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Report outlines simple steps to reduce methane emissions

A natural gas drilling rig in Texas. IMAGE COURTESY THE CREATIVE COMMONS.

A natural gas drilling rig in Texas. IMAGE COURTESY THE CREATIVE COMMONS.

Climate activists pushing EPA to adopt strict methane standards

Staff Report

FRISCO — Existing, low-cost technology, along with better maintenance and best management practices could easily cut U.S. methane emissions from fossil fuel operations in half, climate activists said this week, advocating for the adoption of methane standards.

The path toward those reductions is outlined by climate advocates in a new report that also shows that such standards would help improve air quality in other ways. Continue reading

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Morning photo: Winter dreams!

Not quite snowbound …

FRISCO — As the clouds cleared and cold temps lingered through the early part of this past week, scenes of extraordinary beauty unfolded in the Colorado high country. Gleaming snowfields, rippled black ice and lipstick-colored winter sunsets graced the mountains every day, giving testament to the power the winter season has to transform landscapes. Check out our daily photo feed on Instagram and visit our Fine Art America online gallery for more landscape shots from Colorado.

Environment: Cold weather road ecology institute seeks alternatives to chemical road de-icers

This is what we like to see!

Clearing the roads in Frisco, Colorado.

A little bit of salt on your french fries is fine; a lot of salt on the road kills trees and fish

Staff Report

FRISCO — Highway engineers and scientists know that that massive use of chemical road de-icers has significant environmental impacts. Salt and the various derivatives used to keep roadways open kills trees and degrades water quality.

Just last year, the EPA found salt building up in groundwater near highways in the eastern U.S. Across the country, the U.S. spends $2.3 billion each year on the removal of highway snow and ice plus another $5 billion to mitigate the hidden costs associated with the process.

The hidden costs include long-term impacts of salt, sand and chemical deicers on the natural environment and road infrastructure as well as short-term impacts on semi-trailer trucks and other vehicles from rust and corrosion. Continue reading

Climate: October ends up as warmest on record

2014 on track to be warmest year ever

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Widespread warmth prevailed globally in October 2014.

Staff Report

FRISCO — October 2014 will go into the record books as the warmest on record for Earth, and it’s very likely that the year as a whole will end up record warm, according to climate experts with the National Climatic Data Center releasing their monthly state of the climate analysis.

For October, the average global temperature (land and sea surface combined) was 1.33 degrees Fahrenheit above average, and for the year to-date, the average global temperature is 1.22 degrees Fahrenheit above average, also a record for the 10-month January to October span. Continue reading

Toxic legacy of acid rain lingers in Canadian lakes

Calcium loss turning lakes to ‘jelly’

Even high mountain lakes are feeling the sting of nitrogen pollution.

Acid rain has fundamentally changed the chemistry and biology of some lakes.

Michael Arts, Canada Centre for Inland Waters

Tiny jelly covered plankton are displacing other organisms in some Canadian lakes to the detriment of fisheries and public water supplies. Photo courtesy Michael Arts, Canada Centre for Inland Waters.

Staff Report

FRISCO — The toxic legacy of acid rain lives on in lakes in Canada, and possibly other places around the world, according scientists who say they’ve traced a trend of reduced calcium levels leading to a “jellification” of some lakes.

Specifically, the changes in water chemistry have reduced populations of  calcium-rich plankton such as Daphnia — water fleas that dominate these ecosystems. Falling calcium levels mean Daphnia cannot get the nutrients they need to survive and reproduce, leading to a rise in other plankton species, including small jelly-clad organisms.

According to the new research, populations of those organisms has exploded in lakes across eastern Canada in the past 30 years. The average  population of these small invertebrate jellies in many Ontario lakes doubled between the mid-1980s and the mid-2000s. Continue reading

Climate: Closing the emissions gap

Carbon neutral by 2050?

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Can the globe be carbon-neutral by 2050?

Staff Report

FRISCO — Limiting global warming to two degrees Celsius will require reaching carbon neutrality by mid-century, UN officials said this week as they released a new emissions gap report that clearly outlines the global carbon budget.

“Don’t believe it if you hear politicians saying it can’t be done. It can,” said Achim Steiner, director of the UN Environmental Program. Steiner and other top officials said increased energy efficiency and smart growth are the keys to reaching global climate targets.

“If this was prohibitively costly we’d have to make some calculations, but it’s not,” Steiner said, explaining that switching to a low carbon economy offers opportunity for expanded economic development and a path toward minimizing future climate change impacts. Continue reading

Climate: New book details global glacier losses

Most of the world’s ice rivers are shrinking into oblivion

The Dachstein Glacier in Austria has visibly and dramatically decreased in size in just a couple of decades. bberwyn photo.

The Dachstein Glacier in Austria has visibly and dramatically decreased in size in just a couple of decades. bberwyn photo.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — For mountain dwellers around the world, shrinking glaciers are one of the most vivid symptoms of Earth’s rising fever. Those gleaming mantles of ice have already disappeared from iconic landscapes like Glacier National Park.

Globally, millions of people rely on glacier-regulated stream flows for water supplies, so communities need to prepare for disruptions in the hydrological cycle because it’s becoming increasingly apparent that the meltdown is not going to stop. Continue reading

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