From today’s Washington Post we learn that ranchers in Arizona are noticing severe climate change. And many are ready to say it is a result of global warming:
Reese Woodling remembers the mornings when he would walk the grounds of his ranch and come back with his clothes soaked with dew, moisture that fostered enough grass to feed 500 cows and their calves.
But by 1993, he says, the dew was disappearing around Cascabel — his 2,700-acre ranch in the Malpai borderlands straddling New Mexico and Arizona — and shrubs were taking over the grassland. Five years later Woodling had sold off half his cows, and by 2004 he abandoned the ranch.
“How do you respond when the grass is dying? You hope to hell it starts to rain next year,” he says.
When the rain stopped coming in the 1990s, he and other Southwest ranchers began to suspect there was a larger weather pattern afoot. “People started talking about how we’ve got some major problems out here,” he said in an interview. “Do I believe in global warming? Absolutely.”
The truth is that there is widespread scientific consensus that global warming is real and that human activity is its primary cause. There will always be some dissenters they are a tiny minority. But it is clear that the Bush Administration is in denial on the severity of the problem and its major cause. (I suppose it is also possible that the Bush Administration privately acknowledges all this but they just don’t care. I would hate to think that the Administration is so full of ideologues that they cannot draw the obvious inferences from the overwhelming available facts.)
However, there should be no real dispute that global warming is occurring. The data are out there. It just so happens that my agency, the U.S. Geological Survey, has some of the most convincing data out there for anyone who wants to sift through it. All one has to do is look at historical statistics for snowmelts. Take Montana, for instance. Monthly stream flow statistics are available in some cases going back to the early 20th century. For example, the statistics for Swiftcurrent Creek at Sherburne, Montana go back to 1912 and continue through to the present. For the winter months the creek is frozen over so there is no streamflow to measure. Eventually the snowpack melts and the creeks flow again. But it’s clear that in this case (and in hundreds of other sites in our database) that over the last ninety years the general trend has been for the monthly mean streamflow to peak earlier and earlier in Montana. It used to be that the snowmelt would peak in May and June. Now it more often peaks in April and May.
Still not convinced? Check out these fast facts on global warming put together by National Geographic Magazine. This fact says it all to me:
Vast quantities of fresh water are tied up in the world’s many melting glaciers. When Montana’s Glacier National Park was created in 1910 it held some 150 glaciers. Now fewer than 30, greatly shrunken glaciers, remain.
Even Bush’s conservative base is getting the message. In today’s Washington Post we also learn that many mainstream religious denominations that formed the basis of Bush’s support in the 2004 election are realizing the extent of the environmental problem and are demanding that the government get serious about global climate change. More and more these denominations are calling for policies that “care for creation”.
Sadly, Bush’s head in the sand environmental policies are moving both mankind and life as we know it toward extinction. It’s hard for this thinking citizen to understand why we tolerate an administration that refuses to do something concrete about this very real and serious problem. Their environmental policies prove that rather than being pro-life, they are anti-life. If we continue to follow their policies lots of human life as we know it will come to an unnecessary and preventable premature end. Let’s hope us voters sober up quickly and put grownups in charge again.