate crisis, the 94-year-old environmentalist joined Instagram last week

David Attenborough must be the only person who can appear on national television to tell us that we are all doomed, probably past the point of no return, that species are dying and the climate is boiling over and yet everybody still loves him. “Unfortunately, you’re all done for,” is what I took from his programme Extinction: The Facts on BBC One earlier this month; still, didn’t it feel nice to hear it from a national treasure?

Similarly, the words “this is my first time on Instagram” are not always a reason for optimism, but Attenborough joined the platform on Thursday, at the age of 94, and as a result he began trending on Twitter. (I have said it before, but when a certain name trends, it can provoke a brief moment of anxiety; in this case, it caused a sharp and thankfully unnecessary intake of breath.) In his first video, which is racking up likes more quickly than a picture of an egg, the presenter doubles down on his Extinction message, using a new platform to impress a sense of urgency to a presumably younger audience. “As we all know, the world is in trouble,” he explains, sombrely, promising to post more videos with suggestions of what we might do about it. It will all accompany his new film, A Life on Our Planet, in which he will dangle a glimpse of hope.

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Apples from 'perfect harvest' rot on the ground as demand for cider slumps

In what should be a vintage year because of ideal growing conditions, farmers are forced to abandon fruit where it falls

On a sloping hill just south of Dartmoor, boughs are laden with brightly coloured Devon crimson, pig’s snout, tale sweet and slack-ma-girdle. Gabriel David wanders through his five-acre orchard and acknowledges this exceptional yield of heritage cider apples: “It should be an absolutely vintage year,” he says.

“After such amazing sunny weather in lockdown, the apple blossom was perfect. The bees were everywhere: it was a stunning spring. Then it rained at just the right time so our cider apples are bigger, with a higher sugar content, resulting in a greater complexity of flavours.”

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