The Environment

Deadly haze from forest fires engulfs South East Asia

By John Roberts, 19 October 2015

The levels of air pollution this year will equal or exceed those of 1997, the worst fire season on record.

BP, US government finalize $20 billion settlement over 2010 oil spill

By Tom Hall, 9 October 2015

The oil giant will pay a fraction of the maximum possible fine for the worst environmental catastrophe in American history, while not a single top executive will spend a day in jail.

Australia, New Zealand reject stronger climate measures at Pacific Islands Forum

By John Braddock, 15 September 2015

Many of the small Pacific Island states are low-lying and particularly vulnerable to the rising sea levels produced by higher global temperatures.

UK government to override local consultation in drive for fracking

By Trevor Johnson, 4 September 2015

A decision to allow exploration and drilling for gas in the North Yorkshire Moors shows how conditions have been transformed to favour fracking corporations.

Wildfires in US Pacific Northwest continue to burn

By James Blackwell, 3 September 2015

The impact of drought and forestry budget cuts have contributed to a violent fire season along the Pacific Coast.

Three million gallons of hazardous mine waste released into Colorado river

By Kevin Martinez, 12 August 2015

The Environmental Protection Agency says that the spill occurred when employees were investigating contamination at the Gold King Mine above Silverton.

Wildfires spread in Northern California

By Kevin Martinez, 7 August 2015

Over 13,000 people have been ordered to evacuate as about two dozen fires consume more than 142,000 acres.

Obama administration finalizes climate rules

By Daniel de Vries, 6 August 2015

The Clean Power Plan is a signal to Wall Street and the energy giants that their profits bound up with natural gas are safe.

UK government rips up restrictions on fracking

By Trevor Johnson, 5 August 2015

The British government is sending a strong signal to the fracking industry that its interests will prevail over all others.

The historical background of California’s water crisis

By Marc Wells and Evan Blake, 14 July 2015

The damage from California’s drought stems from almost two centuries of an irrational water rights regime.

EPA study whitewashes the effects of fracking

By Philip Guelpa, 13 July 2015

The US EPA reports finding that the incidence of drinking water contamination due to hydraulic fracturing is low, but evidence of the danger of fracking continues to mount.

Oil giant BP reaches sweetheart settlement over 2010 Gulf disaster

By David Brown, 3 July 2015

The agreement is the culmination of the Obama administration’s efforts to shield BP from responsibility for the worst environmental disaster in US history.

Atmospheric temperatures rise to record levels as glaciers disintegrate

By Matthew MacEgan, 3 July 2015

Two new reports show that global warming and climate change are becoming larger threats than ever before.

Supreme Court invalidates federal air pollution rules for power plants

By John Burton, 30 June 2015

The Supreme Court struck down Environmental Protection Agency regulations that would have sharply reduced airborne toxins from oil- and coal-fueled power plants.

Flash flooding forces thousands to flee in Texas, Oklahoma

By Thomas Gaist, 26 May 2015

Record-breaking rainfall in typically dry areas of Texas, Oklahoma and other states has flooded entire residential areas, leading to at least fifteen deaths.

Pipeline in Santa Barbara oil spill lacked key safety feature

By Kevin Martinez, 26 May 2015

The pipeline had no automatic shutoff valve, a routine safety feature that could have greatly minimized the disaster.

Growing danger of landslides in Sri Lanka

By Vijith Samarasinghe, 22 May 2015

The refusal of successive Sri Lankan governments to initiate basic safety measures has led to growing numbers of landslide disasters.

Pro-capitalist “anti-capitalism”

A review of This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate, by Naomi Klein

By Evan Winters, 4 May 2015

Klein calls for a coalition of various organizations to pressure national governments to implement protectionist policies and environmental and social reforms.

Fracking linked to earthquakes and increased levels of radon in homes

By Philip Guelpa, 4 May 2015

Despite industry denials, the process known as fracking, used to extract oil and natural gas, is responsible for serious health and environmental problems.

Air Force base jet fuel spill threatens Albuquerque water supply

By Stuart Winter and Charles Abelard, 10 April 2015

Air Force officials say the fuel has been leaking from an underground pipe for at least 40 years dating back to the 1970s.

White House announces pro-corporate fracking rules

By Philip Guelpa, 27 March 2015

The Obama administration’s newly announced rules on hydraulic fracturing on federal lands will allow oil companies to continue endangering human health and the environment.

The California drought: Water-rationing plan leaves corporate interests untouched

By Evan Blake, 26 March 2015

Last week, the state passed emergency legislation targeting residential “water wasters,” while giving free rein to the agricultural giants to continue their overuse of groundwater.

Planetary boundaries—a systems approach to the environmental crisis

By Bryan Dyne, 3 February 2015

Environmental degradation by a range of metrics, of which climate change is only one, has the potential for large-scale disruptions of both biological and social life.

Obama administration moves to open US coastlines to offshore drilling

By Nick Barrickman, 31 January 2015

In a major giveaway to US energy corporations, the Department of the Interior announced that it would open a large section of the Atlantic coast to oil and gas drilling for the first time.

Diesel spill in West Virginia leaves 12,000 without water

By Clement Daly, 29 January 2015

Chemical spills and leaks are endemic throughout the US, threatening the health and safety of the population and the quality of the environment.

Fourteen cold-related deaths in Chicago region since November

By Jeff Lusanne, 17 January 2015

Extreme cold in the Chicago region has amplified the precarious situation of the homeless and impoverished population in the region.

Freezing temperatures lead to dozens of deaths in the US

By Muhammad Khan, 9 January 2015

Cold weather across the United States this week has revealed the dire social conditions facing millions of Americans.

California drought has depleted water sources by 11 trillion gallons

By Evan Blake, 19 December 2014

Recent storms have only partially quenched the state’s worst drought in recorded history.

Political wrangling continues over Keystone pipeline

By Philip Guelpa, 26 November 2014

The long-delayed Keystone XL oil pipeline was defeated by one vote in the US Senate last week but will be taken up again early in 2015.

After historic blizzard, death toll rises and floods threaten Buffalo, New York

By Michelle Ryan, 24 November 2014

As residents continue to dig out, warming temperatures accompanied by heavy rains could lead to widespread flooding.

Massive snowstorm cripples Buffalo, kills ten

By Michelle Ryan, 21 November 2014

A massive lake-effect snowstorm has left ten people dead, thousands without power, and many stranded in the Buffalo, New York region.

Climate report warns of “severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts”

By Daniel de Vries, 7 November 2014

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released its latest in a series of studies warning that time to act on climate is running out.

The California drought: A tale of two cities

By Evan Blake and Gabriel Black, 27 October 2014

The California drought has left thousands of people without access to drinking water while the super-rich are trucking in water to maintain their private lakes and gardens.

“Risky Business” study highlights the inability of capitalism to address the consequences of climate change

By Philip Guelpa, 20 October 2014

A recently published study documents the severe consequences of climate change in the United States through the end of the century, while demonstrating the inability of capitalism to offer any effective solutions.

More than 3,000 flee King fire in California

By Evan Blake, 23 September 2014

The state’s worst drought in 500 years has created the conditions for more frequent wildfires.

Climate change marches draw large crowds

By Daniel de Vries, 22 September 2014

Hundreds of thousands of demonstrators took to the streets in New York City to demand action on climate change.

WMO report: Greenhouse gas levels accelerating at record pace

By Daniel de Vries, 17 September 2014

Concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere grew last year at the highest rate since 1984.

Sand mining in Wisconsin and Minnesota threatens access to safe water and clean air

By Gary Joad, 15 September 2014

The last decade has seen a rapid rise in sand mining in the US in line with the dramatic surge of hydro-fracturing.

Ground water is depleting in the Colorado River Basin

By Stuart Winter, 28 August 2014

A recent NASA satellite survey contains “shock” findings on water loss.

Obama administration denies FEMA assistance to Washington State fire victims

By Angelo Bosworth and Hector Cordon, 27 August 2014

A request to provide financial assistance for hundreds of individuals impacted by wild fires was rejected by FEMA.

Toxic wastewater from copper mine spills into river in northern Mexico

By Matthew Brennan, 20 August 2014

The disaster has cut off water supplies for over 20,000 people in Sonora.

Tankers, barge collide on Mississippi River, spilling oil

By E.P. Bannon, 19 August 2014

The spill is the third this year along the Gulf Coast.

Storm brings widespread flooding to southeast Michigan

By Muhammad Khan, 14 August 2014

Record rainfall in southeast Michigan overwhelmed the area’s aging infrastructure, flooding freeways, roads and thousands of homes.

California drought hits state economy, pushes US food prices higher

By Evan Blake, 15 July 2014

The third year of California’s record-breaking drought has devastated the agriculturally rich Central Valley.

Energy Department report calls New Mexico radiation leak “preventable”

By Stuart Winter and Lencho Moro, 25 June 2014

The report concluded that key equipment was poorly maintained and that workers were intimidated to prevent them from raising safety issues.

Supreme Court limits federal regulation of greenhouse gases

By John Burton, 24 June 2014

The US Supreme Court has curtailed the ability of the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate carbon dioxide emissions and other greenhouse gases associated with climate change.

The Value of Water Coalition: Corporate greed masquerading as activism

By John Marion, 9 June 2014

Large corporations are seeking to make a profit from the privatization of public utilities in the United States and the replacement of decaying water infrastructure.

Six months after Typhoon Haiyan

Woman and six children killed in fire in tent city in Philippines

By Dante Pastrana, 2 June 2014

The tragedy of the Ocenar family is emblematic of the social devastation that has been inflicted on millions of Filipinos in the wake of the typhoon.

High temperatures and drought cause multiple wildfires in Southern California

By Kevin Martinez, 16 May 2014

Drought conditions have created a year-round fire season in Southern California.

US climate report points to human activity as primary cause of climate change

By Bryan Dyne, 13 May 2014

The report provides a comprehensive look at the shifts in the global climate over the past half-century.

Tornadoes cut a path of destruction across Southeast US

By Nick Barrickman, 29 April 2014

A powerful storm system tore through the Southeast US on Sunday, producing tornadoes that killed an estimated 18 people.

Minnesota renewable energy law overturned by North Dakota coal company lawsuit

By Gabriel Black, 24 April 2014

Minnesota’s Next Generation Energy Act, which barred the state from taking on new coal energy sources, was overturned by a federal judge on Friday.

Oppose the fracking operation at Barton Moss

By SEP candidate Robert Skelton, 24 April 2014

The following statement has been issued by Robert Skelton, candidate of the Socialist Equality Party for the North West England constituency in the upcoming European elections.

Officials rejected plan to relocate homeowners years before Washington state mudslide

By Christine Schofelt, 8 April 2014

In the past week, revelations have emerged about the use of decades-old maps in the issuing of logging permits above the towns of Oso and Darrington, the area buried by the fatal March 22 mudslide.

UN climate change report spells out growing dangers

By Fred Mazelis, 7 April 2014

The 2,500-page report issued by the Intergovernment Panel on Climate Change reveals the depth of the crisis and the inability of world capitalism to cope with it.

At least 18 dead in Washington mudslide, dozens still missing

By Christine Schofelt, 31 March 2014

Once again, a natural disaster has been made far worse by a lack of planning and infrastructure.

Duke Energy illegally pumps millions of gallons of contaminated water into North Carolina river

By Matthew MacEgan, 22 March 2014

The nation’s largest electricity company has been cited for the eighth time in less than a month for illegally pumping contaminated water into the Cape Fear River in North Carolina.

California enters third year of severe drought

By Gabriel Black, 24 February 2014

California is in the midst of the worst drought on record. Millions will be devastated by the state’s lack of planning and modern infrastructure.

New Zealand: Three years after the Christchurch earthquake

By Tom Peters, 22 February 2014

Three years on, less than 10 percent of the rebuild has been completed and the city remains in a deep social crisis.

The hazardous race for petroleum profits in North Dakota

By Gary Joad, 20 February 2014

The explosive growth of hydrofracturing for oil and gas exposes workers and the public to dangers.

FEMA cuts aid to West Virginians affected by chemical spill

By Nick Barrickman, 19 February 2014

The Obama administration has done everything in its power to shelter negligent energy corporations as they move to defend their profits in the wake of disasters caused by their own policies.

More than 100,000 gallons released in West Virginia coal slurry spill

By Clement Daly, 14 February 2014

More than 100,000 gallons of coal slurry—a toxic liquid mixture of cleaning chemicals and coal refuse—contaminated about six miles of a stream in Kanawha County.

Worker killed in Pennsylvania gas well explosion

By Samuel Davidson, 13 February 2014

One worker was killed and another sent to the hospital in an explosion at a natural gas well in Pennsylvania.

Coal ash spill in North Carolina threatens population

By Nick Barrickman, 8 February 2014

A major leak has been discovered at an inactive coal ash disposal site near the Dan River.

West Virginia water crisis continues as second chemical is identified

By Clement Daly, 23 January 2014

Freedom Industries—the company responsible for the January 9 chemical spill just outside Charleston, West Virginia—has told state regulators that the leak also contained polyglycol ethers, or PPH.

Problems remain as water is restored in West Virginia

By Clement Daly, 21 January 2014

Residents and parents of children in schools scheduled to reopen are worried about the safety of drinking water, two weeks after a chemical spill that entered the water supply.

Company responsible for West Virginia chemical spill declares bankruptcy

By Clement Daly, 20 January 2014

On Friday, Freedom Industries—the company responsible for the chemical leak which poisoned the water of 300,000 West Virginians—filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

West Virginia residents speak out on chemical disaster

By Clement Daly and Samuel Davidson, 18 January 2014

While water service is slowly being restored in nine West Virginia counties following last Thursday’s chemical spill, hardships remain for 300,000 people who have been affected.

Scores of homes destroyed in Western Australian bushfires

By Joe Lopez, 18 January 2014

Following major bushfires in the Perth Hills, the state government attempted to blame residents for not maintaining “private” power poles.

Wildfire forces evacuations in Southern California

By Gabriel Black, 18 January 2014

A Southern California has spread rapidly, forcing 3,700 residents to evacuate and scorching 1,700 acres of land.

300,000 in West Virginia remain without safe water for fourth day

By Clement Daly, 13 January 2014

Nearly 17 percent of West Virginia’s population have no safe water.

Death toll rises from North American “polar vortex”

By Matthew MacEgan, 8 January 2014

Hundreds of thousands of people have lost major utilities, and reports of deaths are trickling in to news outlets across both the United States and Canada.

Bitter cold across much of US

By John Marion, 6 January 2014

The winter storm and record-breaking sub-zero temperatures have been blamed for at least 16 deaths.

Hundreds of thousands face Christmas holidays without electricity in US and Canada

By James Brewer, 27 December 2013

Utility monopolies like DTE Energy and Consumers Power in Michigan continue to shut off service to hundreds of thousands of homes for late or non-payment of bills.

Climate conference ends with UN admission of failure

By Bryan Dyne, 25 November 2013

The UNFCCC executive secretary admitted during the last press conference of COP19 that the current measures will not stop global temperatures from exceeding 2° C by 2100.

Deadly storm system hits multiple US states

By Kristina Betinis and George Marlowe, 19 November 2013

A powerful storm system passed through 12 US states on Sunday, causing tornadoes that leveled hundreds of homes and killed at least eight.

At least 10,000 dead in Philippine typhoon

By Joseph Santolan, 11 November 2013

Over one million people have been evacuated, and hundreds of thousands have lost their homes.

Australia: Further turmoil threatened over carbon tax repeal

By Patrick O’Connor, 4 November 2013

Underlying the manoeuvres of all the parties are the calculations of rival layers of the business elite that have nothing to do with addressing climate change.

The Australian bushfires and the climate change “debate”

By Patrick O’Connor, 25 October 2013

The Greens’ grandstanding over the bushfires is based on the cynical lie that the carbon tax advances a step toward a solution to the climate change crisis.

Second stage in civil trial over BP oil spill opens

By Nick Barrickman, 3 October 2013

Energy giant BP faces plaintiffs in a trial to determine the company’s culpability for damages from the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

BP asks appeals court to throw out oil spill settlement

By Tom Hall, 3 September 2013

BP has requested that the courts throw out the entirety of the spill settlement if a separate appeal against “fraudulent claims” is unsuccessful.

Canada spearheads exploitation and militarization of the Arctic

By Laurent Lafrance, 30 August 2013

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced new investments in the Arctic when he conducted his eighth annual tour of the Far North last week.

Forest fire rages in Northern California near Yosemite National Park

By Kevin Martinez, 27 August 2013

The fire is one of the largest in recent California history and has destroyed nearly 150,000 acres

2001-2010 had the warmest temperatures globally

By Justin Knowels, 24 August 2013

A World Meteorological Organization report shows that the past decade was the warmest ever recorded, leading to more extreme weather events worldwide than ever before.

BP reneges on claims as environmental devastation persists in Gulf of Mexico

By Tom Hall, 14 August 2013

With the company’s profits declining, British Petroleum is attempting to avoid compensating people affected by the 2010 Gulf oil spill.

Scientific study confirms groundwater contamination by hydraulic fracturing

By Philip Guelpa, 9 July 2013

A newly published study refutes energy industry claims that hydraulic fracturing for natural gas does not cause ground water contamination with toxic chemicals.

Obama offers environmental fig leaf in climate policy

By Bryan Dyne, 6 July 2013

Obama’s “Climate Action Plan” released last week is a token gesture towards the environmental movement, not a serious effort to address global warming.

Arizona wildfire exposes authorities’ lack of preparation

By Nick Barrickman, 4 July 2013

In the wake of the tragic deaths of 19 firefighters Sunday in Arizona, the wildfire, nicknamed Yarnell Hill, remains uncontrolled.

Nineteen firefighters die battling Arizona wildfire

By Nick Barrickman, 2 July 2013

All but one member of the crew, known as the Granite Mountain Hotshots, died battling a blaze about 80 miles north of Phoenix.

Australia: Research links mining to high lead levels in Mount Isa

By Mark Church, 28 June 2013

A new study demonstrates that mining activity is directly responsible for the health risks to residents, especially children.

Scientist speaks to WSWS about lead cover-up in Mount Isa

By Mark Church, 28 June 2013

Professor Mark Taylor explained the implications of his team’s proof that the source of lead contamination in the town is the mine and smelter.

Air pollution emergency in South East Asia points to systemic failure

By Gustav Kemper, 27 June 2013

Raging forest and plantation fires are causing unprecedented levels of air pollution in southern Malaysia.

US fire marshals battle more wildfires as budgets are cut

By Nick Barrickman, 22 June 2013

With a severe wildfire season predicted in the US, dwindling resources will force ill-equipped firefighters to face deadlier fires at greater risks.

Worst wildfire in Colorado history destroys hundreds of homes, kills two

By Nick Barrickman, 17 June 2013

The Black Forest wildfire has burned 150 square miles of land and as many as 482 homes.

Two dead, over half a million without power from US Mid-Atlantic storms

By Nick Barrickman, 15 June 2013

A severe storm system moved through the Mid-Atlantic states Thursday morning and afternoon, leaving at least two people dead and over 500,000 without power.

Flooding ravages central Europe

By our correspondents, 5 June 2013

Large areas of Germany and other regions in Europe have been hit by the worst floods since the so-called “flood of the century” in 2002.

Tornadoes rip through northern Texas

By Matthew MacEgan, 17 May 2013

On Wednesday, 10 tornadoes tore through the ground of north central Texas leaving at least six people dead and dozens wounded.

Atmospheric carbon dioxide levels reach new heights

By Bryan Dyne, 13 May 2013

Carbon dioxide levels are at the highest in human history, a further indication that human activity is driving global warming.

Wildfires break out in Southern California

By Jake Dean and Dan Conway, 6 May 2013

Severe weather conditions led to a string of massive wildfires late last week in Southern California.

Record flooding ravages midwestern US

By George Marlowe, 26 April 2013

Multiple states are threatened with significant damage to homes and public infrastructure.