Year 2, Month 8, Day 11: Yogi & Boo-Boo Will Have To Wear Protective Clothing

The Sacramento Bee for July 25 describes a new study on the likely increase in wildfires as a consequence of climate change…and what it’s going to mean for Yellowstone National Park:

The study by Westerling and his colleagues, which will be published online this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, suggests that the expected rising temperatures caused by climate change could increase the frequency of large wildfires in Yellowstone to an unprecedented level, according to a news release from the university.

The projected increase in fires would probably cause a major shift in the greater Yellowstone ecosystem, with fewer dense forests and more open woodland, grass and shrub vegetation.

The change could happen by 2050, Westerling theorizes, with forests becoming younger, the mix of tree species changing and some forests failing to regenerate after repeated fires. That would affect the region’s wildlife, hydrology, carbon storage and aesthetics, the news release said.

“What surprised us about our results was the speed and scale of the projected changes in fire in greater Yellowstone,” Westerling said. “We expected fire to increase with increased temperatures, but we did not expect it to increase so much or so quickly. We were also surprised by how consistent the changes were across different climate projections.”

Sent July 26:

Yellowstone has long been the figurehead of our nation’s National Park system. From iconic geysers to astonishing ecologies, this extraordinary area is not only one of the world’s great wonders, but an unparalleled tourist attraction. Looking into the future, however, it’s hard to imagine the same crowds will show up for the regular forest fires that the UC Merced study predicts as a consequence of regional droughts and climate change? Yellowstone isn’t alone; other parks throughout the country are already feeling the effects of the past century’s emissions of greenhouse gases. How much devastation must global warming wreak on our country’s landscape before the professional denialists and their science-blind followers come to their senses? What would Theodore Roosevelt say to the current crop of law-makers who are eagerly destroying his legacy? Between climate change and anti-environment legislators, our country’s national parks are in greater danger than ever before.

Warren Senders

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