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Environment

UN reports Antarctica’s highest temperatures on record

The UN’s World Meteorological Organization published the highest temperatures on record in three Antarctic zones Wednesday, setting a benchmark for studying how climate change is affecting this crucial region.

“Verification of maximum and minimum temperatures help us to build up a picture of the weather and climate in one of Earth’s final frontiers,” Michael Sparrow, a polar expert with the WMO-affiliated World Climate Research Programme, said in a statement.

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Hundreds of North American bee species face extinction: study

More than 700 of the 4,000 native bee species in North America and Hawaii are believed to be inching toward extinction due to increased pesticide use leading to habitat loss, a scientific study (PDF) showed on Wednesday.

The Center for Biological Diversity’s report concluded that of the 1,437 native bee species for which there was sufficient data to evaluate, about 749 of them were declining. Some 347 of the species, which play a vital role in plant pollination, are imperiled and at risk of extinction, the study found.

“It’s a quiet but staggering crisis unfolding right under our noses that illuminates the unacceptably high cost of our careless addiction to pesticides and monoculture farming,” its author, Kelsey Kopec, said in a statement.

Habitat loss, along with heavy pesticide use, climate change and increasing urbanization are the main causes for declining bee populations, the study found.

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Toxic waste dumped in community in southeast Nigeria’s Delta

Toxic waste has been dumped in a farming town in southeast Nigeria’s restive oil-producing Delta region, a state government official and a community leader said on Wednesday.

It was dumped in Koko, a town in the Warri north local government district of Delta state, said Thankgod Seibi, special assistant to the state’s governor on community development.

“The waste was brought in from a foreign country into Nigeria and dumped at Koko. The state government has not done anything about it yet,” he said. Seibi did not give details of the foreign country.

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China orders aluminum, steel cuts in war on smog

China has ordered steel and aluminum producers in 28 cities to slash output during winter, outlined plans to curb coal use in the capital and required coal transport by rail in the north, as Beijing intensifies its war on smog, a policy document shows.

The government has called on steel producers to halve output in four northern provinces – Hebei, Shanxi, Shandong, Henan – as well as Beijing and Tianjin, during the peak winter heating months around late November to late February. The size of the cuts will depend on the level of regions’ emissions cuts.

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Congo expels Greenpeace employee, filmmaker, investigating logging

Authorities in Democratic Republic of Congo have expelled a Greenpeace employee and a filmmaker following a trip to forest communities affected by industrial logging.

The expulsions last month follow similar moves against foreign researchers over the past year that have drawn accusations the government is cracking down on criticism due to heightened political tensions.

The government denies this.

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China’s coal consumption falls for 3rd year in a row

China’s consumption of coal fell in 2016 for a third year in a row, official data showed Tuesday, as the world’s top carbon polluter has emerged as a global leader in addressing global warming.

The National Bureau of Statistics said the consumption of coal, a major source of heat-trapping carbon dioxide emissions, fell by 4.7 percent last year, according to preliminary calculations.

The bureau said the share of coal in China’s total energy consumption mix fell to 62 percent in 2016 from 64 percent the year before. A revised figure in the China Energy Statistical Yearbook put the 2015 figure at 63.7 percent, but Tuesday’s report referenced the preliminary figures reported last year.

While China is the world’s biggest consumer of coal, its consumption levels have dropped as economic growth slows to its lowest level since 1990. With its major cities gripped by choking air pollution, China has also aimed to reduce coal usage in favor of natural gas and renewable energy including hydro, wind and solar power.

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