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'I shall show you Life in a handful of jewels'. A cut gemstone of Blue Apatite. Photo: Captain Tenneal via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

What Life is

Christopher Busby

29th January 2016

The origin of life has long been the deepest of mysteries, writes Chris Busby. But in fact, the spontaneous arising of life from molecules in Darwin's 'warm little pond' is the inevitable result of their selective energisation by quantized infra-red radiation. Now, some four billion years after life first developed, precisely the same processes continue to drive the operation of all living systems at a cellular level. more...
Flooded, embanked tributary of the River Eden in Cumbria. Image from a small unmanned aerial vehicle. Photo: Neil Entwistle @salfordhydro .

Changes to our rivers and floodplains have exacerbated flooding

Neil Entwistle & George Heritage

12th January 2016

Changes to natural drainage processes in headwaters, rivers, floodplains and river channels has increased the UK's vulnerability to heavy rainfall, write Neil Entwistle & George Heritage. And to put things right, we must first gather the detailed evidence of what took place in recent floods. The Environment Agency must publish all its data, maps and images - now! more...
Australian farmer Geoffrey Carracher, who is against GM farming, with some canola seed that has been cross contaminated with GM seed from a nearby farm. Photo: Craig Sillitoe via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA).

GM 2.0? 'Gene-editing' produces GMOs that must be regulated as GMOs

Janet Cotter & Ricarda Steinbrecher

13th January 2016

The EU is considering the exclusion of gene-edited plants and animals from GM regulations, write Janet Cotter & Ricarda Steinbrecher. However gene-edited organisms clearly fall within the definition of GMOs in both European and international law. They also present real risks to the environment and human health - and must be regulated like any other GMOs. more...
Mining Bee (Andrena dunningi) on Hawthorn. Photo:  Dan Mullen via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

New research exposes hidden cocktail of bee-killing pesticides in hedgerows and wildflowers

Oliver Tickell

5th January 2015

Dangerous volumes of neonicotinoid insecticides and other pesticides are expressed in common wild flowers like buttercups and hawthorn blossom in countryside under arable cultivation, a new study has discovered. The discovery invalidates the UK government's 'pollinator strategy' based on creating 'safe havens' in arable areas - because the havens are in fact loaded with pesticides. more...
This poster for the 'GMO-a-gogo' animation is clearly emotive - but mainly it's the GM opponents who have the science on their side, and GM advocates who resort to emotive claims and invective. Image: infomaticfilms.com.

Claiming to represent 'science', the global GMO industry is built on fear, fraud and corruption

Colin Todhunter

30th December 2015

The more the GM industry claims to enjoy the support of 'science', the more it resorts to emotive attack and insult against its opponents, while doing its best to suppress the many scientific truths that are not to its liking, writes Colin Todhunter. In truth it is driven by profit, politics and ideology, and is based on fraud and the capture and corruption of governments and regulators. more...
Female Agapostemon sp. sweat bee, Oregon, USA. Photo: Thomas Shahan via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

Farm expansion driving US native bee declines

Beyond Pesticides

28th December 2015

Wild bee decline is closely associated with the advance of intensive farming and habitat loss, a new study shows. It follows an earlier paper that linked 'delayed action' decline of wild bees to exposure to pesticides including fungicides - previously considered 'bee-safe'. more...
1962 poster for 'Day of the Triffids'. Photo: James Vaughan via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA).

Philippines GMO ban is the Precautionary Principle in action

Rupert Read & David Burnham

16th December 2015

The Precautionary Principle must mean, above all, avoiding the risk of ruinous outcomes for people or the wider environment, write Rupert Read & David Burnham. When the Philippines Supreme Court applied that test to GMOs, they found they had to ban them - not as a moral choice but pragmatically, to avoid potentially devastating consequences. more...
Qooroq Fjord in South Greenland, August 2015. Photo: joxeankoret via Flickr (CC BY-SA).

Greenland glaciers melt rate hits 9,500 year record

Tim Radford

9th December 2015

As Arctic Peoples at COP21 in Paris appeal for unity to halt global warming, writes Tim Radford, scientists report that Greenland's glaciers are now melting at a speed not seen since the last Ice Age almost 10,000 years ago. more...
Image: Mario Piperni via Flickr (CC BY-ND).

Climate 'academics for hire' conceal fossil fuel funding

Lawrence Carter & Maeve McClenaghan / Greenpeace Energydesk

9th December 2015

Investigative reporters working for Greenpeace UK's Energydesk have uncovered a nexus of senior academics willing to accept large sums of money from fossil fuel companies to write reports and newspaper articles published under their own names and university affiliations, without declaring the funding. Lawrence Carter & Maeve McClenaghan spill the beans ... more...
Lord Monckton attracting attention at the Copenhagen climate conference, 2009. Photo: Mat McDermott via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

COP21: Lord Monckton exposes Obama's 'secret plot' for 'totalitarian world government'

Brendan Montague & Kyla Mandel

4th December 2015

Climate change denier Lord Monckton was making waves at COP21 in Paris yesterday, write Brendan Montague & Kyla Mandel, with his claims of a 'synergy of interests' between 'malevolent scientists' and power-mad politicians intent on setting up a fascist / communist world government under the guise of a climate treaty. more...
Coccolith. Photo: ZEISS Microscopy via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

COP21 warned on global warming's evil twin - acidifying oceans

Tony Juniper

3rd December 2015

Increased atmospheric CO2 is doing much more than warming the Earth, writes Tony Juniper - it's also acidifying oceans, something that is already having major impacts on ocean ecology in the Southern Ocean and the North Atlantic. Likely effects: more CO2 in the atmosphere, more jellyfish. more...
If glyphosate was no longer being chucked around into food and environment, would there be fewer cases of cancer? Walkers gear up and take on Day 1 for breast cancer awareness, August 2013. Photo: Susan G. Komen via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

EFSA and EU member states vs. WHO on glyphosate as carcinogen: can science win?

Corporate Europe Observatory

2nd December 2015

The health of Europe's citizens is on trial as the EU's food safety regulator challenges the World Health Organisation over glyphosate and cancer, writes Corporate Europe Observatory. On the WHO side, published, peer reviewed science, real world epidemiology and open processes. While the EFSA conclusion is based on secret industry studies and opaque procedures. Will science or realpolitik win the day? more...

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Forsmark Horizontal silo, Sweden's final repository for radioactive operational waste, located at the Forsmark nuclear power plant in Sweden. Photo: Fred Dawson LRPS via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

Nuclear radiation, Kierkegaard, and the philosophy of denial

Chris Busby

8th January 2016

As the evidence of the extreme harm to health inflicted by nuclear radiation mounts, the denialists are resorting to ever greater extremes, writes Chris Busby. On the one hand, advancing the absurd claim that ionising radition is not merely harmless, but health-enhancing. On the other, closing down the experiment that would have provided the strongest evidence yet. more...
Doing your toxicology in a computer has three big advantages (for the chemical industry): it's quick, cheap, and can be manipulated to systematically understate the real health hazards. Photo: Alejandro Juárez via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA).

Triumph of digital toxicology: why the US won't regulate deadly chemicals

Valerie Brown and Elizabeth Grossman

27th November 2015

A six-month investigation finds that the revolving door between government and the chemical industry has led the EPA to rely on easily manipulated toxicology research carried out entirely on computers - and this 'in silico' science often trumps both biology and epidemiology when it comes to regulatory action, or lack of it. The result? Toxic substances remain in everyday products. more...
With lithium-air batteries, this Tesla EV could travel from Boston to Washington DC, or from London to Edinburgh, on a single charge. Photo: Niall Kennedy via Flickr (CC BY-NC).

Li-air battery could make oil obsolete in ten years

The Ecologist

23rd November 2015

Sooner than it takes to build a nuclear power station, lithium-air batteries could be helping wind and solar to make coal, oil and nuclear obsolete, say Cambridge scientists. Five times lighter and five times cheaper than current lithium batteries, Li-air would open the way to our 100% renewable future. more...
Pizol Glacier and summit in the Swiss Alps, July 2013. Photo: HD Zimmermann via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA).

Global warming reduces snows that water 2 billion people

Tim Radford

24th November 2015

New research warns that rising temperatures will reduce the mountain snow in 97 major river basins worldwide, writes Tim Radford - cutting summer water supply to 2 billion people in lowland areas who depend on the meltwaters. more...
The EFSA, open for business ... provided you're a global pesticide corporation. Photo: Corporate Europe Observatory via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA).

EFSA decides: no cancer risk from glyphosate

The Ecologist

13th November 2015

Europe's top food safety regulator has ruled that the world's top selling herbicide, glyphosate, does not cause cancer - in defiance of the WHO and overwhelming scientific evidence. The decision opens the way for a 10-year EU re-approval next year, before its Chemicals Agency has released its own findings. more...
No shortage of biodiversity here - Rapture Reef sits within the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Marine National Monument. The monument encompasses more than 140,000 square miles of ocean and coral reef habitat. Photo: NOAA's National Ocean Service via Flick

Can we halt biodiversity loss in 15 years? Yes we can!

Richard Pearson, UCL

12th November 2015

Is the aspiration to halt the loss of biodiversity by 2030 - enshrined in the UN's new Sustainable Development Goals - a fairy tale? It's ambitious, writes Richard Pearson, but there are plenty of signs that the world is acting effectively to conserve its endangered habitats and species. With extraordinary effort, we can do it. more...
The quality of the milk those kids are drinking would be much lower if their mother was fed on GMO soy, stunting their growth. Photo: Lawrence Wright via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

GMO soy produces altered milk and stunted kids

Dr Jonathan R. Latham / Independent Science News,

26th October 2015

Mother goats fed on 'Roundup-ready' GMO soy produce milk that's much lower in fat, protein and antibodies than non-GMO controls, writes Jonathan Latham, and contains traces of GE DNA. The milk also stunts their kids' growth. more...
Workers on site at Fukushima Daiichi, December 2012. Photo: IAEA Imagebank via Flickr (CC BY-SA).

Fukushima - the first cancers emerge

Oliver Tickell

20th October 2015

As a first 'official' cancer case is admitted at Fukushima, a study of over 400,000 young people in the prefecture identifies a 30-fold excess of thyroid cancer, writes Oliver Tickell. With the high rate and early onset of the disease the scientists fear many more cases to come - and that WHO underestimated the scale of radiation release. more...
Cattle killed by the drought, district of Admitullu Jiddo Kombolcha in Ethiopia, 2009. Photo: Zeresenay Berhane Mehar / Oxfam International via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

Warming world means more drought in Horn of Africa

Alex Kirby

18th October 2015

Evidence stretching back 40,000 years shows that global warming will increase drying in a region of East Africa where drought already causes humanitarian crises, writes Alex Kirby - dashing earlier hopes of increased rainfall. more...
Scanning electron micrograph of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus bacteria (yellow, round items) killing and escaping from a human white cell. Photo: NIAID via Flickr (CC BY).

Restrict antibiotics to medical use, or they will soon become ineffective

Laura J V Piddock, Richard Meek, Victoria Wells, Hrushi Vyas

23rd October 2015

Antibiotics have saved countless millions of lives since the 1930s, but their power is failing due to their massive use in factory farming, horticulture, aquaculture and industry, says a new report from the All Party Parliamentary Group on Antibiotics. We must stop all inessential uses of antibiotics, or face a future where we risk death from minor injuries and routine surgery. more...
Pro-GMO philanthropist Bill Gates has been a big funder of Cornell University, Ithaca, NY - he even paid for its magnificent Gates Hall. But is Cornell's Alliance for Science performing a flip on GMO safety? Photo: Anne Ruthmann Photography via Flickr (CC

Surprise - Cornell is taking the GMO safety debate to a new level!

Steven M. Druker

19th October 2015

Something important just happened at Cornell's Alliance for Science, writes Steven M. Druker. Long known as a keen promoter of genetic engineering, the organization has experienced a profound change of direction. Its new director, Sarah Davidson Evanega, has opened an inclusive scientific dialogue on the safety of GMO crops. Who says it's all 'over'? more...
For a problem-free pregnancy, don't live near here. Marcellus Shale rig and gas well operation on Ridge Road in Jackson Township, PA, operated by Rex Energy. Photo: WCN 24/7 via Flickr (CC BY-NC).

Premature birth and problem pregnancies near fracking wells

The Ecologist

9th October 2015

A new study in the US's 'fracking capital' Pennsylvania has found that pregnant women who live near gas fracking wells are far more likely to give birth prematurely or develop problems during their pregnancies. 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...

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