The Environment

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.

Oil spills in Minnesota and Arkansas

By Matthew MacEgan, 6 April 2013

Two spills occur while the Obama administration considers the approval of the Keystone XL pipeline that would carry crude oil from Canada to Gulf Coast refineries.

Blizzard claims at least 14 lives in US Northeast and Canada

By Kate Randall, 11 February 2013

Hundreds of thousands remain without power after a massive snowstorm dumped three feet of snow in some parts of New England, paralyzing travel.

Ten killed in Solomon Islands tsunami

By Oliver Campbell, 8 February 2013

The tsunami’s impact is an indictment of the callous indifference of the Australian and New Zealand governments toward the plight of working people in the South Pacific.

Floods kill 21 in Indonesian capital

By John Roberts, 26 January 2013

As in previous major floods, government aid has failed to reach many of the worst affected people.

Recent climate change research points to a growing global crisis

By Bryan Dyne, 12 January 2013

Recent climate models show that only a complete reversal of current carbon emission trends, with the target of zero carbon emissions globally, will halt the current global warming trends.

2012 was hottest year recorded in US

By Bryan Dyne, 10 January 2013

The average temperature for the past year was 1 degree Fahrenheit above the previous recorded warmest year.

Shell Oil Arctic drilling rig runs aground

By Bryan Dyne, 4 January 2013

One of Shell Oil’s two Arctic drilling rigs—carrying approximately 140,000 gallons of diesel and 12,000 gallons of lubrication oil and hydraulic fluid—beached Monday night.

Doha climate summit concludes without agreement on emission reductions

By Patrick O’Connor, 11 December 2012

The failure of the conference was anticipated by everyone involved and met with widespread indifference on the part of the international media.

Doha conference highlights national divisions over climate change

By Bryan Dyne, 3 December 2012

The Doha 2012 climate conference, which began November 26 and will run through December 7, has been characterized by national divisions and no serious proposals to address climate change.

The growing impact and dangers of global warming

By Bryan Dyne, 27 November 2012

The impact of climate change on all aspects of life has been more concretely analyzed in reports issued over the past decade.

Extensive coal ash contamination found in US water supply

By Nick Barrickman, 22 October 2012

Federal testing found nearly 200 sites near power plants with toxic, and some fatal, levels of coal ash.

Melting ice in the Arctic unleashes race for profits

By Ernst Wolff, 24 September 2012

Arctic sea ice reached its lowest recorded levels on September 16, leading to speculation by international oil conglomerates about a massive expansion of drilling in the region.

Hurricane Isaac … and the seven years since Hurricane Katrina

By David Walsh, 31 August 2012

Whatever the ultimate damage caused by Hurricane Isaac, it has underscored once again the social crisis in America and the failure of its political system.

US downgrades crop outlook

By Naomi Spencer, 15 August 2012

Grain prices surged to new records after the US Department of Agriculture downgraded its harvest projections.

Record temperatures and forest fires in Russia

By Clara Weiss, 15 August 2012

Record temperatures and fires in Russia have led to the country’s worst harvest since 2010, triggering a food crisis.

Spiking grain prices raise specter of global food crisis

By Naomi Spencer, 10 August 2012

Global food prices rose 6.2 percent in July, the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization reported Thursday.

US drought feeds wildfires, crop failures

By Naomi Spencer, 9 August 2012

Drought conditions affected two-thirds of the continental US this week, intensifying in the western plains where temperatures exceeded 110°F.

Historic US drought deepens

By Naomi Spencer, 4 August 2012

More than a fifth of the contiguous United States is under “extreme” or “exceptional” drought, threatening widening crop failures.

Melting of Greenland ice shelf likely caused by global warming

By Bryan Dyne, 2 August 2012

The sudden melting of the Greenland ice shelf is an indicator that global warming is beginning to have a very widespread impact on human life.

Grain markets soar on worldwide crop downgrades

By Naomi Spencer, 1 August 2012

Downgraded harvest outlooks in the US, Russia and Australia sent grain markets soaring upward still further Monday.

Devastating US drought heralds global food inflation

By Naomi Spencer, 28 July 2012

Severe drought spread rapidly across the central US this week, further damaging staple crops and heightening the risk of a global food crisis.

Grain prices spike as US crops fail

By Naomi Spencer, 21 July 2012

As the US drought deepens, corn and soybean prices are soaring past 2008 records, raising the specter of a global food crisis.

Worst US drought since 1950s threatens to drive up global food prices

By Naomi Spencer, 18 July 2012

The deepest drought in more than half a century threatens US staple crops, which has fueled a speculative rally on the global grain markets.

The Labor-Greens carbon tax hoax

By Patrick O’Connor and SEP candidate for Melbourne, 6 July 2012

What has been billed as a major environmental and social reform is in fact a regressive pro-business measure that does nothing to address the climate change crisis.

US death toll rises from heat wave and power outages

By James Brewer, 4 July 2012

Hot temperatures continue in the eastern United States as over a million are without electricity.

Storms, record heat kill 14 across eastern US

By Naomi Spencer, 2 July 2012

Strong storms left 14 dead and millions without power in the midst of triple-digit temperatures.

Colorado battered by devastating wildfires

By Phyllis Scherrer, 29 June 2012

Under conditions of heat, dry air, and high winds, devastating fires have swept across the US state of Colorado, causing major evacuations and the destruction of homes and entire neighborhoods.

Rio+20 climate conference: “An epic failure”

By Nicholas Russo, 28 June 2012

The United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, which drew to a close in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, last Friday, has been denounced by environmental advocates as a “hoax” and “an epic failure.” Despite already low expectations before the meeting, the summit testifies to the stagnation in global efforts to address the looming climate crisis.

In lead-up to climate summit, scientists issue warning of biosphere collapse

By Nicholas Russo, 12 June 2012

An international group of scientists published a review article in the latest issue of Nature arguing that the human impact on the Earth's biosphere could lead to an ecological disaster in as little as a few generations.

One year since the tornado disaster in Joplin, Missouri

By Patrick Martin, 23 May 2012

As the survivors marked the anniversary, they were offered platitudes and religious bromides by Obama and other speakers.

Hydraulic fracturing and the case for socialist planning

Statement by Phyllis Scherrer, SEP candidate for US vice president

By Phyllis Scherrer and SEP candidate for US vice president, 18 May 2012

The Socialist Equality Party opposes the uncontrolled application of hydraulic fracturing by private corporations whose sole aim is the maximization of profits at any cost.

Water contamination in Maywood, California

By Marc Wells, 14 May 2012

Maywood, California in Los Angeles County is one of many US cities suffering from a lack of access to one of the most basic requirements of modern society: clean drinking water.

North Sea gas leak threatens environmental disaster

By Robert Stevens, 29 March 2012

The gas leak at the Total oil conglomerate Elgin platform in the North Sea threatens an environmental disaster.

39 dead in US tornado outbreak

By Naomi Spencer, 5 March 2012

A spate of tornadoes Friday across the Midwest and South, the second outbreak in three days, left at least 39 dead, hundreds injured, and entire towns demolished.

Photo story: West Liberty, Kentucky virtually destroyed by storm

By Hiram Lee and Ryan Rahilly, 5 March 2012

The wave of tornadoes that struck the Midwestern and Southern US on Friday left many communities in eastern Kentucky destroyed. World Socialist Web Site reporters spoke with residents of West Liberty about their experiences.

Illinois nuclear reactor expels radioactive steam

By Marcus Day, 6 February 2012

A nuclear reactor in Byron, Illinois, about 95 miles northwest of Chicago, released radioactive steam into the environment after an unexpected shutdown Monday morning.

Obama backs hydrofracking in State of the Union speech

By Philip Guelpa, 2 February 2012

In an attempt to curry favor with the energy industry in advance of the presidential election, President Obama used his State of the Union address to declare his backing for hydrofracking.

Death toll in Philippines flooding over a thousand

By Oliver Campbell, 23 December 2011

It appears that the collapse of dams contributed to the severity of the floods, along with deforestation, silting of the rivers and lack of government planning.

Bitter rivalries dominate Durban climate summit

By Patrick O’Connor, 1 December 2011

Durban is set to join the list of UN summits that fail to take significant action to resolve the climate change crisis—Bali, Poznan, Cancún and, most prominently, Copenhagen.

Wisconsin power plant spills coal ash into Lake Michigan

By Janel Flechsig, 8 November 2011

A dam at the We Energies Oak Creek Power Plant in Wisconsin collapsed, sending an estimated 2,500 cubic yards of coal ash into Lake Michigan last week.

Hundreds of thousands without power in wake of Northeast US storm

By Kate Randall, 5 November 2011

Nearly a week after an unusually early snowstorm hit the Northeast US, hundreds of thousands of electric customers remained without power as of Friday.

Early snowstorm wreaks havoc with northeast US

By Peter Daniels, 1 November 2011

An early snowstorm highlights the crisis of infrastructure in the US

Wildfires devastate Texas following historic drought

By Charles Abelard and Tom Carter, 14 September 2011

Funding cuts implemented earlier this year left firefighters unable to effectively combat the blazes, which have already left thousands of rural and small-town homes across the state in ruins.

Flooding causes havoc in eastern US

By Tom Eley, 9 September 2011

Heavy rains caused by Tropical Storm Lee on Thursday forced the evacuation of tens of thousands of residents from Pennsylvania and New York.

Power outages, flooding continue in wake of Hurricane Irene

By Kate Randall, 2 September 2011

The death toll from Hurricane Irene climbed to 46 on Thursday as residents in Vermont and New Jersey battled serious flooding, and significant power outages continued throughout the Northeast US.

Hurricane Irene death toll at 42 as flooding continues

By Kate Randall, 31 August 2011

The death toll from Hurricane Irene rose to 42 yesterday as inland areas of the Northeast US were still experiencing severe flooding.

Hurricane Irene leaves millions without power on US East Coast

By Kate Randall, 29 August 2011

Hurricane Irene hit the East Coast of the US this weekend, leaving more than 4 million people and businesses without power and killing at least 18.

Global economic crisis intrudes into Australian carbon tax “debate”

By Patrick O’Connor, 19 July 2011

A sharp shift is now underway, with the Labor government and Coalition opposition under pressure to outline savage austerity measures to prepare for the sharp domestic impact of an international slump.

39 dead from US heat wave

By Dwight Stoll, 14 July 2011

Weeks of unrelenting heat have left at least 39 people dead and 150 million suffering triple-digit temperatures across the US.

ExxonMobil oil spill befouls Yellowstone River

By Naomi Spencer, 7 July 2011

An estimated 42,000 gallons of crude oil have poured into the Yellowstone River just south of Billings, Montana since a pipeline owned by ExxonMobil broke open July 1.