The Ecologist


EC: 25/50 of 2057
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A pair of Lappet Faced Vultures feating on a buffralo carcass in Bariadi, Shinyanga, Tanzania. Photo: jjmusgrove via Flickr (CC BY).

Vultures in crisis: poachers and poison threaten nature's undertakers

Louis Phipps, Nottingham Trent University

25th October 2015

Vultures are superbly adapted creatures for the essential role they play, efficiently disposing of the mortal remains of millions of dead animals, writes Louis Phipps. Yet we humans appear to be doing our best to kill them off - creating a vast hazardous waste problem that's costing us billions. more...
Remade by man: the Passenger Pigeon. Juvenile (left), male (center), and female (right), from 'Birds of New York' (University of the State of New York) 1910-1914. Illustration by Louis Agassiz Fuertes (1874-1927), Public Domain via Patrick Coin on Flickr.

The Ecomodernist Manifesto is a program for genocide and ecocide

Derrick Jensen

10th November 2015

The idea of a 'good, or even great, Anthropocene' as promised in the Ecomodernist Manifesto is purely delusional, writes Derrick Jensen. Worse, it underlies a narrative in which the wholesale destruction of nature and of sustainable indigenous societies is repackaged as a noble mission - one whose ultimate purpose is the complete alienation of humans from the planet that spawned us. more...
Nicholas Stern at the COP15 United Nations climate Change conference, in Copenhagen, Denmark. Photo: Neil Palmer / CIAT (CC BY-SA).

Stern warns: humanity is at climate crossroads

Kieran Cooke

23rd October 2015

Economist Nicholas Stern warns that the stakes have never been higher for radical action to be agreed at the Paris summit, writes Kieran Cooke: while we have the capacity to do all that's needed, it's far from clear that we will actually will. more...
The £1 plan garnered cross-party support from over 30 MPs from all parties yesterday at an action outside the House of Commons including Sir David Amess MP (Con), Mims Davies MP (Con), Kevin Hollinrake MP (Con), Caroline Flint MP (Lab), Caroline Lucas MP

Back our emergency £1 solar rescue plan

Sonia Dunlop / Solar Trade Association

22nd October 2015

Massive government cuts in solar 'feed in tariffs' threaten to wipe out our highly successful solar industry, writes Sonia Dunlop - and all to save £1 year off our fuel bills. Yes, that's all it would cost to keep the sector in business, employing tens of thousands of expert solar installers all over the UK. more...
It costs a lot less than we are told: erection of a wind turbine at Alltwalis Wind Farm in Wales, set in operation December 2009. Photo: Aslak Øverås / Statkraft via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

Wind and solar's £1.5 billion electricity price cut

Oliver Tickell

19th October 2015

The effect of wind and solar generation in the UK is to push down wholesale power prices, writes Oliver Tickell, taking over £1.5 billion off our bills in 2014 - that's 58% of the subsidies paid to renewable generators. Keep it up and the benefit will rise to over 100% of cost. more...
Reduced to one meagre bar; old lady fighting to keep warm in Perth, Scotland. Photo: Ninian Reid via Flickr (CC BY).

As tens of thousands die, the UK must act on fuel poverty

Mari Martiskainen, University of Sussex

16th October 2015

Fuel poverty is a complex problem with many causes, writes Mari Martiskainen, but it is also a deadly one for some 25,000 thousand people every year. And there is one surprisingly simple solution: a huge upgrade in the energy efficiency of our housing stock. more...
'Beyond Petroleum' didn't work for BP - because they never really meant it. Photo: Mike Mozart of JeepersMedia and TheToyChannel on YouTube via Flickr (CC BY).

Eco-warrior corporations can do great things - but only if they walk the talk!

Steffen Böhm & Annika Skoglund

10th November 2015

The rise of corporate eco-activism makes a refreshing change from the usual 'campaigners versus corporation' dynamic, write Steffen Böhm & Annika Skoglund. And for companies that embark on this path - like Lush, Ecotricity and Interface - it can work out well for them and the environment. But heed the disastrous consequences for those, like BP, who said one thing, and did another. more...
Victims of the pine bark beetle: Lodgepole pines in Summit County, Colorado. They may not look pretty, but these dead trees are an ecological godsend. Photo: V Smoothe via Flickr (CC BY).

In defense of the Bark Beetle: a keystone species of Western forest ecosystems

Chad Hanson

28th October 2015

Bark beetles are invariably presented as terrible, forest killing pests, writes Chad Hanson. But in truth forest biodiversity depends on them to create the snags for insects to burrow in, woodpeckers to feed off, and countless birds and even pine martens to nest in. So when you hear politicians calling for bark beetle 'salvage' logging, send them off with a flea in the ear! more...
Platinum Catalyst in Aqueous Solution: the oxygen atoms, in water, are red; the hydrogen molecules are white, and platinum atoms are blue-gray. High-level details of the structure can be seen in the reflections of each atom surface. Photo: Argonne Nationa

Hydrogen car price breakthrough: it's the platinum

The Ecologist

14th October 2015

Hydrogen cars - and the fuel cells that drive them - are about to get a whole lot cheaper thanks to a redesign of the platinum catalyst that makes them work, writes Oliver Tickell. By inserting atom-sized holes into the precious metal's surface, its activity can be trebled. more...
Wind turbines at Rossendale, England. Photo: reway2007 via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA).

Wind turbines and solar panels into nuclear weapons: the UK's new industrial strategy?

Dr Stuart Parkinson

15th October 2015

The UK government is punishing renewable energy for its success in generating 25% of the country's electricity, writes Stuart Parkinson. But there's no austerity when it comes to the bloated military-nuclear industrial sector, no matter how egregious its failures or extreme its cost overruns. Our future prosperity is being sacrificed - and its costing taxpayers billions. more...
Cows near Dolwyddelan Castle in the Conwy Valley, Wales. Photo: George Frost / Gelephoto via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA).

Britain's dairy crisis - we must account for real costs, and for true value

Megan Perry / Sustainable Food Trust

30th October 2015

The UK dairy industry is in crisis, writes Megan Perry, with falling prices forcing many farmers out of business. Smaller, more sustainable farms have been the worst casualties, while the large, intensive producers survive. We must ditch market-driven 'survival of the fittest' attitudes - and recognise both the real costs of intensification, and the true value of traditional farming. more...
A beaver's services to landscape and wetland management are worth $120,000 a year, according to today's Earth Index.

How much is nature worth? More than you can imagine

Neil Nightingale

8th October 2015

However much you think nature is worth, it's a lot more, writes Neil Nightingale. According to the BBC's 'Earth Index', published today in the world's financial press, water alone is worth as much as the entire global economy, and a single beaver's landscape and wetland management clocks in at $120,000 a year. more...

EC: 25/50 of 2057
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Look, no pollution! The 2016 Toyota Fuel Cell Vehicle. Photo: Toyota UK via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

Dieselgate - our wake-up call for new car technologies

Harry Hoster, Lancaster University

8th October 2015

The real lesson of Volkswagen's 'dieselgate' scandal is that we must ditch petroleum fuels, writes Harry Hoster. There's new, clean technologies just waiting to take off - and the most promising is fuel cells. They will also fit right into the new world of renewables, with surplus power from wind and solar making the hydrogen they burn. more...
Killer Whales in Monterey Bay, California - helping to sequester the carbon emissions from those smokestacks in the background. Photo: © John Krzesinski 2012 via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

Predators keep the oceans' carbon pump ticking

Peter Macreadie, Euan Ritchie, Graeme Hays & Trisha B Atwood

29th September 2015

By keeping marine herbivores in check, predators from sharks to crabs are essential to keep the oceanic 'carbon pump' working - with seaweed and plankton fixing atmospheric carbon and bearing it down to deep waters and sediments before getting munched. It's time to give ocean predators the protection they deserve, for climate's sake. more...
Members of the Womens' Collective of Tamil Nadu in a forest area where they are growing fruits and vegetables. Photo: WhyHunger.

Agroecology leading the fight against India's Green Revolution

Tristan Quinn-Thibodeau

29th September 2015

For the women farmers of Tamil Nadu life has long been a struggle, Sheelu Francis told Tristan Quinn-Thibodeau, all the more so following the advent of 'Green Revolution' industrial agriculture. So now women's collectives are organising to restore traditional foods and farming methods, resulting in lower costs, higher yields, improved nutrition, and a rekindling of native Tamil culture. more...
PostCapitalism by Paul Mason, published by Penguin / Allen Lane.

PostCapitalism: is it what we Greens have always wanted?

Caroline Lucas

2nd October 2015

Will we ever be able to say goodbye to capitalism? In his new book Paul Mason argues that its demise is inevitable, writes Caroline Lucas: neoliberalism contains the seeds of its own destruction, and it's up to ordinary people to replace it with a green, sustainable and cooperative society. So let's do it! more...
Some rhinos are more equal than others ... and this Asian Rhino in the Chitwan National Park, Nepal is, it appears, less equal than its African cousins. Photo: Joshua Alan Davis via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA).

Africa's rhinos grab the cash while their Asian cousins head for extinction

David Tosh

2nd October 2015

Two of Asia's three rhino species are 'critically endangered', writes David Tosh, yet the lion's share of rhino conservation resources is lavished on Africa. The reason is simple: Africa's rhinos generate more cash from tourism. But should this really be the point? more...
At the New Mexico Consortium, Los Alamos scientists are using genetic engineering to improve algae strains for increased biomass yield and carbon capture efficiency. Photo: Los Alamos National Laboratory via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

Re-engineering life? The dangers of 'next generation' biofuels

Almuth Ernsting

30th September 2015

The biofuels of the future will depend on microbes, writes Almuth Ernsting: algae to produce the biomass, and fungi or bacteria to break cellulose down into useful molecules. Just one problem: wild strains aren't up to the job. So scientists are trying to genetically engineer supercharged 'synthetic biology' variants - which will inevitably enter the environment. What could possibly go wrong? more...
Exposure to low levels of glyphosate impairs bees navigational learning. A bee in Charlotte, VA. Photo: Universal Pops via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA).

Glyphosate harms bees' spatial learning

Beyond Pesticides

20th September 2015

A new study shows it's not just neonicotinoids that impair bees' ability to navigate to nectar and pollen sources, and to their nests: now the herbicide glyphosate has been found to have the same impact even at very low levels. more...
Salisbury Cathedral took 46 years to build. Would Hinkley C be any quicker? Photo: Photo Phiend via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

Hinkley Point must be stopped - even if you believe in nuclear

Chris Goodall

19th September 2015

UK support for low-carbon energy technologies is running at £250 million a year, writes Chris Goodall. Yet the government wants to throw four times more, every year for 35 years, at the Hinkley C nuclear power station, that could take almost as long to build as Salisbury Cathedral. 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...
Bob Inglis, Executive Director at the Engery and Enterprise Institute, taking part in a panel discussion on how to sell carbon pricing to Canadians in Ottawa on Wednesday, April 17, 2013, hosted by Canada 2020. Photo: Canada 2020 via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

Republicans must make climate change their own! Bob Inglis, ex Congressman

Zachary Davies Boren / Greenpeace Energydesk

24th September 2015

Bob Inglis is a true Republican, writes Zachary Davies Boren. But now he's a ex-Congressman. All because he reckons that climate change is real, serious and demands solutions - among them a carbon tax to stop free riders dumping their trash in the sky. And, he's certain: it's only a matter of time before the GOP will come to see things his way. 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...
Felled tree in the coastal rainforest of Oregon, USA. Photo: Francis Eatherington via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

Biosphere collapse: the biggest economic bubble ever

Glen Barry

14th September 2015

Worried about debt, defaults and deficits? Save up your concern for the real problem, writes Glen Barry. The systematic destruction Earth's natural ecosystems for short-term profit is the 'bubble' that underlies economic growth - and if allowed to continue its bursting will leave the Earth in a state of social, economic and ecological collapse. 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...


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