The Ecologist

 

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GM soy and corn are now a major export for Brazil, Argentina and other South American countries, as from this cornfield near Sao Paulo. But GMO agribusiness is having severe impacts on health and environment, and importers are increasingly demanding non-G

Scientific error, omission and misrepresentation: the Royal Society on GM crops

Soil Association

27th May 2016

The Royal Society has form on GM crops, writes the Soil Association - consistently Gung-ho! for the last 20 years, while refusing to engage with critics of the technology or even accept the existence of any problems. Its latest effort represents more of the same, while exposing this once August body to ridicule for its egregious scientific howlers. more...

Footprint Identification Technology - where traditional ecology meets technology

Zoe Jewell & Sky Alibhai of WildTrack

26th May 2016

The inspiration for the pioneering Footprint Identification Technique (FIT) technology sprang from an unexpected source - traditional ecological wisdom. Conservationists Zoe Jewell & Sky Alibhai explain how that happened. more...

Footprint Identification Technology (FIT) - where traditional ecology meets technology

Zoe Jewell & Sky Alibhai

25th May, 2016

The inspiration for Footprint Identification Technology (FIT) sprang from an unexpected source - traditional ecological know how. Conservationists Zoe Jewell & Sky Alibhai explain how that happened. more...
Red clover cover crop at Sandy Lane Farm, Oxfordshire: it may not be high-tech, but that's not to say it's anti-science! Photo: Sandy Lane Farm via Facebook.

Organic farmers are not anti-science - we leave that to the genetic engineers

Elizabeth Henderson

24th May 2016

Those opposed to the mass release of GM crops and foods inadequately tested for health and ecological safety are routinely accused of being anti-science, writes Elizabeth Henderson. But it's the GM corporations and their academic allies that are suppressing scientific research, and organic farmers that are building alliances with independent scientists for a future of safe, healthy food. more...
Badger, seen at the British Wildlife Centre, Newchapel, Surrey. Photo: Peter Trimming via Flickr (CC BY).

Alas poor Brock! The insanity of the badger cull

Martin Hancox

27th May 2016

The lives of all the thousands of badgers slaughtered in the name of TB eradication have been lost in vain, writes Martin Hancox. The cryptic reservoir of bovine TB is the cattle themselves, and no amount of badger killing will make the slightest difference to the problem. Once we have grasped this reality the solution is astonishingly simple: improved TB testing that picks up all infected cattle. more...
Just about every one of the 11,000 organochlorine chemicals in industrial use is harmful - so maybe we should just ban the lot, rather than worry about a handful of 'bad actors'. Photo: Grey World via Flickr (CC BY).

The problem is not glyphosate, or DDT, or BPA - we must challenge the entire system!

Jonathan Latham, PhD

20th May 2016

Apparent 'victories' in the fight against toxic chemicals - like the EU's failure to re-approve glyphosate yesterday - are illusory, writes Jonathan Latham. The real problem is not one of specific 'bad actors', but the entire system that allows new, likely to be toxic compounds to pollute the environment in near-total ignorance of their impacts. It's time to take our campaigning to a whole new level. more...
Could all of North Africa and the Middle East end up like this? Berber people in the Sahara Desert in Morrocco, close to the Algerian border, August 2009. Photo: 16:9clue via Flickr (CC BY).

Searing heat may spark Middle East, North Africa climate exodus

Tim Radford

17th May 2016

Temperatures in the Middle East and North Africa could reach unbearably high levels by mid-century, writes Tim Radford - and then keep on rising. The intolerable heat would render large areas uninhabitable and give rise to a wave of 'climate refugees' seeking escape to more temperate regions. more...
What the European Parliament wanted to ban: glyphosate being applied to oilseed rape as a pre-harvest dessicant. Photo: Chafer Machinery via Flickr (CC BY).

Glyphosate in the EU: product promoters masquerading as regulators in a 'cesspool of corruption'?

Colin Todhunter

17th May 2016

With EU ministers due to decide tomorrow on the future of the glyphosate in the EU, Colin Todhunter finds evidence of collusion between regulators and the corporations whose sales of the 'probably carcinogenic' herbicide add up to many billions of dollars a year - evidence that underlies a legal action alleging fraud by the European Food Safety Authority against the EU's 508 million citizens. more...
Explosion cloud from the UK's Operation Hurricane atomic bomb test on Australia's Montebello Islands, 3rd October 1952. Photo: Wikimedia Commons (Public domain).

Chernobyl, genetic damage, and the UK nuclear bomb tests - justice at last?

Chris Busby

6th May 2016

Britain's nuclear bomb test veterans suffered severe genetic damage from radiation, writes Chris Busby, and their case for compensation is being heard in the High Court today. Key to their case is evidence of similar damage inflicted on in utero babies exposed to radiation from the Chernobyl disaster, and how the dreadful health impacts of radiation cascade down to future generations. more...
Cabbage white butterflies eating the leaves, flowers and pods of a plant similar to Camelina, together with a deformed butterfly that been fed a diet rich in long chain n-3 fatty acids. Compound image by GMWatch & edited by The Ecologist.

GMO lobby's false claims to defend GM oilseed against deformed butterfly findings

Claire Robinson / GMWatch

9th May 2016

A recent scientific study found the same long-chain omega-3 oils that are engineered into a new GM Camelina oilseed variety make butterflies grow up with deformed wings, writes Claire Robinson. Attempts by the 'pro-science' non-scientist Mark Lynas to discredit the study are a mixture of ignorance, research failures, 'straw man' arguments and outright errors. more...
The soil fungus Aspergillus nidulans on lactophenol cotton blue wet preparation. Photo: Iqbal Osman via Flickr (CC BY).

Monsanto's Roundup toxic to soil fungus at ultra-low doses

Claire Robinson / GMWatch

5th May 2016

A new study shows that the market-leading Roundup herbicide kills soil microbiota at concentrations 50 times lower than used in agriculture, writes Claire Robinson. The findings raise serious new concerns about the environmental impacts of glyphosate herbicides. more...
The 'Daisyworld' model is integral to Gaia theory, developed by Dr James Lovelock, which proposes that organisms interact with their surroundings to form a complex, self-regulating system. Photo: Gordon Robertson via Flickr (CC BY).

Educating for Gaia: a wholistic approach to Earth science

Dr Stephen Harding

28th April 2016

As a society, we are strangely disconnected from the Earth, writes Stephan Harding. It's as if we were aliens placed here to prod and poke with our scientific instruments whilst feeling no sense of meaning, belonging or closeness to her ancient crumpled surface or rich, teeming biodiversity - a state of mind that a forthcoming course at Schumacher College aims to reverse. more...

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Bovine TB begins and ends with cattle, with badgers playing at most a minor role. Photo: Will Fisher via Flickr (CC BY-SA).

Dodgy data, bad science, rotten politics: why the badger cull is wrong and stupid

Tom Langton

28th April 2016

If we are ever to bring bovine TB under control in Britain's cattle herd, we must begin with the main disease reservoir, writes Tom Langton: the cattle themselves. The insistence on culling badgers has little to do with disease control, and everything to do with the short term economics of the beef and dairy industries, unwilling to sacrifice an iota of production in the interests of a real solution. more...
White storks on road near Chernobyl, Ukraine. Many parts of the Chernobyl region have low radioactivity levels and serve as refuges for plants and animals. But other areas are acutely radiotoxic. Birds tend to be especially susceptible to radiation impact

At Chernobyl and Fukushima, radioactivity has seriously harmed wildlife

Timothy A. Mousseau, University of South Carolina

27th April 2016

Field studies show that the intense radioactivity released by the Chernobyl and Fukushima nuclear disasters is seriously and unequivocally damaging to wildlife, writes Timothy A. Mousseau - in stark contrast to theoretical studies that show little or no impact on plant and animal health and populations. more...
Water vole in Arundel, England. Photo: Peter Trimming via Flickr (CC BY).

Citizens' science to save our water voles - volunteers needed!

Emily Thomas & Nida Al-Fulaij / PTES

28th April 2016

UK water voles face an uncertain future after widespread habitat loss and predation by American mink, write Emily Thomas and Nida Al-Fulaij. But you can help by joining a UK-wide monitoring scheme run by the People’s Trust for Endangered Species that's recruiting nature-loving volunteers to survey local lakes, rivers, ditches and streams for signs of these lovable but elusive creatures. more...
How CRISPR works: what could possibly go wrong? In fact, an awful lot, as it turns out. Image: James atmos via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA).

CRISPR and the three myths of precise genome editing

Jonathan Latham, PhD / Independent Science News

25th April 2016

The very term 'genetic engineering' implies high precision in the alterations made to genes and deep understanding of their consequences, writes Jonathan Latham. In fact, we have never had either. And even with the arrival of CRISPR and other 'gene editing' systems, that remains the case: technologists are thrashing about in a perilous sea of unfathomable complexities and unknowable outcomes. more...
Chafer Sentry applying glyphosate to stubbles in North Yorkshire on a sunny December day. Photo: Chafer Machinery via Flickr (CC BY).

The beginning of the end for glyphosate?

Peter Melchett / Soil Association

15th April 2016

The European Parliament just voted to re-authorise glyphosate, writes Peter Melchett - but with significant restrictions on its use. So what does the vote mean for the world's biggest selling herbicide? And how come the UK's National Farmers' Union welcomed the decision as an unqualified victory? more...
Failed Bt Brinjal crop in Bangladesh, afflicted by the bacterial wilt to which the variety is highly prone, resulting in near total crop loss for many farmers in 2015. Photo: UBINIG.

BBC's GMO coverage 'fair and accurate'? You decide

Claire Robinson / GMWatch

14th April 2016

There's absolutely no evidence for BBC Panorama's claim of 90% success for Bt brinjal in Bangladesh, writes Claire Robinson. But that has not stopped the BBC Trust from dismissing all complaints against its monstrously dishonest report. Nor has it diminished the jubilation of GMO cheerleaders. more...
Yanomami girl. Photo: Sam valadi via Flickr (CC BY).

The myth of the 'brutal savage' and the mindset of conquest

Stephen Corry

21st April 2016

The 'brutal savage' meme has enjoyed a resurgence in popular culture and establishment narratives, writes Stephen Corry, despite abundant evidence that it's fundamentally wrong. But it suits today's dominant mindset of conquest, conflict and colonialism all too well, and serves to justify the ongoing genocide and expropriation of surviving Indigenous Peoples today. more...
Time, tide and sea level rise wait for no one ... so are we ready? Photo: clappstar via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

No planet for optimists: coastal flooding may come sooner and bigger than we think

Pete Dolack

8th April 2016

Of all the impacts of climate change, one stands out for its inexorable menace, writes Pete Dolack: rising oceans. And it's not just for distant future generations to deal with: new scientific studies show that people alive today may face 6-9 metres of sea level rise flooding well over a million sq.km including many of the world's biggest cities. So where's the emergency response? more...
Big waves at Treyarnon Bay, Padstow, North Cornwall, 27th March 2016. Photo: Mark Seymour via Flickr (CC BY).

Stronger storms coming to Europe's Atlantic seaboard

Tim Radford

8th April 2016

The giant waves that hit Cornwall's coast this weekend form part of a long term trend, writes Tim Radford. Extreme weather linked to global warming is leading to more violent and more frequent storms devastating beaches, ports, infrastructure and coastal communities on Europe's exposed Atlantic coastlines. more...
The dead have no voice: doll at Pripyat, near Chernobyl. Photo: Ben Fairless via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA).

Radiation harm deniers? Pro-nuclear environmentalists and the Chernobyl death toll

Dr Jim Green

7th April 2016

Just as climate change deniers leap from scientific uncertainty over the precise impacts of greenhouse gas emissions to certainty of little or no impact at all, so 'pro-nuclear environmentalists' conflate uncertainty of the mortality arising from Chernobyl and other nuclear disasters to certainty of few if any deaths, writes Jim Green. Their position is equally indefensible. more...
Great Barrier Reef, Queensland, Australia. Photo: Skip Nyegard via Fliuckr (CC BY-NC-SA).

Fishing ban is helping the Great Barrier Reef resist and recover from damage

Camille Mellin, Aaron MacNeil & Julian Caley

7th April 2016

New research from Australia's Great Barrier Reef shows that no-take marine reserves don't just mean more and bigger fish, write Camille Mellin, Aaron MacNeil & Julian Caley. They also boost the resistance of reef communities to disturbances like storms, bleaching and predation, and speed their subsequent recovery. It's time for global rollout of coral reef marine reserves! more...
A young lion cub resting in Massai Mara National reserve, Kenya. Photo: Ralf Κλενγελ via Flickr (CC BY-NC)

Africa's lions and pastoralists share the benefits of community ecotourism

Grant Hopcraft & Sara Blackburn

5th April 2016

The conflict between lions and Africa's cattle herders goes back centuries, write Grant Hopcraft and Sara Blackburn - and lions have been the big losers in recent years. But where local people benefit from ecotourism, that ancient enmity can quickly be set aside. 'Community conservancies' around formal protected areas are helping both lions and indigenous communities to survive and thrive. more...
A day before landfall, on 29th October 2012, Sandy intensified into a Category 2 superstorm nearly 1,000 miles wide. Photo: William Putman / NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center and NASA Center for Climate Simulation via Flickr (CC BY).

Ice melt, sea level rise and superstorms: the threat of irreparable harm

Jim Hansen

24th March 2016

The term 'global warming' has a reassuring, comfortable sound, writes Jim Hansen. But paleoclimate data shows the reality could be anything but, with rapid climate oscillations, large, abrupt rises in sea level, major disruptions to ocean circulation, and massive superstorms. It may already be too late to forestall this dystopian future - but then it may not be. So let's act while we still can! more...

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