Montana Climate change

Fossil fuels are ancient history

The great majority of scientists worldwide – those who are not beholden to corporations – agree that humans are heating up the Earth from our ever-increasing use of fossil fuels (e.g., coal, methane gas, oil). The 2007 report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Science Change included 29,000 series of observational data, and 89% of that data was consistent with an expected response to an overall trend to warming in the earth’s climate. (1)

Worldwide, that data shows:

  • The concentration of warm weather worldwide in recent decades, a trend that began in the 1950s;
  • The concentration of those warmer temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere;
  • The increasing areas of the world affected by drought;
  • Decreasing glaciers, polar ice caps, and arctic sea ice;
  • Corresponding increase in the number of glacial lakes;
  • Increasing intensity of storms;
  • Increasing flooding;
  • Earlier spring runoff;
  • Earlier timing of other events that happen in spring (e.g., bird migrations and nesting, fish migrations, the opening of leaves);
  • Warming of lakes and rivers;
  • Rising sea level;
  • Increased acidity in the ocean.
Montana Climate Change

Climate change threatens both the agriculture and tourism industries

In May 2010, the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) announced a new series of reports by the National Research Council. The NAS press release said, “multiple lines of evidence support scientific understanding of climate change. The core phenomenon, scientific questions, and hypotheses have been examined thoroughly and have stood firm in the face of serious debate and careful examination of alternative explanations.”

Quoting directly from the report, the release said, “Climate change is occurring, is caused largely by human activities, and poses significant risks for – and in many cases already affecting – a broad range of human and natural systems.” (2)

In Montana, climate change threatens:

    • Montana’s No. 1 industry – agriculture. Farmers face the prospect of decreased crop yields as temperatures during the growing season rise. This is because photosynthesis begins to shut down when temperatures rise above 90 degrees and a one-degree rise in average temperature during the growing season decreases the yield of major crops by 10%.
    • Montana’s No. 2 two industry – tourism. Possibly by 2020, we will no longer be able to boast of glaciers in the jewel of the national park system – Glacier National Park. Ski and other winter sports industries will experience shortened seasons. Fishing will suffer because fish will experience more stress from warmer water or no late summer runoff, already beginning to occur. In some cases, forest fires from more bark beetle kill (exacerbated by warmer winters) will darken summer skies and ruin the enjoyment of Montana landscapes.
Fossil Fuels

Grinnell Glacier — 1940 – 2006

Sperry Glacier — 1913 – 2008

1) Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Climate Change 2007: Synthesis Report, adopted at IPCC Plenary XXVII, Valencia, Spain, November 12-17, 2007.

2) National Academy of Sciences, press release: “Strong evidence on climate change underscores need for actions to reduce emissions and begin adapting to impacts,” May 19, 2010.

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