By Henry Webb
Higher Education institutions have the power to decide whether the fossil fuel industry lives or dies. The dominant players in the energy sector may seem unstoppable. After all, as long as the oil keeps flowing, they’ll find someone to buy it. Their lobbyists will make sure of that. But these behemoths require resources beyond those of just the raw coal, oil, and gas that we are so dependent on – they need capital. Without investment banks to finance everything from pipelines to offshore rigs, the costly infrastructure needed for fossil fuel extraction just wouldn’t exist.
by Lotty Clare
Back in August much of the Asia Pacific region, and the world, was captivated by the death of a baby dugong called Mariam. Washed up on the beach in southwestern Thailand, the ill and orphaned dugong gained the attention of the public, complete with live webcasts, only for her to die a few months later due to plastic poisoning.
In a stark contrast to the depictions of idyllic white-sanded Thai beaches, this story seems to have captured the hearts of many and has added momentum to the growing anti-plastic movement in Thailand and the Asia Pacific region.
Plastic pollution is a huge problem, and humanity’s plastic production is expected to grow over the coming decades. Plastic is now in the deepest parts of the ocean, in our food, in our bodies, even our water and air. 8 million tonnes of the stuff is estimated to end up in the ocean every single year, an amount set to double by 2030. By 2025, there will be one tonne of plastic for every tonne of fish in our oceans.
by Gunnar Eigener
Amid simmering tensions between India and Pakistan, in parallel with the Trump White House determined to sell nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia and Russia’s illegal missile, which effectively ended the INF Treaty, climate change might not be the nail in the coffin; human society might just jump straight into the furnace.
By Sam Alston
The USA political scene is consumed by a battle between President Trump and Democrats who are desperate to recapture Congress. However, in the mountain state of Colorado a referendum – bitterly opposed by locally entrenched oil and gas firms – proposes restricting the exploitation of the state’s massive oil reserves. The campaign and its outcome stand as a test in seeing whether such restrictions could be a viable solution to keeping fossil fuels in the ground.
By Gunnar Eigener
Recent events have focused media attention on changes to the environment of Antarctica, brought about by both natural and anthropogenic effects. Yet the Arctic should remain higher on the list of priorities, for challenges it faces are not merely regional, but global.
The Arctic Council, which consists of the eight countries with territory within the Arctic Circle, produced a report ‘Snow, Water, Ice, Permafrost in the Arctic’ (SWIPA), which stated the area of sea ice has decreased by over 50% over the past 30 years. The report goes on to estimate that the Arctic will be ice free by 2040 (although some other reports suggest 2037). Regardless of the exact year, the thickness of Arctic sea ice is falling dramatically. In the central Arctic ocean, the ice has declined by up to 65% between 1975 and 2012. It was in 2012 that the lowest area of was recorded, at 4.1 million square kilometres. The previous record was set in 2007 with 4.17 million square kilometres.Continue Reading
By Gunnar Eigener
The calving of a 5,800 square-kilometre section of the Larsen C ice shelf has been recorded. Although it is only half the size of the largest ever recorded iceberg (B15 broke off from Antarctica’s Ross Ice Shelf in 2000, measuring 11,007 square-kilometres), it nonetheless represents yet another loss of ice – not just in Antarctica, but globally.Continue Reading
by Joe Burns
27 km north of Blakeney Point in Norfolk there’s a wind farm called Race Bank. The project has been in development for over a decade and has just started producing electricity. After the first of 91 turbines were installed, the farm began to successfully generate electricity and will be able to support the electricity needs for almost half a million homes once all 91 turbines are finished and operating.
This is great news. Why exactly? Well the project will result in over 830,000 tonnes of annual CO2 savings and will operate for 25 years. Plus it’s good to see another addition to the UK’s already successful and world leading wind farms, and there are plans for more. It’s also encouraging to see major international energy companies fight for the biggest wind turbines possible, as when they are far out at sea, campaign groups can’t really complain about their views being ruined.Continue Reading
by Tara Debra G
In January I wrote an assessment of Obama’s environmental record during his eight-year presidency. In my piece I discussed the Clean Power Plan (CPP), the fragile cornerstone of the U.S.’s commitment to the Paris Climate Agreement, and how this one central piece of environmental legislation during the Obama era could prove to be a house built upon sand. On Tuesday President Trump proved his willingness to blow down that house and signed the Energy Independence Executive Order.
by Gunnar Eigener
The Republican Party’s war on the environment has begun in earnest.
The US Army Corps of Engineers have approved the final easement to complete the Dakota Pipe Line (DAPL). The Keystone XL Pipeline has also been approved. Republican senators have introduced a bill to disband the Environmental Protection Agency. The Stream Protection Rule has been repealed using the Congressional Review Act. The Securities & Exchange Commissions (SEC) transparency rule has been repealed. The Interior Department methane rule is currently going through the repeal process. Trump has promised to disband the Clean Power Act and the EPA website has removed all pages relating to climate change. Trump’s America First Energy Plan neglected to mention solar energy jobs and, although the initial plan to sell of 3.3 million acres of national land has been withdrawn, proposals have been put forward to transfer federal land to state control. In the UK, the government is pushing forward with the intention to sell the Green Investment Bank and renewable energy ventures look set to slashed even more. A report by the Energy and Climate Committee has predicted that the UK will fail to meet its renewable energy targets. The closing of the Department of Energy and Climate Change led to its operations being transferred to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, casting doubt of the ability to prioritise the environment over business. Continue Reading
by Tara Debra G
By the time you are reading this, Trump will be president of the United States. Soon Scott Pruitt will be head of the EPA (or behead the EPA). As I’m writing this, Obama is singing his swan song and making his final goodbyes as President. The gulf of time between me writing and you reading is small but salient. It is the time to reflect upon what it is Obama leaves in his wake. Contradiction has characterized so many aspects of Obama’s presidency, but what of his environmental record? Well – it’s complicated.
By Natasha Senior
It’s high time we talked about our future. Forget about border control or the free market, they offer no insight. If we want this tumultuous, divisive year to mean something, we need to think bigger, bolder and shape our decisions around our vision. Let’s talk about an end to the draconian sweatshop conditions, imposed by the likes of Sports Direct, who have exploited free movement of labour to keep profits high and wages low. Immigration control is a quick fix and a distraction. They will always find a way to exploit and profit. What if instead we did away with these common low-skilled low-wage jobs, altogether. What if we put our faith in British industry again, but instead of labourers going down into the stuffy pits, lining their lungs with coal dust, they were breathing the cool, crisp air on the surface on a wind farm. I am talking about creating a thriving, prosperous renewable energy industry.Continue Reading
by Teiowí:sonte Thomas Deer
Kahnawà:ke Mohawk Territory
When I was in Grade 2, I recall my teacher telling us a legend in class that I would hear many times later in my life. It was about this boy who lived long ago in a Kanien’kehá:ka village. While exploring around the river’s edge, he noticed two shiny things in the water. When he picked them up he discovered they were serpents – one gold and one silver. The serpents were barely alive and the boy returned home with them and nursed them back to health.
In time these serpents became healthy again and began to grow larger and larger. And as they grew, so did their appetites. The boy could no longer feed them enough so they began to consume the village’s food. The people of the village attempted to cast out the beasts, but by this point they had become too large to control and the serpents began to attack and consume the people of the village. Soon, the two serpents began to attack and plunder other villages. The people fled and made their way to the mountains. Pursuing the people, the two serpents smashed into mountains, poisoned the rivers, and ravished the earth.Continue Reading
By Faizal Nor Izham
While Islamophobia continues to run rampant on the streets of Europe, one critical aspect that tends to be overlooked by the mainstream media when it comes to the Western world’s relationship with the Middle East is the steady stream of armed aid the former provides to pro-Western regimes in the latter. Understanding the main source of grievances in the Arab world may offer us a clue as to why there is so much tension stemming from the Middle East today. For example, it’s no secret that the British government has for a long time been highly complicit in its arms dealings with Sunni Saudi Arabia, often used by the oil-rich kingdom to exterminate Shi’ite Houthi rebels in Yemen. And even more recently, leaked emails from Hillary Clinton also indicate that she is fully supportive of fanning the flames in Syria even further through the export of arms to extremist groups such as ISIS.
by Emmanuel Agu
Perhaps not in its inception, though undeniably, the climate change crisis is one of race. The protest today launched by the UK chapter of the Black Lives Matter (BLMUK) stands as a call to arms in opposition of worrying statistics of the UK’s Influence on both global climate change and the local effects — highlighting the disproportionate nature of these adverse affects on communities of colour in the west and world wide. Continue Reading
by Gunnar Eigener
‘Democracy is government of the people, by the people and for the people.’
– Abraham Lincoln
Democracy has long been the banner to which Western leaders rally their troops to fight under. The Brexit referendum is a prime example of extreme democracy, progress for some at the expense of others. The desired outcome for the Leave campaign is for the UK to become a self-governing democracy. Just how much more democratic will the country become?
by Olivia Hanks
The news that Royal Bank of Scotland has cut its investment in fossil fuels by 70% is only the latest in a string of decisions by high-profile investors to pull back from oil and coal. Norway’s sovereign wealth fund has divested from companies that derive more than 30% of their sales from coal; and, last month, the Rockefeller Family Fund announced that it would no longer invest in fossil fuels.
The fact that both Norway and the Rockefeller family derive their wealth from oil has not been lost on commentators. Whether or not you consider it hypocritical to invest ‘dirty’ wealth in ‘clean’ projects (if so, what should be done with it instead?), the low price of oil and coal has offered a perfect PR opportunity with no financial sacrifice.Continue Reading
by Gunnar Eigener
The realisation that renewable energy is going to be essential for the future is being embraced by more and more countries. With their geothermal and hydropower, Iceland’s electricity supply is 100% renewable energy. Thanks to it’s water projects, the African country of Lesotho has almost 100% renewable electricity. Albania runs on 85% renewable while Paraguay’s Itaipu dam provides 90% of its electricity and 19% of Brazils. By July 2015 Denmark had already produced 116% of its electricity needs and went on to sell its excess over the rest of the year. Infrastructure is being prepared to transform the way countries generate their power and investment is increasing. Renewable energy is becoming more and more accepted. San Jose in Costa Rica and Vancouver in Canada are just a few of the many cities committed to transitioning to 100% renewable energy over the coming decades.
Yet with so much promise for the future, how is it that oil continues to present such a complex issue?Continue Reading
by Sam Alston
You can probably be excused for failing to notice that commodity prices on the whole have been falling. The price of gold (19.5% fall over the year), wheat (20% fall), and oil (over 30% fall) on global markets have all dropped recently. This has left mainstream finance reporters rather excited. As with house prices rises, commodity price falls are apparently a fundamentally good thing. However it’s worth considering what this commodity price movement actually means.
Lower commodity prices means lower production costs for net importers of commodities (much of the western world), thus supposedly lower prices. The continual rise in the price of things like energy and bread that we have seen in the past few years should abate. Since it has been made clear over the last few years that society no longer guarantees the right to commodities needed to live (like food), a reduction in these prices would potentially be the best step to stop people starving.
Those of a more revolutionary bent, may be slightly disappointed. A high cost of living has helped to bring down dictatorial governments in places like Tunisia, helped prompt the occupy movement, and just last week promoted an uprising in Burkina Faso that saw the parliament burnt to the ground.Continue Reading