Skip to content

Notable Articles

Bill Laurance

China-funded projects imperil world's rarest ape
4 May 2018

This article, in Current Biology, highlights growing threats—especially a Chinese-backed hydropower project—to the world’s rarest ape, the Tapanuli Orangutan, which occurs only in a tiny speck of forest in Sumatra, Indonesia.  Less than 800 individuals of the ape remain alive.
Sloan et al. 2018-orangutan

Also, this brief piece, describes how this imperiled ape is emblematic of a much larger, aggressive effort by China to drive massive infrastructure projects across Asia, Africa, Europe and the Pacific—arguably the most urgent environmental crisis of our time: https://theconversation.com/china-backed-sumatran-dam-threatens-the-rarest-ape-in-the-world-95874

Wildlife-snaring crisis
19 April 2018

The attached paper describes the appalling scope of the wildlife-snaring crisis in Southeast Asia—a global biodiversity hotspot.
In just five of the region’s protected areas, more than 200,000 snares were found and removed over a five-year period.  And if things are that bad in protected areas, how bad are they outside them?
It’s also clear that snaring is not just killing wildlife, but is also painfully maiming many animals (see photos here).
A paper like this also raises an intriguing question about the big regional difference between Asia and Africa versus Latin America.
To read more: Gray et al. 2018-Asian snaring crisis

Aggressive vines alter fragmented rainforests
April 2 2018
For a number of years, Laurance's research group has been studying how aggressive woody vines (lianas) affect the ecology of fragmented rainforests  — in the Amazon, Asia, and tropical Australia.
This new paper, led by Mason Campbell, reveals an intense ‘war’ between lianas and native trees in fragmented rainforests of tropical Australia.  Lianas become hyper-abundant in fragments and in turn have important impacts on the ecology and dynamics of fragmented rainforests.
Campbell et al. 2018-lianas & fragment dynamics

'Bad' Roads v.s 'Good' Roads
March 19 2018
This paper addresses how new roads can be both ‘good’ and ‘bad’. On the ‘good’ side, they can promote economic and social development.  On the ‘bad’ side, they can promote deforestation and the rapid disappearance of wilderness. The attached paper suggests we can increase the ratio of good to bad by focusing new roads or road improvements roads in urban and nearby peri-urban areas — places that already have lots of people and development.  In these places, new or improved roads cause less habitat destruction and maximize social and economic benefits.
The paper is available online https://tinyurl.com/yd45gnvr or the link to the PDF is here: Economics_2018-11

Why We Need Intact Forests
February 27 2018
The paper, led by James Watson and Tom Evans, is a seminal synthesis of why intact forests are so very crucial for wildlife, ecosystem functioning, human welfare, and planetary health.
Watson et al. 2018-wilderness values

Amazon -  key papers
February 22 2018
Two brief essays: The first describes a cyclone of recent events—both good and bad—for Amazon forest conservation (https://ensia.com/voices/amazon/).
The second, by eminent authorities Tom Lovejoy and Carlos Nobre, argues compellingly that the rainforests of Amazonia could be approaching a catastrophic 'tipping point’, if deforestation continues on its present trajectory.
Lovejoy & Nobre 2018-Amazon tipping point

Changing Our View on Tropical Forests
February 7 2018
Now and then a paper comes out that tips our world-view on its ear.  For those who study the world’s tropical forests, this is one of those papers. These findings will prompt rethinking about how we see the world.  In particular, the idea that African tropical forests contain both a distinctive African element (in Central and West Africa) and a completely different, highly distinctive Indo-Pacific element (in East Africa) is enough to boggle the mind, all by itself.
Slik et al. 2018-phylogenetic classification of tropical forests (2)


Jeremy Leggett 

Jeremy Leggett  is a British social entrepreneur, scientist, historian futurist and author with a vision  for a  renaissance in civilisation triggered by renewable energy and its intrinsic social benefits. He founded the  Solarcentury, an international solar solutions company (1997–present), and is founder and Chair of SolarAid, a charity funded with 5% of Solarcentury’s annual profits that builds solar lighting markets in Africa (2006 – present).  He was winner of the first Hillary Laureate for International Leadership in Climate Change (2009),  has authored  four books on the climate-and-energy nexus.

An eclectic chronology in pictures and charts of developments in climate, energy, tech and the future of civilisation
April 4 2018

Things are moving so fast. Most of us are so busy. This slide show offers one person’s precis-for-the-busy of the first three months of 2018 in the related dramas of climate change, energy transition, big tech and the future of civilisation.

The history and future of the global energy transition available on video
March 1 2018

The video of Jeremy's presentations to the recent conferences on 'Making Solar Bankable' can be seen here. Powerpoint versions of this presentation and 'How can investors help oil majors to commit to Paris' are available on his website, including source urls to maximise the usefulness to people who might wish to use them in some way to get the message/s out.

A good news story at a bad time for charities
February 28 2018

Jeremy shares an example of a good news story involving Brave Mhonie, who has worked for SolarAid in Malawi for 10 years, through good times and bad, working his way up to be national director of our non-profit retail brand, SunnyMoney. Jeremy also provides a status update on his book, The Test.
You can read more here.

The history and future of the global energy transition in pictures and charts.
February 15 2018

This is a presentation to accompany the publication of the updated edition of The Winning of The Carbon War today. You can download it as either pdf or powerpoint files. The author encourages everyone to access and use the presentation, including any slides.

The Winning of The Carbon War 2013 - 2017
February 1 2018

This is a link to an updated version of  Jeremy Leggett's book, with a summary of the evolving drama in the two years since the Paris Agreement was adopted in December 2015. Audio and print copies will be available from Amazon and other websites.  All author's royalties are  going to SolarAid to help disseminate solar lights in Africa.  For reviews of the January 2016 edition please see here