13 Photos From Recent Floods in Planina, Slovenia

This is currently the end of the road where the village of Planina and Planinsko polje, the plain that bears its name, converge. If you weren’t familiar with the area, you’d think you were standing at the edge of small boat launch on the shore of calm lake.

The plain, about 5km (2.6mi) long and 2.5km (1.3mi) across, often floods, but is rarely this inundated. Heavy rain last month, coupled with a sudden thaw of snow and ice have led to record high water levels in this area just north of Postojna, or about 45 kilometers southwest of the capital Ljubljana, forcing the evacuation of more than 50 homes in the village. In some areas here the water was up to 18m (60ft) deep.

Flooding has been a regular staple of the news throughout Slovenia the winter, but the hardest hit were pockets in the country’s western half. This battle against rising water in Planina came just two weeks after an ice storm wreaked havoc in the region, ultimately causing an estimated €500 million (US$693 million) in damage.

Floods are increasingly becoming an alarming and expensive problem throughout Europe.

According to a study published last week in the journal Nature Climate Change, the annual costs from flood damage in Europe are set to rise from €4.9 billion to €23 billion by 2050, a near fivefold increase.

The study, conducted by research teams at the University of Amsterdam and the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis in Austria, also found that frequency of destructive floods could nearly double in that period. Two-thirds of the losses will come from increased wealth and development expected during that period, with the other third attributed to climate change and changes in rainfall patterns on the continent.

From Climate News Network reporter Tim Radford’s summary of the study:

From 2000 to 2012, floods in European Union countries averaged €4.9 billion ($6.8 billion) a year in losses. In the floods of June 2013, losses tipped €12 billion ($16.6 billion) in nine countries of Central and Eastern Europe. The annual average losses could increase to €23.5 billion ($32.4 billion) by 2050.


Unprecedented floods like those of 2013 occur on average once every 16 years now. By 2050, the probability will have increased to once every 10 years.

Damian Carrington also reported on the study in The Guardian, focusing on the projected economic losses, the lack of insurance in place and the return on investment improved flood defenses would bring.

Ten more shots from Planina are below.

All images (c) Bob Ramsak 2014. All rights reserved.
For stock or editorial use please get in touch.

Laguna Torre, Glaciares National Park, Argentin

Patagonia’s Laguna Torre and Glaciar Grande – A Seven Image Gallery

Wrapping up this three-post series on a pair of day hikes from El Chalten, Argentina, is this mini-gallery of the Glaciar Grande and the lake it overlooks, Laguna Torre.

Even shrouded in clouds the scene does an admirable job advertising this corner of Los Glaciares National Park as the hiker attraction that it is. It’s also, like the majority of the Southern Patagonian Ice Field (wiki|map) that it sits in, a “kind of poster child for rapidly changing glacier systems”.

That’s according to “Ice loss from the Southern Patagonian Ice Field, South America, between 2000 and 2012”, a late 2012 study published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

Laguna Torre 6

From an abstract on

Ice fields in southern South America are rapidly losing volume and in most cases thinning at even the highest elevations, contributing to sea-level rise at “substantially higher” rates than observed from the 1970s through the 1990s


The rapid melting, based on satellite observations, suggests the ice field’s contribution to global sea-level rise has increased by half since the end of the 20th century, jumping from 0.04 millimeters per year to about .07 mm, and accounting for 2 percent of annual sea-level rise since 1998.


Warming air temperatures contributed to the thinning throughout the mountain range, [the report ] noted. And the warmer temperatures increased the chances that rain – as opposed to snow – would fall on and around the glaciers. That double threat increases the amount of water under the glaciers, decreasing friction and moving more ice to the oceans.

This ice field, along with its northern neighbor, comprise the largest mass of ice in the southern hemisphere outside of Antarctica.

According to the study, which compared satellite imagery over a 12-year period beginning in 2000, found that glaciers in the Southern Patagonian Ice Field thinned by an average of six feet per year.

I left this rocky lake shore with the same contentedly queasy feeling I had after leaving other glaciers, before and since, behind: happy that I made the opportunity to see them while they were still around.

Laguna Torre 9 Laguna Torre 8 Laguna Torre 7 Laguna Torre 2 Laguna Torre 4

Here’s a 45-second timelapse of the lake I shot over the span of about 25 minutes with my GoPro. The cool soundtrack is Broken Music Boxes by Ilya Monosov. I chose it because the description for his album Vinyl Document #1 –a record that focuses on sounds derived from broken or otherwise mistreated machines– fits well. Please check out more of his excellent work.

For posterity’s sake, here’s the GoPro at work and below that me, who is always at work. :)

Laguna Torre 5

On the way to Laguna Torre.

On the way to Laguna Torre.

Check out the previous two posts from this series:
~ Hiking Patagonia’s Fitz Roy Trail: El Chalten Day Hike 1
~ Patagonia’s Laguna Torre Trail – El Chalten Day Hike 2

And finally, this post is linked up with Travel Photo Monday #34 on Travel Photo Discovery. The direct link is here. Check it out!


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On the Path to Zero Waste

That was the title of a roundtable discussion last night at Ljubljana’s Kino Šiška following the second of two screenings of Trashed, a 2012 documentary that examines and exposes the risks waste poses to the environment and food chain through air, land and sea pollution. (More on the film later.) Among the panel participants was Joan Marc Simon, the executive director of Zero Waste Europe (website / Facebook / Twitter) and a consultant on the film.

While the discussion among the panel members focused primarily on waste management and reduction in Slovenia in Slovene, Simon spoke more generally, sharing examples and insights from his experiences with the organization. He discussed the path and process towards achieving zero waste in a community; the importance of working with local authorities, policy makers and businesses; and ensuring that the process remains democratic. Audio of his comments, totaling about nine minutes, is below.

Among the key takeaways for me was that Slovenia is planning to construct two more waste incinerators, one in the capital Ljubljana and another in Maribor, the country’s second largest city. One already exists in Celje, Slovenia’s third biggest city. On incineration, Simon said, “Incineration is a source of corruption. I’ve seen in my experience that it can break democracy in countries.”

Other panel members included Dr. Andrej Kržan, from the National Institute of Chemistry; Janko Kramžar, Director of Snaga, Ljubljana’s municipal waste management company; and Uroš Macerl, president of the NGO Eko Krog (Eco Circle). Some Members of Parliament were contacted more than two months ago and asked to participate but none accepted the invitation, said panel moderator and TV journalist Eva Kobe.

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Who are the Arctic 30?

Who are the Arctic 30?

Who are the Arctic 30? The Guardian profiles the 30 men and women from the Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise who have been held under arrest by Russian authorities since the group’s attempted protest on a Russian oil rig on September 18. The 30, 28 Greenpeace activists and two journalists, are facing piracy charges.

There was an international day of action calling for their release on October 5. In case you missed it, several photos and some video I collected –plus more background on the case– from the vigil here in Ljubljana, Slovenia, is here.

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At a rally in Ljubljana, Slovenia, calling for the release of Greenpeace activists currently detained in Russia. 05-Oct-2013

Vigil in Ljubljana for Greenpeace Activists Jailed in Russia

Here are half a dozen photos and a short video piece from today’s vigil and rally in Ljubljana, Slovenia, demanding the release of the so-called Arctic 30, 28 Greenpeace activists and two journalists, who been detained by Russian authorities for the past 17 days. The gathering in the Slovenian capital today was one of at least 140 held in nearly fifty countries in support of the 30 detainees from 18 countries who were arrested after an attempted protest on a Russian oil rig on 18 September.

I had a train to catch so couldn’t stay long; I estimate that about 100 people — demonstrators and supporters milling about, observing or writing letters– were in the central Prešeren Square just before noon.

“It’s extremely important that our brave colleagues, who are currently behind bars in Russia, know that they’re not alone,” said Greenpeace Slovenia representative Dejan Savić in a statement. Members of other local citizens groups and non-governmental organizations –Amnesty International Slovenia and the environmental organizations Umanotera and Focus– also took part to show their support.

Pressure continues to mount on Russia since the incident on 18 September when two Greenpeace activists tried to climb the side of the Prirazlomnaya platform on the Pechora Sea (the southeastern part of the Barents Sea), to hang a banner to protest drilling in the Arctic. Russian coast guard commandos swept down to capture the pair and then took command of their ship, the Arctic Sunrise, the following day. They’ve since been held in custody in the northern city of Murmansk where all 30 have been charged with piracy. If convicted they face up to 15 years in prison.

The Prirazlomnaya platform, owned by the state energy giant Gazprom, is due to begin operations in early 2014 which would make the company the first to drill offshore in the Arctic.

Since the seizure of the ship more than one million people have sent letters to Russian embassies demanding the immediate release of the detainees. Kumi Naidoo, Greenpeace International‘s Executive Director Kumi Naidoo has called the incident the most serious assault against the organization since the group’s flagship, the Rainbow Warrior, was bombed by the DGSE, the French intelligence service, in 1985.

“The activists were taking a brave stand to protect all of us from climate change and the dangers of reckless oil drilling in the Arctic, Naidoo said in a statement published on the Geenpeace website. “Now it’s imperative that millions of us stand up with them to defend the Arctic and demand their immediate release. Gazprom, Shell and the other oil companies rushing to carve up the Arctic and destroy its fragile environment must see that we are millions and we will not be bullied and intimidated into silence.”

A few more photos:

Arctic 30 LJ IMG_3656 Arctic 30 LJ IMG_3657 Arctic 30 LJ IMG_3663 Arctic 30 LJ IMG_3677 Arctic 30 LJ IMG_3679

Candlelight vigil in Ljubljana, Slovenia, calling for the release of Greenpeace activists currently detained in Russia. 05-Oct-2013

Candlelight vigil in Ljubljana, Slovenia, calling for the release of Greenpeace activists currently detained in Russia. 05-Oct-2013

And, using vimeo’s 5×5 project as a guide –piecing together five five-second segments– here’s a brief bit of video using seven.

Keep up with the hashtag #FreeTheArctic30.

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International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer

Did you know that today is the 20th International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer? Until a few days ago, I didn’t either. Neither do most of the world’s English-language media outlets. As of noon CEST, less than a dozen mentions of the UN observance appear in a google news search. Most of those are in India, with a smattering in The Philippines and the Gulf States.

The designation was made in 1994 marking the date, in 1987, when the The Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer was signed. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s message is here.

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Andes’ Tropical Glaciers Going Fast

Andes’ Tropical Glaciers Going Fast

Another reason to visit as many Andean glaciers as possible. From ‘Andes’ Tropical Glaciers Going Fast’ in Climate Central:

The glaciers of the tropical Andes have shrunk by between 30 and 50 percent in 30 years and many will soon disappear altogether, cutting off the summer water supply for millions of people, according to scientists studying the region’s climate.

And more specifically for Bolivia:

In the Andes glaciers contribute to irrigation, hydroelectricity generation, and water supply. For example, 15 percent of the water consumed in La Paz, the capital of Bolivia, comes from glaciers, a figure that doubles in the summer. The region, with 3.5 million people, is heavily dependent on melt water for its survival.

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Drawings from UN Desertification Exhibit in Daegu (repost)

I was talking last night about the near-total disaster of the recent Rio+20 conference which compelled me bring forward this post from last October for the benefit of anyone who might have missed it. It’s truly remarkable, thoughtful and inspiring work that really needs to be seen. Sharing, tweeting, liking, re-blogging is always quite welcome. – Cheers, Bob

** **

I was in Daegu, South Korea, last month (Sept 2011) and among the most vivid memories of that two-week trip was a fabulous exhibit of drawings and caricatures on display near the stadium hosting the World Track & Field Championships. Some of these completely blew me away. The one above is by Argentine Alfredo Sabat.

Simply entitled Save the Earth, it was co-sponsored by the UN Convention to Combat Desertification to bring attention to and commemorate the UN’s Decade for Deserts. (That’s happening now, in case you didn’t know.) The exhibit consisted of about 100 pieces donated by established and emerging artists from more than 20 countries. And it left me feeling a little parched. Some really astounding work.

Below, a piece by Oh Youngsik of Korea.

Above and below by Nam Myunglae, also from Korea.

Above, by Spaniard Juli Sanchis Aquado.

Above and below by Iranian Saeed Sadeghi.

This next one was quite apropos to show at a sporting event.

Above, Man and Nature by Ukrainian Alexei Talimonov. Next two below by Makhmud Eshonqulov of Uzbekistan.

The next two by Brazlian Amorim.

And finally, Yang Zaiqi of China.

The UNCCD website is here. The problem is massive and alarming. AND they’re hiring.

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Ocean’s Nine

Look at an ocean and some will see a barrier separating them from the vastness of the world. Others will gaze at a symbol of liberation, of the vastness of possibility. Some just see them as dumps. I’ve always preferred the second metaphor and thankfully, the latter wasn’t the case when I last visited one.

These nine pics were taken in Normandy this past April, the one at top and the first five below facing the Atlantic just north of the city of Carteret, and the bottom three on the English Channel west of Cherbourg. La Manche, or Mor Breizh in Breton, is an arm of the Atlantic, so technically fits just fine in a post on World Oceans Day.

Near Carteret, France, 13-Apr-2012

You don’t need me telling you about the crisis state that our oceans are in, about their rising levels, or about the island of plastic garbage floating in the north Pacific that for whatever reason has finally attracted some attention in recent months.

Think instead about the vastness of possibilities that the oceans represent. And enjoy your weekend.

On the horizon, the Channel Isle of Sark

Off season. near Carteret, France, 13-Apr-2012.

Near La Hague, France, 12-Apr-2012

West of Cherbourg, France, 12-Apr-2012

West of Cherbourg, France, 12-Apr-2012

Oceans are also this week’s travel theme on tireless Ailsa’s popular blog, Where’s My Backpack. Check out plenty of other posts here.

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