The Year Ahead Abroad, What Coal Trains Mean to Railway Engineers, Less Snow & More Blizzards, and the Oregon Spotted Frog

Peter ThomsonNew Nooze today, and lots of multimedia! First, a podcast from Peter Thomson with PRI's The World:

Peter Thomson on the Year Ahead Abroad in Environment and Energy

Increasing energy demands around the world will mean a continuing focus on other fuel sources and climate change, said Peter Thomson of PRI’s The World, including the use of coal in countries like China and the safety of hydraulic fracturing and nuclear power. Other areas to watch include water, agriculture, and possible tipping points like dieback in the Amazon rainforest... Listen here. 


Amanda PeacherNext, Amanda Peacher contributes to Oregon Public Broadcasting's EarthFix and looks at coal trains from a different perspective:

What More Coal Trains Mean to a Railway Engineer

Robert Hill is an engineer for BNSF Railway. He conducts some of the coal trains that travel through the Northwest. To Hill, concerns about coal dust and noise from coal trains are overblown.

Coal trains have been coming through many communities for many years, Hill says, and there has never been an issue with coal dust — or with coal, period. What coal export terminals will mean for the region, Hill says, is more jobs and an economic boon.

Although his mind is made up, Hill says he appreciates that communities want to have a say about moving coal through the Northwest. That includes his hometown of Washougal, Wash. It’s on a train route along the Columbia River.

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Seth borensteinSeth Borenstein with the AP explains atmospheric physics, and why a warming climate can bring more big snowstorms:

Climate contradiction: Less snow, more blizzards

Borenstein_snowWASHINGTON (AP) —With scant snowfall and barren ski slopes in parts of the Midwest and Northeast the past couple of years, some scientists have pointed to global warming as the culprit.

Then when a whopper of a blizzard smacked the Northeast with more than 2 feet of snow in some places earlier this month, some of the same people again blamed global warming.

How can that be? It's been a joke among skeptics, pointing to what seems to be a brazen contradiction.

But the answer lies in atmospheric physics. A warmer atmosphere can hold, and dump, more moisture, snow experts say. And two soon-to-be-published studies demonstrate how there can be more giant blizzards yet less snow overall each year. Projections are that that's likely to continue with man-made global warming... Read more. 


Isabelle GrocAnd from Isabelle Groc, a beautiful video documenting the decimation of wetlands and the plight of the Oregon Spotted Frog in British Columbia's Fraser River Valley:

Precious Frog: Symbol of a Vanishing Wetland

Seldom seen out of water, the Oregon spotted frog (Rana pretiosa) prefers the safety of the marsh. Historically, Oregon spotted frog populations occurred throughout the Fraser Valley, from South Surrey to Hope. Now it is Canada's most endangered amphibian, with only three breeding populations left in British Columbia, and less than 300 breeding females in total... Read more.

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