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Colorado: District court judge voids voter-enacted fracking ban

Signs of oil and gas development are visible on a landscape level from 35,000 feet in the air.

Signs of oil and gas development are visible on a landscape level from 35,000 feet in the air.

Are communities powerless against the fracking juggernaut?

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — Banning fracking within Longmont city limits would result in “waste” of the state’s mineral resources, Boulder District Court Judge D.D. Mallard ruled today, voiding the city’s voter-enacted ban on the controversial drilling practice.

But  fracking won’t resume anytime soon in the northern Colorado town, as Judge Mallard said there will be no fracking “until further order of Court, either from this Court or a higher court.”

In Judge Mallard’s words: “Longmont’s ban on hydraulic fracturing does not prevent waste; instead, it causes waste. Because of the ban, mineral deposits were left in the ground that otherwise could have been extracted in the Synergy well. Mineral deposits are being left in the ground by all the wells that are not being drilled due to the fracking ban.” Continue reading

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Climate change drives Antarctic fur seal decline

Fur seals on Half Moon Island, in the South Shetland chain, off the Antarctic Peninsula. PHOTO BY BOB BERWYN.

Fur seals on Half Moon Island, in the South Shetland chain, off the Antarctic Peninsula. bberwyn photo.

Survival of the fittest?

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — After studying fur seals around Antarctica for decades, researchers with the British Antarctic Survey say they’re seeing distinct genetic changes related to a changing climate and food availability. But despite a shift  towards individuals more suited to changing environmental conditions, this fitness is not passing down through generations, leaving the fur seal population on South Georgia Island in decline. Continue reading

Environment: Invasive Asian tiger shrimp may pose threat to coastal ecosystems, shrimp fisheries

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Shrimp boats moored in Apalachicola, Florida. Will the industry take a hit from invasive Asian tiger shrimp?

Researchers say sightings of the non-native shrimp have jumped tenfold

Staff Report

FRISCO — Ocean scientists say they’ve recently documented a tenfold increase in the number of invasive Asian tiger shrimp in U.S. coastal waters, with as-yet unknown consequences for native ecosystems and the shrimping industry.

Female Asian tiger shrimp can grow to 12 inches in size and have voracious appetites, feeding on native shrimp, bivalves, crustaceans, and fish. It’s not clear exactly how they arrived in the area, but researchers suspect several pathways, including escape from aquaculture during tropical storms and hurricanes. They may also have been released from ballast water in ship, or simply migrated from wild populations in the Atlantic and Caribbean. Continue reading

Climate: Study sheds new light on Antarctic sea ice expansion

Growth in sea ice may be slower than reported

The water in the Antarctic Sound can be smooth as glass, and sometimes look thick and oily, probably because it's so cold. Click on the photo to learn about some of the environmental issues in Antarctica.

Scientists are puzzling over the expansion of Antarctic sea ice. bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Global warming deniers have long been using the observed expansion of Antarctic sea ice as a way to try and confuse the public about the reality of global warming, but some new research by scientists with the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at University of California San Diego suggests the rate of expansion is not as dramatic as reported.

The findings, published in The Cryosphere (European Geosciences Union) acknowledge that there has been some expansion recently, but that some of the reported ice gain may be due to inconsistencies in computer models used to measure Antarctic sea ice. Continue reading

Morning photo: Purple mountains, really!

A quick Summit set …

Lookin' like Kodachrome!

Lookin’ like Kodachrome!

.FRISCO — I really do dig the way iPhone sensors pick up colors in the sky, and especially in the clouds — just check out the last picture in this set! So in the course of wandering around Summit County the last couple of days, I did manage to stop and point my camera at various things, usually involving wildflowers, the sky, clouds and/or some distant peaks. I’ve recently started shooting a lot more images in vertical format, because they’re easier to crop for Instagram that way. It kind of reminds of the old square-film format, so sometimes I pretend I’m shooting with a Hasselblad.

If you enjoy our near-daily feed of high country images, please visit our online gallery at Fine Art America.

And if you want to keep those photos coming, along with our stellar environmental reporting, visit our Rocky Mountain Climate Ranger crowdfunding page at Beacon. We’re at 70 percent of our goal and really could use your help to help sustain world-class environmental reporting.

Donate to the Rocky Mountain Climate Ranger project

mtnYour contribution to this independent journalism project will be matched dollar for dollar by Beacon. Click to learn more and make a donation. Continue reading

Crowdfunding: Nearly 70 percent there!

The Rocky Mountain Climate Ranger Project needs your support

It's getting warm around here!

It’s getting warm around here!

Love the Rockies? Support our independent journalism project.

Love the Rockies? Support our independent journalism project.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — With NOAA reporting yet another record high global temperature for June, and afternoon temperatures soaring into the 80s here in Frisco, there’s every reason to believe that we’re heading for uncharted climate territory in the Rocky Mountains. Already, the birds and bees are out of synch with wildflowers, the snowpack is melting weeks earlier than it used to, and spring dust storms are blackening the Rocky Mountain snowpack more frequently each year.

It’s really important to know what those changes mean for us, and especially for future generations — our kids and grandkids — because they will have to live in the greenhouse-gas warmed world that we’ve created with just a few decades of fossil fuel consumption. That’s why once again I’m asking you, faithful Summit Voice readers and subscribers, to support our Rocky Mountain Climate Ranger project my making a pledge right now at Beacon, our crowdfunding partner: http://www.beaconreader.com/projects/rocky-mountain-climate-rangers.

And just to be clear, the Beacon-backed Climate Ranger project won’t have any negative effect on Summit Voice. In fact, your support will help enrich the Summit Voice news and photo feed.

Some of you already responded to our grassroots appeal in the last few months. It was your generous response that encouraged us to pursue funding for this two-month father-son climate journalism trek. And right now, Beacon is generously matching every pledge dollar for dollar, so when you support us, your money will be doubled. We’re only about a week away from the end of our pledge drive (July 31) and we’ll only be funded if we get the full amount, so your support is critical.

You can support the project for as little as $5 but we have some great incentives for larger pledges, including a free harvest dinner at the popular Sunshine Cafe in Dillon. A $100 pledge includes dinner for two, along with a climate journalism presentation at the Sunshine Cafe. It’s a great deal, and you’d pay almost that much just to have a nice dinner for two, so why not support homegrown environmental journalism at the same time.

For $200, you’ll be invited to the dinner AND you’ll be eligible for a large-format fine art print from one of Summit Voice’s acclaimed online galleries, or an image from the reporting trek — and I’m sure we’ll get some great shots!

With our deadline approaching, please consider making a pledge now, and if you can’t, please pass along this post via email to anyone who might be interested. Thanks for reading and your continued support.

Donate to the Rocky Mountain Climate Ranger project

mtnYour contribution to this independent journalism project will be matched dollar for dollar by Beacon. Click to learn more and make a donation.

Climate: Has global warming slowed down?

Study shows natural variability still a factor in climate change

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Staff Report

FRISCO — A cool phase of natural climate variability may have canceled out the heat-trapping effects of greenhouse gases the past 15 years, which would explain the so-called global warming slowdown, according to McGill University physicist Shaun Lovejoy.

In a paper published recently in Geophysical Research Letters, Lovejoy concluded after a statistical analysis of average global temperatures between 1998 and 2013 thatslowdown in global warming during this period is consistent with natural variations in temperature.

In a paper published this month in Geophysical Research Letters, Lovejoy concludes that a natural cooling fluctuation during this period largely masked the warming effects of a continued increase in man-made emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. Continue reading

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