Posted on August 2, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
Holistic evaluation of impacts needed
In areas where shale-drilling/hydraulic fracturing is heavy, a dense web of roads, pipelines and well pads turn continuous forests and grasslands into fragmented islands. Photo courtesy Simon Fraser University PAMR.
By Summit Voice
FRISCO —Fracking battles often develop over neighborhood concerns about pollution, but that local focus may mean that we’re losing sight of the bigger picture. On a landscape level, the current and projected scale of shale gas exploitation poses a huge threat to ecosystems, as each individual well contributes to air, water, noise and light pollution.
Those impacts need to be examined on a cumulative level, scientists said in a new study that calls for scientists, industry representatives and policymakers to collaborate closely on minimizing damage to the natural world from shale gas development. Continue reading
Filed under: air quality, energy, Environment | Tagged: air pollution, ecosystems, Environment, fracking, water pollution | 2 Comments »
Posted on July 15, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
Global warming impacts are magnified in cities.
‘Convective efficiency’ the key factor in city temperatures
FRISCO — Many cities, including Denver, have identified extreme heat as one of the most immediate challenges of global warming, primarily because the urban heat island effect will cause temperatures in urban areas to spike well above readings in the surrounding countryside.
Now, a Yale-led study pinpoints the primary causes of the heat island effect, showing that cities in humid climates face the biggest problems. Along with direct risks like heat stroke, increasing temperatures in cities will also worsen air pollution problems. Continue reading
Filed under: air quality, climate and weather, Environment, global warming | Tagged: climate change, global warming, urban heat island effect, Yale | Leave a comment »
Posted on June 29, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
Four Corners sojourn
You don’t see this every day!
FRISCO — In today’s first post I reported on the ongoing environmental studies for operation of the Four Corners power plant, a giant coal-burning facility that has been spewing air pollution into the atmosphere for decades. Federal officials now propose re-authorizing the plant’s permits for another 25 years without accounting for the environmental toll of greenhouse gases and other pollutants that are directly toxic to people and animals. Obviously, we can’t simply shut down all our coal-burning activities immediately. But at some point, the federal government has to start taking significant steps toward reducing emissions of heat-trapping gases. The permitting process for the Four Corners plant offers a great opportunity to at least start down that path. Meanwhile, enjoy this set of Four Corners images from the Summit Voice archives, and check out our online gallery at Fine Art America for a great selection of Rocky Mountain nature and landscape images. Buying prints or greeting cards from the gallery is one of the best ways to support independent environmental journalism! Continue reading
Filed under: air quality, climate and weather, Environment | Tagged: desert skies, Four Corners, photography, rainbows | Leave a comment »
Posted on June 29, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
The Four Corners Power Plant in a 1972 photo via Wikipedia.
Global warming impacts, health of Native American communities at issue in new federal study
FRISCO — President Obama may be all about tackling global warming by reducing greenhouse gas emissions these days, but that message hasn’t trickled to to various government agencies, including the Interior Department’s Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement, which last week released a draft environmental study on continued operation of the Four Corners Power Plant and Navajo Mine Energy Project.
The giant coal-burning facility is one of the biggest sources of heat-trapping greenhouse gases and other toxic air pollutants in the country, yet the draft study, which would permit continued operation for another 25 years, appears to ignore any option besides business-as-usual, according to environmental groups, who say they will challenge the federal government because it failed to look at impacts on climate and to wildlife and people. Continue reading
Filed under: air quality, energy, Environment | Tagged: air pollution, energy, Environment, Environmental justice, Four Corners Power Plant | Leave a comment »
Posted on June 23, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
Independent journalism: Climate, penguins and uranium mining
Saving the world, one story at a time!
Independent journalism isn’t free. Support Colorado Environmental Reporting!
FRISCO — I didn’t quite get around to reporting on the discovery of new fish-eating spider species last week, but I did cover a lot of environmental territory.
Along with climate stories in Summit Voice I wrote about the emerald ash borer invasion and hydropower for Boulderganic, and even penned a food- and environmental themed Colorado roadtrip story for the Boulder Weekly.
On a more serious note, I was the first journalist to take a close look at the City of Denver’s as-yet unpublished climate change adaptation plan, showing that life in the Mile High City could be nearly unbearable by 2050 — but also showing that making adjustments for global warming could have huge benefits for Denver by expanding green infrastructure. Read the Colorado Independent story here: The Big Schvitz. Continue reading
Filed under: air quality, biodiversity, climate and weather, Environment, global warming | Tagged: biodiversity, climate change, Denver climate adaptation, environmental journalism, global warming, Hydropower, renewable energy | Leave a comment »
Posted on June 10, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
Air quality regs pay off, as New England lakes and streams bounce back from acid rain.
It’s simple: Cleaning the air improves water quality
FRISCO — Acid rain, once the scourge of freshwater ecosystems in the eastern U.S., is waning, and the health of New England lakes and streams is improving, scientists said this week after documenting declines in sulfate concentrations in snow and rain.
The data gathered by scientists working under the auspices of the NH Agricultural Experiment Station at the University of New Hampshire College of Life Sciences and Agriculture, show that sulfate concentration in rain and snow declined by more than 40 percent in the 2000s. Sulfate concentration in lakes declined at a greater rate from 2002 to 2010 than during the 1980s or 1990s. During the 2000s, nitrate concentration in rain and snow declined by more than 50 percent and nitrate concentration declined in lakes. Continue reading
Filed under: air quality, Environment, water, water quality | Tagged: acid rain, air quality, New England, water quality | 1 Comment »
Posted on June 1, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
Passenger jets are huge source of air pollution around busy airports, a new study finds.
Dangerous ultrafine particles measured up to 10 miles away from runways
FRISCO —Adverse health effects from jet planes extend much farther from airports than previously thought, according to health researchers with the University of Southern California who carefully measured air pollution around Los Angeles International Airport. The study found that LAX “should be considered one of the most important sources of PN in Los Angeles.”
Their study, published the American Chemical Society’s Environmental Science & Technology journal, shows that pollution from heavy airplane traffic can affect people as far as 10 miles from busy airports. Most previous studies had only sampled air quality within a couple of miles of airports, finding higher levels of pollutants, such as nitrogen oxides and small (ultrafine) particles less than 0.1 micron (about one-thousandth of the width of a human hair), that scientists attributed to airplane emissions. Continue reading
Filed under: air quality, Environment | Tagged: air pollution, jets. airports, LAX, ultrafine particles | Leave a comment »
Posted on May 17, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
FrackNation … but for how long?
Is natural gas really the lesser of two evils?
FRISCO — As frackers desperately try to pump every last bit of gas from the ground before the global warming clock runs out, scientists warn that methane emissions could push Earth over a climate tipping point in just a few years.
“We have to control methane immediately, and natural gas is the largest methane pollution source in the United States,” said Robert Howarth, greenhouse gas expert and ecology and environmental biology professor at Cornell University. “If we hit a climate-system tipping point because of methane, our carbon dioxide problem is immaterial. We have to get a handle on methane, or increasingly risk global catastrophe.” Continue reading
Filed under: air quality, climate and weather, Environment, global warming | Tagged: fracking, global warming, methane, Natural gas, Radiative forcing | 2 Comments »
Posted on May 14, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
Oil and gas drilling roads and pads are spreading into remote backcountry areas of Colorado. bberwyn photo.
Cancer-causing chemicals escaping from fossil fuel facilities by the ton
FRISCO — Colorado communities looking to regulate the toxic and dangerous impacts of oil and gas drilling may not get any help from Gov. John Hickenlooper, but they may get some backup from a huge coalition of environmental groups that have petitioned the EPA for limits on oil and gas wells and associated equipment in population centers around the U.S.
As thousands of new wells are drilled across the U.S. every day, some studies suggest that at least 100,000 tons per year of hazardous air pollution from oil and gas well sites — including benzene, formaldehyde, and naphthalene — are escaping into the atmosphere. These pollutants have been linked to respiratory and neurological problems, birth defects, and cancer. Continue reading
Filed under: air quality, energy, Environment, fracking, gas drilling, oil drilling | Tagged: air pollution, Environment, fossil fuels, fracking, oil and gas drilling | 1 Comment »
Posted on May 12, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
The massive Deepwater Horizon oll spill spreads a sheen across a huge section of the Gulf of Mexico in May 2010. Photo courtesy NASA.
Findings show value of long-term post-spill monitoring
FRISCO — Methane-munching microbes in the Gulf of Mexico may have been overwhelmed by the sheer volume of gas released during the 84-day Deepwater Horizon oil disaster in 2010.
“Most of the gas injected into the Gulf was methane, a potent greenhouse gas that contributes to global climate change, so we were naturally concerned that this potent greenhouse gas could escape into the atmosphere,” said University of Georgia researcher Samantha Joye.” Many assumed that methane-oxidizing microbes would simply consume the methane efficiently, but our data suggests that this isn’t what happened.” Continue reading
Filed under: air quality, energy, Environment, gas drilling, oil drilling | Tagged: Deepwater horizon oil spill, Environment, Gulf of Mexico, methane, Samantha Joye, University of Georgia | Leave a comment »