By Fred Pearce | Whatever its moral pitfalls, the production of the two atomic bombs dropped on Japan was a triumph of twentieth-century science. In the aftermath of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the steam-powered industrial revolution suddenly seemed quaint. But the arrival of the new atomic age had been very sudden. It was the result of a tidal wave of new science about the structure of atoms, and how unstable these supposed building blocks of matter actually were.
By Fred Pearce | The exclusion zone that has stretched for twenty miles around Chernobyl’s stricken nuclear reactor since the 1986 accident is not quite the inaccessible dead zone often portrayed. Thousands of Ukrainians commute there every day to work on making safe and dismantling the plant and managing the zone itself. Yes, I needed an official permit to pass through the guarded gates on the road north from Kiev and a radiation scan before I could leave. But the scientists I was with had no trouble arranging my entry—and thankfully I was allowed to go home afterward.
By Fred Pearce | America’s iconic nuclear landscape is the Nevada National Security Site, a fenced-off and largely deserted tract of sand, cactus, and Joshua trees that is bigger than Rhode Island. Once, when America was testing its atomic bombs here, it was the site of high jinks and revelry. Everything new and exciting in America was labeled “atomic,” and Nevada was the place to experience the cutting edge of the new age.
The deadline is 2030. By then, if we don’t do everything in our power to curb the causes of global warming, it’ll be too late. The world’s leading climate scientists issued this warning in a report at the latest UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Among the worst-case scenarios forecast in the report are inundated coastlines, intensifying droughts, extreme heat, and poverty. It’s harrowing to think about. Will the panic around the report incite us as a species to take a stand for our survival and climate justice for the future? Can we keep global warming at a maximum of 1.5 degrees Celsius? We reached out to our authors who specialize in environmental issues to find out.
By Fred Pearce: Lanzarote, an island off the west coast of Africa, was a tranquil place in the eighteenth century, ruled by Spanish priests and visited occasionally by ships making the transatlantic crossing. Farming was rudimentary and the living poor. The island had less rain than much of the Sahara desert. Then came a series of massive volcanic eruptions that shook the island almost without a break from 1730 to 1735. A priest described how, at the height of the eruptions, “the earth suddenly opened… a gigantic mountain rose and sank back into its crater on the same day, covering the island with stones and ashes”.
A Q&A with Fred Pearce: Nuclear scandals and disasters have been a recurring theme of my life as an environment journalist for several decades. But they seemed to have fallen off the radar. Old news, but definitely not fake news. Then I was commissioned to visit the heart of Britain’s nuclear industry, both military and civil, at a remote spot on the northwest coast of England called Sellafield. I was profoundly shocked at what I found, from the mile-after-mile of coastal mud that qualifies as radioactive waste to the world’s largest stockpile of plutonium, sitting inside a warehouse and wide open to terrorist attack. I set out to explore the world’s hidden legacy of nuclear fallout and debris, and this book is the result.
The critical role that scientific research plays in our health, safety, understanding of the natural world, and future as a species is under threat. With an administration that is pushing to suppress scientific evidence and keep scientists from communicating their findings, our need for empirical inquiry into how to protect our home and sustain our resources is more important than ever. That’s why the March for Science, an emerging and growing grassroots movement, is launching nationwide tomorrow, April 22. Scientists and science supporters, teachers and parents, global citizens and policymakers will take to the streets, united, to defend and advocate for science as a pillar of human freedom and prosperity.
By Fred PearceThe World Health Organization has estimated that El Niño-related weather across the globe is putting sixty million people at increased risk of malnutrition. On track to being the strongest event since 1997-98, El Niño has caused droughts in countries such as India and South Africa that have staggered farming considerably. How will we manage to feed the world when the effects of climate change continue to encroach on our food sources? In this excerpt from The Land Grabbers: The New Fight over Who Owns the Earth, environmental journalist Fred Pearce argues that small-scale farming, not agribusiness, is the better solution to combat the food crisis.
What’s your News Years resolution? To read more books, of course! But where to start? Why not with our bestsellers? For your perusal, we’ve put together a list of our bestsellers this year. We are so thrilled that some of these titles that have appeared on best-of lists, have won and have been nominated for awards! You can get these titles, as well as all our other titles, for 30% off using code HOLIDAY30 through December 31st. You still have time. Check out our website.
As the applause rang out in Paris, the French foreign minister and climate conference chair, Laurent Fabius, declared the deal he had just gavelled through was a “historical turning point.” From Al Gore in the front row to the back of the hall, everyone seemed to agree. Even normally cautious climate scientists were beaming.
The successful spread of invasive species–even with humans lending a helping hand–is often a sign of nature’s dynamism, not its enfeeblement. A sign that nature is not done, but can bounce back. True environmentalists should be applauding the invasive species.
This Earth Day, we at Beacon Press are featuring titles that showcase individuals and organizations taking a stand for our home and encourage readers to take the stand with them.
Most of us think in stark terms about invasive species: they are evil interlopers spoiling pristine "natural" ecosystems. But what if the traditional view of ecology is wrong—what if true environmentalists should be applauding the invaders? In his latest book, The New Wild: Why Invasive Species Will Be Nature's Salvation, veteran environmental journalist Fred Pearce argues that we should applaud the dynamism of alien species and the novel ecosystems they create. Recently, we talked with him about why he turned his focus to invasive species, what role humans have played in their rise, their benefits, and more.
Just in time for this Sunday's People's Climate March, here are five essential titles that raise awareness about impending climate change.
Today is World Water Day, which is observed every year on March 22. We recommend six titles that focus on the many ways access to water affects our lives, and uncover how the lack of collaboration by individuals, corporations, and government agencies has put us on a perilous path towards international water shortages.
Fred Pearce warns that Keystone XL is "no ordinary pipeline," and that energy derived from tar sands comes with too high a price.
A new book from Fred Pearce looks at a how Wall Street, Chinese billionaires, oil sheikhs, and agribusiness are buying up huge tracts of land in a hungry, crowded world.
Fred Pearce examines the promise and challenges of "climate-smart" agriculture.
Fred Pearce, Amy Seidl, Cynthia Barnett, and Steven Hawley look at today's most pressing environmental concerns.
Take a look at this week's updates in our Link Roundup.