The Ecologist


UK: 25/50 of 1057
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Milletseed butterflyfishes and snorkeler near surface, taken in 2009 in Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument - which has just quadrupled in size. Photo: Greg McFall / NOAA's National Ocean Service via Flickr (CC BY).

Vast remote ‘marine protected areas’ - a diversion from the real job?

Peter J S Jones & Elizabeth De Santo

8th September 2016

There's quite a fashion now for creating enormous ocean nature reserves, write Peter J S Jones & Elizabeth De Santo. The UK kicked off the trend last year at Pitcairn Island, and now the US has followed up with a 1.5m reserve around Hawaii. But while these look like big conservation gains, the more serious task is to manage sustainably the intensely exploited seas close to home. more...
To get rid of conservative governments opposition parties must build a 'Progressive Alliance'. Photo: Maurice via Flickr (CC BY).

'Progressive Alliance' is now the only alternative to the Tories

Rupert Read

30th August 2016

Thanks to the UK's crazy 'first past the post' electoral system, there's only way the UK can end austerity and neoliberal government in the next general election, writes Rupert Read: if centre and left parties join in a Progressive Alliance that represents the majority of voters. more...
If the unions were so bothered about jobs, they should be supporting renewables, not nuclear. But could it be that those are the 'wrong kind of jobs' - not unionised ones? Photo: Centre for Alternative Technology ( via Flickr (CC BY).

If it's jobs they want, Labour and the unions must back renewables, not Hinkley C!

Ian Fairlie

30th August 2016

Four of Britain's major unions are big supporters of nuclear power, writes Ian Fairlie - all because of the jobs. Now Labour's shadow energy minister has joined them in backing Hinkley C - even though renewable energy is a far better job-creator than nuclear, and already employs three times more people. more...
Can we secure the future of our countryside - like this landscape in the Yorkshire Dales - with markets in 'ecosystem services'? Robert J Heath via Flickr (CC BY).

Can markets in 'ecosystem services' secure the future of the English countryside?

Dominic Hogg & Luke Dale-Harris

1st September 2016

The EU is already paying farmers and landowners for creating and maintaining valuable habitats, write Dominic Hogg & Luke Dale-Harris. But could the UK do better by creating markets in 'ecosystem services' that would put financial value on clean water, key wildlife habitats, endangered species and precious landscapes? more...
Suffolk farmland at dusk. Photo: Jimmy - S via Flickr (CC BY-NC).

Dark days ahead for British agriculture? Or green shoots of a brighter future?

Keith Tyrell / PAN UK

25th August 2016

With Brexit the UK will have to chose between two visions of our farming future, writes Keith Tyrell. Will it be heavily subsidised corporate agribusiness that ravages both nature and small, high quality farmers. Or will we seize the chance to build a sustainable food and farming system that supports wildlife, landscape, family farms, organic production and diverse rural economies? more...
English badger. Photo: Kentish Plumber via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

England's £100m badger cull extensions condemned

The Ecologist

23rd August 2016

England is about to extend its badger cull policy to five new areas of the country, proving that only that science is a dead letter to May's conservative government as it was to Cameron's. While bovine TB infections in cattle rise in the existing cull areas, Wales has just achieved a cull-free 14% reduction. more...
Front cover of 'Badgered to Death' by Dominic Dyer (exerpt), published by Canbury Press.

Why are our badgers ‘Badgered to Death'?

Lesley Docksey

23rd August 2016

With today's news that badger culling will continue in Gloucester, Somerset and Dorset, and take place in three other counties, writes LESLEY DOCKSEY, there could be no more opportune moment for Dominic Dyer's new book 'Badgered to Death' to appear - expertly exposing the total absence of scientific evidence that badgers transmit bovine TB to cattle. more...
Before and after: natural wetland forest dominated by Swamp cypress, and an industrial plantation of Lolbolly pine. Both photos via Wikimedia Commons (see details on individual photos); amalgamation by The Ecologist (no rights claimed).

Are the UK 'biomass sustainability standards' legitimising forest destruction?

Almuth Ernsting / Biofuelwatch

18th August 2016

This month wood pellet mills in the southern US that supply the UK's Drax power station were awarded 'sustainability' certificates under a voluntary scheme governed entirely by energy companies. The certificates provide no credible guarantee that the fuel does not come from ecologically valuable natural forests and wetlands, clear-cut and replaced by industrial plantations. more...
Shooting grouse in Holmfirth, West Yorkshire. Photo: Richard Woffenden via Flickr (CC BY).

Time to close down Britain's devastating grouse-shooting industry

Eduardo Goncalves

18th August 2016

The disappearance of a satellite-tagged hen harrier on a Scottish grouse moor and the loss of eight Golden eagles in five years provide the latest evidence for a ban on driven grouse-shooting, writes EDUARDO GONCALVES. But birds of prey are only the most high-profile victims of a cruel and ecologically destructive industry. more...
In 2012 Natural England pulled its legal inquiry into the burning of blanket bog in the Pennines - one of several factors damaging the rare and vulnerable habitat. Photo: Peer Lawther via Flickr (CC BY).

England's nature watchdog to rely on 'consultancy' income from developers

Emma Howard / Greenpeace Energydesk

16th August 2016

Leaked documents show that Natural England, the official wildlife agency, is to increase its income from 'discretionary chargeable advice' to developers and landowners, writes EMMA HOWARD - while also failing to prosecute wildlife crime or challenge damaging developments. more...
Could the British countryside look like this one day? Gaur, a species of wild cattle, in the forest at the Kabini Wildlife Santuary, Kerala, India. Photo: rahul rekapalli via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

What if Britain really did abandon its farms and leave them to nature?

Christopher Sandom, University of Sussex

16th August 2016

The National Farmers Union has been issuing dire warnings that if UK taxpayers do not keep on paying landowners billions of pounds of annual subsidies after Brexit, many will simply give up farming altogether. So, asks CHRISTOPHER SANDOM, how would our countryside change if they followed through on that threat? (Or was it a promise?) more...
EDF's corporate HQ in La Defense, Paris, France. Photo: Olivier Durand via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

Hinkley C: government's 'revolving door' to EDF execs

Joe Sandler Clarke

12th August 2016

Ten advisers and civil servants working in DECC, the former UK energy department, were seconded from EDF or had other links to the company, writes Joe Sandler Clarke. This may help to explain the 'preferential treatment' EDF has received over the 3.2GW nuclear power station it wants to build at Hinkley Point in Somerset. more...

UK: 25/50 of 1057
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Intensive arable farming near Eakring, Nottinghamshire, England, carried out with massive taxpayer-funded subsidies to wealthy landowners. Photo: Andrew Hill via Flickr (CC BY-ND).

A post-EU agricultural policy for people and planet

Alex Scrivener

12th August 2016

Brexit gives the UK the chance to reform the system of agricultural subsidies that rewards wealthy landowners at the expense of taxpayers, the global south, the environment, and small scale sustainable farmers, writes Alex Scrivener. But strong, effective campaigning will be needed to bring about the changes we desperately need. more...

Millennials call for a future rich in wildlife

Matt Williams

11th August, 2016

The new Vision for Nature report highlights what young people want to see politicians doing to protect the environment. And there is nobody better qualified to make these demands than the generation that will inherit the future, writes MATT WILLIAMS more...
Photo: Roderick Eime via Flickr (CC BY).

Hugh's 'War on Waste' is great - but we need to grasp the bigger picture

Sam Earle

3rd August 2016

Last week's 'War on Waste' - throwaway coffee cups were the deserving target - was an exemplar of effective single-issue campaigning by Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall. But the answers to our waste problems go way beyond recycling. We must begin to plan a societal transition to a post-consumer culture of caring, sharing, and knowing when we have enough. more...
Inside the pig farm. Photo: Farms Not Factories.

Not just cruel to pigs - farmers are the other victims of intensive animal farming

Tracy Worcester

29th July 2016

Free range pig campaigner Tracy Worcester had a surprise encounter after filming horrific conditions in an intensive UK pig farm. She met the elderly farmer who was cutting corners to stay in business under cut-throat pressure from supermarkets and global agribusiness - only to find he shared all her concerns. The answer is for shoppers to buy only high-welfare meat. more...
The first steam generator being delivered to the Flamanville EPR, 15th March 2014. With the discovery of steel defects in the reactor vessel, it is now possible that the entire project will be abandoned. Photo: Greenpeace Cherbourg via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA

Dump Hinkley! And invest in the UK's real energy future

Chris Goodall

28th July 2016

French energy giant EDF will today give the formal go-ahead for the Hinkley C nuclear power station in Somerset, writes Chris Goodall. But that's no reason for the UK to sign up to a disastrous deal that will cost us over £1 billion per year for 35 years - money that should be used to support the green technologies of the future. more...
North Korean nuclear reactor construction under way on 24th April 2008. Photo: Wapster / Google Maps via Flickr (CC BY).

What Theresa May forgot: North Korea used British technology to build its nuclear bombs

David Lowry

26th July 2016

When Theresa May proclaims in Parliament that we need the £200 billion Trident nuclear missile system to see off the North Korean nuclear threat, writes David Lowry, just bear this in mind. It is a threat that the UK, global nuclear proliferator in chief, created in the first place, providing both the reactor technology and vital centrifuge materials to make North Korea's nuclear dream come true. more...
Will it all come to nothing? Artist's impression of the planned Hinkley C nuclear power station. Image: EDF Energy.

EDF to postpone Hinkley C start until 2019 or beyond

David Toke

22nd July 2016

EDF's 'final investment decision' on the Hinkley C nuclear power station next week will be pure theatre, writes David Toke. The truth is that no concrete is to be poured until 2019 at the earliest. Meanwhile post-Brexit UK is running out of money to pay for it, and EDF is under investigation by the Financial Markets Authority for concealing information on Hinkley from investors. more...
Jeremy Corbyn supporting the junior doctors' strike, 26th April 2016. Photo: Garry Knight via Flickr (Public Domain).

Why Corbyn so terrifies the liberal elite

Jonathan Cook

22nd July 2016

Britain's political, economic and media elites will be the last to turn against the neoliberal system that spawned them, writes Jonathan Cook - even as it impoverishes the country and endangers our fragile planet. Cheered on by the Guardian, most Labour MPs would rather destroy their own party than let Corbyn and his backers make it fit for its 21st century purpose. more...
Nonhle Mbuthuma on her land which is proposed to be mined. Photo: The Shore Break.

Victory in the campaign against mining South Africa's Wild Coast - but it's not over yet!

Rachel Lees

21st July 2016

Campaigners have forced the biggest shareholder in a titanium mining project on south Africa's 'Wild Coast' to withdraw, reports Rachel Lees. But they now fear the project itself will continue under the auspices of local 'front' companies, while the big profits enrich the British and Australian investors that are the real masters of Africa's neo-colonial minerals boom. more...
New 'solar leaves' will be able to produce ethanol directly from sunlight - the perfect liquid fuel for automotive use - with just enough methanol to stop you drinking it. Photo: Eric Roy via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA).

Goodbye gasoline: we can Get It From The Sun

Keith Barnham

21st July 2016

Traveling in the US by boat and train visiting solar laboratories and environmental groups, Keith Barnham found many successful community initiatives in renewable electricity, and brings news of progress towards the ultimate renewable challenge: a solar fuel that could eventually replace gasoline in cars, trucks, buses, trains and aircraft. more...
A bottomland hardwood clearcut that Dogwood Alliance have linked to Enviva, the company that runs the Ahoskie pellet mill, which supplies the UK's Drax power station. Photo: Matt Adam Williams.

Dirtier than coal: burning forests for 'green' energy

Matt Williams

19th July 2016

The UK imports millions of tons of American wood pellets every year to be burned in power stations for 'climate friendly' electricity, writes Matt Williams. But his recent visit to the southern US showed him that this practice is devastating beautiful, natural forests rich in wildlife - while the UK government's own research shows that it's worse for the climate than the coal it replaces. more...
Offshore wind turbine under construction at Burbo Bank, North Sea. Photo: The Danish Wind Industry Association / Vindmølleindustrien via Flickr (CC BY-NC).

Offshore wind powers ahead as prices drop 30% below nuclear

Kieran Cooke

19th July 2016

The cost of offshore wind power in the North Sea is 30% lower than that of new nuclear, writes Kieran Cooke - helped along by low oil and steel prices, reduced maintenance and mass production. By 2030 the sector is expected to supply 7% of Europe's electricity. more...
Behind the beach and dunes of Druridge Bay, planning permission for a 350 hectare opencast coal mine has been granted. But if turned into a solar power farm, the same land would produce as much electricity as the coal after 70 years. Photo: Doug Belshaw v

Solar on the best UK sites is competitive with cheap coal

Chris Goodall

15th July 2016

Last week a massive 350 hectare open cast coal mine at Druridge Bay took an important step towards winning panning permission. This got Chris Goodall wondering: what if the land was turned into a solar farm instead? His surprise discovery: solar power on England's south coast already costs no more than coal - and it's only getting cheaper. more...


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