technology

Red for Danger! London traffic lights in winter smog, 4th January 2015. Photo: alec boreham via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

As government delays pollution plan, study shows how killer nanoparticles cause heart disease

Oliver Tickell
| 26th April 2017
A new study explains for the first time how nanoparticles like those in diesel exhaust fumes cause heart disease by lodging in inflamed blood vessels, writes Oliver Tickell. The study, published as the UK government is ordered before the High Court to justify its refusal to publish plans to tackle illegal air pollution which afflicts 38 million people, also raises wider fears about 'engineered nanoparticles' in the environment.

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False promise ... Wylfa 2 nuclear power station glowing in the dark on Anglesey, Wales. Photo: Adrian Kingsley-Hughes via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

False promise: nuclear power: past, present and (no) future

David Elliott
| 12th April 2017
Nuclear power was originally sold on a lie, writes Dave Elliott. While we were being told it would make electricity 'too cheap to meter', insiders knew it cost at least 50% more than conventional generation. Since then nuclear costs have only risen, while renewable energy prices are on a steep decline. And now the nuclear behemoths are crumbling ... not a moment too soon.

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Does this look like genetic engineering to you? Crystal Structure of Cas9 in Complex with Guide RNA and Target DNA. By Hiroshi Nishimasu, F. Ann Ran, Patrick D. Hsu, Silvana Konermann, Soraya I. Shehata, Naoshi Dohmae, Ryuichiro Ishitani, Feng Zhang, and

'New Breeding Techniques' and synthetic biology - genetic engineering by another name

Helena Paul
Elisabeth Bücking
Ricarda A. Steinbrecher
| 4th April 2017
Advocates claim that synthetic biology and the so-called New Breeding Techniques (NBTs) are distinct from genetic engineering (GE), write Helena Paul, Elisabeth Bücking & Ricarda Steinbrecher. In fact synthetic biology and NBTs carry similar risks to old-style GE, and even create novel hazards. The 'new GE' techniques - as they should be named - and their products deserve regulation at least as strict as those applying to GMOs.

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The way of the future? Photo: smart meters array by Green Energy Futures - David Dodge via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA).

Smart meters the way to a new age of clean energy

Claire Maugham
| 3rd April 2017
Dynamic power pricing that responds to supply and demand could transform the way we manage our electricity systems, writes Claire Maugham, opening the door to the mass integration of renewables like wind and solar. But smart meters are essential to making that happen.

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High levels of 'electrosmog' detected in downtown Manhatta, New York City, Photo: Martinez Zea via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA).

Cellphones, wifi and cancer: Will Trump's budget cuts zap vital ‘electrosmog' research?

Paul Mobbs
| 27th March 2017
Just as long term research into the health impacts of the 'electrosmog' created by wifi and mobile phones is yielding its first results, it's at risk of sudden termination from President Trump's budget cuts, writes Paul Mobbs. But the cuts have little to do with saving money - and a lot to do with protecting corporate profit and economic growth from harsh truths, including evidence that electrosmog causes cancer in laboratory rats, and maybe humans too.

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Fukushima: the third IAEA mission to review Japan's plans and work to decommission the damaged Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, February 2015, Tokyo, Japan. Photo: IAEA Imagebank via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

Terminal decline? Fukushima anniversary marks nuclear industry's deepening crisis

Jim Green
Nuclear Monitor
| 10th March 2017
With the sixth anniversary of the Fukushima disaster falling tomorrow, nuclear lobbyists are arguing over solutions to the existential crisis facing nuclear power, writes Jim Green. Some favour a multinational consolidation of large conventional reactor designs, while others back technological innovation and 'small modular reactors'. But in truth, both approaches are doomed to failure.

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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
UCL
| 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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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

GMWatch
| 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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Artwork: Shea Huening via Flickr (CC BY-ND). See also full version with this article.

Appropriate civilization versus 'new despotism': one month into the Trump Presidency

Jeremy Leggett
| 22nd February 2017
Believers in the possibility of a better civilization, one rooted in increasing co-operation and harmony, find ourselves in a world where demagogues are empowered to bring about the polar opposite, writes Jeremy Leggett. A new despotism rooted in isolationist nationalism and conflict is gaining strength. The battle is not lost: but first we must understand the dangers.

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The Sellafield nuclear complex in Cumbria, next to which the 3-reactor Moorside nuclear project is planned. Photo: Bellona Foundation via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA).

Keep UK taxpayers off the hook for Moorside nuclear black hole!

Doug Parr
Greenpeace Energydesk
| 14th February 2017
The main company due to build UK's 'flagship' nuclear power project at Moorside in Cumbria is on the ropes, writes Doug Parr, thanks to its multi-billion dollar nuclear losses on in the US. The obvious solution, (almost) all our politicians insist, is to ignore cheaper, faster, cleaner renewables, and make the taxpayer pick up the cost of yet another nuclear white elephant.

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Flyer for the Lucas Plan conference in Birmingham on 26th November 2016.

The Lucas Plan: how Greens and trade unionists can unite in common cause

David King
Breaking the Frame
| 2nd November 2016
Forty years ago workers at Lucas Aerospace created a detailed plan to transition out of the arms industry and into green, sustainable products and technologies, writes David King. it never happened, yet the Lucas Plan provides a blueprint for similar initiatives today to build a deep-rooted, broad-based movement for social, economic and ecological progress.

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Abandoned, and going nowhere: Japan's the Monju 'fast' nuclear reactor. Photo: Nuclear Fuel and Power Reactor Development Corporation (PNC) / IAEA Imagebank via Flickr (CC BY-SA).

Japan abandons Monju fast reactor: the slow death of a nuclear dream

Dr Jim Green
| 6th October 2016
'Fast breeder' reactors are promoted by nuclear enthusiasts as the clean, green energy technology of the future, writes Jim Green. But all the evidence tells us they are a catastrophic failure: complex, expensive, unreliable and accident-prone. Is Japan's decision to abandon its Monju reactor the latest nail in the coffin of a dead technology? Or the final stake through its rotten heart?

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The water may be dirty - but the heat is still valuable! Photo: susan via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

Let's reclaim the free energy in our sewers - we have the technology!

Jan Hofman
Laura Piccinini
| 9th September 2016
First we heat up cold water for baths, showers and washing, write Jan Hofman & Laura Piccinini. Then we chuck all that precious heat down the plughole. So how about recycling our waste heat to warm up water on its way to the boiler or hot water tank, cutting bills and emissions? Or on a larger scale, use the sewage from entire communities as a free energy source for heat pumps?

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The derelict B30 pond at Sellafield, used for the storage of intensely radioactive waste, in 2006. Photo: unknown / Public Domain.

Sellafield exposed: the nonsense of nuclear fuel reprocessing

Ian Fairlie
| 6th September 2016
Last night's BBC Panorama programme did a good job at lifting the lid on Britain's ongoing nuclear disaster that is Sellafield, writes Ian Fairlie. But it failed to expose the full scandal of the UK's 'reprocessing' of spent fuel into 140 tonnes of plutonium, enough to build 20,000 nuclear bombs - while leaving £100s of billions of maintenance and cleanup costs to future generations.

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A new 3MW Siemens offshore wind turbine undergoing installation. Image: artist's impression by Siemens.

Global climate is spinning out of control - but now, we have the technology!

Paul Rogers
| 16th August 2016
As global temperatures reach new monthly highs and the Middle East is hit by record heatwaves, we might be forgiven for sliding into hopelessness, writes PAUL ROGERS. But a host of innovations in energy technology means that a carbon-free energy future is not just possible, but affordable. The first of the three paradigm shifts required to transform the climate change outlook is in place.

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Hinkley C - it now looks as if the UK may not be saddled with this monstrous white elephant after all. Image: EDF.

Hinkley Point, Greg Clark and the fate of Britain's energy future

JONATHON PORRITT
| 9th August 2016
The government's surprise delay in signing the contract with EDF to build the Hinkley C nuclear power station has opened up a the space for a forward-looking UK energy policy, writes Jonathon Porritt - one that moves us into the world of low cost renewables, and smart new technologies vital to the global clean energy transition. But is Business & Energy Greg Clark for real? Don't rule it out!

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There gold in them thar coffee grounds ... Photo: Dominick via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA).

Thanks Hugh - now let's stop throwing away the coffee grounds!

Rhodri Jenkins
University of Bath
| 2nd August 2016
Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall has a done a great job exposing the scandal of Britain's billions of non-recyclable coffee cups, writes Rhodri Jenkins. But what about the coffee itself? The grounds can be used for everything from compost and biodiesel to boutique chemicals and supercapacitors - yet the vast majority of the world's 9m tonnes a year of waste coffee ends up in landfill.

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The first steam generator being delivered to the Flamanville EPR, 15th March 2014. With the discovery of steel defects in the reactor vessel, it is now possible that the entire project will be abandoned. Photo: Greenpeace Cherbourg via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA

Dump Hinkley! And invest in the UK's real energy future

Chris Goodall
| 28th July 2016
French energy giant EDF will today give the formal go-ahead for the Hinkley C nuclear power station in Somerset, writes Chris Goodall. But that's no reason for the UK to sign up to a disastrous deal that will cost us over £1 billion per year for 35 years - money that should be used to support the green technologies of the future.

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North Korean nuclear reactor construction under way on 24th April 2008. Photo: Wapster / Google Maps via Flickr (CC BY).

What Theresa May forgot: North Korea used British technology to build its nuclear bombs

David Lowry
| 26th July 2016
When Theresa May proclaims in Parliament that we need the £200 billion Trident nuclear missile system to see off the North Korean nuclear threat, writes David Lowry, just bear this in mind. It is a threat that the UK, global nuclear proliferator in chief, created in the first place, providing both the reactor technology and vital centrifuge materials to make North Korea's nuclear dream come true.

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It may be possible to transform this landscape into a green energy park, or back to wilderness - but it's not going to happen soon enough without a corresponding political transformation! Tar sands refinery at Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada. Photo: kris k

Green transformation is a political project, not an economic one

Lili Fuhr
Thomas Fatheuer
Barbara Unmüßig
| 19th July 2016
The idea that our profit-oriented, growth-driven economic system can deliver a sustainable society is a beguiling one, write Lili Fuhr, Thomas Fatheuer & Barbara Unmüßig. But it is doomed to failure. The changes we need are in the first place political, and will be driven by a new democratic will to put people and planet before money.

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