News Analysis

Announcing the 2017 winners of The Leontief Prize for Economics
29th March, 2017

This year's prestigious Leontief Prize for economics has been awarded to Professors James Boyce and Joan Martinez-Alier for their ground-breaking theoretical and applied work integrating ecological, developmental, and justice-oriented approaches into the field of economics. They are worthy winners, says NICK MEYNEN

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Sumatran elephant at Tangkahan, Sumatra, Indonesia. The species' native rainforest habit is fast giving way to thousands of square miles of palm oil plantation. Photo: Vincent Poulissen via Flickr (CC BY-SA).

The oilpalm connection: is the Sumatran elephant the price of our cheap meat?
28th March 2017

We may know that palm oil is wiping out rainforests worldwide, writes Philip Lymbery. But few realise that our factory farmed meat and dairy are contributing to the problem. As revealed in Philip's new book, 'Dead Zone: Where the Wild Things Were', palm kernels, left after pressing the fruit for oil, is a protein-rich livestock feed of growing importance. And nowhere is the impact greater than Sumatra, home (for now) to its own unique species of elephant.

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Ecologist Special Report: Why mining and violence are inextricably linked
27th March, 2017

The South African government is currently embarking on streamlining decision-making processes in mining. To many this sounds like more top-down decision-making at the expense of those communities that will have to host mines and paves the way for more violent conflict, warns JASPER FINKELDEY

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Join the Resurgence Trust and help keep The Ecologist as a free service

The not-for-profit Resurgence Trust has owned and run The Ecologist website since 2012. Since then, we have maintained this site as a free service to an international community that shares our agenda of seeking positive solutions to the challenges of environment, social justice and ethical living. Help us to keep doing this by joining the Trust or making a donation today

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Eric Dooh from Goi, plaintiff in the Dutch court case against Shell for oil pollution in the Niger Delta, Nigeria, a biodiversity hotspot in which conflict has been raging for decades. Photo: Milieudefensie / Akintunde Akinleye via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA).

War, human rights and biodiversity: turning conflict into conservation
23rd March 2017

Over 90% of major armed conflicts between 1950-2000 occurred in countries containing biodiversity hotspots,writes Alex Reid, and more than 80% of these took place in the hotspot areas themselves. This poses a major challenge to the conservation community: to work in combat zones to strengthen environmental protection before, during and after conflicts. Or better still, to defuse incipient conflicts and resolve those under way, to reduce their toll on people, and nature.

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Green Living

The Challenges of Green Living: Finding Enough Food In Nature
24th March, 2017

Before taking to a low impact lifestyle aboard his narrowboat, PAUL MILES imagined foraging - especially in springtime - would keep his galley larder well stocked but learns the reality is very different ...

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The Rollright Stones in North Oxfordshire, not far from Paul's home town of Banbury. Photo: Cyrus Mower via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

Noise, the 'ignored pollutant': health, nature and ecopsychology
9th March 2017

The sonic backdrop to our lives is increasingly one of unwanted technospheric noise, writes Paul Mobbs. And as it eclipses the sounds of nature, it's taking its toll on our health, wellbeing and quality of life. So as well as campaigning for more trees, and quieter cars, trucks and aircraft, what's to be done? Let us seek out calm moments of quiet tranquillity - and listen to the birds.

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EARTH FESTIVALS 2017
2nd March, 2017

Get your planner out says HAZEL SILLVER. Here's 12 eco-minded and outdoorsy festivals to book and enjoy in 2017

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Campaigning

English badger at sunset near Canterbury, Kent. Let's all blame him for farmers' poor biosecurity! Photo: Ian Blacker via Flickr (CC BY-ND).

Is Natural England granting unlawful badger cull licences to farmers with poor biosecurity?
29th March 2017

Below-par farm biosecurity should block farmers from participating in England's badger culls, writes Anna Dale. But a large body of evidence of poor and negligent biosecurity by farmers suggests that Natural England, the government's official regulator, is turning a blind eye to this strict legal requirement - and undermining the purpose of the cull. Chris Packham sets out the background ...

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Support Woodland Trust's ‘Save Our Ancients' campaign to save UK's ancient woodland
20th March 2017

There's welcome news for campaigners lobbying for the protection of Britain's ancient woodland. LAURA BRIGGS reports

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The future is hard to foretell. So instead, why not create the future you want? Photo: Aurora Borealis in Iceland by Victor Montol via Flickr (CC BY) with Kirkjufell Mountain and Kirkjufellsfoss waterfall.

Sixteen Big Ideas to change the world and create a better future
17th March 2017

In the fight for a better, cleaner, more just and sustainable world, it's not enough just to oppose all all the 'bads' that crowd in from all sides, writes Mike Childs. We also have to build our own vision of the future, and map out the changes we must make to get there. And that's what Friends of the Earth is setting out to do in its transformational 'Big Ideas Change the World' project.

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Interviews

The ARTS Interview: Soundscape Artist, Matthew Shaw
23rd March, 2017

Ecologist Arts Editor, GARY COOK, meets a UK-based artist/musician whose unique 'soundscapes' capture the other worldly genus loci of the natural world - its sacred sites and hidden gems

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The ARTS Interview: Botanical Artist, Jess Shepherd
1st February, 2017

Ecologist Arts Editor, GARY COOK meets an artist determined to put plants centre stage with her new Leafscape project which includes a new exhibition this month and a crowd-funded book

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Essays

High levels of 'electrosmog' detected in downtown Manhatta, New York City, Photo: Martinez Zea via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA).

Cellphones, wifi and cancer: Will Trump's budget cuts zap vital ‘electrosmog' research?
27th March 2017

Just as long term research into the health impacts of the 'electrosmog' created by wifi and mobile phones is yielding its first results, it's at risk of sudden termination from President Trump's budget cuts, writes Paul Mobbs. But the cuts have little to do with saving money - and a lot to do with protecting corporate profit and economic growth from harsh truths, including evidence that electrosmog causes cancer in laboratory rats, and maybe humans too.

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EDF's 4x900MW Nuclear power plant at Dampierre-en-Burly, commissioned in 1980, will soon turn from a money machine into a monstrous financial drain. Photo: Pymouss via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA).

EDF facing bankruptcy as decommissioning time for France's ageing nuclear fleet nears
16th March 2017

Soon EDF will have to start the biggest, most complex and costliest nuclear decommissioning and radioactive waste management programme on earth, writes Paul Dorfman. But whereas Germany has set aside €38 billion to decommission 17 nuclear reactors, France has set aside only €23 billion to decommission its 58 reactors. When the real costs come in, they could easily bankrupt the company.

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Near the site of the UK's 1958 Grapple Y H-bomb test at Kiritimati, Christmas Island, in 2013. Photo: Warren Jackson via Flickr (CC BY-NC).

Atom bomb test veterans: Soviet justice in London's High Court
8th March 2017

Britain's long-suffering nuclear bomb test veterans have once again had justice denied to them, writes Chris Busby, by a shocking piece of judicial chicanery in London's High Court in which the judge whimsically excluded all the scientific evidence that did not suit the Ministry of Defence. But the veterans' fight for justice and scientific truth continues, facing its next test in the Court of Appeal.

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Factory in Perafita, Porto, Portugal. Photo: José Moutinho via Flickr (CC BY).

How a toxic spill and a book launched Britain's environmental movement - the forgotten story
22nd February 2017

The mass poisoning of farm animals in Kent in 1963 was traced to a factory where a pesticide developed as a WWII chemical warfare agent was manufactured, writes John Clark. The event, so close to the publication of Rachel Carson's 'Silent Spring', galvanised a growing ecological awareness - all the more so as the government's only wish was to hush the matter up.

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Image: Kevin Dooley via Flickr (CC BY).

Renewable energy and the circular economy - transforming the world, together
1st February 2017

Renewable energy, without doubt, is both driving and shaping the clean global economy of the future, writes Jeremy Leggett. But don't forget its equally essential partner: closing the consumption loop to create a truly circular economy in which there is no longer any such thing as 'waste', only resources we are not yet smart enough to use.

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Blogs

Coal mining on our lands comes with serious environmental consequences that we can no longer afford - as seen at the Black Thunder mjne in Wyoming's Powder River Basin. Photo: courtesy of Ecoflight.

Executive Order removes climate safeguards - now, the fightback
29th March 2017

In a potentially devastating blow to the Earth's climate, President Trump's new executive order ends the Interior Department's moratorium on coal mining on public land and begins a repeal of the landmark Clean Power Plan, writes Trip Van Noppen. But this reckless move will not pass unchallenged - the Supreme Court has ruled that the EPA must tackle climate pollution, and clean energy policies can still be defended and advanced at state level.

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WITNESS: Investigating ocean acidification (Part 2)
23rd March, 2017

In the second part of his WITNESS blog investigating the dangers of increasing ocean acidification, CONOR PURCELL learns that increase rates are already 10 times higher than at any time in the last 55 million years which, naturally, does not bode well for all ocean ecosystems

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WITNESS: Investigating ocean acidification (Part 1)
22nd March, 2017

In the first of his two-part WITNESS blog CONOR PURCELL joins the Irish marine scientists aboard the Celtic Explorer to learn more about how they are testing for ocean acidification

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Force of Nature
17th March, 2017

The curator of the new Force of Nature exhibition in London's Art Pavilion tells our Arts Editor, GARY COOK, that from the beginning of human history, and in every culture, nature has played a vital role in creative expression

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The Ethical Foodie: Walk on the wild side
14th March, 2017

As the UK Forestry Commission imposes a blanket ban on foraging in the New Forest, our food columnist, chef TIM MADDAMS questions the wisdom of this and makes the link between foraging and mindfulness

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Resurgence & Ecologist Magazine

Manifesto for the Green Mind
3 March 2017

Jules Pretty sets out a plan to engage people with Nature and create more sustainable and enjoyable living for everyone. The first call to action is: “Every child outdoors every day”.

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Comment

Taking the First Step - Towards uniting and forming an activist-based Global Left
29th March, 2017

As UK Prime Minister triggers Article 50 and the negotiations for Britain's exit from Europe today (20th March, 2017) serious activists should take a step back, reflect on the hydra-like nature of capitalism and how their own lives have become ensnared by it, and then begin to organize for the long game, writes WILLIAM HAWES

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Photo: VIVA & Allen Hanford Ltd.

Human rights are animal rights!
28th March 2017

Abusing animals is no more justifiable than abusing people, writes Peter Tatchell. The moral touchstone is sentience, not species, and the 'humans first' ideology of speciesism is analogous to homophobia, racism & misogyny. Cruelty is barbarism, whether inflicted on humans or on other species. We need to recognise and accept our common animal nature.

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Organic beetroot grown at Sandy lane Farm, Oxfordshire: good for you, the farmer, wildlife and the wider environment. Photo: Sandy lane Farm via Facebook.

We need more organic farming!
23rd March 2017

A new study sets out the huge benefits of organic farming to people and the environment, writes Peter Melchett, including more wildlife, healthier consumers and farm workers, lower greenhouse gas emissions, reduced soil erosion and increased water retention. We need more of it, fast!

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So-called 'smart meters' add up to little but cheaper meter reading for power companies, unless we make them, and the grid, able to deliver variable pricing that reflects the balance of electricity demand and supply. Photo: DeptfordJon via Flickr (CC BY).

Green groups must denounce the sham 'smart meter' scandal
22nd March 2017

So-called 'smart meters' are being rolled out across the UK, writes David Toke, but they don't support the dynamic pricing that's essential to expand renewable energy and decarbonise our electricity. It's time for green NGOs to get campaigning - and not leave vital decisions to a hostile government, a failing regulator and industry insiders.

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A forest? You might not think so, but according to the FAO's definition, oh yes it is! Photo: Balaji Kasirajan via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA).

FAO: Plantations are not forests!
21st March 2017

Since 1948 the UN's Food and Agriculture has been clinging to an outmoded definition of 'forests' that includes industrial wood plantations, writes WRM in this Open Letter for delivery to the FAO today, International Forests Day. This mis-definition seriously harms real forests and forest peoples as it justifies the clearance of real forests and their replacement with cash crops of trees.

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Badgered to death? Photo: Andrew Gray via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA).

Badgered to Death? Now MPs have no excuse for ignorance
20th March 2017

The badger cull is a clear failure on scientific, cost and humanity grounds, writes Dominic Dyer. Yet the government is planning a major extension of the cull in 2017. That's why he has just sent a copy of his acclaimed book to every British MP, before they debate the issue next week. Write to yours now demanding an end to the slaughter!

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Aviation or ice shelves? Thje choice is ours. Photo: NASA’s DC-8 flies over the crack forming across the Pine Island Glacier ice shelf, 26th October 2011; by Jefferson Beck / NASA via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY).

Heathrow 2.0: a 'sustainable airport'? Or alternative facts on planes and pollution?
17th March 2017

The facts are simple: a new London runway means more planes, more noise, more pollution and more global warming, write David Howarth & Steven Griggs. The 'Heathrow 2.0' initiative's conflation of 'sustainability' and 'sustainable growth' and its avoidance of climate change reek of Trumpian 'alternative facts'.

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Reviews

Bacon with nipple: Still from 'Carnage' by Simon Amstell / BBC iPlayer.

'Carnage' imagines a vegan utopia where animals live as equals - could it happen?
28th March 2017

In the year 2067, the eating of meat - carnism - will be seen as crime similar to cannibalism today, writes Matthew Adams. That is, in the fertile imagination of Simon Amstell, expressed in his BBC iPlayer film 'Carnage'. With 55 billion animals slaughtered every year for their meat, the vision looks remote. But the world will be a far better place if we begin the transition to plant-based diets - for our health, that of the planet, and not least, the animals themselves.

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From front cover of 'Slugs and Snails by Robert Cameron, published by Harper Collins.

Slugs and snails
7th March 2017

In this long-anticipated volume, Robert Cameron introduces us to the natural history of slugs and snails of the British Isles, writes Martin Spray, also venturing across the world to explore the wide range of structures and ways of life of slugs and snails, particularly their sometimes bizarre mating habits, which in turn help to illuminate the ways in which evolution has shaped the living world.

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Bobby the Brown Long-Eared Bat. Image - from website: bobbythebrownlong-earedbat.co.uk.

Twinkle, twinkle ... Bobby the Brown Long-Eared Bat
17th January 2017

This charming and beautifully illustrated story book will give pleasure to children everywhere, writes Lesley Docksey. It will also open their eyes (and with luck, those of parents and siblings) to the wonderful world of bats, and what we can do to look after them.

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Right of Reply

MSC Response to New Zealand Fisheries Article

In its Right of Reply to our recent article questioning the sustainability of New Zealand fishing practices, the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) explains its certification is based on current and not historical practices.

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Longleaf Pine Regeneration in South Carolina. Photo: Justin Meissen via Flickr (CC BY-SA).

UK biomass power industry is a vital part of the renewable energy mix
27th October 2016

Contrary to arguments advanced in a recent Ecologist article, the biomass industry supplying the Drax power station in North Yorkshire is a model of sustainability, writes Nina Skorupska, and delivers genuine, substantial emissions reductions compared to coal.

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SBP certification scheme: debunking the myths
7th September, 2016

In a second response to a recent article published in the Ecologist, "Are the UK 'biomass sustainability standards' legitimising forest destruction?", SBP Chief Executive Officer Carstem Huljus debunks the myths in a right of reply

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Ecologist Partners

LUSH ethical cosmetics company launches a new Spring Prize fund for regenerative projects
6th January, 2017

Nominations have opened for the new Lush Spring Prize. Launched jointly with the Ethical Consumer Research Association this is a new and very welcome £200,000 annual prize fund that aims to support those projects around the world that work towards environmental and social regeneration.

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Lancashire: a local demonstration against fracking - 'Nanas to the front. Advance!' Photo: Victoria Buchan-Dyer via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

Fracking trumps climate change, pollution, health - and democracy
13th October 2016

Last week the EU ratified the Paris Agreement to limit climate change, writes Tony Bosworth. So how did Communities Secretary Sajid Javid mark the occasion? By overturning Lancashire's democratic rejection of fracking, so giving a whole new fossil fuel industry the green light to let rip. Hypocrisy? The word hardly does justice to our government's mendacity.

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Calendar

Postgrowth debate on 28 Nov 2016

The End of Growth?
11 November 2016

An evening debate with Federico Demaria, Graeme Maxton, Jørgen Randers and Kate Raworth at the House of Commons, Monday 28 Nov 2016

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Feeding the Insatiable
7th October 2016

An international summit exploring real and imagined narratives of art, energy and consumption for a troubled planet, taking place at Schumacher College, Dartington, on 11th November 2016

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Courses

Yale University Launches Online Specialization Classes Open to the Public
9th September, 2016

If you've got the 'Back to School' bug this week then check out these brand new online courses from the prestigious Yale University's School of Forestry and Environmental studies - the courses are based on the award-winning Journey of the Universe film and book

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Educating for Gaia: a wholistic approach to Earth science
28th April 2016

As a society, we are strangely disconnected from the Earth, writes Stephan Harding. It's as if we were aliens placed here to prod and poke with our scientific instruments whilst feeling no sense of meaning, belonging or closeness to her ancient crumpled surface or rich, teeming biodiversity - a state of mind that a forthcoming course at Schumacher College aims to reverse.

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News in Brief

Cattle grazing in Maharashtra, India. With global warming, their forage will get tougher, and their methane emissions higher. Photo: Vijay Sonar via Flickr (CC BY).

Spiral of doom: hotter world increases cattle methane emissions
27th March 2017

A vicious cycle of climate change, cattle diet and rising methane has been revealed in a new scientific study: as temperatures rise, forage plants get tougher and harder to digest, and cause more methane to be produced in bovine stomachs. And with cattle numbers rising and methane 85 times more powerful a greenhouse gas over 20 years, that spells trouble.

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Impacts of mass coral die-off on Indian Ocean reefs revealed


Warming sea waters - caused by climate change and extreme climatic events - threaten the stability of tropical coral reefs, with potentially devastating implications for many reef species and the human communities that reefs support warn scientists at Exeter University

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Victoria water lilies in Pucate Creek (Quebrada Pucate) off Rio Marañon, Peru. Photo: Mike LaBarbera via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

Scientists: protect vast Amazon peatland to avoid palm oil 'environmental disaster'
23rd March 2017

A recently discovered peatland in northeast Peru contains two years worth of US carbon emissions, writes Joe Sandler Clarke, but it's under threat from the rapidly advancing 'palm oil frontier'. Now scientists are calling for the wetland's immediate protection - before it's too late to save it.

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Coyote Springs Natural Gas Plant, Oregon, USA. Photo: Portland General Electric via Flickr (CC BY-ND).

Natural gas leaks from power plants, refineries, 100 times greater than thought
22nd March 2017

Natural gas is meant to be a far lower carbon fuel than coal, writes Steve Horn. But a new study shows that methane leaks from gas power plants and oil refineries are 20-120 times higher than thought. And with methane a greenhouse gas almost 100 times stronger than CO2 over 20 years, the leaks are equivalent to about a tenth of the US's CO2 emissions.

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Radiation hotspot in Kashiwa following the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe. Photo: Abasaa via Wikimedia Commons (Public Domain).

Fukushima court ruling holds 'reckless' Tepco and government liable
2ist March 2017

A Japanese court has found the government and Tepco culpable for the Fukushima nuclear disaster for failing to act on clear warnings of the dangers of seismic shocks, writes Shaun Burnie. The ruling is sending a shockwave through Japan's 'nuclear village' and may end all prospects of any mass restart of reactors.

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Fukushima farmers grow traditional brown cotton
20th March, 2017

In 2011 the Fukushima region of Japan was devastated by an earthquake and nuclear disaster. Six years on, the residents have begun to rebuild their lives and are producing Japanese cotton.

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Plastic waste being sorted by hand in Babakan, West Java, Indonesia. Photo: Ikhlasul Amal via Flickr (CC BY-NC).

UK exporting 67% of plastic waste amid 'illegal practices' warnings
13th March 2017

Britain's trade in waste plastic to the Far East is booming. But it's not good news. The exported plastic is meant to be recycled under UK conditions and standards, but often is not, undermining bona fide UK recycling firms who face falling prices, reduced turnover, collapsing profits, and all too often, closure.

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Birdwatching helps beats depression
1st March, 2017


People living in neighbourhoods with more birds, shrubs and trees are less likely to suffer from depression, anxiety and stress, according to research by academics at the University of Exeter, the British Trust for Ornithology and the University of Queensland

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Photographs showing the growth of plants and seed heads of the new golden rice crosses versus the non-GMO cultivar. The GMO golden rice is the abnormal and stunted one on the left. Photo: from PLOS One.

GMO golden rice trials fail: stunted plants, reduced grain yield
1st March 2017

The troubled project to develop GMO 'golden rice' cultivars has just hit a serious obstacle. An attempt to breed the 'event' responsible for carotenoid production into a commercial rice variety has produced widespread genomic instability, causing weak plants and poor grain production. Has the golden rice hype bubble finally burst?

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This smog, seen over London from Primrose Hill, is unlawful. But how to stop it if you can't take the government to court? Photo: Luton Anderson via Flickr (CC BY-SA).

Government tries to puts itself above environmental law
28th February 2017

The UK government hates to be held accountable in court when it breaks environmental laws like those on air quality. So it has created new rules - coming into force today - that expose environmental litigants to unlimited financial liabilities. Now three leading NGOs have done to the High Court to argue that the rules themselves are in breach the UK's international obligations.

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The Amazonian manatee, considered 'vulnerable' by the IUCN, is among the species at risk if oil drilling goes ahead. Photo: susy freitas via Flickr (CC BY-NC).

BP, Total oil drilling would endanger newly discovered Amazon coral reef
23rd February 2017

A unique and pristine coral reef in the mouth of the Amazon is threatened by oil drilling planned by oil giants Total and BP, say the scientists who recently explored it. But the oil companies are determined to press ahead despite the risks, writes Lawrence Carter, and Brazil's environment ministry is set to give its approval.

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UK researchers discover a new species of primate from Africa's Angolan rainforests
22nd February, 2017

Until now, civil unrest and the difficulty of working at night have stood in the way of understanding the true nocturnal diversity of the African rainforests but the recent discovery of a new species of primate hints at what lies in wait to be discovered

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