Talking climate

Print Article

The rain is finally falling in Montana, and our southern coastal states are drying out. Itís finally time to have a serious conversation about climate change.

Climate Smart Glacier Country invites you to join us at four community forums this fall focused on emerging climate challenges and local solutions. Our recently formed public-private partnership is focused on pragmatic ways to develop a clean energy economy and prepare our Flathead communities for a new climatic normal. We want to set the table for constructive conversations about whatís at stake and what we can do about it.

This month has been a personal trial for me as it may have been for you. The choking smoke was oppressive at the end of a fiery summer that was 4 įF hotter than the average Montana summer. Meanwhile, my cousin in Houston struggles to salvage his flooded home and my niece in southern Florida spent 16 frightening hours on a congested highway fleeing Hurricane Irma.

As most climate scientists are quick to point out, you canít say that any of this weird weather is directly caused by anthropogenic climate change. But we can say that 2017 is on track to join the past three years as the hottest four years in global records. Warmer-than-usual oceans and increased evaporation supercharged the hurricanes. We can say that another hot, dry summer in Montana, long predicted by climate models, created the conditions to torch rangeland, 20-year-old clearcuts, mature forests, and homes in the wildland-urban interface.

Perhaps itís simply random that the Earth has experienced four record-breaking years of heat in a row. But letís be honest with ourselves Ė itís probably not coincidence. While annual global temperatures fluctuate year to year, the trend is clear. Average annual temperatures in Glacier National Park increased 2.4 įF over the past 100 years. Fire seasons are almost a month longer. And unless humankind rapidly reduces our emission of carbon pollution, western Montana will see another 7 įF increase this century. Thatís downright scary, but itís a choice thatís still ours to make.

Too many Americans have the mistaken impression that physics is political, even though the basic science of the climatic ďgreenhouse effectĒ due to carbon dioxide emissions has been understood for more than 150 years. This false sense that science is an ideology contributes to a spiral of silence in which most Americans are concerned about climate change but few dare discuss it with friends and family.

The premise of Climate Smart Glacier Country is that many Flathead County residents are ready to have mature, adult conversations about this threat to our way of life. We believe the best way to do this is by focusing on local solutions. We can conserve energy and save money. We believe that clear-eyed understanding of climate trends and projections will help us build resilient communities.

On Oct. 16, Montanaís top climate scientists from UM and MSU will present the first statewide Montana Climate Assessment at FVCC, 1-4 p.m. The assessment applies the best available science to outline anticipated impacts to Montanaís water, agriculture and forest sectors.

Hunting and ski season take the stage on Wednesday, Nov. 8 with a multi-media evening in Whitefish focused on fishing and hunting, climate change and snow. And a Nov. 16 forum in Columbia Falls will envision Montanaís transition to a clean energy economy.

Full details of the educational series can be found at www.ClimateSmart

GlacierCountry.org.

Former climate skeptic Senator Steve Daines recently acknowledged that global warming is happening and human activity is a major contributor. ďThe question is what then should we do,Ē he told a radio journalist. I agree. Letís get on it!

ó Steve Thompson, Chairman of Climate Smart Glacier Country

Print Article

Read More Columns

A North Fork fire experience

September 19, 2018 at 8:22 am | Hungry Horse News Saturday, August 11, 2018: Lightning punctuated local radio chatter as our neighbors tried to pinpoint strikes from the predicted dry storm. For now, darkness shrouded the forest as duff incubated th...

Comments

Read More

Post fire thoughts

September 19, 2018 at 8:19 am | Lake County Leader So far, so good. Nothing in this weekís weather, or in the seven-day forecast, has caused the fire danger to increase. Our fires are not dead out, but do not pose much of a threat to make a run. Eve...

Comments

Read More

North Fork appears safe from fires

September 12, 2018 at 1:00 pm | Lake County Leader I am fully aware that the fire season is not officially over. We could still have some hot, windy weather and thunderstorms. Even so, I believe the Coal Ridge and Whale Butte fires, still not 100 per...

Comments

Read More

Piddling for profit

September 12, 2018 at 1:00 pm | Lake County Leader Editorís note: George Ostrom is under the weather this week. We bring you this column from 1987... With all the emotional arguments and lawsuits currently taking place over mandatory drug testing, i...

Comments

Read More

Contact Us

(406) 892-2151
PO BOX 189, 926 Nucleus Avenue
Columbia Falls, MT 59912

©2018 Hungry Horse News Terms of Use Privacy Policy
X
X