News In Brief

Daily climate change,eco & environment news

Radiation hotspot in Kashiwa following the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe. Photo: Abasaa via Wikimedia Commons (Public Domain).

Fukushima court ruling holds 'reckless' Tepco and government liable

Shaun Burnie
Asia Times
| 20th March 2017
A Japanese court has found the government and Tepco culpable for the Fukushima nuclear disaster for failing to act on clear warnings of the dangers of seismic shocks, writes Shaun Burnie. The ruling is sending a shockwave through Japan's 'nuclear village' and may end all prospects of any mass restart of reactors.

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Plastic waste being sorted by hand in Babakan, West Java, Indonesia. Photo: Ikhlasul Amal via Flickr (CC BY-NC).

UK exporting 67% of plastic waste amid 'illegal practices' warnings

The Ecologist
| 13th March 2017
Britain's trade in waste plastic to the Far East is booming. But it's not good news. The exported plastic is meant to be recycled under UK conditions and standards, but often is not, undermining bona fide UK recycling firms who face falling prices, reduced turnover, collapsing profits, and all too often, closure.

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Birdwatching helps beats depression

The Ecologist
| 1st March 2017

People living in neighbourhoods with more birds, shrubs and trees are less likely to suffer from depression, anxiety and stress, according to research by academics at the University of Exeter, the British Trust for Ornithology and the University of Queensland

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Photographs showing the growth of plants and seed heads of the new golden rice crosses versus the non-GMO cultivar. The GMO golden rice is the abnormal and stunted one on the left. Photo: from PLOS One.

GMO golden rice trials fail: stunted plants, reduced grain yield

| 1st March 2017
The troubled project to develop GMO 'golden rice' cultivars has just hit a serious obstacle. An attempt to breed the 'event' responsible for carotenoid production into a commercial rice variety has produced widespread genomic instability, causing weak plants and poor grain production. Has the golden rice hype bubble finally burst?

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This smog, seen over London from Primrose Hill, is unlawful. But how to stop it if you can't take the government to court? Photo: Luton Anderson via Flickr (CC BY-SA).

Government tries to puts itself above environmental law

Oliver Tickell
| 28th February 2017
The UK government hates to be held accountable in court when it breaks environmental laws like those on air quality. So it has created new rules - coming into force today - that expose environmental litigants to unlimited financial liabilities. Now three leading NGOs have done to the High Court to argue that the rules themselves are in breach the UK's international obligations.

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The Amazonian manatee, considered 'vulnerable' by the IUCN, is among the species at risk if oil drilling goes ahead. Photo: susy freitas via Flickr (CC BY-NC).

BP, Total oil drilling would endanger newly discovered Amazon coral reef

Lawrence Carter
| 23rd February 2017
A unique and pristine coral reef in the mouth of the Amazon is threatened by oil drilling planned by oil giants Total and BP, say the scientists who recently explored it. But the oil companies are determined to press ahead despite the risks, writes Lawrence Carter, and Brazil's environment ministry is set to give its approval.

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The blockaded tunnel to Heathrow airport this morning, 21st February 2017. Photo: Rising Up!

Rising Up! protest blockades Heathrow airport

The Ecologist
| 21st February 2017
A direct action protest by Rising Up! today blocked access to three Heathrow terminals to press their demand for no third runway at the UK's biggest airport. The activists included both climate campaigners and local people fearful of increased pollution, loss of homes and green space and entire villages destroyed.

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Shell's Kora Kora oil field, Nigeria. Photo: Tim Lambon / Greenpeace.

Shell, Eni hit with Nigerian oil deal corruption charges

Joe Sandler Clarke
| 13th February 2017
Weeks after a major legal victory in London's High Court over oil-polluted communities in Nigeria, writes Joe Sandler Clarke, Shell has suffered a dramatic reversal of fortunes as Italian prosecutors charge the company, and Italy's Eni, on corruption charges over a $1.3 billion oil deal.

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Monarch butterfly sipping nectar from milkweed. Photo: Sherri VandenAkker via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA).

Monarch butterflies down over a quarter in one year

The Ecologist
| 10th February 2017
It's been another disastrous year for North America's Monarch butterflies, with the insect's population down 27% in a single year. The sudden decline is blamed on severe winter storms in Mexico, and the impacts of GMO crops, herbicides and insecticides on US farms.

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Vaquita caught in a gillnet. Photo: Cristian Faezi & Omar Vidal via IUCN.

Vaquita going extinct as Mexico, China, dither

Aron White
| 6th February 2017
The world's smallest porpoise is fast heading to extinction, writes Aron White thanks to Mexico's failure to ban the use of gillnets in its range, and China's illegal imports of totoaba fish swim bladders, used in Chinese medicine. Without urgent and effective action the vaquita will soon disappear for good.

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EU countries don't want British pollution blowing their way! London air pollution - view from Hackney 10th April 2015. Photo: DAVID HOLT via Flickr (CC BY).

MEPs may veto 'dirty Britain' Brexit deal

Charlotte Burns
University of York
| 2nd February 2017
MEPs have signalled that any Brexit deal that allows Britain to scrap the environmental laws it has signed up to as an EU member faces veto, writes Charlotte Burns. They are not prepared to countenance a bad neighbour 'dirty Britain' just off the EU's shores, nor to see the EU's environmental progress undermined by unfair competition.

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Coming in to land at Heathrow Airport. Photo: Roy via Flickr (CC BY-NC).

Heathrow: Government may ignore its own climate advisors

Damian Kahya
Greenpeace Enerrgydesk
| 30th January 2017
Newly published letters show that the UK Government may ignore the Committee on Climate Change, its official advisor on climate, and allow emissions from aviation to soar at an expanded Heathrow airport, writes Damian Kahya. Instead it would rely on buying widely condemned 'carbon offsets'.

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Shuar communities are under oppressive military occupation. Photo: via Intercontinental Cry.

Blood and fire: mining and militarization in the Ecuadorian Amazon

Jake Ling
Intercontinental Cry
| 24th January 2017
The opposition of Ecuador's Shuar People to large scale mining and hydroelectric development in their ancestral forests has triggered a full-scale military occupation of their lands in the Amazon cloud forest, writes Jake Ling, accompanied by a surge in state-sponsored murder and violence - for which Chinese and Canadian mining companies must share responsibility.

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Riverside rainforest in the Congo basin. Photo: Paul Godard via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

World's biggest tropical carbon sink found in Congo rainforest

Tim Radford
| 16th January 2017
A 145,000 sq km area of peatland swamp forest has been discovered in the Congo Basin, writes Tim Radford, and it holds a record 30 Gt of carbon, equivalent to 20 years of US fossil fuel emissions. Now the race is on to protect it from damaging development that would emit that carbon over coming decades.

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The Brixton Road in South London, already in breach of its NO2 pollution limits for 2017 on the 6th January. Photo: Nico Hogg via Flickr (CC BY-NC).

London breaches air pollution limit for all 2017

Oliver Tickell
| 6th January 2017
Days into the 2017 pollution limits on the Brixton Road in Lambeth, South London, has already breached EU pollution limits for NO2 for the entire year. Meanwhile UK sales of diesel cars - one of the main causes of NO2 pollution - reached record levels in 2016, reflecting the government's failure to tackle the problem in spite of numerous court orders.

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White-letter Hairstreak (Satyrium w-album), Parc de Woluwé, Brussels, Belgium. Photo: Frank Vassen via Flickr (CC BY).

Vital EU wildlife laws saved! But will UK keep them after Brexit?

Oliver Tickell
| 7th December 2016
Two key wildlife laws that underpin nature conservation across the EU will be retained intact, the EU Commission announced today after an 18 month review that generated record public engagement due to fears that they would be weakened. Now campaigners are determined to ensure the UK retains the laws post-Brexit.

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