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Eco Environment News feeds

  • Water shortages across the continent, from France through Italy, Spain and beyond, are creating a critical situation

    Europe’s most severe drought in decades is hitting homes, factories, farmers and freight across the continent, as experts warn drier winters and searing summers fuelled by global heating mean water shortages will become “the new normal”.

    The EU European Drought Observatory has calculated that 45% of the bloc’s territory was under drought warning by mid-July, with 13% already on red alert, prompting the European Commission to warn of a “critical” situation in multiple regions.

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  • England’s water and sewage chiefs awarded themselves £27m amid leakages of 2.4bn litres a day

    Water company bosses should be banned from giving themselves bonuses until they fix their leaky pipes, the Liberal Democrats have demanded.

    New figures uncovered by the party found that England’s water and sewage company bosses have awarded themselves about £27m in bonuses over the past two years.

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  • Exclusive: plant at Suffolk port is slated to produce 100megawatts of power from 2026

    ScottishPower is planning to build a £150m green hydrogen plant at the Port of Felixstowe to power trains, trucks and ships, the Guardian can reveal.

    The energy company has drawn up proposals for a 100megawatt plant at the Suffolk port which will provide enough fuel to power 1300 hydrogen trucks from 2026.

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  • Meanwhile heavy rainfall predicted to far exceed annual averages in South and North Korea

    While it feels as though Europe should be starting to see the end of its heatwaves, scorching temperatures are expected to continue across the north and west of the continent this week. As high pressure becomes established, parts of France and Spain could experience temperatures of 38C (100.4F) between Wednesday and Saturday. A prolonged hot period is also forecast to hit the UK with temperatures exceeding 30C, and maximum temperatures possibly hitting as high as 35C.

    Meanwhile, low pressure and a slack south-westerly wind across the East China and Yellow seas will bring heavy rain across the Korean peninsula over the coming week, the second monsoon spell of the season. Daily rainfall totals of 100mm to 150mm could hit South Korea’s capital, Seoul, on Monday, with high levels of precipitation extending north-eastwards across northern Chungcheong and North Gyeonsang provinces.

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  • Campaigners visit Berkshire estate belonging to Richard Benyon, minister in charge of access to nature

    It’s hard to know what access to nature minister Richard Benyon normally finds in his gigantic Berkshire estate when he strolls out on a Sunday afternoon. It is unlikely, however, to be a loudly singing group of activist trespassers, dressed up as psychedelic animals and accompanied by an all-female morris-dancing troupe.

    But that’s what wandered up his drive on Sunday, when protesters visited the Englefield estate, calling on Benyon to open it up to the public and extend access for everyone to green space across England.

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  • Hilary Walker, Simon Jones and Lois Keith on how low-traffic neighbourhoods are blighting the lives of many residents. Plus a letter from Alun Gordonon how LTNs have helped his east London community

    George Monbiot overplays the delights of the community effect of low-traffic neighbourhoods in Oxford and underplays their disadvantages (Ignore the culture warriors – low traffic neighbourhoods don’t close streets, they liberate them, 3 August). Those living in the arterial roads, which now contain higher volumes of traffic often at a standstill, are experiencing high levels of pollution. Small businesses are closing because customer access has become difficult and suppliers cannot reach them in a timely way. Taxi drivers need to take circuitous routes to deliver passengers.

    Those who need to drive cars or vans because of disability or for work are experiencing huge detours and delays. Buses cannot keep to their timetables so bus journeys are unreliable and less pleasant.

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  • Allendale, Northumberland: It’s taken a lot of careful planning, but our corner of this sunny valley is teeming with bees, beetles and butterflies

    Early morning in my garden and the catmint path is already noisy with bumblebees. They hurry from one open-lipped mauve tube to another, their wings back-lit silver by the new day’s light. Sprigs of catmint bend under the weight of the bees before bouncing up again. The hazy billowing plants on either side of the gravel path have met down the middle; they brush against my legs as I walk, making insects fly up all around me.

    In the borders, small skipper butterflies feed from lavender and pink betony. Common red soldier beetles mate on the domed heads of wild carrot. Wasps crowd on metallic grey domes of sea hollies. Bright winged red admirals colour the buddleia and hoverflies dart and skirmish among Mexican daisies. I am astonished by such richness, by so much abundance.

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  • First spotted in Hawaii in 2016 more than two miles beneath the surface, scientists are slowly learning the cephalopod’s secrets

    A white octopus sat on the seabed, gently waggling its short, stubby arms and peering with beady eyes into the camera of a deep-diving robot.

    It was 2016, in waters off Hawaii, at a depth of 4,290 metres (2.6 miles). No one had ever seen an octopus like it, and certainly not so deep. Based on its ghostly appearance, it was nicknamed Casper.

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  • At his remote woodland home, Ben Green is trying to stay positive about a collapse of the food supply

    Ben Green doesn’t have to worry that Vladimir Putin might cut off Europe’s gas this winter, fret about a seasonal revival of Covid-19, or panic about a looming global food crisis.

    Green weaned himself off gas when he purchased the five-hectare (12-acre) grounds of a derelict East German army barracks three years ago: the previous owner, who used it as an outdoor museum for vintage tanks, had gutted the building of water and gas pipes. Green patched up the roof of the refectory and insulated the windows so that temperatures inside don’t drop below 5C at night. He bathes by pouring a bucket of cold water over his head and cooks on a wood-burning stove.

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  • Parts of UK are preparing for emergency water measures despite country getting more annual rainfall than rest of Europe

    Many parts of southern England and Wales are facing drought conditions and are preparing for emergency water measures, yet the country gets more annual rainfall than anywhere in continental Europe.

    The long periods of drizzle Britain is renowned for mean we take water for granted in a way some hotter countries do not. But as the climate gets hotter and we become drier, this will no longer be feasible. So how did we get here and what can politicians, companies and individuals do to mitigate against drought?

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Eco Health News feeds

Eco Nature News feeds

  • Here's some recent arts and culture news to help bring nature to life for you, wherever you are.

  • In case you missed it: Communities across the southern coast of the U.S. are now losing their land — and the culture it represents — to sea-level rise. Nature can help.

  • In case you missed it: Species living in extreme conditions could advance antibiotic production.

  • In this explainer, we dive into “aquaculture,” a method for farming fish, which can sustainably satisfy the world's growing appetite for seafood — when done correctly.

  • In case you missed it: Brazil's rainforests are in serious trouble.

  • Here's some recent arts and culture news to help bring nature to life, wherever you are.

  • In case you missed it: Mudslinging is on the rise in the Senegalese city of Dakar.

  • Here are some announcements you may have missed from the 2022 UN Ocean Conference.

  • Editor's note: News about conservation and the environment is made every day, but some of it can fly under the radar. In a recurring feature, Conservation News shares three stories from the past week that you should know about.

    1. The world’s largest plant is a self-cloning sea grass in Australia

    Scientists have discovered a new contender for the largest living organism.

    The story: Last week, we brought you a story about the world’s oldest living things. This week, it’s the largest.

    A new study has revealed that a massive meadow of sea grass off the coast of Australia is one giant, self-cloning organism, reports Kate Golembiewski for the New York Times. The species, called Poseidon’s ribbon weed, or Posidonia australis, has been expanding over an area the size of Cincinnati for more than 4,500 years.

    Golembiewski writes that Posidonia is able to clone itself by creating new shoots that branch off from its root system. But it gets even stranger: Posidonia isn’t just a clone. Researchers believe it may also be a polyploidy — a hybrid from two distinct species, possessing two complete sets of chromosomes. Polyploidy occurs in many different species, but often produces individuals that can't reproduce. In the case of Posidonia, cloning itself is the only way to stay alive.

    The big picture: Posidonia isn’t the only clonal plant colony in the world. One of the most famous and largest is a quaking aspen colony in Utah known as “Pando,” which originated from a single seed sometime near the end of the last ice age. The colony now makes up 40,000 aspen trees that are connected by a continuous root system.

    Scientists fear climate change and other sustained environmental degradation could spell the end of Pando, which has been shrinking in size in recent years. Posidonia, which is old enough to have survived the last ice age, may fare better in the face of rapidly shifting temperatures. In fact, Elizabeth Sinclair, one of the study’s authors, said the plant’s extra genes could give it “the ability to cope with a broad range of conditions, which is a great thing in climate change.”

    Read more here.

    2. Crackling or desolate?: AI trained to hear coral's sounds of life

    Scientists can now listen for healthy coral.

    The story: The world’s coral reefs are struggling to survive. Climate-driven marine heatwaves have caused mass bleaching and die-offs, with 14 percent of the world's coral reefs destroyed between 2009 and 2018. Now, a group of scientists has developed a novel approach for detecting the damage: Using hundreds of reef recordings, they’ve trained a computer to track the health of coral reefs by listening to them, reports Angie Teo for Reuters.

    Thriving reefs sound a bit like a campfire, crackling with the cacophony of underwater life. In contrast, degraded reefs are far more silent. New research has shown that artificial intelligence can pick up on audio patterns that are not detectable to humans — providing fast, accurate data.

    “Sound recorders and AI could be used around the world to monitor the health of reefs, and discover whether attempts to protect and restore them are working,” the study’s co-author Tim Lamont told Cosmos. “In many cases it’s easier and cheaper to deploy an underwater hydrophone on a reef and leave it there than to have expert divers visiting the reef repeatedly to survey it, especially in remote locations.”

    The big picture: From motion-detector cameras that provide a real-world view of vulnerable species’ habitats, to tracking devices for monitoring wildlife migrations — technology is helping conservationists find solutions for critical environmental challenges.

    For example, Wildlife Insights, a cloud-based platform developed by Conservation International, Google and other partners, uses algorithms to identify camera trap images far faster than any researcher can. The data is critical to crafting smart policies for wildlife conservation.

    This month, Conservation International and partners launched a new app called “Fin Finder,” which enables customs inspectors to take a photo of a shark or manta ray fin and identify it within seconds. Powered by artificial intelligence, the app can help governments confiscate fins that are illegal to trade.

    Read more here.


    FURTHER READING:


    3. How this golden-eyed feline became the biggest comeback in cat conservation

    This cat is the star of a success story.

    The story: The Iberian lynx is the most endangered feline species in the world. The elusive cat, known for its distinctive amber eyes and bushy beard, was pushed to the brink by hunting, habitat loss and a virus that killed its main source of prey — the European rabbit. At its lowest point, less than 100 existed in the wild.

    But now, after 20 years of dedicated conservation efforts and a successful captive-breeding program, the lynx has made a triumphant return throughout its native habitat in Spain and Portugal, reports Christine Dell’amore for National Geographic. Slowly but surely, the population has inched upward and now there are around 400 individuals roaming the scrublands of Southern Europe.

    The big picture: The comeback cat still has a long road to recovery. Like many other large predators, the Iberian lynx needs a large, uninterrupted habitat with plenty of room to roam. But right now, its thousand-square-mile territory is fragmented and honeycombed by busy highways and other infrastructure. For Iberian lynx to truly bounce back, the isolated populations need to be able to reach one another and breed.

    The solution is to build wildlife corridors — essential passageways that allow animals to move from one safe location to another. It’s an approach that has worked for many other highly mobile species, including chimpanzees. Right now, efforts are underway to reconnect the fragmented habitat and help these felines find one another once again.

    Read more here.


    FURTHER READING:


    Will McCarry is a staff writer at Conservation International. Want to read more stories like this? Sign up for email updates here. Donate to Conservation International here.

    Cover image: A large seagrass bed in Honduras (© Joanne-Weston)

  • In case you missed it: Two ancient trees bring attention to the threat of global warming, hybridization could help some animals adapt to rising temperatures and companies must decrease deforestation to prevent climate-related losses.