We’ll be Vilified, if There’s Anybody Left

I know, I know, one unusually hot and dry summer doesn’t confirm global warming. However, these recent news stories certainly can’t be ignored.

Close to home, there’s this article on a report from those radical environmentalists at the U.S. Forest Service. After sifting through decades of international climate and fire data, researchers say we’re going to have longer wildfire seasons and more frequent fires “with the greatest increases observed in the temperate coniferous forests of the Northern Rockies.”

Then there’s this snippet from High County News’ Heard Around The West:

On June 11, Glacier National Park celebrated its 100 millionth visitor. Tourists might want to visit the glorious park soon, says Montana Magazine. Out of 150 glaciers counted at the turn of the century, only 25 remain, and by 2030, not a single one is expected to survive.

From my own personal experience last weekend, the grandkids had a little farther to walk to splash in the waters of Flathead Lake. It’s down about a foot from full pool, meaning the shoreline is two or three feet further out, depending on where you are. Not a big deal for the kids but according to another radical environmentalist, John Hines, Northwestern Energy Vice President of Energy Supply:

Northwest Montana, often the wettest part of the state, has in recent weeks been torched by temperatures that have cracked the 100-degree mark. The lack of moisture and heat caused early run-off of an already below-normal snowpack. Now we are faced with persistent low flows in the Flathead River drainage.

He adds that “farmers and ranchers, river guides, recreationalists, fish and wildlife, and all aspects of our economy are being hurt.”

Skeptics will point to record cold and snowfall on the East Coast in 2015 or the “Antarctic vortex” that brought snow to Southeastern Australia and coldest temperatures to Antarctica in five years.

That’s why scientists have replaced the term global warming with climate change. There’s irrefutable evidence that the planet is gradually heating due to anthropogenic (manmade) activities, but it’s being accompanied by bizarre weather patterns, desert floods, droughts, dying oceans, cyclones …

The U.N.’s chief climate scientist says the world is at “five minutes before midnight” when it comes to the deadline for averting severe climate change.

It will be around 2070 when my grandchildren, who I referenced earlier, reach my age. Assuming they survive, they’ll be vilifying our generation for our failure to address the warning signs. The time to act was yesterday.

TRANSPARENCY: After getting some grief about using snowcapped peaks as the title photo, I changed the image to the above drought shot.



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    • Thanks for the link, David. Their positions are pretty much where I thought they’d be, though: mostly scary.

  • Good post Pete. Of course, it’s worth pointing out that right now in Montana those people who call on the politicians and land management agencies to do things like: protect old-growth forests, protect all the remaining roadless wildlands, protect critical wildlife habitat for threatened and endangered species, protect public lands from ‘fast track’ logging schemes and mandate logging, etc are vilified pretty much equally by both republicans and democrats.

  • As closely paraphrasing as I can, a social justice and environmental activist I met at NN ’11 from Arizona told me this: ‘Neither Democrats nor Republicans like activists. They piss on us all the time. But if we’re honest with ourselves, a lot of the times it’s because we’re being jerks. When we’ve pissed on ’em right back, they still run the sh**.’

    Good post, Pete. I do suggest this, as my friend above suggested to me. The whole point of climate change denial is not to get us to where we choose to do nothing, but rather to get us to your last sentence, where ‘the time to act was yesterday’ Delay with purpose. We still can do things about our changing climate, but not until the right folk have figured out how to charge us for the privilege of remaining alive on their rock. The California coast already has many desalinization units built, but they aren’t going to be profitable until everyone is willing to pay so they remain inactive. One billionaire of note is putting a huge amount of wealth into wind farms, while continuing to ship fossil fuels by rail, for the good of us all, right? McDonald’s and Wendy’s contribute to climate aware candidates and change packaging while continuing to fund the deforestation of the Amazon. The anecdotes continue. What should be clear is that this global problem isn’t going to be solved, if it even can be, by a bunch of folk in Montana blaming a bunch of other folk in Montana over ‘critical wildlife habitat’ in our state. If that’s the concern, then global climate change denial and inaction due to finger pointing, become one and the same in effect. Those who will profit or intend to profit figured that out quite some time ago.

  • Flathead Lake is at 2892.20 today, which is seven or eight inches lower than the 1965–2014 median for the summer recreation season. Although the license for Kerr Dam allows its operator to fill the lake to 2893, that seldom happens because exceeding 2893 violates the license. Therefore, the lake is kept two or three inches below 2893.

    On 8 June, I placed online a short post, with graphs, on this:


    I have more recent graphs, which I hope to post later this week.

    Northwestern Energy predicts the lake will fall to 2892, then come up a few inches as the outflow from Kerr Dam declines. The dam’s mandated minimum outflows, specified in Article 56 of its license, begin declining in July, so by August the inflow to the lake, and the outflow from Kerr, should equalize. The situation is being handled much better than it was in 2001, so it seems to me there’s a high probability that the lake will not fall as low as it did in 2001.

      • A good question. Water from the Flathead River is pumped from above Kerr Dam to reservoirs in the Flathead Indian Irrigation Project. All of the project’s reservoirs are low, so overall, there will be impacts on irrigation. But I haven’t seen any good numbers. Most irrigation projects have one, perhaps two, big reservoirs. The FIIP has numerous small reservoirs, and draws its water not only from the Flathead River but from many alpine lakes and streams. Because of the need to quantify water resources for the FIIP, we have over 100 years of streamflow records for the Flathead River below Polson, and for Flathead Lake levels. The unregulated outflow from Flathead Lake is tightly correlated with the level of the lake, so I was able to use nonlinear regression to construct hydrographs for the periods before 1930 when the lake wasn’t gauged.

    • Please, James, a little poetic license. Eight inches, a foot – you get my point. This is just the beginning.

        • *Applause* (I hope you know that I wasn’t actually complaining.)

          The reason it struck me is that I go to Kalispell from Bozeman every year in the middle of June. I don’t always take the standard route, I-90/93 north, but when I do, I look forward to cresting the hill and seeing the Mission mountains at St. Ignatius. I driven that about 100 times in my life, and the view still takes my breath away. This year, it was a shock, honestly. Bare rock as far as the eye could see, save tiny pockets of white in the north facing cirques. Being my usual delicate self, I exclaimed out loud, “The people over here are truly f***ed”.

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Pete Talbot

'Papa’ Pete Talbot is first and foremost a grandfather to five wonderful grandchildren. Like many Montanans, he has held numerous jobs over the years: film and video producer, a partner in a marketing and advertising firm, a builder and a property manager. He’s served on local and statewide Democratic Party boards. Pete has also been blogging at various sites for over a decade. Ping-pong and skiing are his favorite diversions. He enjoys bourbon.

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