Environment: Why are Colorado wildlife biologists apologizing for the energy industry?


Mule deer populations in northwest Colorado have taken a bit hit from energy development

‘Just pointing fingers at the energy industry is not a helpful solution to this difficult issue’

Staff Report

FRISCO — A recent study showing that energy development in northwest Colorado significantly affects wildlife habitat drew national attention, and a curious reaction from Colorado’s wildlife agency, which seemed to be apologizing on behalf of the energy industry.

The study showed that the region’s dwindling mule deer population shies well away from active drilling, to a distance of at least 800 meters. Deer displayed more nuanced responses to other infrastructure, avoiding pads with active production and roads to a greater degree during the day than night.

When they added up the impacts, the researchers found that the responses equate to alteration of mule deer behavior by human development in more than 50 percent of the critical winter range in the study area during the day and over 25 percent at night. Continue reading

Environment: Quest for ‘clean coal’ continues


Coal mining in the bad old days …

Researchers look for more efficient ways to de-carbonize fossil fuels

Staff Report

FRISCO — Everybody loves to hate coal these days, and for good reason. Pound for pound, it’s responsible for more greenhouses than any other fuel. In 2013, coal generated 39 percent of the electricty produced in the USA, but contributed 77 percent of the electricity sector’s carbon dioxide emissions.

But what if coal could be de-carbonized before it’s burned? A research team led by  University at Buffalo, State University New York, will try to find a new way to do just that by adding palladium nanoparticles to a filtration system that will remove carbon dioxide from gasified coal before it’s burned. Continue reading

Morning photo: Got ice?

Antarctica revisited

FRISCO — It’s been a few years, but I never get tired of revisiting these archived images of a journey around the fringes of Antarctica. And when I do, I fret, because it’s pretty certain now that all the greenhouse gases we’ve spewed into the atmosphere the past century or so are going to irrevocably going to change this place, and probably not for the better.

Already, there are clear signs that the ice sheets in West Antarctica are crumbling. That won’t just change the landscapes in the region; it will have far-reaching implications around the world by raising the seas to levels that humankind has not seen. Climate change also has serious implications for the abundant and diverse ecosystems around Antarctica. Invasive species from warmer regions are already starting to move in, and there have been marked shifts in penguin distributions. We may be able to limit some of the negative impacts if we act quickly to cut greenhouse gas pollution. Learn more about the Antarctic environment by checking out these Summit Voice stories.

Bonn talks help pave path for global climate deal



Carbon-pricing may be off the table, but there is agreement to keep pushing after crucial Paris talks in December

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — Climate activists are encouraged by some measured progress at recent talks in Germany, but said there’s still a long way to go to meet the ambitious goal of creating a global agreement to limit greenhouse gas emissions and slow the pace of global warming.

One of the most positive signs at the recent Bonn talks is that most countries seem prepared to keep talking after the COP21 conference in Paris — crucial because the Paris talks likely won’t deliver a deal that meets the make-or-break goal of limiting warming to 2 degrees Celsius. Continue reading

Global warming to drive massive ocean biodiversity shift


Where will fish go as the oceans warm?

Changes will come at unprecedented pace

Staff Report

FRISCO — Ocean biodiversity is set to change at an unprecedented pace, a team of researchers said in a new study after modeling how global warming will affect some 13,000 ocean species.

The findings reinforce a large body of previous research showing that, in general, many fish will move toward toward the poles looking for cooler water. The researchers pointed out that similar redistributions have happened before — but always on a geological timescale spanning millions of years. Continue reading

Arctic sea ice set to bottom out at 4th-lowest extent


Arctic sea will soon reach its seasonal minimum. Map courtesy NSIDC.

August trend shows decline of 10 percent per decade

Staff Report

FRISCO — Scientists with the National Snow and Ice Data Center say they expect this year’s minimum Arctic sea ice extent to be one of the lowest on record in the satellite area. Through 2015, the linear rate of decline for August extent is 10.3 percent per decade, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center.

The ice dwindled at a steady pace throughout the month of August at a rate of about 29,000 square miles per day, faster than the long-term average rate of 22,100 square miles per day, but slower than in 2012, when the Arctic ice pack reached a record low extent. Continue reading

Coal from the ColoWyo Mine will release 10 million tons of greenhouse gases each year

Feds release new study for embattled Colorado coal mine

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — Federal officials have completed a new environmental study for a beleaguered coal mine in northwestern Colorado in a process that will presumably enable the mine to continue operating.

At issue is the ColoWyo Mine in Moffat County, which faced a shutdown after a federal judge found that an existing study didn’t adequately disclose the impacts of digging up and burning the coal. The lawsuit was filed by climate and environmental activists as part of a systematic campaign to highlight the vast amount of heat-trapping pollutants unleashed by the extraction and burning of coal and other fossil fuels. Continue reading


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