The Ecologist

 

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Fracking is burning more than just our health. Our money's going up in flames too - and that's putting the whole financial system at risk. Photo: Bill Baker via Flickr.

With sub-$60 oil, fracking and tar sands losses threaten the whole financial system

Paul Mobbs

17th December 2014

A new financial crisis is threatening to dwarf the 'subprime' mortgage debacle, writes Paul Mobbs. Cheap money from central banks has fuelled some $1.3 trillion of risky investments in high-cost 'unconventional' oil and gas. Now, with oil sinking below $60, all that paper is turning to junk - and that's putting the entire economic system at risk. more...
If you want one of these, best put a good distance between you and the nearest fracking well. Photo: Adriano Aurelio Araujo via Flickr.

Miscarriage and stillbirth linked to fracking chemical exposure

Tamsin Paternoster

15th December 2014

Fracking for oil and gas uses a wide range of chemicals that disrupt reproductive function in both sexes, writes Tamsin Paternoster. Now an academic study has found a powerful correlation between stillbirth, miscarriage, low sperm count, and exposure to fracking chemicals. more...
BUNDjugend demonstrators take on Shell in Hamburg in early 2014. They may not stop Shell in its tracks - but there's one power that can - international finance. Photo: BUNDjugend via Flickr.

The UN climate talks just failed - now for the real battle

Assaad W. Razzouk

15th December 2014

COP20 has just laid the foundations for a non-agreement in Paris in 2015, writes Assaad Razzouk - thanks to the pernicious influence of fossil fuels, poisoning debate and subverting serious climate action. Now there's only one earthly power big enough to fight back. more...
This roman aqueduct near Haifa in modern-day Israel took water to Caesaria, the civilian and military capital of Judaea. But ultimately, most of the water flowed to Rome itself - if in virtual form. Photo: C. J.™ via Flickr.

The food-water-energy nexus defeated the Romans. It could defeat us too

Jonathan Bridge

13th December 2014

As well as being masters of water engineering, the Romans also engaged in a long distance trade in water across the Mediterranean - embodied in grain, oil, wine, cloth, metals and other goods. They also discovered the food-water-energy nexus - and not in a good way. We need to heed the warnings from Roman history. more...
An artist's impression of the Hinkley C nuclear power plant. Image: EDF Energy media library.

UK's €46 billion bid for EIB nuclear loan

The Ecologist

11th December 2014

The UK is bidding for a massive €46 billion loan from the European Investment Bank to finance the construction of three new nuclear power stations at Hinkley Point, Wylfa and Moorside - while Poland is seeking €8bn for huge new coal mines and power plants and €12bn for new nuclear. more...
The August 2013 petcoke storm over the southeast side of Chicago. Photo: Anthony Martinez.

Petcoke: the toxic black dust coming to a community near you

Ben Whitford

9th December 2014

It's the fossil fuel industry's latest stroke of genius - a coal substitute that's cheaper, dirtier and more toxic than coal itself, writes Ben Whitford. The waste product of refining heavy oil from Canada's tar sands, petcoke is stored in open mountains around Chicago's 'Slag Valley', sending plumes of sticky black dust over poor neighborhoods every time the wind blows. more...
Coal trains near North Antelope Rochelle Mine in the Powder River Basin, Wyoming. Photo: Kimon Berlin via Flickr.

BLM sued - no environmental review of coal leasing since 1979

Mike Gaworecki

8th December 2014

Coal leases on public lands operated by the US Bureau of Land Management are responsible for 40% of US coal production and 14% of total US CO2 emissions, writes Mike Gaworecki - yet their environmental impacts have not been reviewed in 35 years. more...
A typical riverside indigenous village in the Peruvian Amazon near Loreto. Photo: Thomas Stromberg via Flickr.

COP20 host Peru claims forest 'leadership' - while attacking forest protectors

AIDESEP / Forest Peoples Programme

8th December 2014

Peru's government is actively undermining indigenous peoples' efforts to protect their forests - by refusing to title 20 million hectares of their lands and turning a blind eye to illegal logging. At the same time it's handing out vast concessions for oil, gas, mining and timber exploitation, expanding palm oil production and planning 50 major forest-flooding dams. more...
A Matsé leader in the Peruvian Amazon pledges to attack oil workers intruding into the tribe's territory with spears, bows and arrows. Photo: David Hill.

'It's war!' Peru-Brazil indigenous people pledge to fight Amazon oil exploration

David Hill

8th December 2014

Peru - host of the COP20 UN climate conference now under way in Lima - is facing rebellion by a 3,500 strong indigenous people deep in the Amazon committed to fighting oil exploration in their forest territory, writes David Hill, following the government's failure to consult Matsés communities or respect their rights. more...
'And now my friends, my cousins, died for this wood.' Photo: still from 'Our Fight' by Handcrafted Films.

How long can Norway ignore Peru's indigenous rights violations?

Chris Lang

10th December 2014

The COP20 host, Peru's President Humala, certainly talked the talk on indigenous rights last September when he signed a $300 million deal with Norway. But his violations of indigenous rights, 'hands off' approach to murders of indigenous leaders and recent unguarded comments betray his true sentiments. more...
Torched Senger homes. Photo: Dean Puckett.

Kenya: a forest people illegally evicted, beaten, imprisoned - paid for by the World Bank

Dean Puckett / REDD Monitor

7th December 2014

Financed by the World Bank, the Kenya Forest Service has intensified its illegal campaign of evictions, arson, beatings and arrests of the Sengwer forest people of the Embobut forest, Dean Puckett reports from the Cherangani Hills. And behind the violence lies the lure of hard cash - from the prospect of selling the forest's carbon to international financiers. more...
The forest territories of the Amazon's indigenous peoples are essential for their own survival, their biodiversity, and the carbon they contain. But their precious lands are under growing threat. Photo: Gleilson Miranda/Governo do Acre / Wikimedia Commons

Amazon tribes' forests are a vital carbon sink

Tim Radford

5th December 2014

As land rights of indigenous peoples are increasingly being violated, writes Tim Radford, new research shows that the planned destruction of the Amazon rainforest is a major threat not only to cultural identity but also to the global climate. more...

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Bringing in the olive harvest. Photo: Zaytoun.

Olive oil for peace and justice in Palestine

Cathi Pawson

11th December 2014

Palestinian minister Ziad Abu Ain died yesterday after being attacked by Israeli soldiers while planting olive trees in the West Bank - a peaceful and fruitful challenge to a long and brutal military occupation. As Zaytoun co-founder Cathi Pawson writes, we can help by buying organic Palestinian olive oil, available in the UK against all the odds. more...
Under the new 'capacity market' regulations, Britain's dirtiest coal-fired plants are set to benefit. Photo: Dom Atreides via Flickr.

UK's 'unlawful' £35 billion support to fossil fuels in ECJ challenge

Oliver Tickell

4th December 2014

The UK Government plans to lock consumers into a 2.5bn a year, 15-year spend to support peak-time fossil power generation - while undermining energy demand savings capable of achieving the same purpose more cleanly and cheaply. But today the 'unlawful' system has been hit by an ECJ lawsuit. more...
Spaying agro-chemicals on a windy day. Photo: Graham Rawlings via Flickr.

Negligent and unlawful: EFSA's latest guidance on pesticide use and exposure

Georgina Downs

4th December 2014

After an apparent cave-in to Europe's pesticide industry, the European Food Safety Authority's latest guidance on pesticides conflicts with European law, writes Georgina Downs - by ignoring the real-life agrochemical exposure of rural residents. Commission President Juncker must step in and demand the withdrawal of this disgraceful document. more...
In the 1970s, refineries in the Middle East controlled the world’s flow of oil. Not any more. Photo: National Iranian Oil Company / Wikimedia Commons.

Lower oil prices are here to stay. Thank loss-making shale and tar sands - not OPEC

Jemma Green, Mark Andrich & Peter Newman

5th December 2014

Are recent oil prices slumps caused by OPEC ganging up against tar sand and other high-cost producers? Or a sinister conspiracy to destabilise the Russian economy? Far from it, argue Jemma Green, Mark Andrich and Peter Newman - it's the simple result of an excess of supply over demand. And the low prices will be with us for some time to come. more...
Helen Browning, chief executive of the Soil Association, among her organic cattle. Photo: Soil Association.

The Soil Association's mission is organic - and it always will be!

Helen Browning / Soil Association

2nd December 2014

The Soil Association doesn't need to 'get back to its roots', writes Helen Browning - because it never left them! It remains firmly committed to its founders' original organic mission for health, environment and animal welfare. And that means reaching out to a broader public, ensuring that organic principles are ever more widely understood and applied. more...
Uvas Dam and Reservoir, California, February 1, 2014. Photo: Ian Abbott via Flickr.

Climate change and the downfall of California's big agriculture

Joshua Frank

5th December 2014

Thanks to cheap water and plentiful sunshine, California grows most of the US's fruit, vegetables and nuts, writes Joshua Frank. But with the drought looking ever more permanent, the $40 billion industry is facing a terminal crisis. It's only a matter of time before we have to rely on local produce - so let's make a start now! more...
Last year’s fine crop of olives in Umbria, Italy, has been followed by what farmers say is the worst in memory.Photo: Carolyn Lyons.

Climate turbulence deals costly blow to olive oil yield

Kieran Cooke

2nd December 2014

The growing popularity of olive oil has driven more intensive systems of olive tree cultivation, writes Kieran Cooke. But they are vulnerable to the kind of extreme weather that has brought pests and disease to olive crops across southern Europe, damaging crops and pushing up prices. more...
Now this is really what it's all about ... harvesting organic leeks at Sandy Lane Farm, Oxfordshire. Photo: facebook.com/sandylanefarm .

Soil Association must get back to its roots

Joanna Blythman, Lynda Brown, Andrew Whitley and Pat Thomas

1st December 2014

Four trustees of the Soil Association just resigned, 'more in sorrow than in anger'. Joanna Blythman, Lynda Brown, Andrew Whitley and former Ecologist editor Pat Thomas all decided they were unable to contribute further to the organisation, the UK's leading organic certifier and the 'mother ship' of British organic farming. more...
One of many anti-fracking protest posters. Nieu Bethesda, Karoo. Photo: Jose Gil Paris, Stichting Schaliegasvrij.

'Fracking frenzy' - how the shale gas industry is threatening the planet

Friends of the Earth Europe

11th December 2014

The world is in the grip of a 'fracking frenzy that threatens us for centuries to come with polluted aquifers, runaway climate change, destruction of biodiversity and worthless 'sub-prime' investments. Just as the world must make the transition to a sustainable future, our 'leaders' are determined to make this last losing throw of the fossil fuel dice. more...
Gnarled old trees with hollows are a vital habitat for marsupials. Photo: David Blair, Author provided.

Labor's election win opens the way to save Victoria's Central Highlands

Emma Burns, David Lindenmayer & Heather Keith

1st December 2014

Australia's Labor scored a big win in Victoria's election this weekend - and with the party's 'green' policies that's potentially good news for the state's exploited forests. Now's the time to keep campaigning for the early creation of a Great Forest National Park. more...
Increasing amounts of meat in our diets are doing no good to use, or to the planet. Photo: Ariel Dovas via Flickr.

Thanks to meat, farming emissions set for 80% rise

Tim Radford

1st December 2014

The increase in meat and dairy consumption is set to cause huge increases in greenhouse gases, reports Tim Radford. A shift to less animal-based diets would cut greenhouse gases, conserve forests and grasslands - and make us all healthier, with reduced obesity, diabetes and associated conditions. more...
Australia’s official forecasts for expanding fossil fuel exports don’t match up with what’s needed to avoid severe climate change. Photo: Jeremy Buckingham/Flickr, CC BY.

Wake up Australia! Your coal exports are being left stranded

Stephen Bygrave

30th November 2014

Australia is betting the farm on huge increases in coal exports, writes Stephen Bygrave - just as key markets in China, India, Korea and Japan are drying up, with rising tariffs and huge renewable energy and efficiency programs. The policy is totally out of touch with reality - and will lead to revenue shortfalls in the AU$100 billions. more...
The Syncrude Aurora Oil Sands Mine, north of Fort McMurray, Canada. Photo: Elias Schewel via Flickr.

Tar sands industry faces 'existential' $246 billion loss

Gregory McGann

27th November 2014

The exploitation of Canada's tar sands is more than just an environmental catastrophe, writes Gregory McGann. It's also an turning into an economic disaster, with massive investments at risk as falling oil prices leave the tar sands stranded. more...

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