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...
Ribbon cutting ceremony for the new solar installation in Little Buffalo, Alberta. Photo: Greenpeace Canada via Youtube.

Energy democracy: Lubicon Cree build a solar dream in a tar sands nightmare

Melina Laboucan-Massimo

15th November 2015

An 500-strong Indigenous community in Alberta, the heart of Canada's environmentally catastrophic tar sands industry, is fighting back against the pollution, writes Melina Laboucan-Massimo - by cutting themselves adrift from dependence on fossil fuels, and starting up their own solar power station: a vital first step towards building a just and sustainable society. 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...
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...
Parabolic Trough Collectors in New Mexico, USA. They work by concentrating the sun's rays on an oil-filled tube running along the focal line of the trough. Photo: Randy Montoya / Sandia Labs via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

Tory Conference: pledge the UK to the Global Apollo Program

Lord Richard Layard

5th October 2015

The government has an opportunity to show real leadership on energy and climate change this week, writes Richard Layard - by making the UK the first country to sign up to a global research effort to replace fossil fuels with renewables as the world's primary power source. more...
The House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee questions George Osborne, Chancellor of the Exchequer, on Hinkley C and other issues, 8th September 2015. Photo: ukhouseoflords via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

Shame upon them! The government's nuclear lies exposed

Oliver Tickell

23rd September 2015

The UK government and its Chancellor George Osborne are grossly misleading the public over the relative costs of renewable energy and nuclear power, writes Oliver Tickell. Osborne's claim that nuclear is the 'cheapest low carbon technology' is the very reverse of the truth. He and his nuclear plans must be stopped. 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...
A new Chinese built and financed nuclear reactor for Bradwell, Essex? Believe it when you see it. Photo: Dan Davison via Flickr (CC BY).

Astonishing and awful: Osborne's nuclear deal with China

David Toke

22nd September 2015

The UK's decision to 'green light' £2 billion in guarantees for the Hinkley C nuclear power station indicates the government's increasing desperation, writes David Toke. Bar the shouting, has anything actually happened? The guarantees have not been issued, and the announcement of Chinese participation in a new reactor at at Bradwell remains ... an announcement. 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...
To green the UK's electricity system, this is what we need a whole lot more of. Offshore wind turbine at Burbo Bank, Liverpool Bay, England. Photo: Danish Wind Industry Association / Vindmølleindustrien via Fliclr (CC BY-NC).

How the UK can get almost all its power from renewables - without new nuclear

Damian Kahya / Greenpeace Energydesk

21st September 2015

The government claims that we need nuclear 'baseload' power to keep the lights on, writes Damian Kahya. But a new study shows reliable, low carbon energy can be provided by combining diverse green technologies including efficiency, large scale renewables, 'smart grid', energy storage and rarely used fossil fuel backup. more...
He may not have such a pretty face as Amber Rudd, but George Osborne is the real energy secretary these days. However he's proving himself unable to put together a coherent energy policy. Photo: British High Commission, New Delhi (CC BY-NC-ND).

Nuclear madness: £2 billion for Hinkley C. Why the Treasury must get its hands off energy

Oliver Tickell

21st September 2015

Today's announcement of a £2 billion government guarantee for Hinkley C confirms that Chancellor George Osborne and his Treasury cannot be trusted to run the UK's energy policy - which is precisely what they are doing. On top of decimating the renewables industry, now they're risking billions on a failed nuclear design owned by failing companies. It's time to stop the madness. more...
Radioactive emissions from the Millstone nuclear power complex in Waterford, CT are associated with elevated breast cancer incidence in the Long Island Sound Counties. Photo: Dominion Energy vua NRC / Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

Nuclear power kills! The real reason the NRC cancelled its nuclear site cancer study

Chris Busby

19th September 2015

The US's Nuclear Regulatory Commission just cancelled its study into cancer near nuclear plants citing the 'excessive cost' of $8 million, writes Chris Busby. Of course that's rubbish - similar studies in the UK have been carried out for as little as £600 per site, and in any case $8 million is small change for the NRC. The real reason is to suppress the unavoidable conclusion: nuclear power kills. more...

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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...
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...
Beautiful but deadly: a golden sunset over the Pacific at Naraha, Fukushima, Japan. 'Scenery of Tears' Photo: Mirai Takahashi via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

Fukushima: Japanese government and IAEA ignore radiation risks to coastal population

Tim Deere-Jones

28th September 2015

Radiation can be carried long distances by marine currents, concentrated in sediments, and carried in sea spray 16km or more inland, writes Tim Deere-Jones. So Fukushima poses a hazard to coastal populations and any who eat produce from their farms. So what are the Japanese Government and IAEA doing? Ignoring the problem, and failing to gather data. more...
Scout Moor Wind Farm is the second largest onshore wind farm in England. But under current government policies, there won't be many more of these. Photo: Gidzy via Flickr (CC BY).

UK drops out of top 10 countries for renewable energy

Emma Howard / the Guardian Environment

16th September 2015

A new report by accountancy giant EY says the UK's Conservative government has sentenced renewable energy sector to 'death by a thousand cuts', writes Emma Howard, and left investors puzzled at inexplicable policy changes. more...
All hail our fracking future! Prime Minister David Cameron on a visit to an IGas site in Gainsborough on 13th January 2014, flanked by company officials. Photo: Number 10 via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

Fracking will only dig our fossil fuel addiction deeper

Oliver Tickell

16th September 2015

A new report on fracking and climate change from the Task Force on Shale gas presents a rosy picture of the fuel's role as a climate-friendly 'bridge' to a renewable energy future, writes Oliver Tickell. But the truth is the precise opposite - it's a climate disaster that will only delay the arrival of clean energy. 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...

Victory! Corbyn's political earthquake will resound long and deep

Oliver Tickell

12th September 2015

The magnitude of Corbyn's victory today represents an irreversible seismic shift in British politics, writes Oliver Tickell. Finally the Tories face serious, principled opposition that will reveal them as the far-right ideologues they truly are. The reverberations will echo far, wide, long and deep, including to the US where the socialist Bernie Sanders is well on his way to winning the Democratic nomination. 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...
Scotland's Social Justice Secretary Alex Neil with Kimberley Stoddart, a tenant of West of Scotland Housing Association. Photo: Scottish Government via Flickr (CC BY-NC).

Community Energy Fortnight - to participate is to resist!

Jonathon Porritt

11th September 2015

This year's Community Energy Fortnight is taking place at a strange time, writes Jonathon Porritt, with the entire renewable energy industry under government attack as never before. What can we do about it? For a start, by joining in some of the hundreds of events that are taking place across the UK! 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...
Jeremy Corbyn speaking at the 'End Austerity Now' march on the State Opening Of Parliament, 27th Ma7 2015. Photo: Sleeves Rolled Up via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA).

Jeremy Corbyn's innovative energy policies are no 1980s throwback

Stephen Hall

8th September 2015

Consumers are routinely ripped off in an anti-competitive retail energy market dominated by a handful of big, polluting companies, writes Stephen Hall. Jeremy Corbyn's vision of a nimble, decentralised energy democracy with rapid development of renewables and real choice is both timely and innovative. more...
Wind turbines along a mountain ridge in Galicia, Spain. Photo: Luis Alves via Flickr (CC BY).

The archaic nature of 'baseload' power

Michael Mariotte

7th September 2015

Nuclear power advocates cling like limpets to the idea of 'baseload' power, writes Michael Mariotte. No surprise there - it's the only selling point they've got. It's just too bad the idea is obsolete. Variable renewables combined with stronger grids, energy storage and responsive demand can do a better job for less money. No wonder the shills are getting desperate. more...
The true cost of the three nuclear power stations at Sizewell, England were concealed under state ownership. But they still cost us a bomb. Photo: Mark Seton via Flickr (CC BY-NC).

Nuclear power is expensive everywhere!

David Toke

7th September 2015

The notion that nuclear is cheaper outside the UK is a myth, writes David Toke. Yes, it looks more expensive here - but only because new stations like Hinkley C have to compete in an electricity marketplace, making it harder to conceal the true costs like we used to. more...


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