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Environment, news, culture from the Australian Alps

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climate change

TAS fire grows to 10,000 ha. ‘There’s no way of stopping it at this stage’.

A fire is burning out of control in the south west of Tasmania. It started as a result of a lightning strike on December 27. It is being reported that it has already grown to 10,000 hectares and currently considered ‘out of control’ and hence fire services are unable to contain it. The ABC reports that 150 members of the Tasmanian Fire Service are currently fighting it but ‘there’s no way of stopping it at this stage’.

It threatens iconic areas like Lake Rhona and is moving towards Mt Field National Park and the towns of Maydena, Tyenna and National Park. A westerly change which is passing through the state could change direction of the fire so check the Tasmania Fire Service (TFS) website for details if you’re in the area (see below for all links).

Header image of the fire comes from http://satview.bom.gov.au/

Continue reading “TAS fire grows to 10,000 ha. ‘There’s no way of stopping it at this stage’.”

BOM/ CSIRO state of the climate report – (another) wake up call

We know that climate change is already impacting on the mountains and ecosystems that we love. Tree and plant species are threatened, fire seasons are becoming longer and more intense, and winter snow is in long term decline.

There are two key take home messages from the data that is available:

  • Climate change is impacting now and will get worse during our lifetime,
  • Action now to radically reduce emissions will greatly reduce impacts in the future.

To add to the body of knowledge we already have, the recently released Bureau of Meteorology and CSIRO’s state of the climate report points to a long-term increase in the frequency of extreme heat events, fire weather and drought in coming years.

Continue reading “BOM/ CSIRO state of the climate report – (another) wake up call”

Climate change impacts on ski resorts in the USA

Climate science makes it abundantly clear that winter as we know it is coming to an end. Despite the evidence, the global community – as a whole – continues as if everything is fine. The climate change negotiations that have been underway in Poland had progress blocked by key oil producing nations and those led by climate deniers, like Saudi Arabia, the USA and Russia. Yet there was barely any reaction from the community as vested interests put their profits ahead of the planet.

Denial does not make the problem go away. The evidence keeps building up, like this recent work looking at climate change impacts on ski resorts in the USA.

Continue reading “Climate change impacts on ski resorts in the USA”

‘Evidence of the impact of climate change on our country’s distinct flora and fauna is beginning to emerge’

Evidence about the impact of climate change on our country’s distinct flora and fauna is beginning to emerge. This is not ‘new’ news, this information is already widely available if you care to look for it. What is astonishing is that this growing body of information about the impacts of climate change on the land where we live doesn’t seem to compel more people to act to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Here are some recent examples of how climate change enhanced fire seasons are impacting on mountain environments:

In Tasmania, research has confirmed the trend towards more extreme fire seasons. It suggests that we reached a ‘tipping point’ sometime around the year 2000 and that, since then, there has been an increase in the number of lightning-caused fires and an increase in the average size of the fires, “resulting in a marked increase in the area burnt”.

As temperatures rise and the world’s climate rapidly changes, many plants and animals may not be able to relocate fast enough on their own, and habitats and species could be lost. In Australia warmer temperatures are expected to increase the length and severity of bushfire seasons, which will also cause changes in the distribution of many mountain species.

For instance, increased fire frequency may lead to the loss of alpine ash forests, unless there is human intervention aimed at keeping the species viable in the wild.

Now, a new article from Professor Ary Hoffmann, Nicholas Bell and Dr James Camac, at the University of Melbourne, looking at how we monitor the impacts of climate change on Australia’s terrestrial ecosystems has additional concerning news.

Continue reading “‘Evidence of the impact of climate change on our country’s distinct flora and fauna is beginning to emerge’”

10 US-based ski resorts showing the way on sustainability

We all know that ski resorts have a large environmental footprint. As Outside magazine recently noted, ‘with sprawling mountainside villages, water-guzzling snow machines, and high-powered chairlifts, it’s no secret operating a ski resort can be a dirty business.”

Here in Australia some resorts have taken small steps to reduce their impact, but its still fairly dismal when you consider their overall operations. Outside have recently listed the best 10 US-based resorts when it comes to environmental responsibility. While the bigger resorts that come with having a much larger population have greater financial capacity to change their operations, these examples do provide some ideas for any resorts here who are serious about taking their environmental and climate responsibilities seriously.

Continue reading “10 US-based ski resorts showing the way on sustainability”

“Something changed about 2000″. TAS forests threatened by ‘catastrophic’ bushfires

Widespread wildfires in early 2016 caused devastating damage across large areas of the Tasmanian World Heritage Area, including significant sections of vegetation which is not fire adapted, such as Pencil Pine forests.

At the time, and in follow up investigations, it became clear that increased fire risk due to climate change posed an existential threat to these vegetation types. Now additional research has confirmed the trend towards more extreme fire seasons. It suggests that we reached a ‘tipping point’ sometime around the year 2000 and that, since then, there has been an increase in the number of lightning-caused fires and an increase in the average size of the fires, “resulting in a marked increase in the area burnt”.

Continue reading ““Something changed about 2000″. TAS forests threatened by ‘catastrophic’ bushfires”

‘Ode To Muir’ – a film by Teton Gravity Research – screening in Melbourne

`Teton Gravity’s newest film Ode To Muir “pairs professional snowboarder, adventurer and founder of Protect Our Winters Jeremy Jones with two-time Olympian Elena Hight as they embark on a 60 km human-powered expedition deep into California’s John Muir Wilderness.

Their journey balances the challenges of winter camping, gruelling climbs up the Sierra’s biggest mountains, and aesthetic first descents with personal reflections on the importance of the natural world, and sharing perspectives gleaned from what it truly means to explore a great wilderness”.

Continue reading “‘Ode To Muir’ – a film by Teton Gravity Research – screening in Melbourne”

Aspen resort steps up its activism

Colorado-based ski resort Aspen recently launched a new activist campaign, called Give A Flake, which invites skiers and non-skiers alike to speak out against climate change inaction. It has a number of online tools that help people to easily contact their elected officials and pressure them to act on climate change.

Under the banner of ‘Protect Your Passion. Join the Movement’, Aspen says ‘Sometimes caring about an issue isn’t enough. You have to do something. It’s time to turn our concern about climate change — and yours — into action’.

USA residents can use the Give A Flake website to find out where the elected officials in their area stand on climate change. Then, via Twitter, users can tweet at their local leaders with images and statements that Aspen Skiing Co. has already curated.

Now they’ve taken another step, by inserting campaign postcards into outdoor magazines. The idea is that people will then send these to key politicians, urging them to act decisively on climate change issues. As the mid term elections in the USA get closer, more and more people, organisations and businesses are encouraging people to get out and vote (Patagonia have even taken the unusual position of endorsing two candidates).

Continue reading “Aspen resort steps up its activism”

#VoteTheOutdoors

The outdoor recreation community is huge. The outdoor recreation industry is equally large, employing many thousands of people and generating billions of dollars of economic activity each year (the Australian ski industry alone generates more than $1.8 billion a year and employs more than 18,000 people).

Yet the outdoor industry, taken as a whole, remains curiously silent on key issues like park protection, threats to wild areas and climate change. There are a few standouts, like Patagonia, but generally they’re missing in action on the key issues of our time.

Not so in the USA, where the election of the anti environment Trump administration has radically heightened the already active outdoor sector. With the mid term elections happening soon, which will have enormous implications for the balance of power in both houses of federal government (and hence Trump’s ability to implement his negative agenda), the Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) has launched an impressive  #VoteTheOutdoors campaign to mobilise people concerned about climate and protecting wild nature.

Continue reading “#VoteTheOutdoors”

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