Category Archives: climate change

Friday Faves: Protecting Wild Places and Helping Haiti

James Balog of the Extreme Ice Survey will speak next Friday at The Conservation Alliance's breakfast in Salt Lake City. The Extreme Ice Survey is the most wide-ranging glacier study ever conducted using ground-based, real-time photography.

This week at Under Solen, we’ve been gearing up for next week’s Outdoor Retailer show in Salt Lake City. While all of our heads will be swimming with meetings, happy hours and gear, we’re hoping to keep our eye on the the thread that holds all of this together — protecting those incredible wild places that keep our industry alive and kicking.

So, we thought we’d give a shout-out to a couple great groups that are walking the walk this week.

The Conservation Alliance

Since thier founding in 1989, the Conservation Alliance has contributed more than $7 million to conservation projects throughout North America — protecting more than 49 million acres of land, stop or remove 27 dams, and preserve access to thousands of miles of rivers and several climbing areas. The Alliance is a group of outdoor industry companies that disburses its collective annual membership dues to grassroots environmental organizations to protect threatened wild habitat, preferably where outdoor enthusiasts recreate. The Alliance was founded in 1989 by industry leaders REI, Patagonia, The North Face, and Kelty, who shared the goal of increasing outdoor industry support for conservation efforts.

Mark your calendars for their awesome breakfast at 7a.m. on Friday at the Marriot. We know it’s early, but this will give you the inspiration you need to get revved up for a day at the show. Look forward to founder and director of The Extreme Ice Survey, James Balog to give a stunning look at the impact abrupt climate change is having on the world’s glaciers.

And make sure to stop by participating booths to support the Alliance! Whether you’re looking for some wild inspiration, a rockin’ party or some sweet gear that benefits a great cause – they have packed line-up.

The Epicocity Project and iLCP Flathead RAVE

Grizzly bear captured on film by iLCP photographer Joe Riis ©iLCP Flathead RAVE

The Epicocity Project’s thought-provoking new film — Flathead Wild — will premiere at the Wild & Scenic Film Festival at the Nevada Theater in Nevada City, Calif. Saturday, Jan. 16 before going on tour.

Proposed mountaintop removal mining in southeastern British Columbia, Canada is threatening one of America’s most endangered rivers and one of North America’s wildest remaining valley — The Flathead. Flathead Wild follows the International League of Conservation Photographers (iLCP) as they descend on the Flathead River Valley, along with local conservation groups, to take breathtaking and iconic images of the threatened ecosystem. These images then act as tools for the Flathead coalition to help tip the scales in favor of protection and conservation.

Flathead Wild is also now available online. Help Epicocity spread the word by linking to the film on your blog, Facebook and Twitter and send it to your friends and family!

Helping Haiti

And we wanted to once again highlight how we can help folks in Haiti. Earlier this week, an earthquake registering 7.0 on the Richter scale hit Haiti. Centered just outside of the populated capital, Port-au-Prince, the quake’s effects have been devastating. Within less than 24 hours the outpouring of international support has been impressive.

So how can you take part? Here’s just a small collection of what’s out there.


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Copenhagen’s Newest Bike Designs

Last week we wrote about Copenhagen’s commitment to providing bikes for conference delegates to ride. But it’s not just the UN conference that’s making the city embrace cycling, bike culture has been a big deal in the Danish capital for quite some time now. Danes believe in the power of cycling so much, that the city of Copenhagen wants 50% of the population to be commuting by bike in the metropolitan area by 2015. That would be a 40% increase from today’s numbers.

What’s the environmental impact of commuting by bike? In the U.S. alone, we could save 462 million gallons of gas a year by increasing the number of bicycle trips by just half a percentage point: from 1% to 1.5% of all trips.

But back to Copenhagen. How exactly do you inspire a whole city to commit to two wheels? Come up with a sleek design for bike share cycles, providing everyone in the city with access to two wheeled adventures. Earlier this year there was a contest to do just that, and this week the winner was announced. The winning designs — called My Loop and Open Bike — are so cool, we figured we’d feature them here to give you a visual of what cycling in Copenhagen will look like in the very near future.

Images via: Below the Clouds (our favorite Swedish design blog!!)

As the world gathers in Copenhagen for the UN Climate Change Conference, we’re following along by covering all sorts of aspects of the issue and the conference. You can read all of our climate related posts here.

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Copenhagen Drama: Developing Countries Pull the Plug

Copenhagen has turned chaotic as 130 developing countries have pulled the “emergency plug” on the international climate talks.

Here is the official statement of Jeremy Hobbs, Executive Director of Oxfam:

Africa has pulled the emergency cord to avoid a train crash at the end of the week. Poor countries want to see an outcome which guarantees sharp emissions reductions yet rich countries are trying to delay discussions on the only mechanism we have to deliver this – the Kyoto Protocol.

This not about blocking the talks – it is about whether rich countries are ready to guarantee action on climate change and the survival or people in Africa and across the world.

“Australia and Japan are crying foul while blocking movement on legally binding emissions reductions for rich countries. This tit for tat approach is no way to deal with the climate crisis.”

African countries have refused to continue negotiations unless talks on a second commitment period to the Kyoto Protocol are prioritized ahead of broader discussions under a second LCA track. Australia, Japan and others have succeeded in stopping Kyoto Protocol discussions as a result. Of the two tracks of negotiations underway in Copenhagen the Kyoto Protocol is the only one which includes a mechanism for legally binding emissions reductions by rich countries.

So what does it all mean? Developing countries don’t want to be walked all over by the wealthy ones, particularly since it’s often smaller, poorer countries that feel the severe effects of climate change. You can read a statement regarding climate change by the G77 here.

You can also keep up to date with the breaking news over at Huffington Post.

As the world gathers in Copenhagen for the UN Climate Change Conference, we’re following along by covering all sorts of aspects of the issue. You can read all of our climate related posts here.

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Sweden Supports Developing Countries With $1 Billion in Climate Aid

Denmark is the country on everybody’s mind these days, but another Scandinavian powerhouse just joined the list for taking climate change action. Sweden announced this week that it would provide the European Union with 8 billion kronor ($1.12 billion) to help developing countries deal with the effects of climate change.

Europe as a whole will be taking steps to support developing countries in fighting climate change; the EU has pledged a total of €2 billion ($2.94 billion) annual endowment to help these places.

Sweden isn’t only investing money in supporting other countries, domestically the government has applied an equally progressive policy, pledging five billion kronor ($7o5 million) in reducing climate impact and adaptation to climate change between 2009 and 2011.

We applaud our Scandinavian friends for their efforts!

As the world gathers in Copenhagen for the UN Climate Change Conference, we’re following along by covering all sorts of aspects of the issue. You can read all of our climate related posts here.


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Bicycles Just Might Save The World

Yesterday we found out that “The 00s” have been the hottest decade on record and the U.S. and several other wealthy countries were caught drafting secret a climate proposal in Copehagen. After such depressing news, we decided a more uplifting post was in order.

Enter the bicycle. Living in Portland, we’re immersed in the wonder of bicycling every day. Even with the ridiculously cold weather we’ve been having, there’s no doubt Portlanders know biking is the way to go. And we’re glad to see that delegates in Copenhagen are embracing the CO2-neutral way to get around as well.

From The COP 15 Blog:

The temperature in Copenhagen is just above freezing point, yet most of the 200 free bicycles parked outside the Bella Center are already rented out.

“We want to give delegates the chance to experience the Danish way of riding bikes no matter what the weather conditions are. Actually, delegates are very happy to take the bikes to their hotels and to meetings in the city,” says Henrik Smedegaard Mortensen from Bicikeli.

Bicikeli is an initiative to lower CO2 emissions in Denmark and create access to healthcare in Africa. The organisation has provided 160 free bicycles for COP15.

After the conference the bicycles will be re-fitted with trailers and sent to Tanzania where they can be used to transport patients to health care centers.

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Who’s Emitting? The Big, and Small, Players in CO2 Emissions

In our ongoing coverage about how climate change is affecting us and how people in the U.S. are taking action, today we bring you a couple of graphics and statistics to show just who’s emitting carbon. Thanks to the New York Times for the visuals. And if you’re interested in carbon emissions per capita, make your way over to this useful Google guide, made with World Bank data, that you can easily search by country, and compare statistics.

The U.S. – 20% of emissions, 30% of G.D.P. 5% of people.

Per capita, the U.S. emits 19.5 metric tons of CO2. The world average? 4.5.

European Union – 15% of emissions, 25% of G.D.P., 8% of people

Annex 1 countries – 51% of emissions, 75% of GDP, 19% of people

These are the developed countries required under the Kyoto Protocol of 1997 to reduce emissions. If you remember, the U.S. refused to ratify the treaty.

Small island states -1% of emissions, 1% of GDP, 1% of people

Although these places are responsible for a very little percentage of carbon emissions, the 39-member Association of Small Island States is perhaps the most at risk because of climate change. With just minor rises in sea levels, provoked by climate change, many of the islands would become uninhabitable.

No matter what numbers you look at, it’s clear that we’re ALL affected by climate change, necessitating a progressive plan of action.

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Scientists Studying Climate Change in Yellowstone

Today marks the first day of the Copenhagen Climate Conference. Here at Under Solen we’re hoping for a strong plan of action, so for the length of the conference, we’ll be posting a story each day about how climate change is affecting us and how people in the U.S. are taking action.

Some folks like Bill McKibben are thinking big, others are looking for local solutions, but we hope to do our part to put climate change action at center stage — where it belongs.

Our first story comes from one of our country’s most iconic national parks…

Spasm Geyser is one of hundreds at Yellowstone — including Old Faithful — that may be affected by global warming. Park officials worry that receding groundwater levels could diminish the geysers' dramatic displays. (Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times)

Yellowstone National Park’s virtually intact ecosystem is a perfect place for scientists to study the biological effects of climate change. Yellowstone is one of 20 U.S. sites selected to be part of the National Ecological Observatory Network. The observatory will gather ecological and climate data, which will be collated with information from sites around North America and used to detail and forecast wide-scale ecological and climate shifts.

From the LA Times:

Reporting from Yellowstone National Park — Roy Renkin is a biologist by training but a detective by inclination, and something about the willows was nagging him.

The shrubs flanking a creek in Yellowstone’s Blacktail drainage had never grown so tall and lush. But why?

Many of the park’s scientists theorized it was related to the successful reintroduction of wolves, which might have pushed elk out of the area, putting an end to the constant nibbling that stunted willows’ growth.

But this summer, Renkin and a colleague arrived at their own theory: climate change.

Warmer temperatures have extended the park’s growing season for plants by up to 30%. Renkin found that given the additional growing time, willows produced powerful defensive compounds that made them unpalatable to wildlife, enabling some to grow more than twice as high.

The tentative findings are a small piece of a much larger climate puzzle whose effects are making themselves known at national parks across the country. In some cases, the changes are imperiling the very features that define some of the nation’s most-beloved parks.

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