The Ecologist


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sHellNo! Flotilla Departure Blockade in Seattle's Elliott Bay, 15th June 2015. Photo: Jeff Dunnicliff / Backbone Campaign via Flickr (CC BY).

Shell's retreat from the Arctic - what tipped the scales?

Louise Rouse / Greenpeace Energydesk

30th September 2014

When Shell decided to quit its Arctic oil exploration it cited 'insufficient quantities' of oil and gas, writes Louise Rouse. But that was not the whole story: what tipped the balance was a combination of investor discontent, reputational damage and public opposition on an unprecedented scale. more...
Yes we did! Shell no Kayak Flotilla climate stabilization demo in April 2015. Photo: Backbone Campaign via Flickr (CC BY).

Victory! Shell quits Arctic

Terry Macalister / the Guardian Environment

28th September 2015

Shell's US president says the oil giant's unpopular drilling operations in Alaska's Chukchi Sea will stop for the 'foreseeable future' as exploratory drilling finds little oil and gas to justify its $7 billion investment. more...
There's a mammoth surprise lurking in the permafrost: 1,700 billion tonnes of frozen carbon. Let that go and the world's climate may never be the same. BC Museum Photo: Tyler Ingram via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

Mammoth Arctic carbon thaw would cost us $43 trillion

Tim Radford

23rd September 2015

Something scary is lurking in the melting Arctic permafrost, write Tim Radford & Oliver Tickell: 1,700 Gt of carbon. That's 53 years worth of current emissions, and if we let it melt the impact would cost the world $43 tn. Or act now, and we could preserve the Arctic ice for a seventh as much. more...
Burn all our fossil fuels, and all the ice in Antarctica will melt, causing sea levels to rise 58m. The Ellsworth Range in Antarctica as seen from the IceBridge DC-8, 22nd October 2012. Photo: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (CC BY).

Let fossil fuels rip for an ice-free Antarctica

Tim Radford

18th September 2015

Scientists warn that burning up the planet's remaining fossil fuel would cause all Antarctic ice to melt and lead to 58m of sea level rise over 10,000 years, writes Tim Radford. But devastating impacts would strike much sooner, with oceans rising by 3m a century for the next millennium. more...
President Obama in the American Arctic, Alaska, in from of a fast-retreating glacier, 4th September 2015. Photo: Still from White House video by Hope Hall (see video embed).

Arctic charade: Obama's Alaskan tour and the climate change 'puzzle'

Timothy Clark

15th September 2015

President Obama's whistlestop Alaskan tour highlighted his unique ability to believe in two completely contradictory ideas at once, writes Timothy Clark. On the one hand, the importance of climate change and the urgency of preventing dangerous warming. On the other, the importance of the Arctic's fossil energy and the urgent need to exploit it as rapidly and completely as possible. more...
The Gerlache strait, Andvord Bay, Antarctica. Photo: Rita Willaert via Flickr (CC BY-NC).

The world is already committed to a six meter sea level rise

Pete Dolack / Systemic Disorder

24th July 2015

The climate change discourse rarely looks beyond 2100, writes Pete Dolack. Maybe that's because even at current levels of CO2, we are committed to thousands of years of warming and polar ice melt that will raise sea levels by at least six meters. However the implacable imperatives of capitalism mean there's little prospect of change for a long time to come. more...
The icebreaker MSV Fennica, which now has a metre-long gash in its hull below the waterline. Photo: Marcusroos vis Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA).

On the rocks: hull gash disables Shell Arctic icebreaker

Zachary Davies Boren / Greenpeace EnergyDesk

13th July 2015

Shell's Arctic drilling expedition is literally on the rocks after its icebreaker MSV Fennica suffering a metre-long gash to its hull below the waterline, writes Zachary Davies Boren. more...
The 'sHellNo!' Flotilla Departure Blockade, 15th June 2015. Photo: Jeff Dunnicliff / Backbone Campaign via Flickr (CC BY).

Government hides fears over Shell's Arctic spill safety

Christine Ottery / Greenpeace Energydesk

19th June 2015

As Shell's Polar Pioneer drilling rig sails from Seattle into the north Pacific, Christine Ottery discovers that US federal regulators had serious concerns about the company's safety equipment designed to contain any oil spill. more...
The recent 100,000 gallon oil spill in Santa Barbara shows that accidents are always waiting to happen - and all the more so in a hazardous environment like the Arctic. But Shell says it's fine to drill for oil there - while refusing to release its 'indep

Shell's Arctic safety audit kept secret, may never see full light of day

Joe Sandler Clarke / Greenpeace Energydesk

27th May 2015

Shell claims a third party audit into its plans to drill for Arctic oil and gas has found 'no issues of significance', writes Joe Sandler Clarke. But the audit remains under wraps, and may never be released in full. Now Obama pledges his support for the project - just as it turns out that Shell selected the 'independent' auditor. more...
The melting on the southern Antarctic peninsula has been so sudden, that even the scientific expedition's supply ship seems to have been caught out. Photo: J Bamber,

Once-stable Antarctic glaciers have suddenly started melting

Bert Wouters

23rd May 2015

A dramatic shift has taken place in the glaciers of the southern Antarctic peninsula, writes Bert Wouters. Six years ago these previously stable bodies suddenly stated shedding 60 cubic kilometres of ice per year into the ocean. A stark warning of further surprises to come? more...
Scientists had thought that Arctic rivers like the Kolyma in Siberia carry dissolved carbon from melting permafrost to the oceans. They were wrong - it's all emitted to the atmosphere as CO2. Photo: Магадан via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA).

Thawing Arctic carbon threatens 'runaway' global warming

Tim Radford

14th May 2015

Arctic warming is releasing ancient organic matter that's been deep-frozen for millennia, writes Tim Radford. And now scientists have discovered its fate: within weeks it's all digested by bacteria and released to the atmosphere as CO2 - with potentially catastrophic impacts on climate. more...
A Fin Whale (Balaenoptera physalus) off the coast of Massachusetts, USA. Photo: chris buelow via Flickr (CC BY-NC).

Time to 'Get Oil Out!' from sea to shining sea

Ralph Nader & David Helvarg

4th July 2015

Faced with the double crisis of global warming and the decimation of marine wildlife, what does the Obama administration do? Open up the US's Atlantic and Arctic Ocean seafronts to oil and gas drilling, write Ralph Nader & David Helvarg. But this assault on our climate and cetaceans can be stopped, as a 'Sea Party Rebellion' prepares to fight it all the way in forthcoming Presidential elections. more...

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The 'Polar Pioneer' - made unwelcome on its arrival at the Port of Los Angeles on 17th April 2015 by Kayaktivists from the sHellNo! Action Council. Photo: Charles Conatzer & the sHellNo! Action Council / Backbone Campaign via Flickr (CC BY).

Shell's Arctic oil setback - unlawful use of Seattle Port

Oliver Tickell

5th May 2015

The Port of Seattle is violating its shoreline permit in allowing Shell to set up a 'home port' for its Arctic oil drilling fleet, according to Seattle officials. The finding could nix Shell's oil drilling plans for the 2015 season. more...
A polar bear keeps close to her young along the Beaufort Sea coast in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Photo: Susanne Miller / USFWS via Flickr (CC BY).

Polar bears at risk from pollution as well as warmth

Tim Radford

24th April 2015

As if melting ice in Polar bears' Arctic habitat was not enough, Norwegian scientists have found that organic pollutants such as pesticide residues are disrupting their thyroid and endocrine systems, adding a further threat to the species' survival. more...
Greenpeace volunteers on board Shell's 'Polar Explorer' oil rig in the Pacific Ocean. Photo: Miriam Friedrich / Greenpeace.

Greenpeace occupies Shell rig after Arctic drilling go-ahead

Christine Ottery & Oliver Tickell

7th April 2015

Days after Shell received US Government backing for its plans to drill in the Chukchi Sea in the Alaskan Arctic, volunteers from Greenpeace have occupied its 'Polar Pioneer' oil rig in the Pacific Ocean to demand a halt to all Arctic oil exploration. more...
Will walruses (Odobenus r. rosmarus) be stranded by melting ice in the Arctic? A herd of young males resting on a small patch of drifting ice at 80° North, off Moffen Island, Svalbard, Norway. Photo: Allan Hopkins via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

Ice melt endangers Arctic mammals

Tim Radford

2nd April 2015

A survey of threatened Arctic mammals highlights melting sea ice as a prime threat to eleven keystone species, writes Tim Radford - meaning that efforts to conserve them may be doomed to failure unless we also tackle the causes of climate change. more...
Lewis Pugh swimming 500m in water with a temperature of 0°C off the coast of Peter I Island in the Bellinghausen Sea - one of 13 seas which surround Antarctica. Photo:

Man on an Antarctic mission - taking a plunge for the Ross Sea

Yannic Rack

1st April 2015

How to campaign for the world's biggest marine protected area in Antarctica's freezing seas? If you're Lewis Pugh, the answer's a simple one: swim there! And before your hands have even recovered from the frostbite, fly off to Moscow to persuade the Kremlin to back the idea. Yannic Rack met the intrepid swimmer in a cosy London pub ... more...
Where ice meets ocean - Antarctic coastline by McKay Savage via Flickr (CC BY 2.0).

Antarctic warmth brings more snow, reducing sea level rise

Alex Kirby & Oliver Tickell

18th March 2015

Rising temperatures will result in more snow falling in Antarctica, and the build-up of ice will reduce sea level rise from other sources. But as the extra weight of ice makes Antarctica's glaciers flow faster, the continent will still be a net contributor to sea level rise. more...
The melting Chukchi Sea, 20th July 2011: the US Coast Guard Cutter Healy encountered only small patches of sea ice in the Chukchi Sea during the final days collecting ocean data for the 2011 ICESCAPE mission. Photo: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center via Fl

Save the Arctic sea ice while we still can!

John Nissen

5th March 2015

The Arctic Ocean is coming close to complete summer meltdown, writes John Nissen - indeed it could happen as soon as September, triggering a severe deterioration in climate across the northern hemisphere. With fast-rising temperatures predicted in the coming decade, we must act now to save the Arctic, before it's too late. more...
NASA image of the Arctic sea ice on March 6, 2010. Image: NASA / Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio; Blue Marble data courtesy of Reto Stockli (NASA/GSFC), via Flickr (CC BY 2.0).

Coming soon: the 'Big Heat'

Nafeez Ahmed

3rd March 2015

Global warming has been on vacation for a few years, writes Nafeez Ahmed. But that's only because the excess heat - two Hiroshima bombs-worth every second - has been buried in the deep ocean. But within a few years that's set to change, producing a huge decade-long warming surge, focused on the Arctic, that could overwhelm us all. more...
These apples at Eberly's Orchard near North Liberty, Indiana are non-GMO - but look just like the GMO Arctic apple. In future, how will you know? Photo: Tom Gill via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).

USDA approves world's first GMO apples

The Ecologist

16th February 2015

Scientists, environmental and consumer groups have decried USDA's approval of two 'Arctic' apple varieties, while major food companies and apple growers have no plans to source or grow them - despite their potential to 'generate consumer excitement in the apple category.' more...
Gigatonnes of carbon rising from the frigid Southern Ocean put an end to the last ice age. Photo: Natalie Tapson via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA).

Carbon stored deep in Antarctic waters ended the last ice age

Miguel Martinez-Boti & Gianluca Marino

12th February 2015

The last ice age came to an end following the massive release of carbon dioxide from the Southern Ocean, write Miguel Martinez-Boti and Gianluca Marino, and the signature of that event is written in planktonic shells. It's a timely reminder that the oceans contain 60 times more carbon than the atmosphere - and we want to keep it there. more...
Finland's lakes are freezing later in the autumn, and melting later in the spring. Photo: Dennis Stauffer via Flickr CC-BY.

Rapid Arctic warming is spreading south

Alex Kirby

26th December 2014

Rising temperatures in the Arctic are reaching further south to the lakes and forests of Finland, writes Alex Kirby. But the warming is not affecting summer temperatures - it's concentrated into the colder months, causing a shorter, less severe winter. more...
An iceberg floating in the Amundsen Sea, where glaciers are shedding ice faster than in any other part of Antarctica. Photo: NASA / Jane Peterson via Wikimedia Commons.

Antarctica: warming ocean trebles glacial melt

Tim Radford

17th December 2014

As temperatures rise in the Southern Ocean, warmer currents are eroding the Antarctic ice sheet from below, writes Tim Radford - causing the melting rate to treble in two decades to 83 billion tonnes a year. more...
John Nissen speaking at AMEG's COP20 press conference. Photo: still from video on .

The melting Arctic - John Nissen's emergency call to action

Tomás d'Ornellas

15th December 2015

The Earth faces an imminent crisis caused by runaway Arctic warming. So says climate campaigner John Nissen, who travelled to COP20 in Lima to impress the dangers on delegates - and urge them to emergency action to cool the Arctic before it's too late. Tomás d'Ornellas, editor of, met him there ... more...


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