“The speed of change calls us to action for the sake of our kids and grandkids.
Believe the science and support changes to address our changing Montana climate.”
THE EDITORIAL BOARD of the Billings Gazette — Sep 22, 2019
For the first time in three years,
Glacier National Park’s Going to the Sun Road wasn’t closed by major
wildfires in August, the height of the tourist season.
Montana has warmed about twice as fast as the rest of the Earth over
the past century, according to information from Glacier Park. The
largest and fastest temperature increases worldwide have occurred at the
North Pole, south through Canada and Alaska and into the northern tier
of the Lower 48, according to a report published last week in the
When Glacier became a national park in 1910, it was home to more than 100 glaciers that provided water for wildlife and streams. Now only two dozen glaciers remain large enough to be considered active and they are melting faster.
Climate change is a key point in
litigation over de-listing of the Yellowstone grizzly bear. The white
bark pine trees of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem are dying, so their
pine nuts that were a staple of the grizzly diet are disappearing. Loss
of that food source was part of the successful argument to keep the
bears protected from hunting.
and other animals whose food and habitat are changing with the climate
may also get into more conflicts with people. When food is less
available in remote locations, the bears will forage closer to where
Among the climate changes documented in Yellowstone:
- Average park temperatures are higher now than 50 years ago.
time between last spring freeze and first fall frost has increased by
about 30 days in some areas of the park over the past 50 years.
- The Northeast Entrance by Cooke City recently has averaged 60 more days per year above freezing than it did in the mid-1980s.
days and nights might seem like a good thing, but warmth increases
wildfire risk. Winters aren’t as cold as they were generations ago, so
bark beetles that would freeze to death at 40 below zero are surviving
to infect pine forests the next spring and summer. Huge swaths of Rocky
Mountain forests (and trees in cities) have succumbed to disease
transmitted by bark beetles in the past decade.
is bad for forests, rangeland and for people who breathe the
smoke. Wildfires in Colorado and Washington in 2012 alone led to 419
premature deaths, 627 hospital admissions and $3.9 billion in total
health costs, according to an analysis by the National Resource Defense
Fund and the University of California San Francisco that was published
this month in GeoHealth.
Climate change over the past 20
years has made forest recovery more difficulty, according to University
of Montana researchers. In study reported March 12 by Science Daily, the
authors analyzed regeneration rates of forests
two biggest industries — agriculture and outdoor recreation — depend on
Mother Nature’s benevolence. The timing of snow, snow melt and rain are
crucial for crops and livestock production. Wildfires that force road
closures, evacuations and obscure Montana scenery cut into outdoor
recreation for Montanans and our 11 million annual visitors. Lack of
mountain snowpack hurts the ski business. Warmer rivers and streams
result in hoot owl restrictions that keep anglers off the waterways
during the daytime.
changes daily, if not hourly, but climate is long term. Our climate is
changing over decades and at an increasingly rapid rate. The vast
majority of climate scientists in the United States and around the world
have found that these changes are largely driven by increases of
human-caused pollutants in the air.
change cannot be ignored. We must prepare to live in a changed and
changing world. The first steps are recognizing the problems and working
on solutions that will benefit our communities and our children.
example, there is much work to do in energy conservation. Anyone who
has replaced an old boiler with a new high-efficiency furnace knows the
dramatic savings it yields in electric or gas bills. Solar panels
installed at Billings high schools are projected to pay for themselves
in energy savings. Yet our 2019 Montana legislators rejected a
well-researched bill that would have provided needed options for small
businesses to upgrade their energy efficiency.
What business, homeowner or renter doesn’t want to minimize energy expenses?
city of Billings recently re-instituted an energy conservation advisory
panel at the behest of citizens who know the city can save money while
reducing pollution by planning carefully and acting promptly.
are small, but necessary first steps to conserve our resources, reduce
waste and respond to the overwhelming strong scientific consensus that
human activity is accelerating the warming of our planet. The speed of
change calls us to action for the sake of our kids and grandkids.
Believe the science and support changes to address our changing Montana