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Archive for the ‘Environment’ Category

Telling visitors about the resident cheetahs during feeding time

I let this blog slide in favor of another one I set up for foreign adventures, most recently, a volunteer stint at Cheetah Conservation Fund in Namibia. My employer, the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation, generously sponsored me.

It was an amazing month caring for orphaned cheetahs that raise awareness for their wild counterparts, who struggle with drought, habitat encroachment and human-wildlife conflict. When I wasn’t up to my elbows in dirty work, I also served as a copywriter and editor.

You can read about my experience at On the Road with Susan.

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Swiss researcher Katherine Leonard with emperor penguins near Breid Bay, Antarctica. For an upcoming EPFL project as part of ACE, she will study Southern Ocean salinity. (©Olivier Pierre )

Swiss researcher Katherine Leonard with emperor penguins near Breid Bay, Antarctica. For an upcoming EPFL project as part of ACE, she will study Southern Ocean salinity. (© Olivier Pierre )

Following the launch of the Swiss Polar Institute (SPI), Switzerland now has a voice in global polar policy. Its first project is a three-month Antarctic expedition involving researchers from around the world.

“The SPI will make it possible for Switzerand to be on a par with other countries,” remarked climatologist Thomas Stocker, referring to the fact that many other nations have polar institutes. He also cited the importance of polar research.

“The poles are probably the most vulnerable regions when it comes to anthropogenic climate change, which is happening in front of our eyes in the Arctic, and somewhat less so in Antarctica,” said Stocker, professor of climate and environmental physics at the University of Bern.

Based at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne (EPFL), the SPI is a consortium of the EPFL, the University of Bern, federal technology institute ETH Zurich, and the Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research.

To mark the launch, SPI is organising a major project: the Antarctic Circumnavigation Expedition (ACE). I got a sneak peek.

With a budget of €3 million (CHF3.3 million), the three-month project will be the first scientific expedition to fully sail around the southernmost continent. You can read the whole story on swissinfo.ch.

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© Solar Impulse | Anna Pizzolante | Rezo.ch

© Solar Impulse | Anna Pizzolante | Rezo.ch

I’ve been following Solar Impulse since the first plane was unveiled in 2009, and I’m still really excited about it!

The completely solar-powered plane made history as the first solar aircraft to fly through the night in 2010. That was also the plane that flew across the continental United States in 2013. Engineers back at the base in Payerne, Switzerland, then fine-tuned the aircraft.

The current plane, presented in 2014 and dubbed Si2, is larger and more powerful than its predecessor. In March 2015, it kicked off its quest to fly around the world in several stages – a journey of about 40,000 kilometers with stops in 12 destinations.

However, poor weather pulled the adventure behind schedule, and overheated batteries forced the Solar Impulse team to postpone the project in July 2015. After several months of hibernation in a Hawaiian air hangar, Solar Impulse is now ready to resume its record-breaking attempt at a round-the-world tour.

For a quick catch-up, read my Si2 fast facts story. It covers what it is, how it works, and other pressing questions, like how the pilots go to the bathroom!

Also at SWI swissinfo.ch, I’ve been coordinating a special dossier, Soaring with Solar Impulse, which follows the plane’s progress. Stop by for the latest news and analysis, and let me know if there’s an angle you think we should cover.

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power_lines

Power lines in Suffolk, UK (Tony Boon / Wikimedia Commons)

In light of unprofitable hydropower plants, ageing nuclear power plants, leaked documents and cheap electricity from abroad, Swiss political and business leaders have been voicing their thoughts on how to improve the situation. Here’s a press review with input from various Sunday papers.

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Repair Café

RepairCafe

Scene from Repair Café Bern (Ester Unterfinger)

 

Why buy new? The Repair Café is a chance to have defective goods fixed for free. One of my favorite events!

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Lawyer Koos Pretorius is Maria Mtsweni's neighbor and legal counsel.

Lawyer Koos Pretorius is Maria Mtsweni’s neighbor and legal counsel.

During my trip to South Africa last month, I explored the topic of coal. I visited people affected by mining, including the woman pictured here. Her house is crumbling as a result of blasting at the nearest coal mine.

You can read the whole story on swissinfo.ch.

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The world's largest solar boat sailed past New York's Statue of Liberty in June. © MS Tûranor PlanetSolar

The world’s largest solar boat sailed past New York’s Statue of Liberty in June.
© MS Tûranor PlanetSolar

Two Swiss solar vehicles have spent recent months touring the United States raising awareness of the potential of renewable energy. But how successful have the trips been in generating valuable funds or forging new partnerships? My latest article on swissinfo.ch tries to answer that question.

Check out the related podcast – Solar Flair – to hear interviews with Solar Impulse pilot André Borschberg as well as PlanetSolar CEO Pascal Goulpié.

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