Year 2, Month 10, Day 2: Boo Boo?

The September 27 issue of Billings, Montana, Gazette reports on a new study that highlights climate change’s probable effects on Yellowstone National Park:

The weather in Yellowstone National Park could feel more like that of Los Angeles in 60 years if climate change continues to accelerate, according to a new report released Tuesday.

Under that “medium high” climate change scenario, the average summer temperature in the nation’s first national park would rise by 9.7 degrees by 2070.

Stephen Saunders of the Rocky Mountain Climate Organization, lead author of the report that was underwritten by the Bozeman-based Greater Yellowstone Coalition, said “9.7 degrees of additional heat would totally transform the ecosystem.”

A climate like LA’s, huh? Old Faithful — with rats, pigeons and roaches. Rock’n’roll!

Sent Sept. 28:

The numbers in environmental predictions can be misleading. When we hear, for example, that Yellowstone National Park may be nine degrees warmer by 2070, it’s relatively easy to dismiss; after all, temperatures can vary by far more than that amount in a single day, so what’s the fuss about?

But that nine-degree figure conceals some of the worst ravages of climate change. Hot weather evaporates more water, boosting the moisture content of the air and making extreme precipitation more likely — catastrophic floods, infrastructure-crippling snowfalls. An increase in average temperature doesn’t just mean the mercury goes up; it means wilder swings, hotter hots and colder colds.

Yellowstone is home to richly complex and unique ecosystems — micro-communities of life that are found nowhere else on the planet. Uniqueness, of course, implies vulnerability. If, as the Rocky Mountain Climate Organization report suggests, the park’s summer climate in 2070 could resemble that of today’s Los Angeles, it’s a fair bet that many of the plants and animals that have made it a worldwide tourist attraction aren’t going to survive.

The politicians and media figures who promote the denial of climate change are sacrificing our shared national heritage for their own short-term enrichment — a grotesque betrayal of the public trust.

Warren Senders

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