The Ecologist


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Dead trees in a Duke Energy Buck coal ash pond, 2014. Photo: Dot Griffith, Waterkeeper Alliance via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

Coal ash: America's multi-billion ton toxic legacy

Ben Whitford

29th September 2015

America's coal-fired power plants produce 140 million tons of ash a year, reports Ben Whitford, most of it dumped in open storage ponds that contaminate drinking water with arsenic and heavy metals. And now Presidential candidate Jeb Bush is promising to scrap 'new and costly' (actually feeble) EPA regulations before they have even been implemented. more...
Sunset over Sellafield ... those nuclear liabilities will cost billions, and billions, for thousands of years. Photo: Dom Crayford via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

When the party's over ... the financial spectre at the end of nuclear power

Dr Ian Fairlie

1st October 2015

There are two rules about the end costs of nuclear power, writes Ian Fairlie. It's far more than you ever knew. And whatever sum of money was ever set aside, it's nowhere near enough. Germany understands this. That's why it refused to let E.ON spin off its nuclear liabilities into a hands-off company. But the UK, it seems, has lost the ability to learn from its nuclear mistakes. more...
Farmers carrying milk to market on their bicycles under the hot sun in Ulttarakhand, India. Photo: Paul Hamilton via Flickr (CC BY-SA).

For climate's sake, let's cut food waste!

John Mandyck

17th September 2015

At least a third of the food the world grows each year goes to waste, writes John Mandyck, most of it in fields, transport and storage. The result is poor farmers, hungry people, and a massive 3.3 billion tonnes of needless CO2 emissions. It should be a key topic for action at COP21 in Paris - but so far it's not even on the agenda. more...
Donald Shadforth, a traditional owner, at the dilapidated Redbank mine tailings storage. Photo: P. Taplin.

Australia: Indigenous communities must take centre stage in 'development'

Seán Kerins

7th September 2015

Indigenous Australians are systematically deprived of the benefits of mining and other developments, writes Seán Kerins, and being left to suffer their environmental impacts. As Abbott's government prepares a bonfire of 'red tape', it's time to put Indigenous interests first, and place their communities at the centre of decision making. more...
Too beautiful to die by plastic: Laysan Albatross mate for life, live 60 years or more, and show their soft, sensitive side by preening each other. Photo: kris krüg / via Flickr (CC BY-SA).

Ocean plastic plague threatens seabirds

Chris Wilcox, Britta Denise Hardesty & Erik van Sebille

1st September 2015

Already 60% of seabird species have plastic in their guts, often as much as 8% of their body weight. And with ocean plastic increasing exponentially, that figure will rise to 99% by 2050, threatening some birds' survival. Unless we act. more...
A lone surfer stands on a plastic strewn beach. Photo: SAS.

Cleaning the waves: Surfers Against Sewage turns its fight to ocean plastic

Summer Brooks

2nd September 2015

For 25 years, a group of eco-aware surfers have been campaigning for cleaner waves, writes Summer Brooks. SAS was founded in 1990 to tackle sewage discharges into UK coastal waters, and now, bigger and stronger than ever, they are turning their focus to the global problem of ocean plastic - both picking it up on our beaches, and pushing for long term, global solutions. more...
Agbogbloshie employs some 6,000 young men recycling wastes from around the world in the job-scarce city of Accra, Ghana. Photo: Agbogbloshie Makerspace Platform via Flickr (CC BY-SA).

Agbogbloshie: Ghana's 'trash world' may be an eyesore - but it's no dump

Dagna Rams

10th August 2015

Most accounts of Agbogbloshie, the e-waste site in Accra, Ghana, persistently miss the point, writes Dagna Rams. Far from being a simple 'dump' for the world's trash, it is a huge recycling operation that pays for the wastes it receives, employs thousands of young men who would otherwise lack jobs, and plays a huge role in the national and global economy. more...
Crude oil in an open toxic oil waste pit abandoned by Texaco / Chevron in the Ecuadorean Amazon Rainforest near Lago Agrio. Photo: Caroline Bennett / Rainforest Action Network via Flickr (CC BY-NC).

Ecocide in the Amazon - Chevron evades $9.5bn restitution order

Orlan Cazorla & Miriam Gartor

17th July 2015

After 20 years of oil spills, deforestation, waste dumping and ill health, farmers and indigenous people in the the Ecuadorian Amazon have been fighting the Chevron-Texaco corporation. But despite its three times conviction and a $9.5 billion damages award to the victims, the oil giant looks no closer to making good its damage. more...
Sunset on the Sea Dragon. Photo: Kate Rawles.

Sea Dragon - exploring the oceans, exploring ourselves

Dr Kate Rawles

16th June 2015

Three scientific expeditions into the Atlantic ocean will take place this summer, writes outdoor philosopher Kate Rawles. But as well as gathering data about plastic pollution and over-fishing, they will give participants the chance to think deeply about our society, its values, the often false narratives it tells; and our place, as humans, in the natural world. more...
A polar bear keeps close to her young along the Beaufort Sea coast in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Photo: Susanne Miller / USFWS via Flickr (CC BY).

Polar bears at risk from pollution as well as warmth

Tim Radford

24th April 2015

As if melting ice in Polar bears' Arctic habitat was not enough, Norwegian scientists have found that organic pollutants such as pesticide residues are disrupting their thyroid and endocrine systems, adding a further threat to the species' survival. more...
A 'money-burning' event organised by the Miami Tea Party to oppose a 46,000 acre conservation land purchase - but were the 'protestors' all actors? So it would seem. Photo: from Youtube video by Miami Tea Party.

Tea Party's fake protestors for Big Sugar against Florida Everglades

Oliver Tickell

8rg April 2015

The Tea Party of Miami put up a convincing demo last week to oppose a 'land grab' that would see 46,000 acres of sugar farm land restored for Everglades conservation. Just one problem - the 'protestors' were actors each being paid $75 for the two-hour shift. more...
Dead fish on the beach at Cape San Blas, Florida, after a 'red tide' event in the Gulf of Mexico. Photo: Judy Baxter via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA).

Ocean 'dead zones' are spreading - and that spells disaster for fish

Lee Bryant

9th April 2015

Oxygen levels in our oceans are falling, writes Lee Bryant, producing growing 'dead zones' where only the hardiest organisms can survive. The causes are simple: pollution with nutrient-rich wastes, and global warming. But the only solution is to stop it happening - or wait for 1,000 years. more...

Waste : 1/25 of 256
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Boreholes being drilled at Beckermet, Cumbria. For future disposal of radioactive waste? So locals fear, but no one is telling. Photo: Radiation Free Lakeland.

To dump nuclear waste, first they must dump democracy!

Marianne Birkby

2nd April 2015

In the last act of the dying Parliament, MPs quietly voted to dump democratic planning processes to expedite a 'facility' for the high level nuclear waste in geologically fractured Cumbria, writes Marianne Birkby - so over-ruling strong and highly effective local opposition. Shame on them! more...
A toxic trail of chemical pollution and uranium ash from DU munitions: the infamous 'Highway of Death' from Kuwait across the Iraqi desert in Gulf War 1, in 1991. Photo: Bryan Dorrough via Flickr (CC BY).

Iraq seeks help in its fight to overcome the toxic fallout of war and terror

Wim Zwijnenburg / Insight on Conflict

8th April 2015

Iraq is working hard to remediate the environmental impacts of two Gulf wars and Saddam Hussein's chemical weapons programme, writes Wim Zwijnenburg. But it now faces new hazards deliberately caused by Islamic State - and is in desperate need of international support. more...
You want nuclear waste - you keep it! Don't dump it on us and our communitiies! Photo: AndreasS via Flickr (CC BY 2.0).

Dear Bryony - don't dump your nuclear waste on us!

Dr Becky Martin

12th March 2013

The 'environmentalist' peer Baroness Worthington argued last week in the House of Lords for local authorities to be stripped of their powers to refuse the dumping of radioactive waste in their areas. Geneticist Becky Martin takes her to task in this Open Letter. more...
Fawley power station and oil refinery in Hampshire, England, from the beach at Hillhead. Photo: Anguskirk via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).

Confronting industrialism: if you can't clean it up, don't make it!

Derrick Jensen

4th March 2015

Modern industrial capitalism is based on a simple premise, writes Derrick Jensen: our mother Earth is a great store of raw materials for us to pillage, and a vast trashcan for our endless volumes of waste, no matter how long-lived and deadly. How can this be changed? First we must regain our own sanity. more...
Protestors against the proposed 25,000-pig factory farm at Foston, Derbyshire. Photo: Farms not Factories.

Big stink! 24,500-pig factory farm defeated

The Ecologist

26th February 2015

A proposed factory farm at Foston, Derbyshire, condemned by locals as a 'pig prison' for 25,000 animals has been refused a permit by the Environment Agency because of the powerful stench it would emit and potential risks to health and the environment. more...
Too good to frack? Spogen Lake lies in the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness in Carbon County, Montana. Photo: Troy Smith via Flickr (CC BY-ND-NC 2.0).

Montana's Carbon County farmers sue for protection from fracking

The Ecologist

22nd February 2015

Montana legislators have brushed off the attempts of farmers, ranchers and landowners to effect 'zoning' regulations to protect them, their land, their water and their livestock from the toxic impacts of fracking. Now they say: 'See you in Court!'. more...
A seal caught up in plastic pollution near Santa Monica, Los Angeles, CA, USA. Photo: Nels Israelson via Flickr (CC BY-NC).

Five to 12 million tonnes of plastic are going into the ocean each year

Britta Denise Hardesty & Chris Wilcox

4th April 2015

An unimaginably large volume of plastic debris is reaching the world's oceans every year, write Britta Denise Hardesty & Chris Wilcox - and it's set for a ten-fold increase over the next decade, adding to the already terrible toll on marine life from turtles to seals, sea birds and fish. The solution must be to give waste plastic value - if we can find a way. more...
Spin Cycle Cafe & Laundromat, Newington, CT, USA. Photo: Brian Cook via Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0).

Recycling is not enough! Sharing is the way to achieve a circular economy

Mariale Moreno

13th March 20-14

How can we reduce our ever increasing throughput of raw materials? By breaking out the the 'iron cage of consumerism', writes Mariale Moreno: make things to last - whether clothes, houses, cars, or washing machines. Join a car club. Share domestic appliances with neighbors. And bring back the laundromat! more...
Plastic waste on the 'Mayan Riviera', Quintana Roo, Mexico. Photo: John Schneider via Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0).

Fighting the plastic plague in our oceans

Dr Mae-Wan Ho

13th February 2015

On current trends the world will contain 33 billion tonnes of plastic by 20150, writes Mae Wan Ho, and much of it will litter the oceans, concentrating toxins and damaging marine life throughout the food chain. The alternative is to classify the most toxic plastics as 'hazardous waste', and for all plastics to be reused and recycled in 'closed loop' systems. more...
Yes, this new luxury apartment development really is built of straw bales - the new high-precision, pre-fabricated variety, made by Modcell in one of its 'flying factories'. Photo:

Straw homes are a cheap and green fix for the housing crisis

Pete Walker

10th February 2015

Straw is cheap, plentiful, eco-friendly and an excellent insulator, writes Pete Walker - and officially certified prefabricated straw bale building systems are challenging traditional brick construction. So why aren't straw bale houses mushrooming on building sites across the country? Maybe they are ... more...
Vultures pay their respects at a sky burial in Sichuan province, China. Photo: Lycopodium L (CC BY-NC-SA).

Live long, die green and recycle your discarded body

Robert John Young

8th February 2015

If you live a green life, you'll also want a green death, writes Robert John Young. Sadly pollution, energy use and methane emissions mean there's no completely green way to dispose of your body. The good news is that a new 'fast composting' technique ticks all the boxes - but it's still under development. more...
A rosier future for the high seas beckons. Photo: Moyan Brenn via Flickr (CC BY 2.0).

UN talks begin on a new law to save our oceans

The Ecologist

30th January 2015

Countries at the UN have agreed to start formal negotiations on a new 'legally binding instrument' to conserve the biological riches of the high seas that cover 45% of planet Earth, and ensure their sustainable use for the benefit of all mankind. more...
The 'circular economy' package could have added billions to Europe's economy - but now it's on the scrapheap. Photo: Eddie McHugh via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).

Europe's 'circular economy' waste laws binned despite MEPs' fury

James Crisp / EurActiv

26th January 2015

The European Commission has confirmed that it will drop its 'circular economy' package, writes James Crisp, in the face of protest by MEPs and environment ministers. The EC's insistence that a future version would be 'improved' - but in in unspecified ways - only raised suspicions of a deregulatory coup by Europe's dirtiest businesses. more...


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