Our Strength Lies in Our Humanity

Environment & Energy

The overwhelming consensus amongst scientists is that climate change and global warming is caused by humans; that it’s having a damaging affect on weather patters, accelerating extinction of wildlife, negatively impacting on agriculture, water supply, sea level, air quality. If we don’t radically change our diets, our fuel supply, the way capitalism recklessly plunders the world’s dwindling resources, we will enter a period of global food shortages, mass migration and conflict.

Amazon fires explained: what are they, why are they so damaging, and how can we stop them?

Amazon fires explained: what are they, why are they so damaging, and how can we stop them? Adam Ronan, Author provided Imagine a rainforest at dawn – the tall canopy laden with dripping ferns and orchids, tree trunks covered in spongy mosses and lichens, and the morning mist only slowly burning away as the sun rises. While there is fuel everywhere, it seems unimaginable that such humid ecosystems could ever…

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It’s not just Brazil’s Amazon rainforest that’s ablaze – Bolivian fires are threatening people and wildlife

It’s not just Brazil’s Amazon rainforest that’s ablaze – Bolivian fires are threatening people and wildlife Firefighters and volunteers have been working around the clock to tackle the flames. Ipa Ibañez, Author provided Up to 800,000 hectares of the unique Chiquitano forest were burned to the ground in Bolivia between August 18 and August 23. That’s more forest than is usually destroyed across the country in two years. Experts say…

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How we discovered UK shale gas reserves are at least 80% smaller than thought

How we discovered UK shale gas reserves are at least 80% smaller than thought Maximov Denis / shutterstock Over the past decade, the UK has tentatively begun to exploit its reserves of shale gas through a process best known as “fracking”. But according to our new research, UK shale gas reserves are substantially lower than previously thought – in fact, the amount of shale gas available may be just one…

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OTT HydroMet launches all-in-one groundwater level logger for basic water measurement

OTT HydroMet launches all-in-one groundwater level logger for basic water measurement Responding to growing needs for continuous time series data with reasonably priced equipment, leading global hydrometric provider OTT HydroMet has released the NEW OTT ecoLog 1000. The modern groundwater and surface logger measures both water level and temperature as well as valuable metadata. The OTT HydroMet team has leveraged decades of global expertise to innovate this next-generation ecoLog instrument,…

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Book claims dominance of right handedness due to sex on the wrong brain, now causing global warming

Book claims dominance of right handedness due to sex on the wrong brain, now causing global warming Scientists have long wondered why ninety percent of humans are right handed. The book “Sex On the Wrong Brain” links right-handed dominance to a mental disorder that may have provided a survival advantage in difficult times but now threatens Earth with greed, authoritarianism, and global warming. Anthropologists have determined that our ancestors became increasingly right-handed and eventually settled into a predictable nine to one majority over left-handers. In “Sex On the Wrong Brain”, author Ard Falten claims the advantage right-handed humans had was that they are more likely to divert impatient satisfaction-demanding reproductive impulses to brain functions that need patience and objectivity. Sex on the wrong brain, or sowb, is presented as a…

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Travel the world without destroying it – Imagine newsletter #5

Travel the world without destroying it – Imagine newsletter #5 Sergey Tinyakov/Shutterstock Look with your eyes, not your hands. You were probably told that at some point growing up, as your eagerness to see and experience something new was checked by a wary adult. Humans now handle the Earth in a similarly precarious manner. Our desire to explore the world is increasingly plagued by an awareness that international travel harms the very places we spend so much to visit. There are more commercial flights taking off today than at any other time in history. Many of them will take tourists to see the world’s most striking natural beauty. Snorkelling on the Great Barrier Reef, trekking in the Amazon, boat tours in the Arctic – cheap air travel has opened more…

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The global community is finally acting on climate change, but we need to switch to renewable energy faster

The global community is finally acting on climate change, but we need to switch to renewable energy faster Shutterstock Energy is the lifeblood of all societies. But the production of energy from the burning of fossil fuels produces carbon emissions that are released into the atmosphere on a grand scale. The energy sector accounts for more than 70% of these emissions, which are driving climate change worldwide. Reducing carbon emissions from the energy sector has a direct and positive impact on climate protection. So there needs to be a transition from the current energy system that relies heavily on fossil fuels to a system that uses renewable energy sources that do not emit carbon, such as wind and solar. We also need to look at things like the electrification of…

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Geologists get called ‘dirty polluters’, but we’re needed to fight climate change

Geologists get called ‘dirty polluters’, but we’re needed to fight climate change Evgeny Haritonov / shutterstock When people hear we are geologists, we are often asked if we have found any oil lately. Sadly – and wrongly – the most common view of geology as a profession is that its primary role is in the discovery and extraction of fossil fuels. But if we are to radically reduce emissions and move towards a low carbon economy, we’ll need geologists. Technologies such as wind turbines, solar panels or electric cars all require a wide range of natural materials that themselves are finite and often buried deep underground. By focusing on these materials, and the challenges of setting up all this new infrastructure, the discipline of geology can transition from being part…

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Increasing wildfires threaten to turn Northern Hemisphere’s boreal forests from vital carbon stores into climate heaters

Increasing wildfires threaten to turn Northern Hemisphere’s boreal forests from vital carbon stores into climate heaters A forest in Canada burns during the country's 2014 wildfires. Stefan Doerr, Author provided In 2014, we travelled to the northern boreal forests of Canada to set experimental fires that would help us understand the effect of wildfires on the global carbon cycle. Sadly, we never got the chance to set those fires, because the firefighters enlisted to help us were busy dealing with an area the size of Belgium that was already burning. That wildfire season was the most severe on record in the region, which itself forms part of the wider boreal ecosystem that engulfs much of the Northern Hemisphere’s subarctic lands with coniferous forests shaped by fire. Thanks in part to…

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Iceland is mourning a dead glacier – how grieving over ecological destruction can help us face the climate crisis

Iceland is mourning a dead glacier – how grieving over ecological destruction can help us face the climate crisis Death certificates and commemorative plaques aren’t something you’d normally associate with a glacier. But that is exactly how Iceland recently mourned the loss of 700-year-old Okjökull, the first of its major glaciers to die. This is just one early example of events we will encounter more and more often as the hot new world we are creating slowly destroys ecosystems and livelihoods. But acknowledging the growing emotional trauma and grief felt at present and future environmental tragedies may yet be the kick we need to limit their reach. Grief radically differs in its logic from ordinary sadness over a loss. If sadness is the response to the removal of an object…

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