The Ecologist


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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).

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

Ana Luisa Naghettini & Geraldo Lopes

19th November 2015

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...
Pizol Glacier and summit in the Swiss Alps, July 2013. Photo: HD Zimmermann via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA).

Global warming reduces snows that water 2 billion people

Tim Radford

24th November 2015

New research warns that rising temperatures will reduce the mountain snow in 97 major river basins worldwide, writes Tim Radford - cutting summer water supply to 2 billion people in lowland areas who depend on the meltwaters. more...

Go With the Flow

Greg Neale

6th November 2015

Greg Neale looks to the future of The Resurgence Trust and presents highlights from the new issue of Resurgence & Ecologist magazine which includes a special feature on water. more...
Ice may be breaking off the Antarctic's sea shores, but in its vast centre, ice mass is growing three times faster. Photo: Glacier in Penola Strait, Antarctica, by Liam Quinn (CC BY-SA).

NASA: mass gains of Antarctic ice sheet exceed losses

Maria-José Viñas / NASA

4th November 2015

Antarctic glaciers are famously losing ice around the margins of the continent, writes Maria-José Viñas. But a new study from NASA shows that those losses are offset three times over by ice thickening in central Antarctica, causing sea levels to drop. However the net ice gain may run of steam in coming decades. more...
Floods in Dhaka, Bangladesh, in 2004. 17% of the country may be permanently inundated by rising seas by 2050, displacing 18 million people. Photo: dougsyme via Flickr (CC BY).

Earthquakes, superstorms ... and other little-known perils of climate change

Matthew Blackett / Coventry University

2nd November 2015

Climate change will impact the world in many ways, writes Matthew Blackett. Some of them may be good, like more rain in African drylands and coral atolls adapting to rising seas. But most of them - like coastal flooding, long term drought, earthquakes and stronger tropical storms - will be very challenging. We must increase the resilience of the most vulnerable countries without delay. more...
Punta Lobos beach, Todos Santos - with the 'mindfulness' development built out across the beach. Photo: Salvemos Punta Lobos via Facebook.

Colorado State campus mega-development steals Mexican beach - you call that 'mindful'?

Viviane Mahieux

2nd November 2015

Resistance is growing in Todos Santos, Baja California, to a tourism and University campus mega-development of 4,500 homes that claims to be 'free range and locally sourced', writes Viviane Mahieux. It has already grossly disfigured one of Mexico most gorgeous beaches, while locals fear it will drain their aquifers and obliterate a harmonious community. more...
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 Indigenous Peoples organise to protect forests, waters and commons

Pushpa Achanta / Waging Nonviolence

7th November 2015

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...
Even though the Baram dam is on hold, logging of the reservoir area and surrounding forest is proceeding apace. Photo: Rod Harbinson.

Indigenous activists celebrate bitter victory over rainforest dam moratorium

Rod Harbinson / Mongabay

22nd October 2015

As indigenous activists opposing hydropower dams on their territories gather this weekend in the rainforests of Sarawak, Malaysia, they have good news to celebrate, writes Rod Harbinson: a giant dam on the Baram river has been put on hold. But the forests are still being logged, local people have been stripped of land rights, and a programme of 12 giant dams is still official policy. more...
The Mohawk warrior flag. Photo: Red Power Media.

Mohawk warriors: 'No raw sewage in St. Lawrence River'

Ashoka Jegroo / Waging NonViolence

16th October 2015

Members of the Mohawk Warrior Society have intervened to stop the dumping of raw sewage in Canada's St Lawrence river, lighting a large bonfire at a key railway junction to warn Montreal's Mayor off his plan. more...
Sue Lloyd Roberts, over a drink on a terrace next to Covent Garden, 2012. Photo: Bogdan Adrian Bisa via Facebook.

Sue Lloyd Roberts - the BBC must make sure her work continues

Oliver Tickell

14th October 2015

Sue Lloyd Roberts, the brilliant investigative journalist who died yesterday, was a unique phenomenon in the BBC, writes Oliver Tickell - fearless, rooting out the dirtiest of secrets, fighting the cause of the oppressed, abused, exploited and downtrodden. Now the BBC must keep her mission alive with a new, independent unit dedicated to human rights worldwide. more...
Colleen Brennan and Nancy Kile of the Sisterhood to Protect Sacred Water rally outside the Nuclear Regulatory Hearings in Crawford. Photo: Rosy Torres / WNV (CC BY).

Water first! Lakota women and ranchers lead charge to close toxic uranium mine

Suree Towfighnia / Waging NonViolence

13th October 2015

The impending renewal of the license for a uranium mine in Nebraska has ignited a years long resistance among those - most of them women - for whom good health and safe, clean water in the Ogallala aquifer is as important as life itself, writes Suree Towfighnia. But for others, jobs and money come first. Now the Nuclear Regulatory Commission must reach its decision. more...
There's a mammoth surprise lurking in the permafrost: 1,700 billion tonnes of frozen carbon. Let that go and the world's climate may never be the same. BC Museum Photo: Tyler Ingram via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

Mammoth Arctic carbon thaw would cost us $43 trillion

Tim Radford

23rd September 2015

Something scary is lurking in the melting Arctic permafrost, write Tim Radford & Oliver Tickell: 1,700 Gt of carbon. That's 53 years worth of current emissions, and if we let it melt the impact would cost the world $43 tn. Or act now, and we could preserve the Arctic ice for a seventh as much. more...

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Old water tank in Niland, California. Photo: Kevin via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA).

The water is ours!

Javan Briggs

7th October 2015

Water is life, writes Javan Briggs. And it belongs to all of us. California's water shortage is caused, not by 'drought', but by massive long term over-pumping. And as the crisis worsens, the response under the 'water as property' model is just to pump all the harder. We must manage water as a commons - to sustain us all, not to profit the few. more...
Flooding in Morigaon District, Assam, India, 30th June 2012. Photo: Oxfam International via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

India: 200,000 refugees in Assam's devastating floods

Sneha Krishnan

16th September 2015

India's tea capital, Assam, has been hit by devastating floods for the second time in three years, writes Sneha Krishnan. But the government has failed to address key environmental issues like deforestation and soil conservation, or involve local communities in developing solutions. So ever more fertile land is lost to erosion, and millions of the country's poorest people suffer. more...
Another extraordinary sunset over Lake Baikal - the deep hues heightened by the ever-present forest fires. Photo: Bryce Stewart.

New dams, warming waters, forest fires - Lake Baikal in peril

Bryce Stewart

17th September 2015

Longer than England, almost as deep as the Grand Canyon, Russia's Lake Baikal is one of the world's greatest aquatic wonders, writes Bryce Stewart. But it's a fragile paradise: the limpid waters are warming much faster than the global average, with as yet unknown effects on its ecology. And it faces the danger of a huge dam on its principal tributary, Mongolia's Selenga River. more...
Comparison of Sierra Nevada snowpack in 2015 v 2010. Photo: NASA / MODIS.

The 2015 Sierra Nevada snowpack is at a 500-year low

Valerie Trouet & Soumaya Belmecheri

15th September 2015

The lack of snow in California's Sierra Nevada is historically unprecedented, write Valerie Trouet & Soumaya Belmecheri. It's also seriously bad news for the state's water supplies - and may be an indicator of even worse to come in a warming world. more...
Family bathing in the Rio Lempa, El Salvador's longest and only navigable river, until recently at risk from a cyanide-leaching gold mine. Photo: kadejo via Wikimedia (CC BY-SA).

For the love of water: El Salvador's mining ban may cost $300m 'compensation'

Lynn Holland

10th October 2015

Disastrous water pollution from gold mines in El Salvador has united government and people to oppose new metal mines, writes Lynn Holland. In Central America's most water scarce country, the imperative is to keep lakes, rivers and streams clean and wholesome. But there may be a heavy price to pay, with a Canadian mining company pressing a $300 million 'compensation' claim. more...
Artists impression of 'Garden Bridge' by Heatherwick Studio. Not immediately obvious is that it will block views from Southbank along the river to St Pauls Cathedral.

London's Garden Bridge: a damaging folly at public expense

Will Jennings

26th August 2015

It sounded wonderful: a futuristic 'garden bridge' across the Thames dripping with flowers and foliage, writes Will Jennings. But really it's a private enclosure of valuable public space, mature trees and views, backed by £60m of taxpayers money, that delivers no benefits to London's wildlife, environment or transport needs. more...
It will take more than PR puff to restore Coca-Cola's reputation in India. Wall-painted sign in Bangalore, India. Photo: Syed Nabil Aljunid via Flickr (CC BY-NC).

Never mind the greenwash - Coca Cola can never be 'water neutral'

Amit Srivastava

25th August 2015

Following a series of disastrous failures in India, one of Coca-Cola's most important markets, the company is desperate to rebuild its reputation by claiming 'water neutrality'. But the idea is absurd, writes Amit Srivastava, and does nothing to benefit the communities that suffer from the depleted aquifers it pumps from. more...
On 14th April 2015, a demonstration in Sonbhadra, Uttar Pradesh against a proposed dam on the Kanhar Valley by Adivasi, Dalit protesters was met with police violence and gunfire which injured seven women and one man. Photo:

Legal 'reforms' may make violence the only option for India's eco-defenders

Arpitha Kodiveri

26th August 2015

President Modi is determined to sweep away 'obstacles to growth' including the laws that allow marginalised communities to challenge the confiscation of their lands and forests for dams, mines and other 'development' projects, writes Arpitha Kodiveri. If proposed 'reforms' are enacted, the only remaining avenue of dissent may be one of armed conflict. more...
Umef Stock in the middle of Blüemlisalp glaciers, near Kandersteg, 11th August 2007. Photo: TonnyB via Wikimedia (CC BY-SA).

World's glaciers melting at 'unprecedented' rate

Alex Kirby

7th August 2015

Glaciers around the world are melting on a scale without precedent in recorded history, writes Alex Kirby. Measurements of over 5,000 glaciers show that they have been retreating so fast so far this century that even if climate is stablised, the ice losses will continue for years to come. more...
Baram Dam blockade at Long Lama. Photo: Borneo Project.

Broken Promises: new film exposes Malaysia's indigenous rights violations

Jettie Word

17th August 2015

Malaysia is pushing ahead with its plans for a devastating series of 12 dams in the rainforests of Borneo that will kill a billion trees, bring death to wildlife on a stupendous scale and evict tens of thousands of indigenous people and their communities, writes Jettie Word. Now a new film honours their struggle for land, forest and freedom. more...
California drought: New Melones Lake, near Calaveras, California, 4th June 2015. Photo: Ben Amstutz via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

Flowing uphill to money? California's water politics in a time of drought

Will Parrish

5th August 2015

While households and small feel the brunt of California's drought, it's business as usual for agribusiness, writes Will Parrish. And despite the 'first user' principle that determines water rights, the state's indigenous tribes and the wild salmon on which they depend, have been left high and dry. The Public Trust Doctrine could change that - but only if the people demand it. more...
Detroit rises above the water ... but access to it is strictly rationed by ability to pay. Photo: Unique Day Tours in over 100 cities via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA).

Water is a human right! Detroit's lessons for our common future

Chris Grove

4th August 2015

Detroit is the site of a neoliberal experiment that's already being repeated elsewhere, writes Chris Grove, with unpayable debt used to force the privatization of public services and the terminate democratic power and accountability. But as the city's poor find themselves cur off from water, a new, wider conception of human rights is emerging from the wreckage. more...
A tractor prepares a field by turning over the cover crop into the soil in preparation for planting at Leafy Greens, in the Salinas Valley, California, June 2011. Cover crops of barley and rye grass hold the topsoil, reducing erosion. Photo: Lance Cheung

Conserving soil: precious, finite and under threat

Jane Rickson

5th August 2015

Human existence relies on healthy soils, writes Jane Rickson. But all over the world they are being lost and degraded by inappropriate land use, reducing their capacity to produce food and store water, nutrients and carbon. Sustainable land management must be incentivised to conserve this essential resource. more...


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