State of the Planet

News from the Columbia Climate School


Travels through the Crotone Basin

A spider spins an elaborate web.
A spider web crosses a path through the field.

The climate of the Crotone Basin is marked by cold, wet winters and hot, dry summers. We arrived last year, on our first trip, in the middle of a six-month drought that lasted from April to September.

I love how life figures out a way to flourish. Flowers in a riverbed; Snails on a thorn bush; Spiders spinning webs in a field.

Snail-covered trees.
Snails on a thorn bush.

Herds of sheep and goats roam the fields of the Crotone Basin. We were hiking through these fields and met a goat herder and his dogs. Herders often share invaluable information about the land, and show us useful paths and roads through the maze of brush and thorns.

Goat herders are valuable guides to the local landscape.
Goat herders are a valuable guide to the local landscape.

The goats are amazing creatures. They can climb trees and stand on the small branches to find tasty leaves; they are wonderfully agile.

Fences like this are found across Calabria, to protect harvests from goats, sheep, and cattle herds.

Fences protect crops.
Fences protect crops.

This is an example of a gate in one of these fences: just slipping the loop of wire off the top opens the gate. It’s a wonderful contraption that keeps herds in their place, but allows people to go anywhere.

Fires are a common sight in June in the Crotone Basin. After the wheat harvest (going on right now), the farmers burn their fields to resupply nutrients and prevent wildfires during the dry season.

A controlled burn designed to limit the risk of wildfires.

Near the town of Casabona, farmers have been burning the grasslands surrounding the town to stave off wildfires later in the season.

Nano and I usually take a packed lunch of panini (sandwiches) and fruit with us into the field. Around midday, we start looking for trees to shade us from the sun while we eat. Sitting by Lake Ampollino for lunch one day, Nano and I were joined by a neighboring dog that got our scraps.


Banner featuring a collage of extreme heat images.

Recent record-breaking heat waves have affected communities across the world. The Extreme Heat Workshop will bring together researchers and practitioners to advance the state of knowledge, identify community needs, and develop a framework for evaluating risks with a focus on climate justice. Register by June 15

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