Bonn climate talks end on a hopeful note

We’ll always have Paris … @bberwyn photo.

Despite Trump, world moves toward renewable energy

By Bob Berwyn

The world committed to taking action on climate change in Paris, and now, all the countries that signed on to the agreement to cut greenhouse gas emissions and limit global warming to less than 2 degrees Celsius are figuring exactly how that will happen, and how they will hold each other accountable.

U.S. climate policy is in question now, and the political changes definitely featured in the Bonn discussions, but didn’t dominate the proceedings. Some of the international climate negotiators recognized that the world is a dynamic place and that some national policies will come and go. But that won’t stop the world from moving ahead with ambitious climate plans. other experts discussed how the U.S. could hamper the global effort, while others said the U.S. should remain in the agreement, but not at any cost. For the sake of the rest of the world, the agreement should not be weakened. Read more in this report from Bonn.

Some of the most hopeful news from Bonn was that China and India are quickly shifting to a renewable energy economy. That will not only help those countries reduce their significant emissions, but will also drive a global shift by reducing the price for renewable energy to the point where it will quickly become the cheapest option. Even the U.S. reported a drop in greenhouse gas emissions the past few years, primarily because of the switch from coal to natural gas. American envoy Trigg Talley faced polite but insistent and pointed questioning during a disclosure session. Read the details in this story.

It all matters because for the less-developed countries in the global south, climate change is an existential question. There was concern about the Trump administration’s climate stance, but also optimism. Nobody wanted to make a final judgment on U.S. policy, which seems to still be in question, but nevertheless, some of the negotiators from the world’s most vulnerable countries seemed to be responding to Trump’s statements on the Paris climate agreement and on climate policies in general:

“Without increased climate action, no country can ever be great again. We fought hard for the Paris Agreement and the 1.5-degree threshold, the threshold for our survival…. Greatness is most apparent with climate action. Failure is not an option.”

Read more in this Pacific Standard story.

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Sunday set: Landscape textures

Iceland revisited

Iceland is the kind of place where you could lose myself for a lifetime between the sea, sky and mountains, not to mention the soft, high-latitude light that sparks nature’s inner light, lending a glow to every scene. A few more galleries here.

Federal judge nixes Wolf Creek development scheme

Forest Service violated federal law with land swap approval

A map included in a feasibility analysis shows the lands near Wolf Creek proposed for a trade.

By Bob Berwyn

*Read previous Summit Voice coverage here

A federal court judge has put an end to a 30-year battle over a proposed resort development at Wolf Creek Pass.

Ruling that the U.S. Forest Service violated federal law when it made an arbitrary and capricious decision to approve a land exchange near Wolf Creek Ski Area, U.S. District Court Judge Richard Matsch set aside the agency’s 2015 approval for a land trade that would have enabled large-scale resort development., The decisions says the Forest Service failed to look closely at the environmental impacts of its decision, and failed to listen to the public before making its decision. Continue reading “Federal judge nixes Wolf Creek development scheme”

Thirsty Las Vegas pushes legislative water grab

Nevada water zombies seek legislative sanction for destructive groundwater exploitation.

Proposed bill would enable desert-killing groundwater exploitation

Staff Report

After failing several times to win approval for a new groundwater depletion scheme via regulatory channels, the Southern Nevada Water Authority is now pursuing a legislative water grab that could devastate fragile desert ecosystems and push some endangered species even closer to extinction.

Most recently, the Nevada Supreme Court rejected the Las Vegas bid for a new pipeline.

Assembly Bill 298 would enable for groundwater export projects that would harm prings and wetlands, degrade air quality with fugitive dust and impact existing water rights holders. During the hearing numerous members of conservation groups and the public spoke to vigorously oppose the bill. Continue reading “Thirsty Las Vegas pushes legislative water grab”

Global warming drives more extreme rainfall

Summer rainstorm in the Rocky Mountains. @bberwyn photo.

New study pinpoints regional patterns in changes

Staff Report

Basic physics tells us a warmer atmosphere can hold more moisture, and that, at some point, that moisture will condense and fall as rain. That’s why climate scientists are certain that global warming will lead to more extreme rainfall, as has already been documented in various parts of the world the past few decades.

A new study now helps quantify the impact of warming and also reveals regional patterns that will help people prepare. According to the researchers with MIT and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, the most extreme rain events in most regions of the world will increase in intensity by 3 to 15 percent, depending on region, for every degree Celsius that the planet warms. Continue reading “Global warming drives more extreme rainfall”

Sunday set: Spring greens

Verdant …


While most people picture majestic, glacier-clad crags when they think of the Alps, the great European mountain range has a softer side at its far eastern edge, where the mountains gradually taper off toward the Danube Valley, just west of Vienna. The temperate climate in these foothills is perfect for apple and pear trees, growing so prolifically that there’s and entire district dedicated to the production of tasty cider. And in the famed Wienerwald (Vienna Woods), thick silver-barked beech trees dominate the forests. Just a bit farther south and west, the first high peaks of the Alps rise up to the summit of the Ötscher, a landmark peak surrounded by deeply carved valleys where crystal-clear aquamarine streams flow through protected landscapes like the Ötscher-Tormäuer Nature Park. In the last few weeks, the soft greens of spring burst forth in abundance in these landscapes near Austria’s first city, and we’re looking forward to more explorations this summer.

Can grizzlies survive global warming?

New study shows many bears still rely on dwindling whitebark pine seeds

An adult grizzly bear in the brush. Photo courtesy USFWS.

Staff Report

The long-term survival of grizzles in the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem may depend on whether they’re willing to switch from eating whitebark pine seeds to other types food.

Some of the bears have already started responding to reductions in whitebark trees by consuming more plants and berries, while others are still focused on finding stashes of the nutritious pine nuts, scientists said in a new study based on analyzing the chemical composition of what the grizzlies eat. Continue reading “Can grizzlies survive global warming?”