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Judge blocks coal leases in Colorado after finding feds failed to tally cost of carbon pollution

The U.S. is the second-largest producer of coal in the world, thanks in part to massive surface mines like this one in Wyoming. Photo courtesy BLM.

The U.S. is the second-largest producer of coal in the world. Photo courtesy BLM.

Federal court order also voids part of Colorado roadless rule for National Forest lands

Staff Report

FRISCO — Arch Coal and the U.S. Forest Service will have to start from scratch before they plan any new mining activities in a roadless area near Paonia.

A federal judge this week vacated existing federal approvals for an exploration plan, for lease modifications and a site-specific exemption to the Colorado Roadless Rule, seen by conservation groups as a blatant give-away to the fossil fuel industry.

This week’s order follows up on a June ruling, when U.S. District Court Judge R. Brooke Jackson said the U.S. Forest Service failed to account for the costs of carbon pollution associated with any new mining activities. Continue reading

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Climate: Too hot for Florida’s coral reefs?

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Observations around the Florida Keys show a big jump in the average late-summer water temperature, leading to increased coral reef die-offs.

New USGS study documents dramatic increase in ocean temperatures around the Florida Keys

Staff Report

FRISCO — Even without a big ocean-warming El Niño event, coral reefs around the Florida Keys are being stressed by warmer water. Scientists say the number of bleaching events is going up as average sea surface temperatures in the region increase.

Just in the past few decades, average late-summer water temperatures near the Florida Keys were warmer by nearly 2 degrees Fahrenheit compared to a century earlier, according to a new study by the U.S. Geological Survey. Continue reading

Climate: Longer droughts, warmer temps to fuel massive increase in European forest fires

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Smoke from forest fires in Greece streams out across the Mediterranean Sea. GIF composite image via NASA and Wikipedia.

Study projects 200 percent increase in burned areas by 2090 without mitigation and adaptation

Bob Berwyn

FRISCO —The American West isn’t alone in facing an increased wildfire threat. Global warming is expected to result in a sharp increase in European forest fires during the coming decades. By 2090, areas burned by fires could increase by as much as 200 percent, according to a new study published in the journal Regional Environmental Change.

Warmer temperatures and longer droughts will combine to fuel forest fire conditions in areas that are already susceptible, particularly the Mediterranean region, the researchers said, suggesting that better forest management, including preventive fires, could keep the increase to less than 50 percent. Continue reading

Just a few tickets left for the Sunshine Cafe Climate Ranger fundraising dinner!

ss2b&wflowers3Dear Summit Voice Readers,

We’re so grateful to the Sunshine Cafe for offering to host what is going to be a fun and unique chance to enjoy a good meal and learn about global warming in the Rocky Mountains this week.

For one night only Sept. 12), the Sunshine Cafe (once again crowned as Summit County’s favorite breakfast spot, will open at 6 p.m. for a fundraising dinner. Tickets are just $50 per person, and there will also be a silent auction with some Rocky Mountain photography and a few other quirky items.

Proceeds from the dinner will benefit local environmental journalism by Summit Voice, and we’ll take input on story ideas at the dinner. We’ll also give a short presentation from our Rocky Mountain Climate Ranger Project, a series of road trips aimed at learning how climate change is affecting our beloved mountains.

If you are a Summit County or Colorado reader, please consider attending the dinner to show your support for Summit County environmental journalism. You can buy tickets at the PayPal link below, or contact Bob Berwyn via email or at 970-331-5996.

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Support independent journalism.

Climate: EPA eyes limits on airline carbon pollution

U.S. airlines have long lobbied against any measures aimed at cutting greenhouse gas emissions from aircraft, but they probably won't be able to dodge new EPA pollution regulations developed under the authority of the Clean Air Act.

U.S. airlines have long lobbied against any measures aimed at cutting greenhouse gas emissions from aircraft, but they won’t be able to dodge new EPA pollution regulations developed under the authority of the Clean Air Act.

Agency targets spring 2016 to make initial findings

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — U.S. airlines may soon be required to at least start thinking about cutting their carbon footprint.

Aviation accounts for about 11 percent of carbon dioxide emissions from the U.S. transportation sector and is one of the fastest-growing sources of carbon pollution, rising between 3 percent to 5 percent a year. Carbon emissions from global aviation will quadruple by mid-century without action. Continue reading

Study shows why Penguins need more protection

‘If we don’t worry about the imminent threats now, it’s probably not worth worrying about the medium-term future’

Gentoo penguins and the S/V Professor Molchanov at sea.

Gentoo penguins and the S/V Professor Molchanov. bberwyn photo.

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A penguin dives in and out of the icy waters near the Antarctic Peninsula. bberwyn photo.

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — The world’s penguins could use a little help, a team of  leading conservation biologists said last month, announcing results of a study that systematically assessed global risks to the southern hemisphere sea birds.

While global warming remains a long-term threat, other impacts, primarily related to human activities, are a more clear and present danger, the scientists said, advocating for a more widespread network of marine protected areas to buffer penguins from pollution, tourism and fishing.

“We need to address some of these issues before we think about resilience to climate change,” said Dr. Phil Trathan, head of conservation biology with the British Antarctic Survey. “If we don’t worry about the imminent threats now, it’s probably not worth worrying about the medium-term future,” Trathan said, explaining that penguins living and breeding in southern Africa and South America face the highest risks.

“If you want to create resilient populations, deal with some of the immediate threats, and where the threats are most evident is where penguins inhabit areas close to mankind,” he said. Continue reading

Park Service trying to track fossil vandals at Dinosaur National Monument

Missing chunk of sauropod leg bone spurs investigation

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A vandalized dinosaur fossil has spurred a National Park Service investigation.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Dinosaur National Monument rangers are trying to track down information  related to recent fossil damage and theft on the Fossil Discovery Trail. A tour leader first reported the damage to the large fossilized sauropod leg bone Sept. 2.

Rangers are requesting that anyone with information on the fossil damage to contact the monument at (435) 781-7715. A $750 reward will be provided for information that leads to a conviction. Continue reading

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