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Black smoke at Fukushima Daichi, 24th March 2011. Photo: deedavee easyflow via Flickr.

Fukushima and the institutional invisibility of nuclear disaster

John Downer

20th December 2014

The nuclear industry and its supporters have contrived a variety of narratives to justify and explain away nuclear catastrophes, writes John Downer. None of them actually hold water, yet they serve their purpose - to command political and media heights, and reassure public sentiment on 'safety'. But if it's so safe, why the low limits on nuclear liabilities? more...
The SPICE project will investigate the release of small particles into the stratosphere to cool the Earth by reflecting a few percent of incoming solar radiation. Photo: Hugh Hunt CC BY-SA 3.0.

What's worse than geoengineering the climate?

Nick Breeze

23rd December 2014

Film maker Nick Breeze has conducted a series of interviews with experts on 'geo-engineering' to forestall runaway global warming. Here he presents the distilled wisdom from his meetings - and concludes that we should at least be experimenting with the techniques, and studying their impacts. more...
Rising sea level? What rising sea level? Peter, CC BY-SA.

I'll talk politics with climate change deniers - but not science

Mark Maslin

17th December 2014

The responses that climate change demands of us are collective, writes Mark Maslin, and force us to accept the finite nature of global resources and the need for equitable sharing. So when climate change collides with belief in neoliberalism, free markets, strong property rights and rugged individualism, denial trumps science every time. more...
A reminder to conservation scientists: not only can one little nuclear bomb ruin your whole day, it can also wipe out a whole lot of biodiversity.

Nuclear power and biodiversity - don't forget WMD proliferation!

Dr Jim Green

18th December 2014

Nuclear energy is essential to preserve the world's biodiversity, according to 69 conservation scientists. But there's a mysterious omission in their analysis, writes Jim Green: nuclear weapons proliferation. And after a major exchange of nuclear bombs, and the 'nuclear winter' that would follow, exactly how much biodiversity would survive? more...
For tomatoes, apples and oats, there is no 'organic yield gap'. 'Heirloom' organic tomatoes on sale in San Francisco. Photo: Zacklur via Flickr CC-BY.

Organic farming can close the gap on conventional yields

Lauren C. Ponisio

28th December 2014

The apparently lower productivity of organic farming systems is caused by research bias, writes Lauren C. Ponisio, and the far greater research spending on 'conventional' agriculture. Funds should be redirected to agro-ecological methods that are highly productive, sustainable and maintain biodiversity. more...
The cartographic submarine at work. Photo: WHOI.

Antarctic sea ice expands to record extent - and it's deeper than we thought

Edward Hanna

28th November 2014

While the Arctic melts, Antarctica's ice has spread to record extents in three consecutive years, writes Edward Hanna. But is the news as good as it looks? Yes, if indications from a robot submarine that the ice is thicker than expected are supported by further evidence. It may just be that Antarctica's ice is more resilient than scientists dared to hope. more...
Chris Rapley in '2071' at the Royal Court Theatre. Photo: Stephen Cummiskey.

Five stars! Scientist's dramatic climate change act is a winner

Tim Radford

25th November 2014

A spellbinding solo performance by veteran climate scientist Chris Rapley at London's Royal Court puts the climate debate centre stage, writes Tim Radford - and earns the admiration of hard-to-please theatre critics. more...
Bill Gates speaking at Stanford University. Photo: Thomas Hawk via Flickr.

Gates Foundation 'feeds the world' with corporate agriculture

GRAIN

5th November 2014

The Gates Foundation is spending half a billion dollars a year to 'feed the world', most of it aimed at Africa. But as GRAIN discovers, it is imposing a model of high-tech, high-input 'green revolution' farming, complete with GMOs, agro-chemicals and a pro-business neoliberal agenda, all in in alliance with corporate agriculture. more...
A welcoming committee at Christmas Island - site of the UK's Grapple X and Grapple Y bomb tests. But do these children, or their parents, know about the long term legacy of uranium pollution? Photo: Philip via Flickr.

The 'forgotten' uranium isotope - secrets of the nuclear bomb tests revealed

Chris Busby

4th November 2014

Papers reluctantly released by the UK Government in the bomb test veterans' legal case for compensation reveal what it has long denied, writes Chris Busby - that bomb fallout is rich in uranium, and that most of its radioactivity is concentrated in the 'forgotten' but highly active isotope U-234, explaining much of the substantial, long term damage to veterans' health. more...
Families swimming in the Thames at Long Bridges, Oxford earlier this month. Photo: Zoe Broughton.

Climate deniers lost for words: 2014 set for hottest year on record

Richard Heasman / DeSmogUK

28th October 2014

Just as 2014 is looking like going down as the hottest year since records began, motor-mouthed climate change deniers are shrinking into the shadows, writes Richard Heasman. more...
The answer to Earth's energy needs is floating in the skies above. Photo: Conceptual Image Lab, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. Earth photo courtesy of NASA/ISS Expedition 13 crew.

The Burning Answer to our energy needs

Jonathon Porritt

29th October 2014

Keith Barnham's new book reveals the giddying and glorious plethora of the solar technologies that lie at the heart of the all-renewable energy system that awaits us, writes Jonathan Porritt - making it 'one of the most exciting and genuinely hopeful books' that I've read in a long time'. more...
Picture found in Honkawa Elementary School in 2013 of the Hiroshima atom bomb cloud, believed to have been taken about 30 seconds after detonation of about 10km (6 miles) east of the hypocentre. Photo: Honkawa Elementary School / Wikimedia Commons.

The ICRP's radiation risk model is bogus science

Chris Busby

22nd October 2014

The world has been the victim of a monstrous scientific error that has understated the dangers of radiation, writes Chris Busby. Following the Hiroshima nuclear bomb, investigators used 'controls' who had been exposed to high levels of 'black rain' fallout to understate the health impacts of radiation. This bogus science still underlies risk models today. more...

science : 1/25 of 301
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Keeping it clean: a hydropower site at Holbuvatnet in the highlands of eastern Norway. Photo: Ximonic / Simo Räsänen via Wikimedia Commons.

Renewables can supply 100% of world's power by 2050

Tim Radford

15th October 2014

The first ever global life-cycle assessment of clean energy sources shows that a renewable system could supply the world's entire electricity needs by mid-century, writes Tim Radford. more...
The summit of Hawaii's 'sacred mountain', Mauna Kea. Now an even larger telescope is to be built there. Photo: Markus Jöbstl  via Flickr.

Native Hawaiians protest 'sacred mountain' telescope

The Ecologist

7th October 2014

Native Hawaiians and others are gathering today for a peaceful protest at the ground-breaking ceremony for a huge new telescope on the 4,207 meter summit of Hawaii's 'sacred mountain', Mauna Kea. more...
Singer Baaba Maal inspects failed corn crops in Mauritania. The maize has gone dry and is inedible. Photo: Oxfam International.

Resisting drought: conventional plant breeding outperforms GM

Lawrence Woodward

4th October 2014

Reports show that traditional breeding techniques are years ahead of GM technologies in developing crops to withstand drought and poor soils, writes Lawrence Woodward. Yet GM advocates are sticking rigidly to their script even as the evidence mounds against them ... more...
These bananas in India are grown for their edible seed as well as their flesh. To increase food security in a warming world, we must increase the diversity of our food crops. Photo: VitaminGreen via Flickr.

In a warming world, food security means crop diversity

Sayed Azam-Ali

10th October 2014

The global homogenisation of food carries costs, writes Sayed Azam-Ali - notably the world's the increasing dependence on just a few 'elite crops', creating a precarious food system vulnerable to climate change. We must diversify our diets, and the crops that that feed us. more...
Marcellus Shale rig and gas well operation on Ridge Road in Jackson Township, Butler County, PA operated by Rex Energy. Photo: WCN 24/7 via Flickr.

Skin, respiratory symptoms increase near gas wells

The Ecologist

25th September 2014

A health study in Pennsylvania, USA, shows that people living near fracking and other natural gas wells are more likely to suffer from skin conditions and upper respiratory symptoms. It calls for further study of the associations, including the role of specific air and water exposures. more...
Front cover design from 'The GMO Deception', edited by Sheldon Krimsky and Jeremy Gruber.

The GMO Deception

Ralph Nader

24th October 2014

Science is to corporate science as Hyperion to a satyr, writes Ralph Nader. And there is no better example of this than Monsanto's realm of GMOs, biocides, super-aggressive lawyers and tame regulators - brilliantly exposed in this new book of essays, edited by Sheldon Krimsky and Jeremy Gruber. more...
The 'flying rivers' of the Amazon are at risk from deforestation, fires and climate change. Without them, forest and farmland could turn to desert. Photo: Eli Duke via Flickr.

Drought bites as the Amazon's 'flying rivers' fail

Jan Rocha

20th September 2014

The Amazon forest both depends on, and sustains, vast 'flying rivers' that carry humid air and clouds deep into the continental interior, writes Jan Rocha. But scientists fear the flying rivers are failing due to deforestation, fire and climate change. more...
Never mind the questions, never mind the answers, never mind the evidence. The badgers will be culled. Photo: b/flickr, CC BY-NC-SA.

Badger cull fail - government throws science on the scrapheap

Rosie Woodroffe

9th September 2014

England's 2014 trial badger cull starts today - with no independent oversight, and no gathering of essential scientific data. The government's 'science-led' policy consists of asking scientists for help, writes Rosie Woodroffe - then completely ignore everything they said, and order them off the premises. more...
After the Fujushima catastrophe, this rice was grown nearby by IAEA to test methods of soil decontamination. Photo: IAEA Imagebank via Flickr.

Fukushima radiation damages rice genome

Gregory McGann

18th September 2014

Research on the biological effects of radiation near the Fukushima nuclear disaster site finds a powerful response in rice seedlings, writes Gregory McCann. The discovery will do nothing to boost consumer confidence in resumed rice exports from the Fukushima region. more...
The rice harvest in Bicol Region, Philippines. Photo: α is for äpΩL † via Flickr.

Philippines: farmers call to stop 'Golden Rice' trials

Oliver Tickell

8th September 2014

Farmers in the Bicol region of the Philippines have gathered to renew their fight against field trials of Golden Rice and halt moves towards its commercialization. But with last year's 'advanced' Golden Rice trials showing low yields, the prospect of a GR release is fast receding. more...
Chile's Lascar volano in eruption. Some geoengineering techniques would imitate the cooling effect of volcanic dust to reduce global warming. Photo: Neil via Flickr.

Geoengineering - the 'declaration' that never was may cause real harm

Andrew Lockley

28th August 2014

It was a great story, writes Andrew Lockley - scientists signing up to a 'Berlin Declaration' imposing an effective 'test ban' on outdoor geoengineering experiments. Except there was no declaration, and scientists never agreed to it. The world's media got it completely wrong, yet the mud will stick - and may cause severe harm in the fight against climate change. more...
Yes I'm a full blown tree hugger now! Photo: John Mosbaugh via Flickr.

Hug a tree, save your life

Pat Thomas

9th August 2014

Trees in cities make us feel happier and more relaxed, writes Pat Thomas, but that's only the beginning of the benefits they confer. They also reduce air pollution, levels of asthma and other respiratory problems, and lower healthcare costs by $7 billion in the US alone. more...
Fishing for plastic in the open ocean on the Rozalia in the 2013 Gaia to Gyre expedition. Photo: Ceri Lewis via Flickr.

Microplastic ocean pollution - will you join our research voyage?

Kate Rawles

5th August 2014

Plastic pollution in the oceans is impacting every level of marine life, writes Kate Rawles, from micro-plankton to whales. And here is your chance to do something about it - join a research expedition to the Azores next month to study the problem and develop solutions! more...

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