Year 2, Month 6, Day 25: Look! Bipartisanship!

The June 10 Seattle Times reports on yet another study confirming what we all know:

They looked at the rings of thousands of ancient trees in the mountains above the most important rivers in the West.

What they found may influence how water gets used from Arizona to Canada — and particularly in the Columbia River basin.

Despite odd years like this one, researchers have long reported declines in the mountain snows that power Western rivers. But on Thursday a group of scientists said they now also know this: Those declines are virtually unprecedented throughout most of the last millennium.

Scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and University of Washington measured tree-ring growth from forests that included 800-year-old trees. They learned that snowpack reductions in the late 20th and early 21st centuries were unlike any other period dating to at least the year 1200, according to new research published in the journal Science.

It struck me that these results aren’t surprising to either side of the “debate” any more, and I thought I’d address that surprising unanimity of perception in this letter, sent June 10:

Of course the newest study from the U.S. Geological Survey confirms the existence of climate change, and reinforces the predictions of a complex and catastrophic future for our country and the world! Up to this point, both climate-change denialists and environmental realists are in agreement. But the realists expect to see these results because many decades worth of research on climate questions already supports the core hypothesis: climate change is human-caused, and it’s going to have severe impacts on all of our lives for generations to come. Denialists, by contrast, expect these results because they believe scientific research is part of a liberal campaign to take away their SUVs and force them to change their lightbulbs, a laughable conspiracy theory boosted by corporations afraid of lessening their quarterly returns. Sense and survival on the one hand — paranoia and profit on the other. The choice is clear.

Warren Senders

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