September 30, 2011

Greg Mortenson     Photo: paulsims

AAC Challenges Mortenson's Climb Record

No trace of author making Himalaya ascents

On Tuesday, the executive director of the American Alpine Club withdrew his defense of mountain climber and humanitarian Greg Mortenson, author of the controversial memoir Three Cups of Tea. Club head Phil Powers told the Bozeman Daily Chronicle that AAC's lack of records of Mortenson climbs of Himalaya peaks Annapurna IV or Baruntse does strongly suggest that he lied about the ascents. Powers said Tuesday that former club editor H. Adams Carter had kept comprehensive records during the early 1990s, when Mortenson was active as a climber, in contrast to current record-keeping practices. That, Powers said, raises "serious questions" about Mortenson's climbing accomplishments. His record as a mountaineer has been under scrutiny since April when reports surfaced that he had fabricated large sections of Three Cups of Tea and mismanaged funds at his non-profit, the Central Asia Institute. Mortenson told Outside in April that those claims were overblown. A class-action lawsuit filed in Montana on behalf of Mortenson's readership is in limbo after the judge assigned to the case recused himself on Thursday after disclosing that he had bought and read the book. Three Cups of Tea appeared on the New York Times best-seller list for four years and has sold an estimated four million copies. 

Read more at The Bozeman Chronicle

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Grand Teton     Photo: Dave Shaw/Flickr

Climber Cited for Abandoning Partner

In disagreement over rescue, man took rope

The National Park Service cited a Montana climber for disorderly conduct after abandoning his partner on Grand Teton in August, the service announced yesterday. Dave Shade and Jesse Selwyn set out on August 19 to climb the Black Ice Couloir on the northwest side of the Grand Teton, but wandered off route and ended up on a face known as the Grandstand. Fearing injury or death should he try to retreat, Selwyn called for a rescue with his SPOT device. Shade told his partner that he didn't feel he needed to be rescued, and, after a Teton Interagency helicopter arrived, took his partner's only rope and began to rappel down the mountain. Rangers successfully evacuated Selwyn by short-haul. In a press release, the NPS said that they ticketed Shade because he abandoned his partner before confirming that rangers would rescue him. The charge carries a $110 fine.

Read more at National Parks Traveler

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Coal Plant     Photo: Kentuckians For The Commonwealth/Flickr

Study: Social Costs of Coal Not Weighed

Fuel brings $2 in costs for every $1 burned

The social costs of coal do not reflect the price consumers pay for it, at least according to a study published in the August issue of the American Economic Review. Calculations made by a team of economists from Yale and Middlebury found that pollutants released by coal generate social costs far in excess of coal's price, measured primarily in early deaths and health-care expenditures from exposure to sulfur dioxide. The study found that for every dollar of electricity coal generates, Americans pay two dollars in response to its pollution. That value is commonly understood as an externality, or an unaccounted-for cost of economic activity. The American Economic Review is among the country's most prestigious journals of economic research. The authors did not consider coal's role in climate change.

Read more at the New York Times

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Irrawaddy River, Burma     Photo: DamienHR/Flickr

Burma Halts Massive Dam Project

News could signal political thaw

The government of Burma announced on Friday that it will halt work on the Myitsone Dam, a project that would have forced 15,000 Burmese from their homes and returned little of the dam's hydroelectric production to Burma itself. In a nod to escalating popular opposition to the project, President U Thein Sein told parliament that construction on the Myitsone Dam on the Irrawaddy River would not proceed under his government, a startling reversal of Burmese government policy and a possible signal of a thaw in the country's political climate. In March, Burma—also known as Myanmar—transitioned to civilian control after decades under a repressive military regime. The proposed dam would have decimated several species of fish on the Irrawaddy, an historically symbolic river and the country's largest waterway. Construction by a Chinese firm began earlier this year and was expected to cost $3.6 billion. Under the construction agreement, as much as 90 percent of the dam's hydroelectric power, and 60 percent of its profits, would have flowed across the border to China.

Read more at The New York Times

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Angeles National Forest     Photo: jen robinson/Flickr

Man Found Alive Days After Car Crash

After 200-foot plunge, man ate bugs

A California man was found alive on Thursday, six days after his car plunged 200 feet off a cliff in the Angeles National Forest. David Lavau, 67, survived the initial accident and kept himself alive in a makeshift camp at the bottom of the ravine, eating bugs and leaves and drinking creek water. Lavau's children reported him missing earlier this week and launched their own search independent of local authorities efforts. Using a debit-card receipt from a nearby store as a clue, Lavau's daughter, son, and granddaughter canvased each ravine in the area before finding him on Thursday evening on Lake Hughes Road. Rescuers also found another vehicle in the ravine from an unrelated crash that contained the decomposing body of an unidentified man. “This is a bad section of road,’’ Capt. Bob Brandelli of the L.A. County Fire Department told NBC News. “This has been the fourth incident I’ve been on here where we’ve had cars over the side.’’ Lavau was treated for a dislocated shoulder, and fractures in his ribs, arm, and back. He is in stable condition at Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital. Police investigators are working to determine the accident's cause.

Read more at MSNBC

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