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.

To tackle the climate crisis we need more democracy, not less

To tackle the climate crisis we need more democracy, not less As the climate crisis is increasingly felt across the globe, protesters take to the streets and politicians scrabble to respond, a crucial question is beginning to emerge. How can governments develop climate strategies which build public support for action? An announcement by six UK parliamentary committees that they will hold a citizens’ assembly on the climate emergency is a…

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Utopia isn’t just idealistic fantasy – it inspires people to change the world

Utopia isn’t just idealistic fantasy – it inspires people to change the world Singapore City's skyline May_Lana/Shutterstock Climate breakdown, mass extinctions, and extreme inequality threaten the earth’s rich tapestry of life and leave our own fate increasingly uncertain. At a time of such social, political and ecological upheaval, it’s natural to dream of a utopian world in which these problems are no more – in fact, people have been doing…

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Six amazing facts you need to know about ants

Six amazing facts you need to know about ants Katja Schulz, CC BY-ND Have you have seen ants this year? In Britain, they were probably black garden ants, known as Lasius niger – Europe’s most common ant. One of somewhere between 12,000 and 20,000 species, they are the scourge of gardeners – but also fascinating. The small, black, wingless workers run around the pavements, crawl up your plants tending aphids…

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Why people in a flooded British town were told to stop flushing the toilet

Why people in a flooded British town were told to stop flushing the toilet The British town of Wainfleet in Lincolnshire is underwater. After two months rain in two days, the River Steeping burst its banks, and 580 homes were evacuated. Curiously, the advice to the town’s remaining residents is to avoid flushing the toilet or using the washing machine whenever possible – advice that is more usually associated with…

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Birds: we studied 4,000 ‘alien introductions’ to find out why some were successful

Birds: we studied 4,000 ‘alien introductions’ to find out why some were successful Parakeets from South Asia have established themselves in London. Guy RD / shutterstock Species introduced by humans to areas where they don’t naturally occur are a worldwide problem. These “alien species” can cost a lot of money to deal with, and they’re the number one driver associated with recent extinctions worldwide. The rate at which new populations of alien species are establishing is increasing rapidly, and ideally we’d like to stop the process in its tracks. But first we need to answer two key questions: firstly, what features of species make them good at becoming alien? For instance why has the Indian myna bird managed to establish itself across the world while its relative the crested myna…

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Schoolchildren helped redesign a city to cut air pollution and climate warming

Schoolchildren helped redesign a city to cut air pollution and climate warming The blueprints. Sean Peacock, Author provided Air pollution has a particularly damaging effect on children. They’re still growing and breathe faster than adults do. They also live closer to the ground, where the most polluting gases from vehicles accumulate. Pollution from traffic has been linked to problems with brain development, stunted growth, respiratory conditions, cancers and 300,000 child deaths worldwide. Children themselves are far from oblivious to all this. The school climate strikes show that young people are forcing air pollution and the climate crisis to the top of the political agenda. The strikes tell us that children demand a platform to challenge pollution in their environment. Unable to voice their concerns in school, they are forced to…

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In defence of the wolf: this big bad animal is more prey than predator

In defence of the wolf: this big bad animal is more prey than predator Martin Mecnarowski / shutterstock Wolves are returning to their former ranges across Europe and North America, resurrecting a centuries’ old war with humans over land, hunting opportunities, and livestock. While protected in many areas, the wolf is fighting a losing battle, because in the war against them we’ve recruited something much more deadly than guns, traps, or poison, a more powerful and effective tool for wolf extermination than all of these things combined: the human imagination. Even though we’re all aware of what real wolves are like and can picture them very clearly, perhaps even find them majestic and beautiful, lurking within our collective psyche is the nightmarish Big Bad Wolf whom we came to know…

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Universities have alerted us to the scale of the climate crisis – now they must lead in showing society how to solve it

Universities have alerted us to the scale of the climate crisis – now they must lead in showing society how to solve it The greening of university spaces, as demonstrated by the University of Warsaw’s library, can also help universities lower emissions RossHelen/Shutterstock After increasingly stark scientific warnings and unprecedented mass mobilisations of school children and rebellious citizens, the climate crisis is finally starting to be acknowledged in the halls of decision making. The UK has now committed to achieving net zero emissions by 2050, mirroring momentum in France and the rest of the EU for similar targets. But there’s a long way to go yet. Government targets to date still vastly underestimate the urgency of the climate crisis. And in terms of concrete action, the world is way off;…

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What George Bush and the neocons can teach us about fighting climate change

What George Bush and the neocons can teach us about fighting climate change Be under no illusion, the world is losing the fight against climate change. The amount of CO₂ in the atmosphere continues to increase, meaning humanity is forcing the Earth closer to cataclysmic alterations that will reshape the entire biosphere. But the UK could capitalise on the momentum gained through its recent net zero emissions pledge to take the lead and herald a shift towards serious global climate action. How? By copying a strategy followed by – of all people – the George W Bush-era neoconservatives. Hear me out. Those who disagree with my opening statement will of course point to the Paris Agreement: a global alliance that boasts 185 signatories fighting back against climate change. Yet Paris…

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Mexico puts US to shame on climate action, but new president’s pledge on oil industry is worrying

Mexico puts US to shame on climate action, but new president’s pledge on oil industry is worrying Shutterstock As if there was any doubt, the UN’s latest report on climate change makes clear this is one of the most pressing issues of our times. And as we witness Extinction Rebellion stirring the pot of protest in the UK, that movement is connected to the geopolitical experience of other countries in important ways. This is certainly the case where Mexico is concerned, a country that has been rightly held up as a major leader on climate change in the developing world, while putting the US government to shame over its own inaction. The Paris Agreement is a crucial UN-led international arrangement that intensifies global climate decarbonisation and adaptation measures, yet the…

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