Category Archives: Climate Change

If you thought tsunamis only happened at sea think again!

An article here in yesterdays Austrian Times reports on calls for lakeside towns and villages in the Alpine region to reassess the risk from tsunamis. The warning comes from Professor Johann Stötter, an expert on Alpine Global Warming, from the University of Innsbruck.

The concerns focus upon new research from the University of Innsbruck which show permafrost is now disappearing at a rate of 5cm to 10cm a year. In Alpine areas above 2500 metres the soil is held in place as a result of being permanently frozen and until recently only the surface layer has been known to thaw.

This deeper thawing of the permafrost increases the risk of significant rock and landslides which can create lake tsunamis. The article gives a few historical examples, as well as highlighting huge rise in lakeside populations and how simulation show that collapses can lead to large tsunamis developing extremely quickly.

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Filed under Climate Change, Green, The Alps, Vienna Life

“This is good news for tourists but the kiss of death for the glaciers…”

The quote above by Bernhard Niedermoser, of the Austrian Central Institute for Climate Research and Geodynamics (ZAMG), is reported here in the Austrian Times as part of a short article on a new report looking at the impact of climate change in this part of Europe over the next 50 to 100 years.

If their analysis is correct the Alps are going to get hotter springs and summers with more sun and less rain. The good news for the winter tourism industry (or at least those operating on the higher resorts) is that winters will bring higher levels of snow. This last item is of particular interest as previous reports I’ve seen has suggested that the Alp would see less snow – our understanding of climate changing is developing all the time.

What remains consistent in the report is that despite the increased snow the Alpine glaciers, which play an important role in the supply of water across central Europe, are in trouble. To complete Bernhard Niedermoser quote in my headline “….because it is the summer that controls their fate, it doesn’t matter how much snow falls, it is always the summer that is crucial.”

A few images from the Dachstein glacier:

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Filed under Climate Change, Environment, Green, Vienna Life

Climate Change – good for some Austrian businesses in the UK market

Interesting piece here in the ‘Austrian Times’ about Austrian know-how helping the UK to adopt Passive House technology, as the country seeks to reduce its CO2 emissions by making new building energy efficient and sustainable.

Austria is said to be one of the leaders when it comes to sustainable building. As the ‘Austrian Times’ highlights,  ‘….at Ecobuild in London, the leading trade fair for sustainable building, Austria had the biggest presence with 500 square metres of exhibition space and 28 exhibiting companies on one group stand. A further six Austrian companies took part independently. From solar energy solutions, bio-mass heating, heating pumps, windows, the Tirol wood companies and pre-fabricated houses, the “Made in Austria” brand dominated with a strong presence.’

Thus while there is continuing concern in the country about the impact of climate change on key sectors such as Tourism (with its high value winter sports threatened by the loss of glaciers and reduced snowfall in the Alps), other important areas of the economy look to benefit from the export of Austria know-how.

For those in the UK who want to tap into more home-grown expertise and creativity then they merely need to take a trip to the wilds of South Holland, in Lincolnshire, and the eco-dynamism of Jeremy Harrall and SEArch Architects


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Filed under Architecture, Climate Change, Entertainment, Green, Vienna Life

Nuclear: George versus Jonathon with Germany in the middle

I’ve been getting a bit behind when it comes to the nuclear energy debate started by George Monbiot in his 27th May blog. So I put a little time aside this evening to read both Jonathon Porritt’s answer’s to George’s four original questions and the subsequent reply made by George’s to Jonathon’s article.

If you haven’t read either then sit down in a comfy seat, with a nice drink and two computers (unless you like your screen full of windows). The second PC is to allow you with more ease to go and look at the various sources each quotes in defence of their own positions and/or attacks regarding the others alleged lack of vigorous research or alleged willingness to accept their ‘preferred’ industries data.

Oh and if you aren’t already familiar with developments in Germany you will be after this, as the decisions by Angela Merkel’s government this summer on nuclear energy and the wider development of renewable in Germany form a significant battle ground for our two combatants.

Four things that struck me when reading these pieces were:

1) George’s complaint “I regret the highly personal and vicious tone of his (Jonathan’s) response. This is now the third time in recent months that I have asked Jonathon to tone down his vitriolic personal remarks. I struggle to understand why they are necessary or how they help us to resolve the dilemmas in which we are all enmeshed.” Personally I think he’s got a point. If Jonathan is right he doesn’t need to cloud the debate by seeking to distract attention away from the arguments or being dismissive.

2) So long as you accept climate change is real (and man-made in respect of the current situation) then this debate is about how we deal with this as quickly and effectively as possible, which therefore means dealing with the energy gap. George is for new nuclear plants as part of a mixed strategy. Jonathan is for renewables only and no (new) nuclear power plants. The questions I as a reader need to decide is how much are either of them (and others) cherry picking figures to justify their (preselected selected or not?) cost effective solutions.

3) A lot of the debate between the two is a rational assessment of practicalities and choices. Some is simply green ideological debate (which is fair enough). The rest is the ‘politics’ of who you can and can’t trust and how much can be risked, win or lose. The danger with the latter is that we’re back to politic and ideology (which again is fine) but you should either argue openly for your agenda or support consistent and rational arguments for protecting the environment.

4) Personally, I’ve enjoyed reading and being challenged by George’s arguments. I’ve never liked nuclear power but I’m being challenged to defend my point of view or change it. I’ve long favoured (effective) renewable energy alternatives and would do so even if climate change was suddenly resolved tomorrow. In short I would expect to find myself fully behind Jonathan’s arguments but I’m left wondering is that it?

So here are the links:

The moral case for nuclear power

Why George Monbiot is completely wrong on nuclear power

Interestingly Jonathan did a blog this week Germany gets it wrong on nuclear which is also worth having a look at once you
finished the other pieces.

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Filed under Climate Change, Energy, Green

Nuclear & Low Carbon debates – UK, Austria, EU

A few of the articles I’ve found of interest recently:

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Filed under Austrian Politics, Climate Change, Energy, Green, Liberal Politics, Politics, Transport, UK Politics

The humble urban backyard can help save the planet says RHS report

The good news, from a report commissioned by the Royal Horticultural Society, says that there
are four key areas in which gardens make a difference to our environment. The
bad news is that I now have even less excuse for not spending more time working
in the garden:

Adding a pond, as well as additional trees and bushes, has increased the resident and visiting wildlife population in our garden. Amongst those visiting are dragonfly of various sizes and colours:


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Filed under Climate Change, Environment & science, Garden Pond, Gardening, Green, Vienna Life, Wildlife

The environmental movement’s dilemmas?

Okay time to sit down with your coffee or other lubrication of preference and read these two pieces by George Monbiot. Afterwards you’ll need some time to go make another drink and then think seriously about what he’s saying:

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Filed under Climate Change, Energy, Environment & science, Green