Category: Europe

Sunday set: Environmental journeys

Seeking knowledge …


I’ve been reporting on the environment for 21 years, so it’s not surprising that, even when I’m traveling on vacation, I tend to see nearly everything through a certain prism. That may be a blessing and a curse at the same time. It might be nice, every now and then, to completely tune out from the world’s problems and just live hedonistically. On the other hand, I feel like I can really connect with the people and places I’m seeing by understanding them in an environmental context. And in reality, I don’t really separate work and play all that much anymore. This past summer’s trek through the Austrian Alps to learn about climate change and sustainable mountain agriculture was a wonderful experience. Being a journalist gives me an excuse to exercise my curiosity. You can read about the environment and culture of the Austrian Alms here, and learn more about melting Arctic ice may affect you in this story

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EU warns of persistent air quality violations

5 countries now on notice face potential legal action

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Clouds and haze over Vienna, Austria, where particulate air pollution often exceeds standards set to protect human health. @bberwyn photo.

By Bob Berwyn

Five large EU countries are on warning after repeatedly failing to meet air pollution  standards for nitrogen oxide, a precursor to smog and a serious health risk in and of itself. If Member States fail to act within two months, the Commission may decide to take the matter to the Court of Justice of the EU.

Studies have shown that more than 400,000 people die prematurely each year due to poor air quality, while millions more suffer from respiratory and cardiovascular diseases. Persistently high levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) caused almost 70 000 premature deaths in Europe in 2013, which was almost three times the number of deaths by road traffic accidents in the same year.

Because of the persistent breaches, the European Commission this week sent final warning to  Germany, France, Spain, Italy and the United Kingdom, urging those countries to improve air quality and safeguard public health.

Continue reading “EU warns of persistent air quality violations”

Sunday set: France flashback

Summer daze …


Revisiting the Mediterranean coast of France and Italy in this set, and dreaming about summer days to come. Visit the Summit Voice Sunday Set archive, and check out our online gallery for more landscape and nature photography.

Sunday set: Mountain love

Go higher …


Time revisit a couple of favorite mountains scenes in the Summit Voice archives, and time to remember that global warming is going alter some mountain landscapes irrevocably, not it the far distant future, but within a few decades. For example, a new study shows how warming will alter basic soil chemistry by speeding up microbial activity and shifting the balance of key nutrients. This will displace some plants and probably eliminate others. And as much as we appreciate forested landscapes, climate change is driving the spread of tree-killing insects, as shown by the latest aerial survey of Colorado forests. Check out more environmental and nature photography from Summit Voice at our online gallery, or visit the Sunday Set archives.

Sunday set: Along the Thaya

Forest fun

Early spring is a very special time in the forest, as the ecosystem begins to stir after a long winter nap. Even though winter grasses and dry leaves dominate, it’s easy to feel the new life pushing toward the surface, called by the sun. These shots were taken in Thayatal National Park, on the border of Austria and Czechia. Visit our online gallery for more landscape and nature images, and check out all the past Sunday Set series in the Summit Voice archives.

Sunday set: New Year

Oh, snap!

Winter’s a bit late, but better late than never. We’ve compiled a few scenes from the first week of 2017, from Vienna to the Weinviertel. Click here to see more photography from Summit Voice, and visit our online gallery for a full selection of fine art landscape and nature photography.

Sunday set: Last days of autumn

Fading sun …

There’s a certain magic to the light in the last few days of fall. Here at 48 degrees north, the sun just doesn’t get very high above the horizon. Passing through the atmosphere at that low angle seems to warm the sun’s rays, so that even when the air is chilly, the light is saturated. No matter where you are, it’s a great time to go out and feel the rhythm of the seasons. Here in the lowlands of eastern Austria, that means long walks in the woods or vineyards, or in one of the extensive parks within the city limits of Vienna. Happy solstice!