WATER

Sand mining: the most under-reported environmental crisis of all

Sand mining: the most under-reported environmental crisis of all

In 2012, the amount of sand the world used would form a wall 27m high and 27m wide around the equator. I’ll just let that statistic sink in, an easier way perhaps to visualize some 40 billion tonnes of sand, twice the annual sediment output […]

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Is climate change making tropical cyclones worse?

Is climate change making tropical cyclones worse?

The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (US NOAA) concludes the following: “It is premature to conclude that human activities… have already had a detectable impact on Atlantic hurricane or global tropical cyclone activity. That said, human activities may have already caused changes that are […]

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‘Mermaid’s tears’: the terrifying scale of microplastic pollution

‘Mermaid’s tears’: the terrifying scale of microplastic pollution

Beach-combers have long-known about the tiny beads of plastic of plastic, the brittle multicoloured fragments, like polystyrene crumbs, that litter the high-tide line amongst the bladderwrack. They call them ‘mermaid’s tears’. Scientists call them microplastics, now universally dispersed across the oceans, and even found in […]

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Hydropolitics: water as a weapon of war

Hydropolitics: water as a weapon of war

Freshwater gives a country geopolitical clout. Snowmelt and mountain streams swell into rivers that give Turkey control over its arid and fractious neighbours; the glaciers of the Tibetan plateau give China hegemony in South Asia; and smaller states, such as Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, can project […]

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Fracking: why it’s fracking fluid that’s the grey area

Fracking: why it’s fracking fluid that’s the grey area

Fracking is a highly contentious term for a highly contentious practice. Environmentalists gained the upper-hand with the verb ‘frack’: harsh, cacophonous, and the euphemism for campaign posters the world over. The industry prefers the term ‘hydraulic fracturing’, with its clean, efficient, and neutral tone. Which […]

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Oil sands, cancer, and government greenwashing

Oil sands, cancer, and government greenwashing

Oil sands are unquestionably bad for the environment. They are one of the most politicized fossil fuels on the planet ever since oil prices rose post-2003 making the deposits profitable to extract. Environmentalists loathe them, blackening their name: Naomi Klein describes them as a “parched, […]

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Why you should care about thawing permafrost

Why you should care about thawing permafrost

24% of all exposed land in the Northern Hemisphere is permafrost. It contains an estimated 1400-1700 billion tonnes of carbon, twice the amount in the atmosphere. And it’s thawing at an unprecedented rate, releasing vast quantities of this carbon into the atmosphere, in one of […]

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Ocean acidification: the forgotten cost of climate change

Ocean acidification: the forgotten cost of climate change

Ocean acidification is the forgotten consequence of climate change. The oceans have reduced the rate at which temperatures rise on land by absorbing carbon dioxide and thermal energy, but this comes at a terrible cost: the cost of ocean acidification. It is a cost which […]

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