Boulder residents are wondering if something good could come from this bitterly cold weather, namely a decrease in the pine beetles attacking lodgepole and ponderosa pine trees.Unfortunately, the answer is no. Despite highs of 12, 3 and 10 degrees for Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively, the beetles will return this summer.
“It’s very unlikely that these temperatures will be cold enough to significantly affect the pine beetles,” said Tom Veblen, professor of geography at the University of Colorado at Boulder.
Data collected by D.A. Leatherman, I. Aguayo, and T.M. Mehall in their report, “Mountain Pine Beetle,” determined that temperatures of at least 30 degrees below zero (Fahrenheit) must last for five days at the least in order for freezing temperatures to make an impact on the pine beetle population.
Veblen explains that the cold’s duration is necessary because the beetles are in an extreme state of dormancy during the winter, offering them great protection. Also, the recorded temperatures are vastly different from what the beetles experience.
“The temperature at the weather station is likely to be quite a bit colder (than where the beetle is,) beneath the snow and beneath the bark,” he said.
To the dismay of many, the beetles will be back.
For more information about the recent cold spell, see “Temperatures in Boulder climb back towards normal.”
It’s a good sign when the largest presence in town takes serious steps to reduce its energy use:
CU’s conservation efforts also are a move toward meeting Gov. Bill Ritter’s executive orders to decrease fuel consumption 25 percent, cut energy and paper use 20 percent, water use 10 percent and incorporate zero-waste operations statewide by 2012.
A team of CU leaders is focused on reducing water use 30 million gallons a year by 2012. So far, CU has installed 890 dual-flush handles for toilets.
Dave Newport, director of the CU Environmental Center, said the school’s next step is a 20 percent greenhouse gas reduction by 2020, and the school is on pace to achieve that goal.
LEED-certified green buildings are great for the environment, but as it turns out, they maybe not great for your cell signal.
At the University of Colorado, where the number of bars on your cell phone goes up and down as you walk across campus, things are particularly grim in the newly constructed LEED buildings.
For most CU students, spotty cell phone reception has become the norm on campus and has gotten worse with the construction of new environmentally friendly buildings. University officials say they’re hard at work on ways to improve cell phone service on campus.
A recent analysis of signal strength found that there are weak spots across campus, particularly in newly constructed buildings that meet LEED environmental standards, said Greg Stauffer, communications manager for CU’s Information Technology Services.
“The problems in LEED buildings had to do with improved insulation and UV filtering windows affecting signal strength,” Stauffer said. “It was an unexpected effect of the new construction, but we’re working on addressing the issue as quickly as possible.”
Each year, the Camera’s Alicia Wallace takes a look at the top 50 Boulder county employers. This year’s private sector leaders included three companies you’d think of as green types right away, and of course plenty that have some kind of environmental initiative or another.
For reference, IBM is at the top with about 2,800 employees and public sector employers remain huge in Boulder, of course, with the University of Colorado far outsizing everybody else at nearly 7,000 employees, followed by the Boulder Valley School District and St. Vrain Valley School District at about 2,700 apiece.
The University of Colorado is making changes to its recycling program that will make participation twice as easy. (Actually, 2.5 times as easy, if you’re a math person.)
Now, recycling locations around CU still have five bins — which to a lot of us Boulderites seems, well, pretty old school. (Read more about they city’s single-stream recycling on BigGreenBoulder.) The plan, according to an article in the Daily Camera, is to implement “dual-stream” recycling, which would cut the number of bins to two: one for paper and one for pretty much everything else.
In the 1950′s, meteorologists across the nation lacked the efficient tools, technologies, and computers they needed to perfect their art. They were in great need of a well-equipped science center where scientists specializing in all disciplines of meteorology could collaborate to create more accurate and sophisticated forecasts and models.
In response to this need, the National Science Foundation backed the formation of the National Center for Atmospheric Research in 1960, and Boulder was chosen as its home. Read more
With the United Nations climate change conference under way this month in Copenhagen, many journalists face the challenge of covering an extremely complex issue. To help journalists — and anyone else who is curious — understand climate change, Tom Yulsman, an associate professor at the University of Colorado’s School of Journalism & Mass Communication, has created a free, four-hour, online course titled “Covering Climate Change.”
1. What exactly is the climate change debate?
There is no one debate. Reporters fall into this trap, and readers fall into this trap of accepting that there is just one debate. There’s science, and there’s policy. Within science, there are dozens of debates about the various risks that we can expect over the future. There’s not terribly much debate on the big question whether humans are causing climate change. There’s pretty robust agreement on that. Within policy, there are all sorts of debates. There are even debates about how should science inform policy-making decisions.
Students from the University of Colorado who participated in a class on film and climate change will screen their own global warming flicks tonight on campus.
Matthew McAllister flips off the lights when he leaves his dorm room. He refills his water bottle instead of buying plastic ones, and he rations himself one paper towel when he dries his hands.
But a single flight to Washington, D.C., that he took this semester for a political science course canceled out his efforts, the University of Colorado student says.
He calculates that he would need to recycle 708 aluminum cans to offset his portion of the carbon dioxide emitted by the plane.
“While I would like to think these small, conscious efforts make a difference, the truth is I know they don’t,” McAllister says.
For a course on film and climate change, McAllister produced a short video about the challenges he has with his carbon footprint, as well as environmental equality. (His portion of CO2 for the plane trip was about the same amount that an average person in Tanzania uses all year).
Some students at the University of Colorado are demanding that the school purchase all its eggs from vendors that let their chickens run free.
CU says the switch would cost them at least $70,000, which would be hard to justify in the current economic climate.
The Partnership for Animal Welfare group has gathered more than 1,000 student signatures asking that CU start buying cage-free eggs because the battery cages are so cramped that hens can’t even spread their wings, according to CU student Suzanne Spiegel.
On average, each caged laying hen is given 67 square inches of cage space, which is smaller than a single sheet of letter-sized paper, according to the Humane Society of the United States.
The University of Colorado is considering a ban on disposable plastic bottles as part of an effort to become a greener campus.
Students would be encouarged to fill up their reusable water bottles at “hydration stations” around campus.
But there’s a hitch to the plan.
One problem, though, is the university doesn’t want to take money away from a fund — supported with vending machine revenue — that awards scholarship money to the children of faculty and staff members.
At first, CU leaders were looking at ridding the campus of just plastic water bottles, said Deb Coffin, associate vice chancellor and dean of students. But, she said, they worried about unintended consequences — such as students opting instead for more bottled sodas.
“We’d like to not have plastic bottles at all,” Coffin said. …
The campus brings in about $280,000 a year from the money that people spend on snacks and soda sold at campus vending machines, officials said last fall. Part of that revenue goes to a scholarship program in which full-time CU employees can receive $750 for their dependents one semester every year.