Category: Environment

Global warming is bad news for coffee lovers

It may get harder to find that perfect espresso in our globally warmer future. @bberwyn photo.

Study shows how coffee plants suffer even during short heatwaves

Staff report

Heatwaves are becoming more common in a world warmed by heat-trapping greenhouse gas pollution, and at some point in the not-too-distant future, that could spell bad news for your morning cup of wake-me-up.

Scientists with Oregon State University’s College of Forestry have showed that, when Coffea arabica plants were subjected to short-duration heat waves, they became unable to produce flowers and fruit. That means no coffee beans, and no coffee to drink.

C. arabica is the globe’s dominant coffee-plant species, accounting for 65 percent of the commercial production of the nearly 20 billion pounds of coffee consumed globally each year. The plants grow in 80 countries in four continents in the tropics. Continue reading “Global warming is bad news for coffee lovers”

Advertisements

Arapahoe Basin to host après-ski climate panel talk

April 8 session to focus on ‘nuts & bolts’ of global warming impacts

Dylan Berwyn carves fresh powder in the Alleys at Arapahoe Basin several years ago. @bberwyn photo.

By Bob Berwyn

In an era marked by political attacks on science and deliberate lies about climate change from the highest levels of the U.S. government, including the president and the head of the EPA, it’s more important than ever for Americans to inform themselves with the best possible information about the impacts of global warming.

Skiers have as much to lose as anyone. Glaciers are shrinking everywhere, overall there is less  snow and winters are getting shorter at both ends, but especially in the spring. In a groundbreaking 2013 study, the U.S. Geological study found a 20 percent decline in Rocky Mountain snow cover since 1980.

Another research paper published just this year in meticulous Swiss fashion documented that the snow season has shortened by 37 days since 1970, with a 25 percent decline in the average maximum snow depth across the entire Swiss Alps, at all elevations. The researchers were surprised to find the decline even at the higher mountain weather stations close to famous resorts like Zermatt and Davos.

Skiers need to be part of the solution, not the problem, and the first step is having science-based information to inform your actions. To that end, Arapahoe Basin Ski Area is hosting an April 8 climate science apres ski session featuring researchers who focus on snow, water and climate. The idea is to  address some of the common questions people have about climate change from a nuts and bolts science perspective. The panel will be moderated by ski area chief Alan Henceroth and Lindsay Bourgoine from Protect Our Winters. Continue reading “Arapahoe Basin to host après-ski climate panel talk”

Sunday set: Wien scene

City sights …


A short photographic stroll through a city that consistently ranks near the very top worldwide for quality of life.  Vienna’s coffee houses and parks are definitely part of its charms, but it’s also a European hub science, culture, literature and tech innovation. And there are connections to my old stomping grounds in Colorado. For example, I spent several years following the story of how parasitic whirling disease wiped out most of Colorado’s rainbows, and how biologists were working to restore the popular game fish with a population resistant to the disease. Then last summer, as I was working on a story about a massive fish die-off in the Yellowstone River, my research led me to an Egyptian-born research scientist at the University of Vienna who has been studying various parasitic trout diseases, and linking them with global warming. Turns out that Mansour El-Matbouli also was an instrumental figure in the efforts to breed the strain of rainbow trout that are resistant to whirling disease, and that he had worked closely with aquatic biologists in Colorado that I also had interviewed for my stories in Colorado. We’re facing global environmental challenges, and they require a global and science-based response. It’s a small world.

EPA chief Pruitt facing two separate ethics investigations

New EPA administrator Scott Pruitt wants to undo rules to reduce harmful greenhouse gas pollution from coal-fired power plants like Craig Station in Colorado. @bberwyn photo.

Anti-environmental agency head may have violated EPA policies and lied to Congress under oath

By Bob Berwyn

There’s little question that Scott Pruitt is the worst possible person to lead the EPA. He’s been involved in more than a dozen lawsuits against the agency and he’s called for it to be abolished completely, so it’s no surprise that he’s a target for bitter criticism from conservation groups. But his troubles are about to get much bigger than indignant tweets.

The Sierra Club has filed a formal complaint with the Inspector General of the Environmental Protection Agency demonstrating that EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has violated the Agency’s Scientific Integrity Policy in multiple ways. The filing calls for an investigation into and resolution of Pruitt’s comments on carbon dioxide’s role in fueling the climate crisis.

He’s also now facing an ethics complaint by the Oklahoma Bar Association, which will look at whether Pruitt lied under oath to Congress. Continue reading “EPA chief Pruitt facing two separate ethics investigations”

Conservation advocates start building legal resistance to Trump’s environmental wrecking crew

A surface coal mine in Wyoming. PHOTO COURTESY BLM.

Lawsuit aims to maintain moratorium on federal coal leasing based partly on climate impacts

By Bob Berwyn

As Trump’s sputtering political bulldozer takes aim at public lands, the environment and the climate, conservation advocates are preparing to throw up a few legal roadblocks that could delay for years implementation of the administration’s anti-environmental agenda. The battles Trump has unleashed will begin a new era of uncertainty for American energy companies, even as the market-driven shift to renewable energy continues.

The first lawsuit against the Trump administration’s attack on the environment has already been filed in U.S. District Court in Montana, where Earthjustice attorneys, on behalf of citizen conservation groups and communities, including Native Americans, are seeking to block Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s decision to repeal a coal mining moratorium on public lands. Continue reading “Conservation advocates start building legal resistance to Trump’s environmental wrecking crew”

West Coast states, cities, challenge Trump on climate policies

Leaders vow to fight effort to roll back Clean Power Plan

Mercury, heat-trapping greenhouse gases and other pollutants from the Craig Station power plant in northwest Colorado have global impacts. @bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

The Trump administration will reportedly soon unveil an executive order to try and undo climate policies developed under Obama, but West Coast states say they have intention of going along with that half-baked proposal. Continue reading “West Coast states, cities, challenge Trump on climate policies”

Sunday set: Forests

Trees are our friends

Last week the UN celebrated the International Day of Forests as a way to acknowledge how important forests are to the world. To cynics, it may seem trite lip service by faceless bureaucrats. But in reality, it’s critical that everyone understands how important forests are for the planet. They cover about a  third of the Earth’s land mass and provide livelihoods, medicines, fuel, food and shelter for about 1.6 billion people – including more than 2,000 indigenous cultures. Forests are the most biologically-diverse ecosystems on land, home to more than 80 percent of the terrestrial species of animals, plants and insects. They may also be one of our last, best hopes for slowing climate change. Yet despite all of these priceless ecological, economic, social and health benefits, global deforestation continues at the rate of about 32 million acres per year, equivalent to 10-20 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions contributing to climate change. Check out my article and photo essay for Pacific Standard to learn more about forests, especially for ways you can get involved in helping to protect and restore them.