The Environment

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.

More flooding triggers emergency evacuations in North Dakota

By Naomi Spencer, 24 June 2011

Thousands of residents were ordered to evacuate Minot, North Dakota, ahead of unprecedented flooding.

Wildfires rage in Arizona

By Toby Reese, 15 June 2011

The fire, the largest in Arizona’s history, has so far burned over 733 square miles in the state and in neighboring New Mexico.

Capitalism and the climate change crisis

By Patrick O’Connor, 11 June 2011

Record levels of greenhouse gas emission constitute a damning indictment of the capitalist system.

US gas industry refuses to release crucial data on hydrofracking

By Patrick Zimmerman, 7 June 2011

The gas industry is citing the lack of baseline data to discredit a report by researchers at Duke University criticizing the use of hydraulic fracturing.

Record carbon dioxide emissions highlight climate change risks

By Dan Brennan, 6 June 2011

Global carbon dioxide emissions reached new and dangerous heights last year, according to a new assessment by the International Energy Agency (IEA).

Massachusetts tornadoes kill at least three, injure dozens

By Kate Randall, 3 June 2011

At least three people were killed when tornadoes touched down in central and western Massachusetts on Wednesday.

Death toll rises in Joplin as more tornadoes hit US Midwest

By Naomi Spencer, 26 May 2011

124 are now confirmed dead from the tornado in Joplin, Missouri. More tornadoes swept across through the region Tuesday and Wednesday, taking at least 15 more lives.

As more storms move in, death toll rises in Joplin, Missouri

By Naomi Spencer, 25 May 2011

Another major storm system churned into Oklahoma and the US Midwest Tuesday, bearing more tornadoes. The death toll from Sunday’s tornado in Joplin, Missouri has grown to 124.

Alabamans speak on aftermath of April tornadoes

By Naomi Spencer, 25 May 2011

One month after tornadoes ripped across the US South, devastated communities are struggling to rebuild without meaningful federal assistance.

The social conditions behind the deadly US tornado outbreak

By Naomi Spencer, 24 May 2011

Joplin is only the latest in a series of communities devastated by tornadoes this year, highlighting the deadly impact of social inequality and underdeveloped infrastructure.

Tornado kills at least 116 in Joplin, Missouri

By Naomi Spencer, 24 May 2011

The huge tornado that razed much of Joplin, Missouri Sunday evening killed at least 116 and injured hundreds more, making it the deadliest single tornado in the US since at least 1953.

Scientists see increasing floods with changing climate

By Dan Brennan, 23 May 2011

Climate change is responsible for increasingly extreme weather events.

Social inequality and the Yangtze River drought

By Joseph Santolan, 18 May 2011

A substantial portion of China’s wheat and rice harvests has been destroyed, a fact that could have a serious impact on volatile and soaring global food prices.

Victims of Mississippi flood must be made whole

By Jerry White, 16 May 2011

While bowing to the interests of Big Oil, the Obama administration is providing essentially no compensation to those losing their homes and livelihoods in the Mississippi flood.

Mississippi River flood spills into central Louisiana

By Naomi Spencer, 16 May 2011

In a bid to protect Louisiana’s urban centers from catastrophic flooding, federal officials have deliberately inundated thousands of mostly poor bayou residents.

Mississippi floods highlight decay of US infrastructure

By Clement Daly and Naomi Spencer, 14 May 2011

The historic flooding along the Mississippi River casts a spotlight on the crumbling and patchwork state of America’s levees, roads and bridges.

Mississippi towns submerged in floodwaters

By Naomi Spencer, 13 May 2011

Impoverished river towns in Mississippi and Louisiana are faced with catastrophic flooding.

Mississippi River flood looms over Memphis

By Naomi Spencer, 10 May 2011

Towns situated in the Mississippi River watershed are being inundated by the worst flooding in nearly a century.

Eyewitness reflections on the storms in Alabama

By Daniel Sharp, 2 May 2011

The devastation wrought by the April 27 tornadoes could have been substantially mitigated by decent housing and shelters, and a rational emergency plan.

Tornadoes kill at least 290 in US South

By Naomi Spencer, 29 April 2011

Over 290 people were killed after dozens of huge tornadoes tore through the American Deep South Wednesday. Hundreds more were injured and many victims remain trapped.

Germany: No end in sight for Envio toxic pollution scandal

By Catherine Wied, 2 April 2011

The scandal surrounding the recent environmental disaster in Dortmund, Germany, is mounting as further incriminating evidence comes to light.

Industry, politicians push “hydrofracking” despite environmental threat

By Philip Guelpa, 25 March 2011

The US energy industry is marshaling its financial and political muscle to overwhelm all opposition to the environmentally dangerous technique known as hydraulic fracturing, or “hydrofracking.”

Australian media promotes right-wing “people’s revolt” against Labor government’s carbon tax

By Patrick O’Connor, 5 March 2011

The increasingly frenzied campaign being waged by the opposition Liberal-National parties against the Labor government’s proposed carbon tax is being used by sections of the media to engineer a further shift to the right in official Australian politics.

Australian Labor government stakes pro-business credentials on new carbon tax

By Patrick O’Connor, 28 February 2011

Prime Minister Julia Gillard has announced she will introduce a carbon tax before July 2012, staking her political credibility on pushing it through the hung parliament.

Chicago shut down by blizzard

By Shane Feratu, 7 February 2011

Chicago and much of the Midwestern US was crippled by a severe snow storm last week.

Evidence of intensifying climate change grows

By Dan Brennan, 26 January 2011

Global surface temperatures for 2010 matched record highs, with the past decade the hottest ever recorded.

Dioxin contaminates food in Germany

By Sybille Fuchs, 14 January 2011

In the latest of a series of food scandals, animal feed contaminated with high levels of cancer-causing dioxin have been uncovered in Germany.

Blizzard cripples northeastern US

By Naomi Spencer, 29 December 2010

A major blizzard struck the northeastern US over the weekend, cutting power to tens of thousands and stranding holiday travelers.

WikiLeaks reveals the dirty diplomacy of climate change

By Dan Brennan, 15 December 2010

Released secret diplomatic cables cast new light on the shadowy character of international climate change negotiations.

Climate talks promise little, deliver less

By Dan Brennan, 3 December 2010

Up to the Cancun climate conference, key participants made clear that any binding agreement was off the negotiating table.

Impact of Hungary’s toxic mud disaster

By Markus Salzmann, 1 December 2010

Nearly two months after Hungary’s worst environmental disaster, no one in the world of politics or business is prepared to take responsibility for the devastating consequences.

Struggling California condor population suggests persistence of DDT

By Frances Gaertner and Kristina Betinis, 23 November 2010

Recent reports of a struggling California condor population indicate the persistence of DDT contamination, threatening animal life and human health.

Hundreds sue Massey Energy over water pollution

By Hiram Lee, 22 November 2010

Hundreds of West Virginia residents are suing coal giant Massey Energy for polluting local water supplies with toxic coal slurry.

The Nagoya biodiversity summit, a cynical fraud in global politics

By Chris Talbot, 11 November 2010

The Nagoya summit on biodiversity failed to take any significant action on a critical environmental issue.

Toxic sludge catastrophe in Hungary

By Stefan Steinberg, 8 October 2010

The devastation following the release of a tidal wave of toxic sludge in Hungary is part of the high price the population is paying for the implementation of the free market economy.

Hearings expose health hazards in natural gas extraction

By Philip Guelpa, 28 September 2010

Recent US Environmental Protection Agency hearings have yielded substantial information about the dangers to human health and the environment posed by the natural gas extraction process known as hydraulic fracturing, or hydrofracking.

Five years since Hurricane Katrina

Part 3: The gutting of social infrastructure

By Naomi Spencer, 31 August 2010

Five years after the destruction of New Orleans, Louisiana, critical infrastructure remains crippled and many working poor residents are in want of basic social services.

Contamination scandal in the German city of Dortmund

By Katharina Wied, 28 August 2010

In a major environmental scandal, workers at a factory In the German city of Dortmund were continually exposed to extremely high doses of poisonous chemicals.

800,000 gallons of oil spilled into Michigan river

By Josué Olmos, 29 July 2010

On Sunday, July 25, a leak at an oil pipeline pump near Marshall, Michigan sent over 800,000 gallons of crude oil spilling into the Kalamazoo River. The health and environmental effects of the spill have already begun to take their toll.

The social crisis in Appalachia

Part 3: Environmental disaster and private profit

By Naomi Spencer and Rosa Lexington, 27 July 2010

Reckless surface mining operations in close proximity to communities has exposed residents of the coalfields to water contamination, flash flooding, and other dangers.

Evidence emerges of Australian oil spill coverup

By Mike Head, 18 June 2010

Submissions and testimony to the official inquiry into last year’s Montara oil and gas spill have revealed that the company and the government sought to hide the scale and causes of the disaster.

White House clears way for more offshore drilling

By Tom Eley, 9 June 2010

The Obama administration on Monday said that it would quickly issue new safety guidelines in order to expedite exploration for oil in shallow waters—even with the BP oil eruption still gushing millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.

Climate scientists exonerated in hacked emails inquiry

By Chris Talbot, 26 April 2010

An independent inquiry into the conduct of scientists at the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) of the University of East Anglia in Britain has found “absolutely no evidence of any impropriety whatsoever.”

US: White House seeks to block new environmental regulations on coal ash

By Hiram Lee, 12 January 2010

The Obama administration has joined with the energy companies in seeking to block new regulations that would designate coal ash as toxic waste.

Great powers sacrifice climate on the altar of profit

By Dietmar Henning, 21 December 2009

Despite the urgency of finding a solution to global warming, the representatives of 193 states at the world climate conference in Copenhagen last week were utterly incapable of agreeing on any effective steps to reduce global levels of greenhouse gases.

Copenhagen climate summit ends in bitter disagreements

By Patrick Martin, 19 December 2009

The UN-sponsored global climate summit in Copenhagen staggered toward a finish Friday night, with representatives of the major world powers hoping to salvage a brief statement of principles, without a single binding commitment, before bringing the two-week conference to an end.

25 years after world’s worst industrial disaster, Bhopal victims languish in neglect

By Kranti Kumara, 19 December 2009

Twenty-five years after the worst industrial accident in history, hundreds of thousands of long-suffering victims in Bhopal continue to be treated with neglect and even contempt by every faction of the Indian establishment.

World climate conference: Conflict outside and inside Copenhagen meeting

By Patrick Martin, 17 December 2009

Danish police battled demonstrators outside the world climate conference in Copenhagen, while inside the delegates of the imperialist powers, China, India and dozens of less developed countries clashed over conflicting proposals to deal with pollution caused by industrialization, deforestation and the burning of fossil fuels.

Mass arrests in Copenhagen

By Stefan Steinberg, 15 December 2009

The brutal measures employed by the Danish police in Copenhagen on Saturday must serve as a warning to the working class and youth in Europe and internationally.

Danish police arrest nearly 1,000 protesters at climate conference

By Stefan Steinberg, 14 December 2009

Large numbers of Danish riot police intervened brutally to arrest nearly 1,000 activists during a protest march held Saturday in Copenhagen.

At Copenhagen climate talks

US takes hard line against poor nations, China

By Patrick Martin, 11 December 2009

Tensions between the major imperialist powers and poor countries erupted Thursday at the UN climate talks, after the leaking of draft documents that would effectively ratify the privileged position of the United States and Europe in the world economy.

Hacked climate emails used to attack scientists

By Chris Talbot, 9 December 2009

The theft and publication of emails containing communications between top scientists in England has been used to boost the campaign to deny the existence of global warming.

WSWS public meetings in Sydney and Melbourne

The Economics and Politics of the ETS: Socialism and Climate Change

3 December 2009

The Labor government’s failed attempt to ram through a carbon emissions trading scheme (ETS) has brought to the surface deep-going conflicts within the Australian ruling elite. The SEP meetings will clarify what the proposed ETS actually is and what it means for the working class. It will demonstrate that all market-based schemes only exacerbate the environmental crisis created by the profit system itself.

Australia: Bipartisan carbon trading deal transfers $6 billion from households to corporate polluters

By Patrick O’Connor, 26 November 2009

The final terms of the government’s so-called Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme—set to be approved by parliament this week and to commence operations in 2011—underscore that the mechanism has nothing to do with protecting the environment, but is driven by the interests of corporate Australia.

Obama blocks climate change agreement

By Stefan Steinberg, 18 November 2009

Last Sunday, Obama gave his consent to a plan worked out at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Singapore which effectively blocks any decision on concrete steps to combat global warming at the upcoming Copenhagen Climate Conference.

UN climate change meeting

No agreement between major powers on carbon emissions

By Tom Eley, 23 September 2009

Tuesday’s global warming summit failed to ease differences among the major powers in advance of a December treaty conference in Copenhagen.

Australian government downplays huge oil slick

By Frank Gaglioti, 7 September 2009

A major oil and gas rupture from the West Atlas mobile offshore drilling rig off the northwestern coast of Australia is threatening to become a major environmental disaster. The leakage is unlikely to be plugged for weeks.

US: Government study finds widespread mercury contamination

By Dan Brennan, 3 September 2009

Mercury is polluting streams across the country with alarming frequency, according to a study published last month by US Geological Survey.

US military and intelligence agencies identify climate change as “national security” threat

By Patrick O'Connor, 11 August 2009

US military and intelligence agencies are studying the strategic implications of global warming, including preparations for military interventions, the New York Times reported Sunday.

US House passes Obama administration’s carbon trading legislation

By Patrick O'Connor, 29 June 2009

On Friday, the US House of Representatives narrowly approved Democratic-sponsored legislation for a national “cap and trade” carbon emissions scheme.

Scientists issue dire warning on rising sea levels

By Dan Brennan, 2 April 2009

Scientists meeting in Copenhagen last month issued dire warnings about the rapid rate of climate change and the growing threat of rising sea levels.

Australian state government in damage control over major oil spill

By Richard Phillips, 18 March 2009

A huge oil spill off the coastline of south-east Queensland is the latest example of government indifference and the inadequacy of critical emergency services and infrastructure to cope with disasters.

Worst coal ash spill in US history ruins huge area in Tennessee

By Mike Bryan, 10 January 2009

On December 22, a massive sludge impoundment in eastern Tennessee gave way, releasing over a billion gallons of toxic coal byproduct into the surrounding area.

Australian Greens pledge fiscal responsibility: we are “sensible and mainstream”

By Laura Tiernan, 14 November 2008

With support for the Australian Greens on the rise, the party’s leaders have been quick to demonstrate their support for Labor and the corporate elite.

Australia: Climate change, the Garnaut report, and the profit system

By Patrick O’Connor, 17 September 2008

The Labor government’s Garnaut Climate Change Review has effectively concluded that within the existing international political and social framework, dangerous and potentially irreversible global warming is inevitable.

Stockholm conference told 1 billion people without access to safe water

By Barry Mason, 10 September 2008

World Water Week, attended by around 2,500 scientists, government and civil society representatives from 140 countries, took place in Stockholm last month. It was held under the auspices of the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI).