Dying Chinese river sees red. A river in northern China is polluted so badly that it is turning dark red in some sections. Industrial discharge and household wastewater the Futuo River are causing the problem and chronic illnesses among some of the 50,000 people who live along its banks, a government publication says. Skin, circulatory and gastrointestinal diseases are common among the population, the state-run China Environment News reports. Part of the river, previously used for fishing, is reddish-brown and has inches of white foam floating on some parts. Water from a 400-foot well in the area, Anping County, is red and has a strong odor. The report blamed wastewater and industrial discharge from factories upstream for the pollution. — Denver Post

Mining for more information about political cover-up in Canada. Three Canadian environmental advocacy groups are alleging that Environment minister John Baird allowed the mining industry to conceal some of the pollution it causes. Ecojustice, MiningWatch Canada and Great Lakes United have filed an application for a judicial review in the Federal Court of the minister’s conduct. The notice of application alleges that Baird “…has abused his discretion by communicating to mining facilities in a manner that permits them to violate the Canadian Environmental Protection Act.” It also alleges Environment Canada officials told mining companies they didn’t have to report millions of kilograms of mining waste to the National Pollutant Release Inventory. — 940 News, Montreal

Clean coal for Christmas? Western Australia may have a plant which produces coal which is more environmentally friendly than regular coal by Christmas. Griffin Coal says it expects to begin work on developing its new char plant at its Ewington site, in south-west WA by the end of December. Char is a highly carbonised form of coal developed through a heating and drying process to make it burn more efficiently and produce more energy. Griffin Coal’s Ian Pigott says char reduces greenhouse impacts because about it is “…more efficient in its use and processes downstream.” — ABC News

EBA wants parties to come to the party. Business think tank Environment Business Australia has written an open letter to the Australia’s two main political parties calling for them to support climate change action. EBA’s letter outlines seven key climate change and clean energy actions and asks each party to indicate a week before the election which of them they would commit to. EBA chief executive Fiona Wain says action on climate change needs to be a national priority. There is also a huge opportunity to take advantage of the growing $750 billion environmental industry market, which is expected to double in the next decade, she says. — The Age

Climate didn’t kill our ancestors. Scientists have long been trying to discover why Neanderthals became extinct, but it looks unlikely climate change was the culprit. A new study has used climate records from Venezuela to plot what happened at the Neanderthals’ last stand at the southern tip of Europe 30,000 years ago. Head researcher Chronis Tzedakis, from England’s University of Leeds, said that a switch to a cold, dry climate probably did not cause the end of the Neanderthals, because of all the probable dates for their extinction, most do not lie near major cold events in the climate record. — The Hindu

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey