Global warming will irrevocably alter the face of the Earth
Rocky Mountain National Park Pano, mid-summer.
Der Ötscher (1,893M), the easternmost outpost of the Alps in Lower Austria.
Thick ice surrounds a jagged mountain range in south-central Greenland.
A popular local swimming hole along the Danube River in the town of Greifenstein, near Vienna.
An arch iceberg in the Antarctic Sound.
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”
Poppies and pollinators
Cityscape, with building thunderstorms.
Thunderstorms building over downtown Vienna.
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!
The alley …
By any other name …
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.
A leafy chestnut tree canopy offers cool green relief from late spring heat in Vienna.
Lemonade the way it should be, with slices of ginger, lemon and orange and a few sprigs of mint.
A ‘secret’ lilac garden set in the courtyard of one of Vienna’s many public housing projects.
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.
A short hike in Styria
Styrian wine country.
Spring fungi in the moist environs of the Heiligengeistklamm in southern Austria.
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.
Dried grass glows under afternoon sunlight against the backdrop of a dark forest in Thayatal National Park, Lower Austria.
Late afternoon light shimmers on budding trees in Thayatal National Park, Lower Austria.
A fallen beech in Thayatal National Park, Austria.
Green tinged fields in Lower Austria under an evening sky.
A spring rainstorm builds above the agricultural plains north of Vienna, Austria.
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.
Downtown Wien …
Near the Flakturm in Vienna’s 7th district, a couple of locals try an early ping pong game at a public table.
Downtown dog-walking at the corner of Lindengasse and Neubaugasse in Wien’s 7th district.
Bubble blower, Mariahilferstrasse, Vienna.
Rainy day pinks at the Siebensternplatz in Wien.
Early spring in the Mondscheingasse, 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.