Environment Forum

March of the beetles bodes ill for American forests

August 4, 2009

MEDICINE BOW NATIONAL FOREST, Wyoming – From the vantage point of an 80-foot (25 meter) tower rising above the trees, the Wyoming vista seems idyllic: snow-capped peaks in the distance give way to shimmering green spruce.

Timber! Big trees declining in Yosemite

August 3, 2009

Large diameter trees are not doing well in California’s Yosemite National Park — there were 24 percent fewer in a recent decade than the 1930s, the U.S. Geological Survey and University of Washington scientists said in a new report. Climate change is the likely culprit they say, cutting snow pack, which cuts available water, which cuts growth of big trees, which cuts production of seeds for new trees, which — you get the idea, but basically the whole ecosystem is strained.Meanwhile, fewer fires has led to growth in the type of trees that are not fire-resistant — so future fires may be particularly bad, especially with warmer, drier conditions.The comparison of trees in 1988-1999 versus 1932-1936 was published in Forest Ecology and Management.California’s Yosemite may not be alone — Polish woods also face an uncertain future due to climate change, according to a new Reuters story.Photo by ROBERT GALBRAITH/REUTERS

Sage, wind and grouse: The “brown” side of clean energy?

August 3, 2009

CARBON, Wyoming – They used to mine coal in the abandoned town of Carbon. Now this patch of southern Wyoming is a battleground in the debate over what many hope will be the clean energy source of the future: wind power.

The Case Of The Forged Letters – a cap-and-trade mystery

July 31, 2009


A half-dozen fake letters, signed by people who don’t seem to exist and who work at made-up jobs, are causing a bit of buzz in the environmental world — mostly because the letters urged a Virginia congressman to vote against a cap-and-trade system to curb climate change.

Futurist says dollars mean bright future for solar energy

July 25, 2009

   Solar power may bring us cleaner air and clearer skies. Nice, yes. But it’s money — not saving Mother Earth — that will catapult solar energy past dirty coal-fueled power plants.

Seas rise — vast amounts of ice melt for every 1 mm gain

July 24, 2009

It takes the equivalent of a massive chunk of ice of 390 cubic kms (150 cubic miles) to raise world sea levels by one millimetre, according to David Carlson, director of the International Programme Office of the International Polar Year.

Between Bangkok, Barcelona and a big bang (with one eye on Capitol Hill)

July 22, 2009

For those keeping track, there are five months left before the December meeting in Copenhagen where the world is supposed to agree on how to tackle climate change after crucial aspects of the carbon-capping Kyoto Protocol expire. Before they can agree on anything, they have to have a document to work from, and that’s where people like Michael Zammit Cutajar come in.

Countering the contrarians on global warming

July 17, 2009

Just how hot is it going to get?

That’s what everyone wants to know, and the focus of a lot of research. But parsing through the science can present some problems, with plenty of opportunity for mischief.

Sarah Palin’s new focus

July 15, 2009

Admit it: we all wondered just what Sarah Palin would turn her time and talents to after she announced her resignation from the Alaska governor’s job, and now she’s given what looks like an answer. In an op-ed column in The Washington Post, Palin took a swipe at Washington insiders and the mainstream media for ignoring the economy, and then tipped her hand.

How much would you pay?

July 8, 2009

What’s the real cost of global warming? More to the point, how much would you — the person reading this blog — be comfortable paying to stave off the worse ravages of climate change? A hundred bucks to keep the rising seas out of your back yard? A thousand to replenish mountain snowpack? Maybe a few dollars to put more trees back in the rainforest?