Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Glacier-less National Park

                A syndicated  story out of the New York Times  headlined “Glacier Park’s namesakes dissolving” is claiming that in 30 years there may be no glaciers left in the park. The story Cited the opinions of a U.S. Geological Survey ‘research ecologist’ among others.
                Most of the claims in the article are of the specious variety. It’s not that there are outright lies per se’, but that the data cited covers so few years as to be  statistically irrelevant. Claims such as “The number of days above 90 degrees in the national park has tripled in a century” is- in and of itself- proof of absolutely nothing. Period. It isn’t stated how many days were over 90 a century ago or today. Obviously it varies year to year anyway. Some centuries/ eras are dramatically colder, some dramatically warmer than others. The last “Ice Age” (not the movie) ended about 10-12,000 years ago. Indigenous folks at that time were probably a lot more worried about global cooling and were hoping desperately for a little global warming. Liking that climate change!
                “Streams fed by snow-melt are reaching peak spring flows weeks earlier than in the past” is another lame claim. Not the past two years they haven’t. And how many weeks earlier than in what past years? And then a clue: “In the Colorado Rockies, the median date of snow-(yet amusing). In that geologic span of 29 years! 29! Really. This seems highly likely as the 1970’s was an unusually cold decade. People (and scientists) were terrified  that the earth was cooling).And what, precisely, constitutes ‘median date of snow-melt’? The snow-pack or cover melts over a period of time. A week? Two weeks? A month? What if it snows again after that, as it often does?
                While the article does allow that “the rate of melting has alternately sped up and slowed in lockstep with decade-long climate cycles” and that “glaciers came and went millenniums ago” it refuses to admit that this natural cycle is what could be occurring now!
                It continued: “A century ago, the last brutally cold day occurred around March 5. By last decade, it had receded to February 15.”  This is just embarrassing. No definition of ‘brutally cold’ and… last winter it was ‘brutally cold’ (pending definition) more frequently and at later dates than anytime in recent memory. ‘Polar Vortex’ and all of that.
                There has been less snowfall ‘recently’ in addition to the melting glaciers, leading to claims that the ‘snowfields’ will vanish as well. The obvious problem with this is less snow-melt and therefore downstream water supply, but this doesn’t stop those responsible for the information in the article from piling on other potentially ‘disastrous’ consequences.
                The article states that  “Fewer avalanches will open up less clearings for wildlife and push fewer felled trees into streams, creating less habitat for trout. Tree lines may creep up mountains, erasing open meadows that enable mountain goats to keep watch against mountain lions.” So avalanches good, plant life bad, unless tossed into otherwise pristine streams?
                Wow. We can toss a tree or two into trout streams. Mountain goats will continue to be on guard against those damn mountain lions that only prey on them from below.
And finally, this: “Wolverines need deep snows to build their winter dens. I’m not sure what’s going to happen to them” states the research ecologist. Well, what the hell do they do in the other three seasons, Einstein?
What, to me, is most remarkable about articles like this one from extremely progressive people and sources isn’t the lack of scientific rigor and discipline. It’s the conservative, almost reactionary, belief, in these specific matters only, that everything is perfect as it was. As God made it. And that therefore any change in the climatic or environmental status quo is not only not normal (even if they believe we are just another ‘animal’ ourselves), but disastrous! This is completely at odds with their world view on everything else. Gays great. The more illegal immigrants the better! Bi-sexual, polyamorous  transvestites in the ministry? Fabulous! Screw the Constitution. “Hey, hey, ho, ho, western culture’s got to go! Legalize pot, but ban smoking!”
“Hope and Change” baby.

Just not in Glacier National Park.


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