Ecologist Special Report: Biological Annihilation on Earth is Accelerating

Robert J. Burrowes
| 1st August 2017
Human beings are now waging war against life itself as we continue to destroy not just individual lives, local populations and entire species in vast numbers but also the ecological systems that make life on Earth possible. By doing this we are now accelerating the sixth mass extinction event in Earth's history and virtually eliminating any prospect of human survival, writes ROBERT J BURROWES

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Southern White rhinoceros in its native habitat in Zambia, bnear the Zimbabwe border, October 2013. Photo: Jim Frost via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

Rhinos should be conserved in Africa - not moved to Australia!

Matt Hayward
Bangor University
| 2nd May 2017
A $4m plan to move 80 rhinos from South Africa to Australia is inept, patronising, a waste of scarce resources that contributes nothing to conservation, and betrays an outdated neocolonial mindset, writes Matt Hayward. The money should be spent on successful but underfunded community-based rhino conservation initiatives in Africa that benefit entire ecosystems.

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Child at Shifa hospital, Gaza, 10th April 2008. Photo: Kashfi Halford via Flickr (CC BY-NC).

The ecology of war: imperial power, permanent conflict and disposable humans

Andre Vltchek
| 28th April 2017
The real nature of war and its impacts on people and environment can only be understood through its ecology, surgeon Gus Abu-Sitta tells Andre Vltchek: the causes of conflict, the dynamics that sustain it, the corporate and strategic interests bent on its perpetuation, the deliberate destruction of health provision, and the repeating cycles of infection, injury, poverty and human misery which have become a permanent reality for uncounted millions.

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An example of the magic CO2-absorbing 'ultramafic' rock that could save the world: Forsterite - Serpentine rock in thin section, magnified under polarized light. Photo: Richard Droker via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

Worthless mining waste could suck CO2 out of the atmosphere and reverse emissions

Simon Redfern
University of Cambridge
| 25th April 2017
The world must drastically reduce the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere, writes Simon Redfern - and we can't do it by cutting emissions alone. But we could we do it 'nature's way', using volcanic rocks and mining wastes that naturally soak up CO2 from the atmosphere and ocean, and turn it into harmless forms like limestone and dissolved bicarbonate.

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These trees along Idaho's Selway River may be harboring insects, fungi and bacteria - best cut them down quick to maintain forest health! Photo: Friends of Clearwater.

Catastrophic 'anti-infestation' logging threatens US National Forests

Brett Haverstick
| 10th April 2017
A fresh wave of logging is hitting America's national forests, writes Brett Haverstick. But this time it's all for the sake of 'forest health' and 'fire prevention'. It might look like industrial clear-cutting to you and me, but really, it's in a good cause. And if the forests and precious ecosystems they harbor just happen to perish in the process ... well ain't that just too bad?

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Cattle grazing in Maharashtra, India. With global warming, their forage will get tougher, and their methane emissions higher. Photo: Vijay Sonar via Flickr (CC BY).

Spiral of doom: hotter world increases cattle methane emissions

Oliver Tickell
| 27th March 2017
A vicious cycle of climate change, cattle diet and rising methane has been revealed in a new scientific study: as temperatures rise, forage plants get tougher and harder to digest, and cause more methane to be produced in bovine stomachs. And with cattle numbers rising and methane 85 times more powerful a greenhouse gas over 20 years, that spells trouble.

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Don't forget the microphone! An Earth Touch cameraman braves the unpleasant odour of Malgas Island to get some awesome shots, and sounds, of cape gannets. Photo: Earth Touch via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA).

Listen up! Soundscapes reveal nature's ecological secrets

Ella Browning
| 8th March 2017
To find out about habitats, species and ecosystems are faring, don't just look, writes Ella Browning. Listen! Many species are hard to see, but have distinct auditory signatures, and advances in electronics suggest a future of landscapes 'wired for sound' feeding data streams for ecological analysis, not to mention detecting criminal activities from 'black' fishing to illegal logging and hunting.

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From front cover of 'Slugs and Snails by Robert Cameron, published by Harper Collins.

Slugs and snails

Martin Spray
| 7th March 2017
In this long-anticipated volume, Robert Cameron introduces us to the natural history of slugs and snails of the British Isles, writes Martin Spray, also venturing across the world to explore the wide range of structures and ways of life of slugs and snails, particularly their sometimes bizarre mating habits, which in turn help to illuminate the ways in which evolution has shaped the living world.

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Join the Resurgence Trust and help keep The Ecologist as a free service

3rd March 2017
The not-for-profit Resurgence Trust has owned and run The Ecologist website since 2012. Since then, we have maintained this site as a free service to an international community that shares our agenda of seeking positive solutions to the challenges of environment, social justice and ethical living. Help us to keep doing this by joining the Trust or making a donation today

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Factory in Perafita, Porto, Portugal. Photo: José Moutinho via Flickr (CC BY).

How a toxic spill and a book launched Britain's environmental movement - the forgotten story

John Clark
University of St Andrews
| 22nd February 2017
The mass poisoning of farm animals in Kent in 1963 was traced to a factory where a pesticide developed as a WWII chemical warfare agent was manufactured, writes John Clark. The event, so close to the publication of Rachel Carson's 'Silent Spring', galvanised a growing ecological awareness - all the more so as the government's only wish was to hush the matter up.

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Rewilding Spirituality

Kara Moses
| 21st February 2017

Efforts to address the planetary crisis must include a contemporary spiritual ecology to cultivate the deep humility and fierce resolve required to live sustainably and create a new story about the place of humanity in a post-capitalist world, writes KARA MOSES

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Bisect this landscape with a wall, and how will the wildlife fare? Photo: Near the US-Mexico border in Arizona by Corey Taratuta via Flickr (CC BY).

Trump's 'beautiful wall' threatens 111 endangered species

Shonil Bhagwat
The Open University
| 20th February 2017
The 3,100km concrete wall Donald Trump plans to build along the US-Mexico border would be a disaster for the border zone's ecosystems, writes Shonil Bhagwat. Among the species at risk: ocelots, bears, Bighorn sheep, the US's last wild jaguars facing genetic isolation north of the border, and the Bald eagle, the US's national bird.

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When we can't even properly regulate fairly simple things like the chemicals coming from this plant in Sarnia, Ontario, what chance have we got with truly 'wicked' problems like genes engineered to spread through populations? Photo: Jon Lin Photography vi

Gene drives: the scientific case for a complete and perpetual ban

Jonathan Latham
| 13th February 2017
At what point are technologies so complex, uncertain, or unmanageable as to be beyond regulation? The question is key to human and ecological health, writes Jonatham Latham. But instead of learning from successful approaches, such as aviation safety, we are throwing the lessons away when faced with truly complex problems - like chemicals, GMOs, and now 'gene drives'.

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Bt GMO crops are designed to combat pests like the Helicoverpa armigera moth, which causes A$25 million of damage a year in Australia alone to crops such as cotton, legumes and vegetables. But there is a cost: damage to beneficial soil fungi. Photo: CSIRO

Vital soil fungi damaged by GMO Bt cotton

Dr Eva Sirinathsinghji
| 24th November 2016
A study of GMO cotton varieties shows they disrupt an important beneficial soil fungus, writes Eva Sirinathsinghji, apparently due to the Bt insecticide they are engineered to express. Disruption caused by the transgenic cotton to mycorrhizal fungi, and the wider soil ecosystem, may underlie the low yields and poor pest resistance now endemic among Bt GM crops.

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New scientific insights on ecologically unequal trade

Nick Meynen
| 23rd November 2016
Conventional economic analyses of trade tend only to discern the flows of money, writes NICK MEYNEN. But by also considering biophysical metrics - such as material and energy flows, and embodied water and land - ecological economists can identify the asymmetric flows of resources obscured by the apparent reciprocity of market prices.

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'Love Planet' by emily792872 via Flickr (CC BY).

Gaia lives! Overcoming our fear of a living planet

Charles Eisenstein
| 21st October 2016
To embrace the Earth as truly alive is a step too far even for many committed environmentalists, writes Charles Eisenstein: worried that others may perceive us as unscientific, childish, woolly-headed and ridiculous. But it's a step we must take: in refusing to recognise the living Gaia that is both our creator and our home, we accept and perpetuate the philosophy of her destroyers.

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