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Blogs and Comments

The 'war on drugs' is a war on culture and human diversity

Benjamin Ramm

28th April 2016

The war on drugs under way near Tumaco, Colombia, June 2008. But how come nothing like this happens in Colorado or Amsterdam? Photo: William Fernando Martinez / AP Photo via Flickr (CC BY-SA). The 'war on drugs' is presented as a necessary battle against social evils, writes Benjamin Ramm. But from the Andes to the Caribbean, prohibition has criminalised both religious and cultural expression. And it's a war that is strictly for the global poor: people in Colorado can grow pot - so why not Colombians? more...

At Chernobyl and Fukushima, radioactivity has seriously harmed wildlife

Timothy A. Mousseau, University of South Carolina

27th April 2016

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 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...

The fungus and the beetle: ash trees face wipeout from disease double whammy

Steve Woodward & Eric Boa

29th April 2016

Emerald ash borer is a saproxylic beetle native to Asia which feeds on Ash. Photo: U.S. Department of Agriculture via Flickr (CC BY) Britain's ash woods are under threat from a fast-spreading 'dieback' disease, write Steve Woodward and Eric Boa. With 3% of ash trees resistant to the fungus, the species should just be able to survive. But now scientists fear the arrival of the Emerald ash borer beetle, already infesting forests in the US and mainland Europe. Could the two combine to push our ash trees into extinction? more...

CRISPR and the three myths of precise genome editing

Jonathan Latham, PhD / Independent Science News

25th April 2016

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). 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...

Chernobyl entombed: new sarcophagus aims to make site safe for 100 years

Claire Corkhill

26th April 2016

Under construction: the New Safe Confinement arch at Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, 23rd October 2013. Photo: Tim Porter via Wikimedia Commons (CC-BY-SA). The Chernobyl sarcophagus which has long contained the fissured reactor core is at risk of collapse, writes Claire Corkhill. The solution: build a pair of tracked arches 260m wide and 100m high, and slide them over the site to enclose it for a century to come: so creating a sealed space for robots and remotely operated machinery to deconstruct the reactor and sarcophagus piece by radioactive piece. more...

Saving the Earth? I think there's an App for that

Paul Jepson, University of Oxford

21st April 2016

So cute! Two month old snow leopard cubs at the Cat Survival Trust in Welwyn, Hertfordshire, UK. Photo: dingopup via Flickr (CC BY-SA). Consumer environmentalism aligns conservation with modern consumer culture, writes Paul Jepson, offering NGOs the means to reach new people and generate new funding streams. But it risks ever more shallow public engagement and digital activism where masses of people back 'solutions' that only make themselves feel good. more...

Eat less meat to reforest the Earth!

Laura Kehoe

27th April 2016

91% of all deforestation in the Amazon occurs to make way for cattle ranches like the one shown here. Photo: Jai Mansson via Flickr (CC BY-SA) How do you solve a problem like deforestation? By a change of diet, writes Laura Kehoe. Scientists have discovered that we can feed the world and stop destroying forests by eating less meat. If we all went vegetarian that would reduce deforestation by 94%. And if we went the whole way to veganism enough land would be freed up for a new forest the size of the Amazon, and allow a widespread shift to organic farming systems. more...

Remain in the EU to protect our environment

Caroline Lucas

20th April 2016

The protection of our coastal waters, management of our fishers, cleanliness of our air and the protection of our widlife are all mandated by European law. Outside the EU, this iconic view of the Seven Sisters could be sadly tarnished. Photo: weesam2010 v Remember when the UK was the 'dirty man of Europe'? What has changed since then, writes Caroline Lucas, is our membership of the EU - which has made us raise our environmental performance on everything from fisheries to air pollution, nature conservation, clean bathing waters and renewable energy. Leave, and it could all go into reverse. more...

Young Americans' legal victory could force climate change action

Sophie Marjanac / ClientEarth

19th April 2016

Sunday School children of the 2nd, 3rd and 4th grade at St. John's Episcopal Church learn about 350 and urge politicians to pass clean energy policies, Ellicott City, Maryland, USA, 10th October 2010. Photo: 350.org. American NGO advocating for young people's future environmental rights has won a first key legal battle in its fight to force the United States to avoid dangerous climate change by cutting its greenhouse gas emissions, writes Sophie Marjanac. If upheld on appeal in higher courts, the ruling has huge implications for us all. more...

UK must not let shipping sink the Paris Agreement!

Barry Gardiner & Richard Burden

18th April 2016

Container ship MOL GRANEUR. Photo: ARTS_fox1fire via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND). This week, the International Maritime Organisation could act to curb fast-rising emissions from shipping under the Paris Agreement, write Barry Gardiner & Richard Burden. But there are growing fears that the UK government may seek to delay and obstruct vital progress. more...

The beginning of the end for glyphosate?

Peter Melchett / Soil Association

15th April 2016

Chafer Sentry applying glyphosate to stubbles in North Yorkshire on a sunny December day. Photo: Chafer Machinery via Flickr (CC BY). 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...

We are being silently poisoned: the case against glyphosate

Colin Todhunter

14th April 2016

Photo: Burger, Louisiana, USA by Ed Fisher aka gleam via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA). The 'cancer industry', including charities with close links to chemicals corporations, is always keen to blame cancer victims for their morally deficient lifestyles, writes Colin Todhunter. But the real fault lies with the commercial interests touting bad food, nutritionally unbalanced and laced with toxic agrochemicals - like the ubiquitous glyphosate - and their residues. more...

Blogs

The fungus and the beetle: ash trees face wipeout from disease double whammy

Steve Woodward & Eric Boa

29th April 2016

Emerald ash borer is a saproxylic beetle native to Asia which feeds on Ash. Photo: U.S. Department of Agriculture via Flickr (CC BY) Britain's ash woods are under threat from a fast-spreading 'dieback' disease, write Steve Woodward and Eric Boa. With 3% of ash trees resistant to the fungus, the species should just be able to survive. But now scientists fear the arrival of the Emerald ash borer beetle, already infesting forests in the US and mainland Europe. Could the two combine to push our ash trees into extinction? more...

Eat less meat to reforest the Earth!

Laura Kehoe

27th April 2016

91% of all deforestation in the Amazon occurs to make way for cattle ranches like the one shown here. Photo: Jai Mansson via Flickr (CC BY-SA) How do you solve a problem like deforestation? By a change of diet, writes Laura Kehoe. Scientists have discovered that we can feed the world and stop destroying forests by eating less meat. If we all went vegetarian that would reduce deforestation by 94%. And if we went the whole way to veganism enough land would be freed up for a new forest the size of the Amazon, and allow a widespread shift to organic farming systems. more...

Comment

The 'war on drugs' is a war on culture and human diversity

Benjamin Ramm

28th April 2016

The war on drugs under way near Tumaco, Colombia, June 2008. But how come nothing like this happens in Colorado or Amsterdam? Photo: William Fernando Martinez / AP Photo via Flickr (CC BY-SA). The 'war on drugs' is presented as a necessary battle against social evils, writes Benjamin Ramm. But from the Andes to the Caribbean, prohibition has criminalised both religious and cultural expression. And it's a war that is strictly for the global poor: people in Colorado can grow pot - so why not Colombians? more...

At Chernobyl and Fukushima, radioactivity has seriously harmed wildlife

Timothy A. Mousseau, University of South Carolina

27th April 2016

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 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...

Letters

Letter: water use need not stall desert solar power

Dr Gerry Wolff

25th August, 2010

CSP trough-based system Yes, pioneering concentrating solar power plants are thirsty facilities, but their water use requirements could be made dramatically less more...

Letter - Time to get serious with the EU Emission Trading Scheme

27th May, 2010

Mark Chadwick

Carbon dioxide emissions Mark Chadwick from Carbon Clear argues a full auctioning of ETS permits is needed if the trading scheme is to start working more...

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