Environmental News

France underestimated impact of nuclear tests in French Polynesia

Groundbreaking new analysis could allow more than 100,000 people to claim compensation

France has consistently underestimated the devastating impact of its nuclear tests in French Polynesia in the 1960s and 70s, according to groundbreaking new research that could allow more than 100,000 people to claim compensation.

France conducted 193 nuclear tests from 1966 to 1996 at Moruroa and Fangataufa atolls in French Polynesia, including 41 atmospheric tests until 1974 that exposed the local population, site workers and French soldiers to high levels of radiation.

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Land could be worth more left to nature than when farmed, study finds

Nature-rich sites such as woods and wetlands more valuable because of the ‘ecosystem services’ they provide

The economic benefits of protecting nature-rich sites such as wetlands and woodlands outweigh the profit that could be made from using the land for resource extraction, according to the largest study yet to look at the value of protecting nature at specific locations.

Scientists analysed 24 sites in six continents and found the asset returns of “ecosystem services” such as carbon storage and flood prevention created by conservation work was, pound for pound, greater than manmade capital created by using the land for activities such as forestry or farming cereals, sugar, tea or cocoa.

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Country diary: a dusk walk full of primroses and birdsong

Billingshurst, West Sussex: In this wood at the top of a muddy hill, there is life up in the trees and pushing through the leaf litter

On the outside edges of the wood, grey willow branches are bristling with furry, silver catkins. These catkins are the male flowers, and, when ready, will rely on the breeze to carry pollen to the female catkins on separate trees. This avoids self-fertilisation and ensures that the willows’ genes are spread to different plants to help the population stay diverse and adaptable.

I climb the muddy hill into the wood, and follow the broad track that winds beneath the stretching, bending arches of coppiced trees. I stop and listen to the soft seeps and whistles of the tits and goldcrests as they roam through the dark, bare branches and twigs. The songs of blue tits are ringing out, like the chimes of little clocks. Great tits’ see-saw songs echo through the canopy – first one bird sings, then another answers, then a third and a fourth. Tall silver birches reach up to the blue sky, their tops shining gold and red in the setting sun.

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Inaction leaves world playing ‘Russian roulette’ with pandemics, say experts

New coalition calls on governments to tackle root cause of emerging infections – the destruction of nature

Governments must fill a major gap in post-Covid recovery plans with action on the root cause of pandemics – the destruction of nature – a new coalition of health and environment groups has warned.

Crucial investments and actions are missing, the Preventing Pandemics at the Source coalition said, leaving the world playing an “ill-fated game of Russian roulette with pathogens”.

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Global heating pushes tropical regions towards limits of human livability

Rising heat and humidity threatening to plunge much of the world’s population into potentially lethal conditions, study finds

The climate crisis is pushing the planet’s tropical regions towards the limits of human livability, with rising heat and humidity threatening to plunge much of the world’s population into potentially lethal conditions, new research has found.

Related: 'It is the question of the century': will tech solve the climate crisis – or make it worse?

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