Other stories below: Climate change’s threat to the ski industry; Farmers bear the brunt of climate change
Fast-track warming in Europe is making butterflies and birds fall behind in the move to cooler habitats and prompting a worrying turnover in alpine plant species, studies published Sunday said.
The papers, both published by the journal Nature Climate Change, are the biggest endeavour yet to pinpoint impacts on European biodiversity from accelerating global temperatures.
A team led by Vincent Devictor of France’s National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) found that from 1990 to 2008, average temperatures in Europe rose by one degree Celsius (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit).
This is extremely high, being around 25 percent greater than the global average for all of the last century.
A new study of changing mountain vegetation has suggested that some alpine meadows could disappear within the next few decades as a result of climate change.
The first ever pan-European study carried out by an international group of researchers revealed that climate change is having a more profound effect on alpine vegetation than expected.
Led by researchers from the Austrian Academy of Sciences and the University of Vienna, biologists from 13 different countries in Europe analysed 867 vegetation samples from 60 different summits sited in all major European mountain systems, first in 2001 and then again just seven years later in 2008.
Lately, much of the press coverage of electric cars has implied that the technology has been a huge letdown. See, for instance, USA Today’s story: “Are electric cars losing their spark?” The angst mostly centers around sales: In 2011, the first year they were available, the Nissan Leaf and Chevrolet Volt sold just 17,345 units in the United States — slightly below expectations.
Placed in perspective, though, those weak sales don’t look all that apocalyptic. Over at the Rocky Mountain Institute, Randy Essex and Ben Holland point out that when gas-electric hybrids first rolled out in 2000, the Honda Insight and Toyota Prius had sales of just 9,350. Those figures looked anemic at the time, too. But in the ensuing years, the technology caught on and more than 2 million hybrids have been sold in the United States. If that’s any prologue, it could bode well for future plug-ins.
At the start of the ski season, Arapahoe Basin chief operating officer Alan Henceroth announced his ski area was moving away from purchasing renewable energy credits and instead had invested in retrofitting the existing base-area lighting system with energy-efficient bulbs.
It’s a justifiable move to leaders in the field, one all of Summit County’s resorts have taken in the recent past in favor of making on-the-ground operational changes to be more energy, water and waste conscious.
To Auden Schendler, though, “operational greening” isn’t enough action for the ski industry, which he says is increasingly affected by climate change. The vice president of sustainability for Aspen Skiing Company argues the ski industry should create a voice that lobbies Washington, D.C. for legislation that protects its business.
Farmers across the country have been caught in a catch-22 situation as the summer agricultural season continues to change.
Most farmers said in recent years, the decision when to plant has increasingly become a nightmare.
“Traditionally farmers start to plant their seeds in late October, but these years the seasons seem to have changed and the rains are starting to fall regularly in December. Crops which would have been planted in November will wilt because of the dry spell,” said Aaron Hombe, a farmer.
Only 247 000 hectares of maize have so far been planted compared to the 379 993ha that were planted during the same period last year.
Agritex’s latest report on the crop situation attributes the decline to the late onset of rains countrywide.
Mashonaland East is leading with 72 591ha having been planted to date, compared to 87 157ha planted in the same period last year.
In Seattle, contractors have begun digging for an office building that will eventually wear what looks like a big cocked hat.
It’s a solar-panel array topping off the five-story home for the local Bullitt Foundation.
When it opens next winter, the Bullitt Center will also scrub its own water with the aid of composting toilets.
The new building reflects founder Dorothy Bullitt’s aspiration to turn the Pacific Northwest into a global model of environmental sustainability.
The foundation sources many of its components locally, and strives to eliminate toxins in building materials and ventilating air. Its self-imposed high standards have often been a challenge to the Miller Hull Partnership, the project’s Seattle architect.
A fortuitous combination of ravenous bacteria, ocean currents and local topography helped to rapidly purge the Gulf of Mexico of much of the oil and gas released in the Deepwater Horizon disaster of 2010, researchers reported on Monday.
After spewing oil and gas for nearly three months, the BP PLC well was finally capped in mid-July 2010. Some 200,000 tons of methane gas and about 4.4 million barrels of petroleum spilled into the ocean. Given the enormity of the spill, many scientists predicted that a significant amount of the resulting chemical pollutants would likely persist in the region’s waterways for years.
According to a new federally funded study published Monday by the National Academy of Sciences, those scientists were wrong. By the end of September 2010, the vast underwater plume of methane, plus other gases, had all but disappeared. By the end of October, a significant amount of the underwater offshore oil—a complex substance made from thousands of compounds—had vanished as well.