Study eyes hotel industry ‘greenwashing’

How green is your hotel really?

How green is your hotel really?

Consumers catching on to self-serving industry practices

Staff Report

Environmentally savvy travelers aren’t necessarily buying the hotel industry’s green claims, according to a trio of Washington State University researchers, who said there’s growing skepticism that towel re-use programs and other superficial measures are truly a sign of sustainable hotel operations.

The study, published in the Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management, suggests that some of those practices are nothing more than greenwashing, referring to the “deceitful practice of promoting environmentally friendly programs while hiding ulterior motives.” Continue reading

Global summit highlights crucial role of forests in climate change, economic development efforts

Slowing deforestation requires integration of forest planning with other sectors like water and agriculture


Global forests are a key resource that require more attention, experts said at the UN’s forest congress in Durban, South Africa. @bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

Management of the world’s forests must be integrated with other land use planning efforts in order to address the root causes of deforestation, and forests should be recognized as “more than trees,” experts concluded at last week’s World Forestry Congress in Durban, South Africa.

With good management, forests have great potential to help end hunger, increasing wealth and improving livelihoods in developing countries, as well as in slowing climate change, the delegates from around the world said in the session-ending Durban Declaration.

Continue reading

‘Earth League’ scientists call for moral leadership on climate

‘The window of opportunity is closing fast …’

Staff Report

FRISCO — Some of the world’s leading scientists say it’s time to get serious and take bold action now to ensure completion of an effective climate treaty this year.

Banding together as the Earth League, the scientists released a statement spelling out what’s needed to give the world a good chance of avoiding dangerous climate change. The first essential element is a commitment to limit global warming to below 2 degrees Celsius, which requires transition to a zero-carbon society by mid-century.

“The window of opportunity is closing fast. We are on a trajectory that will leave our world irrevocably changed, far exceeding the 2 degrees Celsius mark,” said Johan Rockström, Chair of the Earth League, Executive Director of the Stockholm Resilience Centre and board member of the Global Challenges Foundation. Continue reading

Study finds big decline in common European birds

Sapphire Point is also a great spot to get up close and personal with some local wildlife.

A common jay in Colorado. bberwyn photo.

‘It is clear that the way we are managing the environment is unsustainable for many of our most familiar species’

Staff Report

Bird populations across Europe have experienced sharp declines over the past 30 years, with the majority of losses from the most common species, according to a new study from the University of Exeter (UK).

The study documented a decrease of 421 million individual birds over 30 years. About 90 percent of these losses were from the 36 most common and widespread species, including house sparrows, skylarks, grey partridges and starlings. Continue reading

Report outlines algae biofuel sustainability issues

A raceway pond used for the cultivation of microalgae. The water is kept in constant motion with a powered paddle wheel. Photo courtesy the Wikimedia Commons.

Water availability, nutrient use seen as key challenges

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Algae-based biofuels have been touted as the next big thing in renewable energy. But based on existing technologies, production on a significant scale — for example enough to supply 5 percent of U.S. transportation fuel needs — would put unsustainable demands on energy, water, and nutrients, according to a new report from the National Research Council.

But those concerns are not a definitive barrier for future production, the report concluded, emphasizing that technical innovations could change the equation.

Biofuels derived from algae and cyanobacteria could help the U.S. meet its energy security needs and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Potential advantages over biofuels made from land plants, including algae’s ability to grow on non-croplands in cultivation ponds of freshwater, salt water, or wastewater. Continue reading

A test drive for the sustainable ski industry model

Grassroots group strives toward sustainable ski industry.

Mountain Rider’s Alliance partners with sustainable engineering group to refine vision

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — The Mountain Rider’s Alliance vision for a sustainable ski industry is about to grow some flesh and bones, as the grassroots group partners with a well-known engineering firm to develop specific plans for carbon-neutral, net-zero-energy ski areas.

The partnership between MRA and the Brendle Group with forge toward a new model for sustainability in the ski industry, focused on alternative business models for small and medium-sized resorts.

For starters, the Brendle Group will develop and test a model for sustainability at Mt. Abram that can be replicated elsewhere, starting with comprehensive assessments of energy use, land use, procurement, and community sustainability to identify options for net zero carbon, energy, and water operations as well as integrating sustainability and local economic development. Continue reading

World Tourism Day focuses on sustainable energy

The Colorado ski industry has done very little to address its massive environmental impact, including significant greenhouse gas emissions and unsustainable use of water.

Colorado tourism industry lags on environmental front

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — In an era when reducing greenhouse gas emissions has been targeted as a critical priority, it’s more challenging than ever to reconcile tourism with environmental concerns.

Some parts of the tourism industry are big contributors to climate change, including energy use in lodging facilities (think of all the laundry and dishes being washed on a daily basis), as well as transportation, especially automobiles and passenger jets.

In the face of those impacts, some of the minor efforts by the industry seem almost insignificant, but at least on a global scale, tourism leaders are thinking about how to boost the use of sustainable and renewable energy in the sector.

The World Tourism Organization has faced accusations of trying to greenwash tourism, but the global body has taken a few concrete steps toward promoting sound environmental policies. Continue reading


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