The Ecologist


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Aerial view of the Amazon rainforest, near Manaus, an area affected by fracking licences. Photo: Neil Palmer / CIAT for CIFOR on Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

Brazil to auction Amazon fracking licences

The Ecologist

6th October 2015

Brazil is about to auction hundreds of fracking blocks across the country - extending deep into the Amazon forest including the territories of remote and vulnerable indigenous peoples. Registered bidders include BP, Shell and ExxonMobil. more...
sHellNo! Flotilla Departure Blockade in Seattle's Elliott Bay, 15th June 2015. Photo: Jeff Dunnicliff / Backbone Campaign via Flickr (CC BY).

Shell's retreat from the Arctic - what tipped the scales?

Louise Rouse / Greenpeace Energydesk

30th September 2014

When Shell decided to quit its Arctic oil exploration it cited 'insufficient quantities' of oil and gas, writes Louise Rouse. But that was not the whole story: what tipped the balance was a combination of investor discontent, reputational damage and public opposition on an unprecedented scale. more...
Yes we did! Shell no Kayak Flotilla climate stabilization demo in April 2015. Photo: Backbone Campaign via Flickr (CC BY).

Victory! Shell quits Arctic

Terry Macalister / the Guardian Environment

28th September 2015

Shell's US president says the oil giant's unpopular drilling operations in Alaska's Chukchi Sea will stop for the 'foreseeable future' as exploratory drilling finds little oil and gas to justify its $7 billion investment. more...
The city of Newcastle, Australia, home to the world's biggest coal port, is among those to join the divestment movement. Port Waratah Coal Loader and freight train carrying steel. Photo: OZinOH via Flickr (CC BY-NC).

Divestment pledges rise 50-fold to $2.6 trillion

The Ecologist

22nd September 2015

Pledges by investors to divest from fossil fuels have soared to $2.6 trillion - 50 times more than a year ago. 'Now is the time to divest', says Leonardo di Caprio, one of the latest to join the movement, which even includes Newcastle, Australia, home to the world's biggest coal port. more...
The 14th Onshore Round of Licencing map - detail showing David Cameron's Witney constituency's miraculous escape. Image: via Professor David Smythe.

Frack-Free Witney? How did David Cameron's constituency escape the 14th Round?

Professor David Smythe

21st September 2015

The 14th Onshore Round of oil and gas licencing entirely avoided the Prime Minister's Witney constituency for reasons that clearly have nothing to do with geology, writes David Smythe. Is the little-known Frack-Free Witney the UK's most successful - and covert - anti-fracking organisation? Or are darker forces at work? more...
President Obama in the American Arctic, Alaska, in from of a fast-retreating glacier, 4th September 2015. Photo: Still from White House video by Hope Hall (see video embed).

Arctic charade: Obama's Alaskan tour and the climate change 'puzzle'

Timothy Clark

15th September 2015

President Obama's whistlestop Alaskan tour highlighted his unique ability to believe in two completely contradictory ideas at once, writes Timothy Clark. On the one hand, the importance of climate change and the urgency of preventing dangerous warming. On the other, the importance of the Arctic's fossil energy and the urgent need to exploit it as rapidly and completely as possible. more...
Linevo and its water reservoir formed by a dam on Koinikha, a small river falling into Ob. The giant Novosibirsk Electrode Factory is on the background. Photo: Tatiana Bulyonkova via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA).

Russia - has the world's biggest country turned against the environment?

Lucy E J Woods

22nd September 2015

While other countries apply themselves to environmental challenges from climate change to nature protection, Russia - with its massive wealth of nature and natural resources - is stubbornly refusing to take part, writes Lucy E J Woods. And as the economy declines, the pressure is on: to ignore environmental regulations, and clamp down on environmental defenders. more...
'Oil Refinery at Oxymoron'. Artwork by Wyatt Wellman via Flickr (CC BY-SA).

China syndrome: fracked oil and Saudi Arabia's big gamble hit sinking global economy

James Meadway /

10th September 2015

For anyone who believes in the ineffable wisdom of 'free' markets, the current sinkaway oil price takes some explaining, writes James Meadway. Saudi Arabia's big gamble that it could put US shale oil out of business by over-pumping has now collided with China's falling demand for energy. Result: oil producers everywhere are swimming in red ink. Where will it all end? more...
The icebreaker MSV Fennica, which now has a metre-long gash in its hull below the waterline. Photo: Marcusroos vis Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA).

On the rocks: hull gash disables Shell Arctic icebreaker

Zachary Davies Boren / Greenpeace EnergyDesk

13th July 2015

Shell's Arctic drilling expedition is literally on the rocks after its icebreaker MSV Fennica suffering a metre-long gash to its hull below the waterline, writes Zachary Davies Boren. more...
Tax breaks for oil and gas, cuts for renewables. Oil rigs moored in Cromarty Firth. Invergordon, Scotland, UK. Photo: Berardo62 via Flickr (CC BY-SA).

Whatever happened to the 'greenest ever' Conservative Party?

Steffen Böhm

11th July 2015

Just when the UK's government might want to be boosting its green credentials it has chosen to do the precise opposite, writes Steffen Böhm: giving tax breaks and subsidies to oil and gas, while attacking renewables and energy efficiency. We must unite to oppose these destructive and short-sighted policies 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...
More than a hundred people converged in Ticonderoga, NY on 7th July for a flotilla and symbolic blockade to ‪#StopOilTrains. Photo:  Rising Tide Vermont.

#StopOilTrains - How I learned to stop worrying and love the bomb-train

Stephyn Quirke

9th July 2015

Two things are new in the Pacific Northwest, writes Stephyn Quirke: abnormally hot, dry weather that has even killed Chinook salmon on their run upriver to spawn; and 'bomb trains' a mile more long carrying thousands of tonnes of oil, with just a single sleep-deprived driver on board. What could possibly go wrong? more...

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The 'sHellNo!' Flotilla Departure Blockade, 15th June 2015. Photo: Jeff Dunnicliff / Backbone Campaign via Flickr (CC BY).

Government hides fears over Shell's Arctic spill safety

Christine Ottery / Greenpeace Energydesk

19th June 2015

As Shell's Polar Pioneer drilling rig sails from Seattle into the north Pacific, Christine Ottery discovers that US federal regulators had serious concerns about the company's safety equipment designed to contain any oil spill. more...
The massive 5-reactor Hamaoka nuclear site, 200km SW of Tokyo, is built directly over the subduction zone near the junction of two tectonic plates. It was closed in 2011 to avoid a second Fukushima scale disaster. Photo: Cesar Ogasawara via Flickr (CC BY-

To stop using fossil fuels any time soon, Japan must follow Germany's lead

Peter Matanle, University of Sheffield

15th June 2015

Japan and Germany have much in common: both are major industrial countries that have gone nuclear-free, writes Peter Matanle - Germany by choice, Japan by necessity. But while Germany is actively pursuing its renewable energy revolution, or Energiewende, Japan, possessed of the richest renewable energy resources in East Asia, is stuck in a fossil fuel pit. more...
Part of the Science Museum’s Atmosphere exhibition, which Shell sponsored. Photo: The Science Museum.

Shell leant on Science Museum to influence climate programme

Terry Macalister / the Guardian

1st June 2015

Emails released by the Science Museum show that Shell pressed its case to Museum staff to deny NGOs the opportunity to open up a debate on the company's operations in connection with an exhibition it had sponsored on waste and climate change, writes Terry Macalister. more...
The recent 100,000 gallon oil spill in Santa Barbara shows that accidents are always waiting to happen - and all the more so in a hazardous environment like the Arctic. But Shell says it's fine to drill for oil there - while refusing to release its 'indep

Shell's Arctic safety audit kept secret, may never see full light of day

Joe Sandler Clarke / Greenpeace Energydesk

27th May 2015

Shell claims a third party audit into its plans to drill for Arctic oil and gas has found 'no issues of significance', writes Joe Sandler Clarke. But the audit remains under wraps, and may never be released in full. Now Obama pledges his support for the project - just as it turns out that Shell selected the 'independent' auditor. more...
These guys aren't waiting till 2050! 'Kayaktivists' opposing Shell's plans to drill for oil in the Arctic Ocean prepare for the 'Paddle in Seattle' protest, 16th May 2015. Photo: Backbone Campaign via Flickr (CC BY).

The world won't let Shell wait until 2050 to adapt its business to climate change

Steffen Böhm

27th May 2015

Shell's senior management are treading an impossible path, writes Steffen Böhm. On the one hand they accept that climate change is real and serious, and that many of their fossil fuel assets may prove unburnable. On the other, they insist that business as usual will continue for decades to come. It's high time they smelt the coffee! more...
Unit 3 of the Boundary Dam Power Station in Estevan, Saskatchewan, has been converted for post-combustion CCS, producing over 1 million tonnes of CO2 per year - pipelined to oil fields in the south of the province to increase recovery. Photo: SaskPower vi

False promise of 'carbon capture' exposed

The Ecologist

26th May 2015

The widely touted 'carbon capture and storage' technology is much more expensive than wind and solar, says a Greenpeace report. It also represents a perverse subsidy to the fossil fuel sector that will only boost coal and oil, and delay the transition to a renewable energy system. more...
A Fin Whale (Balaenoptera physalus) off the coast of Massachusetts, USA. Photo: chris buelow via Flickr (CC BY-NC).

Time to 'Get Oil Out!' from sea to shining sea

Ralph Nader & David Helvarg

4th July 2015

Faced with the double crisis of global warming and the decimation of marine wildlife, what does the Obama administration do? Open up the US's Atlantic and Arctic Ocean seafronts to oil and gas drilling, write Ralph Nader & David Helvarg. But this assault on our climate and cetaceans can be stopped, as a 'Sea Party Rebellion' prepares to fight it all the way in forthcoming Presidential elections. more...
The 'Polar Pioneer' - made unwelcome on its arrival at the Port of Los Angeles on 17th April 2015 by Kayaktivists from the sHellNo! Action Council. Photo: Charles Conatzer & the sHellNo! Action Council / Backbone Campaign via Flickr (CC BY).

Shell's Arctic oil setback - unlawful use of Seattle Port

Oliver Tickell

5th May 2015

The Port of Seattle is violating its shoreline permit in allowing Shell to set up a 'home port' for its Arctic oil drilling fleet, according to Seattle officials. The finding could nix Shell's oil drilling plans for the 2015 season. more...
Despite the exploitation of unconventional oil resources like high-cost tar sands (pictured in Canada) and shales, peak oil really is upon us. Photo: Gord McKenna via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

'Beyond petroleum' - fracking's collapse heralds the arrival of peak oil

Paul Mobbs

5th May 2015

The 'death of peak oil' has been much exaggerated, writes Paul Mobbs. Take out high-cost 'unconventional' oil and production peaked ten years ago, and even North America's fracking and tar sands boom has failed to open up new resources both big enough to make good the shortfall, and cheap enough to reward investors. We really do need to be thinking 'beyond petroleum'. more...
Oil wells in the Bakken Oil Field of North Dakota, USA. Photo: Alan Graham McQuillan PhD ARPS via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

Future dustbowl? Fracking ravages Great Plains land and water

Tim Radford

4th May 2015

The fracking boom has caused massive vegetation loss over North America's rangelands, writes Tim Radford, as 3 million hectares have been occupied by oil and gas infrastructure and 34 billion cubic metres of water have been pumped from semi-arid ecosystems. more...
A boy herding cattle near Mentao refugee camp in Burkina Faso. More than 18 million people in West Africa’s Sahel region are hungry and malnourishedas a result of the crisis. Photo: DFATD | MAECD via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

Rebellion and hunger - how drought and food scarcity are fanning the flames of war

Nafeez Ahmed

13th May 2015

Food and water shortages and sharp price hikes in the necessities of life are driving civil unrest and rebellion across the Middle East and North Africa, writes Nafeez Ahmed. Adding to the problem, many of the afflicted countries are of strategic importance for their oil and gas, putting them on the front line of destabilizing 'counter-terrorism' operations. more...
It's only a matter of time before solar energy will make all this petroleum infrastructure worthless. But until then, there's money to be made! Dusk view of the Valero Energy Corporation's refinery in Port Arthur, Texas. Photo: Carol M. Highsmith via Flic

Saudi Arabia's oil price manipulation - let's get rich while we still can!

Karl Grossman

2nd May 2015

The oil industry and oil producers have a long history of market manipulation, writes Karl Grossman, and we see it going on right now with the low oil price that's squeezing fracking and getting America back onto gas-guzzling SUV's. But longer term, solar power is going to win out, and even Saudi Arabia knows it. Its game? To make out big, while the going's good. more...
Dispersing the dispersants in the Gulf of Mexico May 5, 2010.  Adrian Cadiz, US Air Force public affairs.

Dispersants sprayed after Deepwater Horizon oil spill more toxic than oil alone

Danielle M DeLeo

26th April 2015

The dispersant used in the Deepwater Horizon clean-up appears to be more toxic to corals than crude oil, writes Danielle M DeLeo. It also increases the concentration of oil in seawater, leading to higher, more toxic exposures of oil components when they come into contact with corals and other marine organisms. more...


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