Oslo District Court rules against Friends of the Earth in Nordic Mining case

Marine waste disposal permits for Nordic Mining’s Engebø mining project were granted lawfully, according to a decision released today by Oslo District Court. NRK reported that the court sided with the government, which defended the case. Friends of the Earth Norway and Young Friends of the Earth Norway had alleged that Norwegian government departments granted […]

European trade agency still assessing “substantive” information in Norway mine tailings case

A large office block in Brussels in dappled sunlight

EXTRACTIVE INDUSTRIES European trade agency still assessing “substantive” information in Norway mine tailings case The authority that regulates trade between the EU and Norway, Liechtenstein, and Iceland first called in February 2022 for information about the disposal of mining waste in Norwegian fjords. ESA’s Brussels office. Jay Richardson / the sonification Jay Richardson | 24 […]

In Pictures / Silence is Violence: Londoners call for ceasefire

OPINION In Pictures / Silence is Violence: Londoners call for ceasefire in Palestine A protester at the ceasefire demonstration holds a sign showing a watermelon, which became a symbol of solidarity with Palestine following restrictions on displaying the Palestinian flag. Aya Hussein 7 November 2023 On 28 October, following 22 days of war between Israel […]

Researchers raise alarm over species-rich Norwegian fjord’s future

EXTRACTIVE INDUSTRIES Researchers raise alarm over species-rich Norwegian fjord’s future Residents and activists near a planned open-pit mine in Norway have long argued fjord waste disposal would smother a unique marine habitat. Now they have the biodiversity surveys to prove it. Førdefjord, looking west. Photo: Jay Richardson by Jay Richardson 18 October 2023 In a […]

The illusion of clean mining waste

OPINION The illusion of clean mining waste Multiple sources over several decades have described the Sydvaranger iron mine’s waste products, most of which end up in a nearby fjord, as ‘clean sand,’ a definition it increasingly doesn’t fit. So why does it keep resurfacing? The sludge bank, or ‘slambanken,’ in Langfjorden, in the inner part […]

No, dear government spokesperson, we aren’t talking on background

EDITORIAL No, dear government spokesperson, we aren’t talking on background Giving statements on the record is the entire point of a press office. Halftone by alicia_mb on Freepik. by Jay Richardson 7 September 2023 In the past four months, the sonification has received two separate emails from UK government press officers containing detailed statements headed […]

Fairphone 5 parts won’t be backward compatible with Fairphone 4

E-WASTE Fairphone 5 parts won’t be backward compatible with Fairphone 4 The Fairphone 5 (left) is very close in shape to the Fairphone 4 (right), but not quite close enough. by Jay Richardson1st September 2023 The fifth generation of Fairphone’s ultra-repairable smartphone, Fairphone 5, will not contain any parts compatible with the previous generation, the […]

A.S. Francis is writing Black history, like it or not

A.S. Francis is writing Black history, like it or not Students of African history and anticolonial resistance found themselves fighting their own university after it silently cancelled their course and fired their supervisor. by Jay Richardson31 August 2023 On 16 June this year, Dr Claudia Tomlinson earned her PhD. She became the first graduate of […]

652 Hikvision devices operated by local councils in Cambridgeshire

SURVEILLANCE TECH 652 Hikvision devices operated by local councils in Cambridgeshire A spokesperson for Big Brother Watch called the county’s “vast quantity” of surveillance devices “deeply alarming.” Two Hikvision cameras on Sidney St, Cambridge. Jay Richardson / the sonification by Jay Richardson 14 June 2023 Cambridgeshire’s 3C Shared Services initiative has revealed it now operates […]

Cambridge’s “public space surveillance cameras” from company implicated in Uyghur genocide

SURVEILLANCE TECH Cambridge’s “public space surveillance cameras” from company implicated in Uyghur genocide Hikvision CCTV cameras are located through Cambridge city centre. The company has long been criticised by MPs and campaigners on security and human rights grounds, and senior government ministers want the cameras banned from the UK. by Jay Richardson 29th April 2023 […]

From The Understory / Alice Boyd’s immersive debut EP

Alice Boyd. Photo by Kanahaya Alam

MUSIC From The Understory / Alice Boyd’s immersive debut EP The acclaimed sound artist talks theatre, field recording, and ecological metaphysics. Alice Boyd, who released her debut EP, ‘From The Understory,’ this month. Photo by Kanahaya Alam. review + interview by Jay Richardson24th April 2023 ★★★★☆ When I met Alice Boyd in a South London […]

Heinali’s ‘Kyiv Eternal’ / Billowing timbres meet glittering field recordings

FIELD RECORDING Heinali’s ‘Kyiv Eternal’ / Billowing timbres meet glittering field recordings by Jay Richardson17 March 2023 Two weeks ago, the Ukranian artist Heinali released the album Kyiv Eternal, built on fragments of his own archival field recordings from Kyiv. He called the tracks “personal, intimate, and fleeting,” and “a farewell to this place in […]

Mine tailings / New images reveal massive scale of Førdefjord’s potential hypersedimentation

Førdefjord at sunrise, with Engebøfjellet at centre.

EXTRACTIVE INDUSTRIES New images reveal massive scale of Førdefjord’s potential hyper-sedimentation 3D models of the 250 million tonne underwater waste deposit approved by Nordic Mining’s environmental permits show that, transposed over London, the discarded tailings would cover an area from Farringdon to Waterloo. Førdefjord at sunrise, with Engebøfjellet (Engebø mountain) at centre. Mining waste in […]

“Never before heard by humans” / Alice Boyd’s ‘From The Understory’ single

Artists from 'Separation.' Photo by Kanahaya Alam.

“Never before heard by humans” / Alice Boyd’s ‘From The Understory’ single ‘Separation’ deftly mixes plant electrode data with a compelling musical current. ‘Separation’ features vocals from XATIVA, Dazey, Emily Izen Row, Alice Boyd, Issa, and zha. Photo by Kanahaya Alam. Jay Richardson 24 February 2023 In late 2022, at an overgrown farm pond in […]

European agency will publish findings on mining waste disposal within months

EFTA House in Brussels

EXTRACTIVE INDUSTRIES European agency will publish findings on mining waste disposal within months In a close examination of the implications EU regulation for mining waste in Norway, the EFTA surveillance authority is expected to report on the legality of submarine tailings disposal under EEA law. The Brussels office of the European Free Trade Association Surveillance […]

Larry Summers and the Toxic Memo 

Larry Summers and the Toxic Memo Jay Richardson | 17 December 2022 I might be the only one who didn’t know about this, but the 1991 ‘Summers memo’ story is absolutely wild. Larry Summers, the World Bank’s Chief Economist from ’91 to ’93, signed off on an internal memo arguing that exporting pollution to countries with […]

Sounds like a book

A microphone points to the inside of a copy of David George Haskell's 'Sounds Wild and Broken'.

BOOK REVIEWS Sounds like a book David George Haskell’s Sounds Wild and Broken (2022) seeks to establish sound as a new vital sign for the environment. It takes on more than it bargained for. Grace Field 1 November 2022 ★★★☆☆ As far as we know, for more than nine-tenths of its history, Earth lacked communicative […]

Calder Hall and British-American nuclear diplomacy

HISTORY Calder Hall and British-American nuclear diplomacy by Jay Richardson17 October 2022 On 17 October 1956, Queen Elizabeth II opened Calder Hall, the world’s first commercial nuclear power station, at Sellafield, on the western coast of Cumbria. The two Windscale Piles preceded it in 1950 and ‘51. Both produced plutonium-239 for early British nuclear weapons. […]

Sounds of the Bog and the Apocalypse

A bog’s curious, ordinary, delicately explosive sounds belong in our narratives of climate crisis just as much as landscapes of epic disaster.

Cassant et sec: Londres dans la vague de chaleur

Dry grass on Weavers Fields during the July 2022 heat wave.

CLIMAT Cassant et sec: Londres dans la vague de chaleur La pelouse spacieuse d’un parc est-londonien, atteignant 37 degrés Celsius, se transforme en vide aride. L’herbe sèche sur Weavers Fields pendant la vague de chaleur de juillet 2022. par Jay Richardsonlundi 18 juillet 2022 Le bruissement sec des feuilles mortes se fait entendre partout. Elles […]

A southern English forest in pictures and sounds

A large drooping cedar drapes its needle-like leaves in a mixture of blue and green shades. Through a gap in the foliage you can see the straight slender trunk.

A southern English forest in sounds and pictures A nettle grows out of the centre of a moss-covered, truncated tree trunk in Micheldever Wood. Jay Richardson 8 August 2022 Trees and forests have aroused strong feelings in Britain for centuries: their trace is scattered through its literary, political, and economic history. Micheldever Wood, pictured here, […]

Why do we need data sonification?

Why do we need data sonification? Jay Richardson 29 July 2022 Sonification is data display using any sound that isn’t speech. If your phone has ever rung, you’ve experienced sonification. It’s simple data—“someone is ringing you”, or if you’ve got custom ringtones, perhaps “Mum is ringing you”. Sound can communicate many kinds of data; an […]

London flood locations in pictures

London flood locations in pictures Author Date Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Ut elit tellus, luctus nec ullamcorper mattis, pulvinar dapibus leo. Related subscribe to very occasional emails about new stories * indicates required email address * As much as we tried to capture the shock of last year’s events in Halfway […]

Floodlines: Rain sounds recomposed

Collage of a window with the sea behind it

Floodlines: Rain sounds recomposed Rain makes some of the world’s best-loved sounds. They’re even better coming from a giant plywood recorder. Jay Richardson and Olivia Petryszak21 July 2022 Throughout southern England, the second Monday of July last year started with rain. The rain turned into a downpour and the downpour turned into a flood. By […]

Halfway to Atlantis: Remembering the 2021 London floods

CLIMATE Halfway to Atlantis: Remembering the 2021 London floods One year on from some of London’s most severe surface flooding, comparative photography can help us trace the cycle of shock, cleanup, and forgetting that follows environmental disasters. Illustration by Cait Mack Words by Jay RichardsonPhotography by Paul Reinhard 25 July 2022 Ask anyone who was […]

Brittle and dry: London in the heat wave

Dry grass on Weavers Fields during the July 2022 heat wave.

CLIMATE Brittle and dry: London in the heat wave At 37 degrees, the airy lawns of an East London park have dried into arid emptiness amidst a potentially lethal heat wave. Parched grass at Weavers Fields, East London, on 17 July 2022. by Jay Richardson18 July 2022 Everywhere is the dry rustle of dead leaves. […]

Protest isn’t noise

OPINION Protest isn’t noise When you describe the sound of protest as “noise” you deny its democratic function—and admit how much it bothers you. Protesters march across Vauxhall Bridge towards the American Embassy in London in defence of abortion rights. by Jay Richardson13th July 2022 “Woah, woah, woah, woah. No way!” yells Stop Brexit Man, […]

UK rainfall variability: It never rains but it pours

fog

CLIMATE UK rainfall variability: It never rains but it pours Jay Richardson 29 June 2022 In an era of disastrous storms and constant fear over coastal defences and flooding, you might expect rainfall to show reliable, multi-decade, climate-influenced patterns. Or at least to swing wildly, as seasonal temperatures do. The actual picture is incredibly complex: precipitation […]

A field guide to open secrets

Reeds waving in the breeze

FIELD RECORDING A field guide to open secrets Getting to know a place takes time, even with methods like a randomised sound survey. It also takes the courage to throw away your map. by Jay Richardson 13th June 2022 “Welcome to Google Maps,” a voice proudly proclaims. “Here you can search for places, businesses, directions, […]

A robin’s song to hurt your ears

robin song

A robin’s song to hurt your ears A tiny robin’s song in the dawn chorus approaches frequencies at the limits of human hearing. A spectrograph of a robin’s song. Jay Richardson27 May 2022 On a list of very loud sounds, birdsong would probably land very near the bottom. Of course, anything could hurt your ears […]

“Asbestos dust everywhere”: Nordic Mining illegally releases carcinogen

Destruction of a property with asbestos cement rooftiles by contractors for Nordic Mining

EXTRACTIVE INDUSTRIES “Asbestos dust everywhere”: Nordic Mining illegally releases carcinogen The safety violation marks the start of a multi-decade mining project that plans to deposit toxic waste in a protected salmon fjord. Destruction of a property with asbestos cement rooftiles by contractors for Nordic Mining. by Jay Richardson and Sally Raudon12th May 2022 On the […]

Silence and chaos and birds in between

dawn chorus

Silence and chaos and birds in between Diagram of a wren’s song in the dawn chorus. Jay Richardson1 May 2022 A dawn chorus contains so much joyful chaos: that’s what makes it a chorus. For pure density of sound, most green spaces at dawn in springtime could give Piccadilly Circus a run for its money. […]

Tall tree, loud robin

Sonograph of a London robin

Tall tree, loud robin Jay Richardson29 April 2022 Recording birdsong demands endless patience. Even if you find an environment where birds are likely to be, at the right time of year, at the right time of day, the bird itself might be too far away to hear, or obscured by some other sound. That’s if […]

Marsham Street’s parliament of trees

A London Plane tree stands outside the Home Office on Marsham Street during protests against the government's new asylum policy.

Marsham Street’s parliament of trees Jay Richardson24 April 2022 Plants appear in political scenes all the time: they’re street furniture. Look at a photo of any military parade or protest, for example, and you’ll more than likely see trees in the background.  They also exert political power in the way that they shape the landscape. […]

Cherry blossom, Highbury Fields

Cherry blossom in Highbury Fields

Cherry blossom, Highbury Fields Highbury Fields is Islington’s largest park, since nearby Clissold Park is technically in Hackney. It was bought for a public park in 1885 while various speculators developed the surrounding area into housing. Most of the park’s avenues are lined with London Plane trees. Islington Council is consulting on improvements to Highbury […]

Birch, Clissold Park

Birch tree, Clissold Park

Birches probably appeared amongst the first trees in the UK after the last ice age: they spread quickly and grow well in a wide range of soils, including heathland and moorland. They improve biodiversity when mixed into conifer plantations, which now contribute most new woodland planting in the UK. Birch is particularly common in Scotland, […]

Cherry blossom, Islington

Cherry blossom in Islington

Warmer spring temperatures are shifting blossoms several weeks earlier than they used to be, so they’re already out during late spring frosts and sustain severe damage. Clissold Park’s blossoms were out nearly a month early this year. Losing blossoms to the late spring frost devastates fruit yields, like apricots and cherries, and the pollinating insects […]

Rain turns the world into a drum

Rain falls on a bridge in the evening in London.

FIELD RECORDING Rain turns the world into a drum Not even laser imaging can tell you as much about your material surroundings as rain can. Photo by Lu Liu Jay Richardson10 April 2022 Most of the time, when you’re listening to something, it’s making sound by itself—a car engine, say, or a blender, or a […]

Classical music education and the sour taste of “greats”

George Frederic Handel, a staple of classical music education, decorates every billboard in Times Square.

OPINION Classical music education and the sour taste of “greats” An attitude of ‘duty’ to undertake classical music education from ‘expertise’ arguably demonstrates paternalism under the guise of community care. Georgia Dawson4th April 2022 For us, as the only conservatoire in Scotland, there is a duty to share our expertise and to work with local […]