The Ecologist



Goodbye fossil fuels, goodbye nuclear. We can 'Get it from the Sun' - all of it!

Keith Barnham

30th November 2015

Solar and wind power are everywhere in Germany, putting the country on course for a 100% renewable electricity system by 2020. Photo: Tim Fuller via Flickr (CC BY). New research shows that wind and solar can meet 80% of Germany's power demand, with biogas and hydropower providing the balance, writes Keith Barnham. And if Germany can do it, so can other countries, many of them even more easily - with no need for fossil fuels or nuclear power. COP21 should raise its ambitions and commit to a 100% renewable electricity future, everywhere. more...

How fast can the world transition to a low-carbon energy system?

Paul N Edwards, University of Michigan

30th November 2015

Responding to climate change is all about replacing or adapting our established energy infrastructure. Photo: Jes via Fliclr (CC BY-SA). As world leaders convene in Paris for the COP21 climate summit, the major task before them is to replace fossil energy generation with renewables, writes Paul N Edwards - and with the right incentives, it could happen fast. For developing countries it's different: they could skip over fossil fuels much as they have gone straight for mobile telephony. But will they seize the opportunity? more...

COP21 actions go ahead: 'We are not defending nature - we are nature defending itself'

Nadine Bloch

28th November 2015

'We are Nature defending itself': an activist makes moss graffiti in Paris with the slogan of the Climate Games. Photo: @JEBA_JE via Twitter. As the Paris climate summit falls under the brutal double cosh of terrorism and a heavy-handed security response targeted at climate campaigners, creative non-violent responses are taking shape to express the collective will of the billions who cannot be there, writes Nadine Bloch: the need for equitable solutions to the climate crisis, as a first step towards a healthy, peaceful, sustainable planet. more...

Triumph of digital toxicology: why the US won't regulate deadly chemicals

Valerie Brown and Elizabeth Grossman

27th November 2015

Doing your toxicology in a computer has three big advantages (for the chemical industry): it's quick, cheap, and can be manipulated to systematically understate the real health hazards. Photo: Alejandro Juárez via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA). A six-month investigation finds that the revolving door between government and the chemical industry has led the EPA to rely on easily manipulated toxicology research carried out entirely on computers - and this 'in silico' science often trumps both biology and epidemiology when it comes to regulatory action, or lack of it. The result? Toxic substances remain in everyday products. more...

Osborne's systematic devastation of the UK's sustainable future

David Lowry & Oliver Tickell

26th November 2015

HM Chancellor George Osborne gazing happily at his vision of the future, courtesy of Ealing Studios. Sadly, the device has a fault - and it's actually taking him back to the 1950s. Photo: PA / HM Treasury via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND). The 'Autumn Statement' delivered with such aplomb by the Chancellor is yet another attack on the UK's sustainable future, write David Lowry & Oliver Tickell - cutting energy efficiency funds just as tens of thousands are set to die of cold this winter, betting £250m on pointless nuclear research, and raiding the renewables budget to fund subsidies to nuclear power and fossil fuels. more...

'The terror dividend' - how traders and lobbyists made a killing from the Paris attacks

Paul Mobbs

25th November 2015

Finance and terror, war and profit: never far apart. A US army helicopter hovers over Royal Victoria Dock, away from the DESI 2015 arms fair at the ExCeL Centre, 19th September 2015. Photo: Matt Buck via Flickr (CC BY-SA). Amid the human suffering caused by terror attacks, it's easy to forget the economic dimensions, writes Paul Mobbs. But after the 13th November attacks in Paris defence industry shares soared, while a host of connected think tanks, lobbyists and politicians dominated the media in pushing for military responses. Is it time to expose and confront the terror industrial complex? more...

Russia's shot down jet is sending us a powerful message: keep well out of Syria!

Oliver Tickell

24th November 2015

A Russian Su-24 of the type shot down today at Welzow, Germany, January 2014. Photo: Rob Schleiffert via Fliclr (CC BY-NC). Turkey's shooting down of a Russian jet near its border with Syria has just revealed the real nature of the war, writes Oliver Tickell, and sharply illustrates the dangers of getting involved in a conflict that is driven more by a battle of two gas pipelines than a clash of ideologies. The message for the UK - keep well out! Or if we are serious about crushing IS, best join in with Assad and Putin. more...

The march of the industrial mega-dairy - is this the future of milk?

Andrew Wasley

23rd November 2015

Cows housed indoors at a UK mega-dairy. Photo: Andrew Wasley / Ecostorm. As falling milk prices push dairy farm out of business, new mega-dairies and feedlot operations of 700 or more cows are filling the void, writes Andrew Wasley. Never mind the pollution, slurry lagoons, and heavy plant on country lanes - do we want the cows that produce our milk confined to sheds? And what's the future for traditional dairy farmers with small, well cared for herds? more...

The tremendous success of agroecology in Africa

Colion Todhunter

21st November 2015

Traditional Farmer in Kabaune village, Kenya working in the field with his cattle. The village has joined in planting trees in order to increase rain and water. Photo: P. Casier / CGIAR via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA). While the Gates Foundation and conservative politicians are bigging up GMOs and agribusiness, writes Colin Todhunter, a quiet revolution has been working its way across Africa. Agroecological farming, constantly adapting to local needs, customs, soils and climates, has been improving nutrition, reducing poverty, combatting climate change, and enriching farmland. more...

Don't nuke the climate! James Hansen's nuclear fantasies exposed

Dr Jim Green

20th November 2015

Nuclear power plant at Ohi, Japan. It may be gleaming and impressive looking, but the plant stands near several active seismic faults and lacks adequate protection against earthquakes. Photo: Kansai Electric Power Co. via IAEA Imagebank on Flickr (CC BY-S NASA scientist James Hansen is heading to COP21 in Paris to berate climate campaigners for failing to support 'safe and environmentally-friendly nuclear power', writes Jim Green. But they would gladly support nuclear power if only it really was safe and environment friendly. In fact, it's a very dangerous and hugely expensive distraction from the real climate solutions. more...

Tailings dam breach - 'the assassination of Brazil's fifth largest river basin'

Ana Luisa Naghettini & Geraldo Lopes

19th November 2015

Area of Bento Rodrigues, Minas Gerais state, affected by the release of mine tailings from the failed dams. Photo: Agência Brasil Fotografias via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA). Brazil has suffered its biggest ever industrial disaster, write Ana Luisa Naghettini & Geraldo Lopes. Breached and overflowing dams have released a massive slug of toxic muds and tailings from iron mining into the country's fifth largest river system that provides drinking water for downstream cities, destroying ecosystems in rivers and vast areas of biologically fragile ocean. more...

Lights out? Amber Rudd's disastrous absence of an energy strategy

Oliver Tickell

18th November 2015

Photo: Rachel Melton via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND). Amber Rudd's speech today exposes her total failure to assemble a coherent energy strategy, writes Oliver Tickell. It reveals the increasingly certain failure to meet EU renewable energy targets, proposes a new tax on wind and solar generation, and leaves the country facing the real prospect of lights going out in the next decade. The one hard policy? To maximise oil and gas recovery. more...

COP21, Paris: 'Another world is possible, necessary and urgent'

Brian Tokar

17th November 2015

Eiffel Tower, Paris, 16th November 2015. Photo: Pras viedegeek via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND). The greatest danger of the Paris conference is that the global South will be bullied into to accepting a terrible deal rather than leave with none at all, writes Brian Tokar. That gives civil society an essential role - to support the resistance of developing country representatives inside the summit to an unjust and ineffective agreement imposed on them by the rich, powerful, high-emitting nations. more...

The TPP - blueprint for the 1000-year Reich of global capital

pete Dolack / Systemic Disorder

16th November 2015

Shining a light on the TPP in Chicago, 8th November 2013. Photo: Backbone Campaign via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA). Thanks to New Zealand, the full text of the Trans Pacific Partnership has been made public. And as Pete Dolack writes, it's a disaster for health, environment, workers and democracy - one that will unfold over years and decades to come, as investors and corporations consolidate their power over elected governments and cement in the global rule of unaccountable capital. more...

Paris attacks - COP21 and the war on terror

Oliver Tickell

14th November 2015

Image: Sebastián Núñez via Flickr (CC BY-SA). Is it a coincidence that the terrorist outrage in Paris was committed weeks before COP21, the biggest climate conference since 2009? Perhaps, writes Oliver Tickell. But failure to reach a strong climate agreement now looks more probable. And that's an outcome that would suit ISIS - which makes $500m a year from oil sales - together with other oil producers. more...

Genocide: Burma's Rohingya sacrificed in global scramble for oil and gas

Nafeez Ahmed

13th November 2015

Internally displaced Rohingya residents of a camp near Sittwe carrying vital supplies of rice and cooking oil. Photo: Mathias Eick, EU/ECHO, Rakhine State, Burma, September 2013. As Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy takes a strong lead in Burma's elections, Nafeez Ahmed warns that the military will remain the real power in the land. And as UK, EU, US, Chinese and Gulf state energy corporations compete to exploit Burma's hydrocarbons, don't expect them to denounce the ongoing genocide of the Rohingya, and anyone else in the way of their oil and gas infrastructure. more...

An activists' guide to the 'Snooper's Charter' - and what to do about it

Paul Mobbs

12th November 2015

Photo: Greg Lilly via Flickr (CC BY-NC). The recently announced Snoopers Charter 2.0 gives the state enormous powers to delve into our lives, writes Paul Mobbs. And all the more so when combined with other data to which the government has access - by simply buying it from commercial providers. If you don't like the idea, it's time to get your systems secure and shrink your digital data trail. more...

Environmental racism in the US - black communities fight for justice

Heather Kathryn Ross / Earthjustice

11th November 2015

The Stone's Throw Landfill, near Tallassee, AL. Photo: Jeronimo Nisa / Earthjustice. Landfill sites, giant hog farms, incinerators and other 'bad neighbor' industries in the US tend to be situated in African American communities, writes Heather Kathryn Ross. The Environmental Protection Agency is legally obliged to prevent 'environmental racism', but from California to Michigan, low-income communities of color have been waiting years for it to take a stand. Now, backed by Earthjustice, they are forcing the issue - in the courts. more...

From China to Europe, nuclear is losing the energy race to renewables

Paul Dorfman

10th November 2015

Xioa Yan Kou Farm, China. Photo: Danish Wind Industry Association / Vindmølleindustrien via Flickr (CC BY-NC). The UK-China plan for new nuclear build in England defy the evolving reality of 21st century power networks, writes Paul Dorfman. In China itself, the nuclear dream is hitting construction problems and delays, while wind and solar blossom at ever falling cost. But the phenomenon is global. Despite some governments' nuclear obduracy, renewables are winning the race hands down. more...

Leaked letter: Rudd admits 25% green energy undershoot, misled Parliament

Oliver Tickell

9th November 2015

Amber Rudd MP, Secretary of State at the Department of Energy and Climate Change. Photo: Association for Decentralised Energy via Flickr (CC BY-ND). A letter from Energy Secretary Amber Rudd leaked to The Ecologist shows that she misled Parliament by promising the UK was 'on course' to deliver on its renewable energy targets - when in fact there is a delivery shortfall in 2020 of almost 25%. Her plan to fill the gap relies on more biofuels, buying in green power and 'credits' from abroad - everything but wind and solar. more...

India's Indigenous Peoples organise to protect forests, waters and commons

Pushpa Achanta / Waging Nonviolence

7th November 2015

Women of the Dongria Kondh tribe make their way to a gram sabha hearing to determine their religious rights over the Niyamgiri mountain in Odisha, 13th August 2013. Photo: jimanish via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA). India's neoliberal government is attempting the mass seizure of indigenous lands, commons and forests in order to hand them over for corporate exploitation with mines, dams and plantations, writes Pushpa Achanta. But tribal communities are rising up to resist the takeover, which is not only morally reprehensible but violates India's own laws and international human rights obligations. more...

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