The Ecologist


Pollution: 25/50 of 430
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Returning hair samples to a Yanomami community after testing for lead content. Photo: © Marcos Wesley / ISA.

Amazon Indians at risk in mercury poisoning crisis

Sarina Kidd / Survival International

5th April 2016

Illegal gold mining in the Amazon has a devastating effect on indigenous peoples, writes Sarina Kidd. First the miners bring disease, deforestation and even murder. Then long after they have gone, communities are left to suffer deadly mercury poisoning. Now the UN has been called on to intervene. more...
ArcelorMittal, the world's largest steel producer and funder of the ArcelorMittal Orbit sculpture in the Olympic Park, London have benefitted from a proportion of the EU's €24 billion handout. Photo: .Martin. via Flickr (CC BY-ND)

Europe's biggest polluters land €24 billion carbon windfall

The Ecologist

17th March 2016

The European Union's carbon market, the EU ETS, is meant to cut pollution in a cost effective way. But a new report shows that it handed the EU's biggest emitters a €24bn bumper payout over six years. Not so much the 'polluter pays' principle but the precise opposite: people pay, and polluters profit. more...
The Chancellor has done it for sugary drinks. Now, will he go on to do the same for even bigger issues - like the air pollution that's killing tens of thousands of British citizens a year? Photo: Roy Schreffler via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA).

Chancellor is right to act on sugar. Next, air pollution!

Simon Bullock

17th March 2016

The Chancellor's 'sport not sugar' move to tax sugary drinks was extremely welcome, writes Simon Bullock. But we need a similar Treasury approach to protect people from other threats too. So how about tackling the air pollution that's killing tens of thousands of Britons a year? more...
Oil-coated dolphin washed up on the Gulf coast following the Deepwater Horizon disaster, projected onto the walls of the Science Museum by 'BP or not BP'. Photo: BP or not BP.

BP doubles EU lobby spend, drops Tate sponsorship

Kyla Mandel / The Ecologist

14th March 2016

Oil giant BP is the UK's single biggest EU lobbyist, spending over £2 million reaching out to European policy makers in 2014, new figures show. But citing hard times, the company has dropped its controversial sponsorship of the London's Tate Galleries - and more such branding deals may bite the dust. more...
Too bad about the Ferrari. But far more serious is the health damage caused by pollution from HGVs and other diesel vehicles, which is causing a surplus mortality of some 40,000 people a year across the UK. Photo: Paul Townsend via Flickr (CC BY-ND).

To clean up air pollution we must dump diesel - and here's how

Richard Howard / Policy Exchange

11th March 2016

Low Emissions Zones have their place in cleaning up the UK's worst air pollution hotspots, writes Richard Howard. But we also need to adopt fiscal measures to encourage a shift away from diesel vehicles, at once delivering cleaner air, increased tax revenues, and lower carbon emissions. more...
Plastic pollution found on a shoreline in Norway. Photo: Bo Elde via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Public Trust Doctrine requires governments to protect our oceans!

Deb Wright

9th March 2016

A legal principle dating from Roman times is ripe for use in protecting our waste-filled and over-exploited seas and oceans, writes Deb Wright. Under the 'Public Trust Doctrine' governments are entrusted to protect shared natural resources from abuse, and can be held accountable for neglect of their duties. more...
The land contaminated by the oil spill in Mayoriaga. Photo: Forest Peoples Programme

Peru: Amazon tribe orders oil company out after devastating spills

Vanessa Amaral-Rogers

9th March 2016

The indigenous Wampis people of the Peruvian Amazon have demanded the immediate closure of a Petroperú oil pipeline after a series of devastating spills, writes Vanessa Amaral-Rogers. The company has already been found guilty of 'negligence' after previous oil spills contaminated the Wampis land and rivers. more...
Oil pollution in Ogoniland, Niger Delta. Photo: Milieudefensie via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA).

53,000 Nigerian oil spill victims press new Shell lawsuits

Oliver Tickell

2nd March 2016

A year after Shell was forced into a £55 million settlement with an indigenous community in Nigeria devastated by oil spills, a UK High Court judge has allowed two new such cases to proceed on behalf of some 43,000 subsistence farmers and fishers whose livelihoods have been wiped out by the same cause. more...
Jackson Wanyama, a former worker at the Metal Refinery smelter in Mombasa, Kenya. His wife Linette passed away last October. She used to wash his clothes and had high levels of lead poisoning. He too is suffering from his exposure to lead contamination. P

Dirty business: Africa's unregulated lead battery smelting

Desirée García & Javier Marín

3rd March 2016

Africa's car battery recycling industry is anything but green, write Desirée García & Javier Marín on African Environment Day. Toxic emissions from the re-smelting of lead from old batteries is poisoning workers and nearby communities. And among the buyers of the lead are EU car companies, apparently indifferent to the death, disease and contamination they are financing. more...
Aberthaw power station and adjacent cement works rise above the South Wales countryside. Photo: Ben Salter via Flickr (CC BY).

From pit mines to power plants, Wales must lead the UK out of coal

Gareth Clubb / FoE Cymru.

29th February 2016

Wales should lead the UK in bringing an end to the entire coal industry from opencast mining to highly polluting power stations, writes Gareth Clubb. A new report by Friends of the Earth Cymru shows the Aberthaw plant alone imposes social and environmental costs of nearly £1 billion per year on the country and global climate. more...
London's air pollution is so bad, it can be seen on occasion. Photo: David Holt via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Five ways to slash London's lethal air pollution

John Weeks

24th February 2016

Today's threats of legal action by ClientEarth against the UK Government highlight the problem of London's poisonous air, which is killing some 10,000 people a year, writes John Weeks. Fortunately there are simple, low cost, effective measures that could be taken to bring about big improvements to the city's air quality, fast. more...
'Existence is Resistance!' Banner at the Climate Camp in Sipson village, wjhich wold be entirely destroyed by a third Heathrow runway, 16th August 2007. Photo: Alice via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

The noble cause of the Heathrow 13

John McDonnell MP

24th February 2016

With the 'Heathrow 13' protestors expecting custodial sentences today for their occupation of a Heathrow runway last July, Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell MP writes that their direct action followed years of official lies and broken promises, and forms part of a long tradition of direct action protests in defence of democracy. more...

Pollution: 25/50 of 430
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Serious pollution in Stoke Newington, North London, England, 3rd April 2014. Photo: David Holt via Flickr (CC BY).

40,000 air pollution deaths a year, say doctors

Vanessa Amaral-Rogers

23rd January 2016

A new report from leading physicians published today reveals the excess mortality caused by UK air pollution, writes Vanessa Amaral-Rogers. The Government has already been found in breach of the EU's Air Quality Directive, but its policies remain weak. Will it finally step up to prevent early deaths from this silent killer? more...
 last month announced an amendment to the Energy Policy and Modernization Act to help families in Flint, Michigan who have been exposed to lead poisoning through contaminated drinking water. But it will do nothing to put those responsible for the crisis i

Flint water crisis - will anyone be prosecuted?

Jane F. Barrett, University of Maryland

18th February 2016

Amid the growing call for those guilty of causing Flint, Michigan's water crisis to be prosecuted, Jane F. Barrett finds little prospect of criminal charges under the Safe Drinking Water Act. But federal, state and common laws offer prosecutors a range of potential charges, from malfeasance, misfeasance and nonfeasance to involuntary manslaughter. more...
Cruising the open seas on the Sea Dragon. Photo: Katrina McQuail.

In search of the unseen: an investigation into plastics in our oceans

Ana Stanič

21st February 2-16

One of the biggest threats facing marine life is the 'microplastic' particles found in ocean ecosystems from bottom to top of food chains. Just back from a voyage of environmental exploration in the tropical Atlantic sampling the waters to build up a global picture of this ubiquitous pollutant, Ana Stanič writes of the joys and trials of life on the waves, and the need to keep our oceans clean. more...
E-scrapping operation in Guiyu, China, breaking down imported computers. Over 100,000 migrant workers labor in hundreds of small operations like this one in a four-village area surrounding the Lianjiang River. Photo: baselactionnetwork via Flickr (CC BY-N

From latest gizmo to toxic waste: the dark side of the worldwide electronics obsession

Ian Williams, University of Southampton

11th February 2016

Our thirst for the latest gadgets has created a vast empire of electronic waste, writes Ian Williams. The EU alone produces some 9 million tonnes of it a year, of which some 70% is still working when disposed of, and over a third is disposed of illegally. With increasingly affordable electronic devices available to ever more people, it's high time for effective global regulation. more...
Beached whale in the Firth of Forth, Scotland, being removed using earth-moving equipment, September 2013. Photo: Patrick Down via Flickr (CC BY-NC).

Heavy metal poisoning in Scotland's beached whales

The Ecologist

15th February 2016

High levels of toxins mercury and cadmium have been found in all organs of the whales recently beached on Scotland's North Sea coast, including the brain. The research shows that rising mercury levels in the oceans leads to toxic stress in the long-lived marine mammals. more...
Investment managers need to become shareholder- activists on climate, or their wealth, and that of their clients could go up in smoke. Photo: Drax Power Station by Ian Britton via Flickr (CC BY-NC).

Fund managers: campaign on climate, or face lawsuits

The Ecologist

12th February 2016

Fund managers who neglect their 'duty of care' to clients by failing to put pressure on the companies they invest in to reduce their carbon emissions and prepare for a fossil-free future could be sued for their negligence, say respected experts in law, environment and finance. more...
A Palestinian rides his trike through a flooded street following the heavy storms of 2013. Photo: AFP PHOTO  / MOHAMMED ABED via Flickr / Globovisión (CC BY-NC)

As flooding in Gaza worsens, the most basic of human rights are under threat

Vanessa Amaral-Rogers

9th February 2016

The humanitarian crisis in Gaza has worsened after floods and purposeful destruction has taken its toll in recent months, writes Vanessa Amaral-Rogers. The eight year blockade by Israel and conflict with Egypt has already hit Palestinian families hard but now Gaza is at even greater risk as Egypt diverts seawater into life-line tunnels. more...
Artist's impression of the Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon, which would, if built, generate almost 500 gigawatt hours of electricity per year. Image:

A green Wales is taking off - in spite of UK government policies

David Clubb

16th February 2016

Despite Cameron's promise to lead the 'greenest Government ever', the environment has taken a heavy bashing since the 2015 election, writes David Clubb - whether on oil, fracking, renewable energy or planning policy. But Wales is doing its best to follow a sustainable path, and demonstrating badly needed environmental leadership that the whole UK would do well to follow. more...
Lake Huron - the limitless expanse of clean water that supplied Flint until municipal dictators decided to save money and pipe in industrially contaminated water from the Flint River. Photo: Cathy via Flickr (CC BY-NC).

What's more corrosive than Flint's water? The cynicism of the powerful

Jesse Jackson

11th February 2016

The Flint water crisis exposes like nothing else the toxic cynicism of America's ruling class, writes Jesse Jackson. In their privileged view, the victims of the lead poisoning are disposable 'unpersons' that matter less than General Motors' auto parts. But now they, and their peers in other poisoned communities, are fighting back. more...
The Indian Point nuclear site in Buchanan, NY, Units 2 and 3. Photo: ©Entergy Nuclear / Nuclear Regulatory Commission via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

Indian Point reactors contaminate New York groundwater

Sam Thielman & Alan Yuhas / Guardian Environment

8th February 2016

Highly radioactive tritium has leaked into groundwater at the Indian Point nuclear site 40 miles north of Manhattan, New York, write Sam Thielman & Alan Yuhas. Governor Cuomo has ordered a review of safety at the site, where two reactors are operating with no NRC license. more...
There's the pollution you can see, and the even more dangerous pollution that's invisible: the high levels of nitrogen oxides produced by many modern diesel cars. Photo: Adrian Midgley via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

MEPs vote for killer car pollution at double the legal limit


3rd February 2016

Right wing MEPs in the European Parliament including UK conservatives today voted car makers a 'get out of jail free' card over air pollution that's killing tens of thousands of citizens a year, allowing their vehicles to emit double the legal limit for nitrogen oxides. more...
Cyclist wearing face mask to protect against polluted air. Photo: Hamish Irvine via Flickr (CC BY-NC).

Time to crack down on car pollution - the silent killer with powerful friends

Jean Lambert, Molly Scott Cato & Keith Taylor

3rd February 2016

Air pollution from vehicles is killing tens of thousands of people every year in the UK alone, write Jean Lambert, Molly Scott Cato & Keith Taylor, an outrage set into stark focus by VW's 'test cheating'. The EU's response? To relax tests and allow cars to be more polluting - with the full support of the UK government. more...
In the foreground a plesiosaur, and the left an ichthyosaur, feature in this reconstruction of a Cretaceous ocean in the National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh. The absence of oxygen in deeper waters led to the preservation of the fossil riches we enjoy t

Ancient 'dead seas' offer a stark warning for our own future

Richard Pancost, University of Bristol

29th January 2016

For long periods animals in ancient oceans could live only in shallow surface waters, above vast 'dead zones' inhabited only by anoxic bacteria, writes Richard Pancost. Human activity is now creating immense new dead zones, and global warming could be helping as it reduces vertical mixing of waters. Could this be the beginning of something big? more...


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