Category: Europe

Sunday set: Changing world

Global warming will irrevocably alter the face of the Earth

The more I report on climate change and the environment, the more I learn to cherish the landscapes that I see, because it’s really starting to sink in that humankind, during this Anthropocene Age, is fundamentally changing Earth’s ecosystems, altering the climate and impacting the landscape on levels seem almost inconceivable.

Take the Danube River (or most other major rivers, for that matter), where I spent a few hours Saturday afternoon swimming to cool of from a hot summer day in the city. While the water offered cool relief, I couldn’t stop thinking about a story I wrote a few years ago about scientists who discovered how, at times, there’s more plastic pollution than fish larvae in Europe’s second-biggest stream.

And watching sunset colors tinge the Ötscher, the highest peak peak in the eastermost reaches of the Alps, was a reminder that global warming is inexorably changing mountain ecosystems to the detriment not only of nature, but to ancient agricultural practices that are a culturally important part of life in the Alps. Continue reading “Sunday set: Changing world”

Sunday set: Summer’s comin’

Poppies and pollinators

Nothing says summer like big thunderboomers building up, unless maybe it’s a tall glass of raspberry mint lemonade or a field of brilliant red poppies. For the Sunday set we compiled a few images from the past week with a focus on bright summer colors. The solstice is right around the corner so get out and enjoy those long days!

Morning photo: Subway doodles

iPhone edits


Since everybody on the subway in Vienna stares into their “Handy” pretty much the entire time they’re on board a train, I thought I would do the same during a recent jaunt to Heiligenstadt. But rather than texting or checking email, I played with a couple of photo apps to put together this short plant-oriented set. The three edited shots are from Vienna, including the great, green chestnut leaves; the other two pics are from a slot canyon in southern Austria, the Heiligengeistklamm, so I could’ve called this set from the holy gorge to the holy city. What can I say — it’s a Catholic country.

Sunday set: Snap!

Point-and-shoot …

Using a camera can be serious business, documenting war crimes, environmental destruction, or solemn ceremonies. But it can also be a form totally whimsical, in-the-moment recreation — let’s call it visual play. In that spirit, here’s a set from the streets of Vienna.

Morning photo: The gorge

A short hike in Styria

We had a chance to explore the Heiligengeistklamm (Gorge of the holy spirit) in southern Austria last weekend, doing a little loop hike that took us up along the stream close to waterfalls and lush wildflower blooms, and returning to the trail head on open slopes criss-crossing vineyards and elderberry orchards. I didn’t even know there was such a thing as elderberry orchards until I saw the carefully pruned trees just about to burst into full bloom. The gorge is along the famed south Styrian wine road, just a few miles from the Austrian border with Slovenia near the town of Leutschach.

Morning photo: Countryside …

Spring landscapes

The Lower Austrian landscape encompasses everything from wild beech forests and deep river canyons to manicured fields — not to mention acres and acres of vineyard, but that’s another story! Austrians are still getting used to the concept of national parks. Thayatal was founded in 2002, so some local visitors still don’t quite understand why the park managers simply leave downed trees on the ground. It’s considered a waste by some, and the park features signs explaining how it’s a deliberate effort to recreate landscapes where natural processes are left to function without much interference. In this small country, nearly every acre of land is spoken for, most of it outside towns and cities dedicated to agriculture, but slowly, resource managers are making some headway in restoring natural ecosystems in a few areas, to the benefit of native species.

Morning photo: Spring in Vienna

Downtown Wien …


It doesn’t take long for Vienna to wake from its winter sleep. Just as soon as temperatures get into the 50s and 60s and the sun peaks out a little, cafes set up their outside tables where people huddle around even if they still have to wear a winter coat. In the parks and town squares, flowering trees add splashes of color to the neighborhood scene, and ping pong enthusiasts can strike up a friendly game in the park near the Flakturm. But keep your umbrella handy because April showers are not uncommon in the Danube metropolis.