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 Gulwell
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 Gulwell
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