Year 2, Month 10, Day 3: Yogi?

More on the dire predictions for Yellowstone National Park, this time printed in the Idaho State Journal for September 27:

According to new climate projections conducted for the report, the average of many models is for Yellowstone National Park summers to get 9.7 degrees hotter by 2070-2099 with medium-high future emissions. With a scenario of lower emissions, the average projection is for summers to get 5.6 degrees hotter. This illustrates that the most extreme effects of climate change can be avoided by taking action to reduce emissions. In fact, even the lower-emissions scenario does not assume new policies to reduce heat-trapping pollutants, and with new policies it would be possible to hold future climate change to an even smaller degree.

The effects of a disrupted climate threaten not only Greater Yellowstone’s ecology but also a $700 million annual tourism economy dependent on the region’s unique resources, says the report, which also notes that surveys indicate visitation could be substantially impacted by warming temperatures.

“What we humans are doing to the climate isn’t just melting polar ice caps, it’s disrupting the places that are nearest and dearest to us,” said Stephen Saunders, RMCO president and lead author of the report. “Already, threads are being pulled out of the tapestries of Yellowstone and other special places, and they are losing some of their luster.”

Variations on the theme. Sent September 29:

There’s nowhere on Earth like Yellowstone. With its rare and unusual wildlife and complex ecosystems, America’s greatest park is now gravely endangered by the ravages of climate change; those unique forms of life are extremely vulnerable to a runaway greenhouse effect.

It’s not just a 9.7 degree rise in predicted temperature that’s so frightening. That single figure conceals complex and unpredictable phenomena: wider swings from hot to cold, more extreme precipitation, and a loss of the climatic stability that allowed a complex ecology like Yellowstone’s to evolve in the first place.

Meanwhile, politicians and pundits irresponsibly assert that climate change is a liberal plot, or a fabrication by an international cabal of scientists desperately seeking funding.

Ultimately, of course, it’s not just Yellowstone that’s endangered, but all environments with complex ecologies. The time for concerted action on the climate crisis is now; there is no longer any time to waste.

Warren Senders

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