June 15, 2011

Antarctic glacier     Photo: RAYANDBEE/Flickr

What Happened to Antarctic Tourism?

Travel to the continent may drop 25 percent

Three-thousand fewer people visited Antarctica last year, down 8.3 percent from the 36,875 visitors recorded the year before. The International Association of Antarctic Tour Operators expects the total to drop even further for the upcoming 2011-2012 travel season, when an environmental ban on the cruise ship fuel oils from the International Maritime Organization goes into effect in August. Last year, only a slim majority of Antarctic tourists set foot on the continent. The rest sailed through the Southern Ocean, a famous destination for glacier sightseeing. In February 2010, a chunk of ice the size of Luxembourg moved into the ocean off the continent's eastern coast.

Read More from gadling.com

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Farming in the Amazon     Photo: Sam Beebe Ecotrust/Flickr

Man Defending Amazon Shot

Activist death is the fifth since May

Obede Loyla Souza, an anti-logging activist who confronted illegal loggers in January, was found dead over the weekend from a gunshot wound to the head. Witnesses say they saw four loggers in a pickup truck searching for Souza shortly before he is believed to have died last week. Souza's death is the latest in a violent conflict between loggers and environmental activists in Brazil, five of whom, plus a witness, have been killed since May. Over the past 20 years, illegal loggers have killed as many as 1,500 activists protesting deforestation in the Amazon, which grew at an alarming rate last year, likely from increased demand for soybean plantations.

Read more at the Guardian

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Plastic bag     Photo: Eric_I_E/Flickr

Plastic Giants Sue Eco Company

Suit says ChicoBag made false claims.

Three of the nation's largest plastic-bag manufacturers are suing ChicoBag over claims about the environmental damage their products cause. Hilex, Superbag, and Advance Polybag allege that ChicoBag, a maker of reusable bags, misled consumers and caused their businesses "irreparable injury" by publishing information on ChicoBag's "Learn The Facts" page. The site contains information on plastic bag waste sourced from scientific studies and newspaper reports. At issue is ChicoBag's use of EPA claims that only one percent of plastic bags are recycled and that a reusable bag only needs to be used eleven times to be more eco-friendly than disposable bags; the agency has since backed down from both figures. The case is tentatively scheduled to go to trial in January.

Read more at the New York Times.

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Breckenridge     Photo: Suzie T/Flickr

Breck Expansion Isn't Done Deal

Forest Service says Denver Post jumped the gun

A June 11 Denver Post article reported that Forest Service officials had approved a 550-acre development at Breckenridge Ski Resort, which would include a high-speed ski lift, new trails, and a 150-person lodge. But on Tuesday, Forest Service project leader Roger Poirier told the Summit County Citizen's Voice that the Post story was premature. "Contrary to what was printed in the Denver Post, no decision has been made yet," Poirier said. Instead, the agency will not finalize any plans until the conclusion of a 45-day open comment period. Still, some expansion will go forward—it's the details that remain up in the air. The plan has long been opposed by environmental groups, who have raised concerns over Lynx habitat destruction and watershed damage.

Read more at the Summit Country Citizens Voice

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Alex Honnold on El Capitan     Photo: Tom Evans/ El Cap Reports

No More El Cap Report

Long-running Yosemite climbing blog closes.

After four years of documenting climbs on America's most iconic big wall, Yosemite-based blogger Tom Evans is closing his El Cap Report blog. Evans began the blog in 2007, photographing and tracking the progress of each party on El Capitan's main routes from his spot on El Capitan Bridge over the Merced River. Among the exploits he caught on film were Alex Honnold's record rope solo of the Nose and Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson's attempt at freeing the Dawn Wall. In his final report, Evans, who turns 67 in a few days, wrote that running the blog had become too time-consuming and that he felt it was time to "let it go and get out and do the other things I love to do in Yosemite."

Read more at Climbing Narc

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Alberto Contador     Photo: Petit Brun/Flickr

French Police Stop Contador

Cyclist Forced off His Bike

Alberto Contador, the recent Giro d'Italia champion and the reigning Tour de France winner, abandoned a training ride for this year's tour in the French Alps on Wednesday after a French policeman cited him for riding without lights. Contador was riding in daylight, but the route he chose—a descent of the Galibier pass—runs through several dark tunnels. Contador argued that his team car provided enough light. The officer disagreed, and Contador's ride ended there.

Read more from the Associated Press

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