The Ecologist

 

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Europe's bears are back!

Jocelyn Timperley

21st December 2014

A female brown bear with three yearlings in Gutulia National Park in SE Norway. Bears and other carnivores do not only live in protected areas - Europe lacks enough true wilderness for that model of conservation. Instead, humans and wildlife must coexist. If you go down to the woods today you're in for a big surprise, writes Jocelyn Timperle - Europe's bears are are on the increase, with 17,000 of them at large, along with 12,000 wolves, 9,000 lynx and 1,250 wolverines. Moreover these carnivore populations are co-existing with people with remarkably few problems. more...

Seven breakthrough solar technologies - but will they work?

Zachary Davies Boren / Greenpeace Energy Desk

17th December 2014

Solar panels in space work very efficiently. But how to get them there? And how to get the power down to Earth? Image: John MacNeil via Greenpeace. A bunch of innovations are taking place in the world of solar power, writes Zachary Davies Boren - and one or more of them could just propel the technology from providing just 1% of the world's electricity, to dominating the world's energy supply. Provided they work ... more...

Here comes the sun: explosion in solar power beckons

Ralph Gottschalg

12th December 2014

Regular PV solar cells on the Brighton Earthship in the south of England  Dominic Alves, CC BY-SA. Solar power has a sunny future - even without any major breakthroughs, writes Ralph Gottschalg. There are huge gains to be made simply by getting smarter and using existing technologies more effectively. A new report shows that - given political support - solar PV could be competitive in the UK by 2020. more...

Murder most foul - who killed all the porpoises?

Ken Collins

9th December 2014

Murder most foul - a porpoise carcass bearing cruel bite marks. Photo: Johan Krol. Since 2010 porpoise carcasses have been washing up on our shares, writes Ken Collins - displaying horrific wounds and bite marks that many thought a sign of Great White sharks in Britain's coastal waters. But now scientists have identified an improbably cuddly culprit ... more...

It shouldn’t happen to a factory farm vet

Philip Lymbery / Sustainable Food Trust

1st December 2014

Philip Lymbery at work. Photo: CIWF. Vets have an essential role to play in safeguarding the health and wellbeing of farm animals at the hardest times in their lives, writes Philip Lymbery. But confronted with the ugly reality of the slaughterhouse, many vets are reduced to becoming passive servants of the industrial farming machine. more...

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

Edward Hanna

28th November 2014

The cartographic submarine at work. Photo: WHOI. 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...

Hurricane Sandy: only communities can build climate resilience

Michael Premo

26th November 2014

A house being demolished in Union Beach, NJ, on October 19, 2012. A year later the former residents are still living in a trailer in the driveway, waiting to rebuild. Photo: Sandy Storyline / anonymous. Two years after Hurricane Sandy, 'official' responses have failed, writes Michael Premo. Promises have been broken, money remains in limbo, and families are still not back in their homes. With climate change due to bring further disasters, we must build a new kind of resilience that's democratic, participative and rooted in local communities. more...

Mystery drones are buzzing around French nuclear plants - should we be worried?

Daniel Salisbury & Christopher Hobbs

20th November 2014

At 7.40 am on 2nd May 2012 a Greenpeace activist flew over the Bugey power station on a yellow paraglider. But this time, it's something different! Photo: Greenpeace video / Youtube. With unidentified drones regularly overflying French nuclear power plants, Daniel Salisbury and Christopher Hobbs warn that despite the dismissive responses of nuclear operators, they have cause for concern: the drones may be unable to cause serious damage in themselves, but they compromise site security and open the way to future attacks. more...

New technologies can help poor farmers - just not the ones you're thinking of

Tony Juniper

18th November 2014

Digital Green records a discussion on best agronomic practice with an Ethiopian farmer for dissemination among his peers. Photo: Digital Green. Modern technology has a lot to offer small farmers in poor countries, writes Tony Juniper - just not the GMOs and pesticides that are widely touted. But how about film, digital communications and smart phones? These new media can empower farmers and allow them to share knowledge and experience of how to produce more, from less. more...

Civil society speaks: only a just world can prevent catastrophic climate change

Maruška Mileta

13th November 2014

Group photo of delegates to the Isla Margarita Social Pre-COP. Photo: via facebook.com/socialprecop. A gathering of civil society and social movements in Venezuela concluded last week with a strong demand for climate justice, writes Maruška Mileta. Rich countries must stop passing off their 'false solutions' - from nuclear power to geoengineering - and pay the costs of a rapid transition to low-carbon world that brings renewable energy to all. more...

Plenty more fish in the sea? Not if we follow healthy eating guidelines

Ruth H. Thurstan & Callum Roberts

6th November 2014

Fish exploding from the ocean off the North Carolina coast - but global fish stocks are doing no such thing. Photo: Jared Cherup via Flickr. Until demand for fish is balanced with sustainable methods of production, write Ruth Thurstan & Callum Roberts, governments should consider the social and environmental implications of promoting greater fish consumption. Worldwide, wild fish supplies per person have been declining ever since 1970. more...

The circularity of Life

Jane Cull

4th November 2014

The Circularity of Life by Jane Cull  - front cover illustration. We must accept the reality that human beings, nature and cosmos are interconnected in a vast circular system, writes Jane Cull. To sustain ourselves on this planet, we must sustain the web of life of which we are part, and construct another kind of world that based on that understanding. more...

'Unconstructable' Hinkley C could end UK's nuclear dream

Chris Goodall

30th October 2014

Hinkley C is 'unconstructable', says a distinguished nuclear engineer - 'like building a cathedral within a cathedral'. Artist's impression of the completed nuclear power station by EDF. Opponents of nuclear power hold up the planned Hinkley C as an examplar of waste and idiocy that could cost the UK over £30 billion in subsidies. Chris Goodall agrees - and fears that an impending fiasco with the 'unconstructable' and commercially disastrous EPR design may kill off the UK's nuclear aspirations for a generation. more...

Amaranth revival - Mexican farmers rediscover an ancient superfood

Anna Bruce

25th October 2014

Amaranth amongst the the corn plants. It is traditional in Oaxaca, to grow crops in the same field. This is called the ‘milpa system'. Photo: Anna Bruce. Mexico's conquistadors outlawed amaranth - a highly nutritious seed farmed by the indigenous peoples for millennia - due to its use in religious rituals. But it's now being hailed as a 'superfood', writes Anna Bruce, and a growing number of Mexican campesinos are once again cultivating the 'noble plant' among their corn, squash and beans. more...

London's 'Tarpaulin Revolution' lives another day

Donnachadh McCarthy

20th October 2014

Occupy Democracy - the Day 2 kettle of the Head of Boris Johnson's Wardens, selecting who to get the police to arrest. Photo: Donnachadh McCarthy. Last night the police were in full force in London's Parliament Square, writes Donnachadh McCarthy - forcibly removing Occupy Democracy protestors and snatching sleeping bags, cardboard and tarpaulins as illegal 'sleeping equipment', apparently on direct orders from the Mayor, Boris Johnson. Yet the rally keeps on growing .... more...

Japanese knotweed - could a tiny insect tame the monster?

Kate Constantine

17th October 2014

Japanese knotweed makes short work of concrete and tarmac. In its native habitat, it has learnt to crack up volcanic rock. Photo: Rob Tanner. Since Japanese knotweed won a gold medal in 1847 as 'interesting new ornamental of the year', it has become far too much of a good thing, writes Kate Constantine. But could the oriental triffid be tamed following the UK introduction of a specialist pest from Japan's volcanic uplands? more...

Farmers lead composting revolution to heal African soils

Fernando Naves Sousa

14th October 2014

Moussa Konate cultivating his fields. Photo: Fernando Naves Sousa. The soils on which African farmers depend are getting poorer, writes Fernando Naves Sousa, depleted of nutrients and organic matter. This creates a huge challenge: to reverse the trend in an environmentally responsible way, while feeding a growing population. But it can be done - using organic composting techniques. more...

For healthy food we need living, organic soils

Hannah Bewsey & Katherine Paul / OCA

9th October 2014

The secret of healthy food is healthy soil - as with these organic potatoes bursting from the ground in early June this year at Sandy lane Farm, Oxfordshire. Photo: Sandy Lane Farm. Soils are naturally alive with complex 'food webs' of micro-organisms that sustain plants with moisture and nutrients, making them good to eat. But once the biota have been blitzed with agro-chemicals under industrial farming regimes, it's our health that suffers. One more reason to grow, and eat, organic! more...

Australia - exotic beetles fly in to clean up the cattle dung

Jane Wright

5th October 2014

A male Onthophagus vacca, the species of dung beetle being released this week in Western Australia. Photo: CSIRO. After rabbits, foxes, brambles and the cane toad, you would have thought Australia would have had enough of invasive exotic species, writes Jane Wright. Wrong! CSIRO scientists are introducing a French dung beetle, in the hope it will lead to fewer flies, improved soil fertility and structure, and greater carbon sequestration. more...

'We won't be here forever' - Cambodian forest defender immortalised on film

Fran Lambrick

2nd October 2014

Chut Wutty under attack by military personnel in Cambodia after burning a store of illegal timber. Five months later, he was murdered by persons unknown at a logging camp in the Cardomom mountains. Photo: Fran Lambrick. Film maker Fran Lambrick was there to record Cambodian forest defender Chut Wutty's burning of a store of illegal logs. But she didn't expect to be filming an attempt on his life. Five months later, Chut was murdered in a remote logging camp. But his beliefs live on in an extraordinary film. more...

Farm waste and mushrooms challenge plastic, concrete, steel

Sophie Morlin-Yron

29th September 2014

This handsome tower was built from bricks made with farm and forestry waste bound together by fungal myceliae. Now, it's being composted. Photo: Sophie Morlin-Yron. Isn't it daft it is to use plastics that last for centuries to make short-life packaging? Now there's an alternative, writes Sophie Morlin-Yron - using fungi to bind farm and forestry waste into strong, non-toxic, complex forms. When the job is done, the material can be safely burnt or composted - and it even works for buildings ... more...

Putting people at the heart of climate-friendly buildings

John Alker

24th September 2014

Green and pleasant - GPT head office, Sydney. Photo: Woods Bagot. Energy efficiency in office buildings struggles to gain the attention of top management, writes John Alker - because energy is too cheap to really matter. But with 90% of operating costs spent on staff, show that green building design makes employees happier and more productive, and you're really onto something ... more...

The UN saved the ozone layer - now it's the climate's turn

Nigel Paul

23rd September 2014

We did it for the ozone layer. Noe it's the climate's turn. Photo: ozone conditions over Antarctica, 7th September 2014. NASA. Thirty years after the UN took action to save the ozone layer, we can count the benefits - which only begin with 2 million fewer cases of skin cancer a year, writes Nigel Paul. With world leaders taking on the much greater climate challenge today, we should take cheer, and inspiration, from that historic success. more...

Saving Brazil's Atlantic forest on a shoe string

Cristina Banks-Leite

18th September 2014

'Mata Atlântica' in Brazil's Serra da Gandarela national park. But there are few large forest areas like this one remaining. Mostly the Atlantic forest habitat is fragmented by farms, roads and towns. Photo: Frederico Pereira via Flickr. As Brazil prepares for elections next month, conserving its remaining Atlantic Forest is a hot issue, writes Cristina Banks-Leite. Ecologists want to preserve more native habitat, while farmers want to expand their acreage. But there is one solution that ought to please everyone. more...

Abounding life! 4,000 microbes thrive in Antarctic lake beneath the ice

Helen Thompson

15th September 2014

The view down the borehole through half a mile of the Antarctic ice to Lake Whillans. Photo: Reed Scherer / Northern Illinois University. Beneath half a mile of ice scientists have uncovered the first hard evidence of a life in a subglacial lake, writes Helen Thompson. And not just life, but a complex ecosystem comprising thousands of microbial species. Could Jupiter's frozen moon Europa be hiding lakes like this? more...

How will the new EU team line up on GMOs, TTIP and energy?

Lawrence Woodward

11th September 2014

Jean-Claude Juncker in a moment of satisfaction following his election by the European Parliament as President of the Commission. But now, will his Commissioners implement his vision? Photo: European Parliament. We have a new European Commission - so what does it mean for the environment, GMOs and trade negotiations? Lawrence Woodward can't help feeling that the best part of the package is Commission President Juncker himself. Now, will his 'team' pull together and work to deliver his vision? We can't quite count on it. more...

China and Mongolia clash over how to exploit the Gobi desert

Troy Sternberg

9th September 2014

Camels in the Gurvan Saikhan national park, Gobi desert, Mongolia. Photo: Stephane L via Flickr. Mongolia and China are separated by world views as well as by a border across the Gobi desert, writes Troy Sternberg. In Mongolia the idea that nature has intrinsic value is readily accepted, while China is more interested in resources for trade, industry and profit. Can a clash of interests be avoided? more...

Only connect - a renewable energy future for small island states

Zaheer Allam

5th September 2014

Male, Maldives, October 2010: President Nasheed installs solar panels on the Presidential Residence in 2010 - 18 months before the coup which brought his term of office to an end. The future of small island states has to be renewable, says Zaheer Allam. But that's only the first of many choices. It's just as important to develop energy networks that are diverse, resilient, adaptive and flexible - and avoid the centralised, unimodal models that investors and bureaucrats prefer to impose, often at huge long term cost. more...

Steel and concrete, give over to the new kid - bamboo

Dirk Hebel

4th September 2014

A forest of giant bamboo near Kyoto, Japan. Photo: Trey Ratcliff via Flickr. The global construction industry is dominated by steel and concrete, writes Dirk Hebel - but it doesn't have to be that way. There's a strong, fast-growing, climate-friendly, sustainable material ready and waiting. Bamboo could be the basis of a whole new 'green' building industry, that also provides abundant rural livelihoods. more...

The battle for Mosul Dam: a new age of water wars beckons

Jonathan Bridge

2nd September 2014

The Mosul dam spillway. Photo: United States Army Corps of Engineers / Wikimedia Commons. Conflict continues to rage in Iraq over control of the Mosul dam, which impounds 11 cubic kilometres of water and controls water levels and supplies across the country, writes Jonathan Bridge. It's not the first battle fought over control of water - and it's certainly not the last in a drying Middle East with fast-growing populations. more...

Over-burning could be damaging Australia's wildlife for 100 years

Dale Nimmo, Andrew Bennett & Michael Clarke

29th August 2014

Western pygmy possums use tree hollows that take decades to develop in mallee ecosystems. Photo: Lauren Brown. We know that Australia's dry bush has co-evolved with fire, so that means regular planned burning is a good thing? Up to a point ... some increasingly rare species depend on 'old growth' bush up to 100 years old, and over-frequent burning is putting them under long-term threat. more...

Confronting the threat of invasive 'ecosystem engineers'

Jodey Peyton & Helen Roy

26th August 2014

The Asian hornet is a voracious predator of bees - as if they were not suffering enough already! Photo:  Danel Solabarrieta, CC BY-SA. Mussels, crabs, hornets and ... racoons? Future invasive species are not what you might expect, write Jodey Peyton & Helen Roy. In particular, we have to beware of 'ecosystem engineers' that can transform the environment they inhabit, creating ecological havoc for other species.
more...

More calories from fewer sources means less nutrition, more profit

David Nally

21st August 2014

A vast monoculture of corn in Iowa, USA - profitable, but not healthy. Photo: Rich Griffith via Flickr. It's a global phenomenon - we are consuming more calories, and more of those calories are the same, writes David Nally. Just ten crops produce 75% of our food, as factory-farmed meat, sugar, wheat, corn, soybeans and palm oil displace more nutritious and diverse diets. It's not good for us, or the planet - but it's great for corporate food monopolists! more...

Ignoring Ukraine's neo-Nazi storm troopers

Robert Parry

14th August 2014

The Wolfsangel symbol of Adolf Hitler’s SS on a banner in Ukraine. Western media have studiously ignored the far-right, violent and often outright Nazi politics of many of Ukraine's Euro-Maidan protestors, writes Robert Parry. But with the thugs now organized into Nazi brigades of the Ukrainian army, and waging war on Russian separatists, an unlikely British paper has dared tell the truth: the conservative Daily Telegraph. more...

Our uplands: a burning desire for action

Martin Harper

12th August 2014

Walshaw Moor, near Hebden Bridge, after burning to improve grouse yields. Photo: energyroyd.org.uk/ . Today, on the 'Glorious 12th', well-heeled folk take to the hills to shoot grouse. And to be sure there's lots of birds to kill, writes Martin Harper, England's moorlands are burnt with dire impacts on their biodiversity and ability to absorb rainfall. It's high time to end this barbaric practice! more...

Dan Box - The Carteret Islands

Dan Box Blog - Paradise lost

Dan Box

14th May, 2009

DANBOX_Arrivals.jpg Dan Box reports from a community in its death throes, as the Carteret islanders pack up their homes and prepare to become the world’s first climate change refugees more...

Dan Box Blog: Morning in Tinputz

Dan Box

29th April, 2009

I slept in my clothes last night, on the bare wooden floor of one of the houses the first boatload of people to be evacuated from the Carteret Islands are building for their families. It was a jet-black night in the small clearing hacked out amid the jungle, the dark broken only by our two candles and the lights of Fireflies jigging in the trees. more...

The Evacuation Begins

Dan Box

22nd April, 2009

first arrivals at Tinputz.jpg Dan Box is on-site to witness the world's first climate refugees being evacuated due to rising sea levels more...

Other Blogs

Independent living in Canada

February 14th, 2013

by Eagle Gamma

Eagle Gamma profiles an ethnographer who chose life off-the-grid, and found true independence..... more...

Indonesia's Sumatran tiger threatened by development of last jungle strongholds

Dr. Julian Bloomer

4th September, 2012

Sumatran tiger As politicians encourage development around the Kerinci Seblat National Park, Dr. Julian Bloomer explores how the area's endangered species can be protected more...

Creating the future: How 'Zero Carbon Britain' is inspiring positivity in today's artists

Paul Allen

16th August, 2012

Zero Carbon Britain 2030 The Centre for Alternative Technology's Emergence Summit must develop positive versions of the future, as if we can't imagine it - there won't be one, says Paul Allen more...

Ewan Kingston

I did London to Sydney without flying. Here's how

Ewan Kingston

16th April, 2010

Ewan in front of a coach Our well-grounded Kiwi reflects on his six month (almost flightless) odyssey from London to New Zealand, and answers all the usual questions on travel without wings more...

I failed. I caught a plane

Ewan Kingston

3rd February, 2010

A plane ready for boarding Thousands of miles by train, coach, bus, boat and foot and, at the last hurdle, Ewan finds that there's no way to cross the Tasman Sea except on metal wings... more...

Bali to Australia by catamaran

Ewan Kingston

18th December, 2009

View from catamaran Though it was slow, choppy, wet and tiring, Ewan looks back on his wind-powered crossing to Australia as an experience worth every minute more...

Jeremy Smith

Inspiring solutions are out there, you just have to look

Jeremy Smith

25th October, 2009

Jeremy Blog image The 350.org events last Saturday on the International Day of Climate Action give us cause for hope. As Jeremy Smith is discovering, there are thousands of inspiring stories out there about people making a difference more...

It's ecotourism, but not as we know it

Jeremy Smith

5th October, 2009

Jeremy Blog image Ecotourism is not simply about minimising your negative impact. There are places you can go where your presence (and money) can make a positive difference too
more...

Ivili - new video website for sharing green tech ideas

Jeremy Smith

14th September, 2009

Jeremy Blog image There are plenty of small scale, locally appropriate innovations out there. Jeremy Smith has set up a video archive and social network that puts all the stories and advice together
more...

Gaian Economics

A green tax? James Tobin would be spinning in his grave

Gaian Economics

3rd September, 2009

Gaian Economics Lord Adair Turner - head of the FSA and the Climate Change Committe - has ruffled feathers by suggesting a tax on currency trading. Here's why more...

When it comes to work, less is more

Gaian Economics

18th August, 2009

Gaian Economics Why don't we follow the French model and take the whole month of August as holiday? It may help strengthen our economy more...

Mr. Bean to explain quantitative easing policy

Molly Scott Cato

16th July, 2009

Gaian Economics The deputy-director of the Bank of England is on a national tour to convince us of the seriousness of its policies to ease the recession. Molly Scott Cato can't wait for the punchline more...

Transition Culture

Five amazing things you never knew about potatoes

Transition Culture

6th July, 2009

Transition Culture Inspired by digging up some home grown new potatoes on a July afternoon Rob Hopkins is running a special competition - to win one of his potatoes... more...

Song lyrics for a better world

Transition Culture

29th June, 2009

Transition Culture In their new song 'Inaugural Trams', the Super Furry Animals capture a moment from a post carbon future more...

Transition meets local government

Transition Culture

24th June, 2009

Transition Culture What can happen when a Transition Initiative and its local authority work together: the Stroud story more...

Jonathon Porritt

Sarkozy deserves applause for his stance on growth

Jonathon Porritt

23rd September, 2009

Jonathon Porritt Few people in policy work have nice things to say about the Treasury, especially if you produce reports challenging economic growth. So Sarkozy's recent move on GDP is welcome more...

Have NGOs sold out?

Jonathon Porritt

13th July 2009

Jonathon Porritt Accusations that NGOs have got far too cosy with big business have been around for years. But where does the blame really lie? more...

Ecologist Leader

Recessions are unsustainable, but they sure cut emissions

Mark Anslow

30th March, 2010

editor's blog The dramatic cuts in UK emissions suggested by the Government's preliminary figures are staggering - but we would be wrong to celebrate them more...

Copenhagen: concession and compromise

Mark Anslow

18th December, 2009

cop15 Climate negotiations are always a balancing act. But the global atmosphere is not a politician, and it won't forgive us if we get this wrong more...

Shame on the 'climategate' scientists

Mark Anslow

27th November, 2009

Ecologist Editor Mark Anslow explores the fallout from the leaked email exchanges between climate scientists more...

Environmental Law Foundation

Corby judgment: do birth defects mean nothing?

Debbie Tripley

21st August, 2009

A handful of brave, convinced mothers fought their local council to make it pay for polluting their environment and causing their children birth defects. But has anyone learned anything from this landmark ruling? more...

Atlantic Rising

Atlantic Rising: creating a fashion for guilt-free fur

Lynn Morris

11th October, 2010

fur fashion on sale Can fashion fur be guilt free? A project in Louisiana believes the answer is yes - if you are wearing swamp rat more...

Atlantic Rising: Living on the edge on Nantucket Island in the US

Lynn Morris

28th September, 2010

Coastal erosion Homes are being moved and maps redrawn as coastal erosion eats away at an island off Massachusetts
more...

Atlantic Rising: sea level rise threatens the Orinoco Delta in Venezuela

Will Lorimer

1st September, 2010

Venezuela Rising sea levels are forcing the migration of indigenous peoples and threatening the freshwater ecosystem of catfish and piranha found in the Orinoco Delta near the coast of Venezuela more...

Greening my office

Greening my office: choosing an ethical pension

Sylvia Sunshine

13th January, 2011

Sylvia takes a step towards financial security with her premier pension payment. But can she keep a clean conscience at the same time? more...

Greening my office: can't we all just go camping instead of jetting off overseas?

Sylvia Sunshine

17th August, 2010

As her colleagues jet off to sunnier climes, Sylvia tackles the thorny issue of eco holidays - but will she pluck up the courage to confront her boss over his second home? more...

Greening my office: I got them to switch the heating off!

Sylvia Sunshine

9th July, 2010

thermostat Sylvia scores her first eco success - persuading her sceptical boss that heating an unoccupied portion of the office is a terrible waste of resources more...

Laura Laker

Life without supermarkets: community action is the best way to beat them

Laura Laker

10th August, 2010

Community garden A hypermarket victory in Hackney demonstrates how local groups can help protect community shops... more...

Life without supermarkets: forget posh organic shops; check out food co-ops

Laura Laker

13th July, 2010

Money To keep prices down, Laura shops around and gives food co-ops a whirl... more...

Life without supermarkets: escaping choice overload

Laura Laker

14th June, 2010

food co-ops Laura Laker discovers the joys of farmers' markets, the convenience of vegboxes, and the horror of plans for a nearby Tesco Metro that will threaten her local corner shop more...

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