Latest from The Spokesman-Review
ENVIRONMENT – “Chasing Ice,” a fascinating and award-winning National Geographic documentary about adventure-scientist documenting changes in the arctic will be presented by the Idaho Conservation League and other local environmental groups on Monday, 7 p.m., at the Panida Theater in Sandpoint.
Read on for details about the making of this 2012 film, and why local groups are bringing the stunning images to the big screen in North Idaho.
OLYMPIA — A special task force to figure out how well the state is doing at reducing greenhouse gas emissions got strong support from the Senate today after it was changed to get to work faster.
A critic, however, said the Legislature was paying attention to “pseudo science.”
Senate Bill 5802 would set up a task force with a representative from each of the Legislature's four caucuses and the governor, hire a consultant and determine the best ways to cut down on carbon dioxide emissions and other gases thought to contribute to global climate change.
The Legislature passed a law in 2008 to reduce such emissions, and this bill would basically answer the question: “How's that working for us?”
The task force would also look at different options for cutting down the emissions, what they would cost and suggest priorities designed to give the state the best bang for the buck.
“I want to take the religion out of carbon,” said Sen. Doug Ericksen, R-Ferndale, who added he didn't vote for the original law in 2008, but it's in place now.
Sen. Kevin Ranker, D-Orcas Island, said the state is particularly vulnerable on climate issues because it can be easily affected by declining snow packs and rising sea levels. The task force won't be answering the question “is it happening?” as “what are we going to do about it?”
But Sen. Mike Carrell, R-Lakewood, said supporters were producing “a long of pseudo science” on possible problems with global temperatures.
“I have no problem with the earth warming,” he said, because carbon dioxide encourages plant growth. “You're making an assumption that it is carbon dioxide that's causing the earth to warm, it could be the other way around.”
The increase in temperatures could be part of natural patterns, and causing more of the gas to be released from the oceans, he said.
The task force would be set up in mid May, rather than mid July, making it more likely a report would be available for next year's legislative session. The bill passed on a 37-12 vote.
In our society now, we idolize the sun. Good days for weathercasters are sunny days. Bad days are filled with snow. We escape from Spokane in the winter in search of sun.
With climate change, however, will we someday idolize snow the way we now do the sun? Because it will be so scarce? Will snow destinations become hot? Excuse the pun.
Snow's worth is always underrated. It collects on the mountains in the winter and when it melts, it feeds our streams, rivers and lakes. And in the Inland Northwest, it nourishes our amazing aquifer, source of our drinking water.
So here's a blog post in praise of snow. Bring it on.
(Tony Wadden photo)
Quote of the day:
“If trends continue, baseline tree mortality rates in western forests are projected to double every 17 to 29 years.”
From the report, “Impacts of Climate Change on Biodiversity, Ecoystems and Ecosystem Services,” released Tuesday that said climate change is already affecting the Intermountain West states. - Deseret News
ENVIRONMENT — More sobering news related to climate change:
As the arctic ice melt ended Sunday, scientists calculated the extent of the melt at 293,000 square miles more than in 2007, which broke the previous record. — Washington Post
Related story: Small boat sails through arctic ice issue
CLIMATE CHANGE — The warming globe is giving sailors more room to roam.
Read the disturbing story:
Ship's historic crossing signals extent of Arctic melt, Edmonton Journal.
CLIMATE CHANGE — Out of sight, out of mind. Next thing you know, they're extinct.
And it's happening faster than ever to fish species, according to a recent study detailed in a Columbia Basin Bulletin report.
From 1900-2010, freshwater fish species in North America went extinct at a rate 877 times faster than the rate found in the fossil record, while estimates indicate the rate may double between now and 2050, the Bulletin reports.
This new information comes from a U.S. Geological Survey study to be published in the September issue of the journal BioScience.
In the fossil record, one freshwater fish species goes extinct every 3 million years, but North America lost 39 species and 18 subspecies between 1898 and 2006. Based on current trends in threatened and endangered fish species, researchers estimate that an additional 53-86 species of freshwater fish may be extinct by the year 2050.
Since the first assessment of extinct North American freshwater fishes in 1989, the number of extinct fishes increased by 25 percent.
“This study illustrates the value of placing current events into the context of deep geologic time, as rocks preserve an unbiased record of natural rates of processes before human activities began to alter the landscape, the atmosphere, the rivers, and oceans,” said USGS Director Marcia McNutt.
This probably comes as no surprise: Federal scientists say July was the hottest month recorded in the Lower 48 states, breaking a record set during the Dust Bowl of the 1930s. And even less a surprise: The U.S. this year keeps setting records for weather extremes, based on precise calculations that include drought, heavy rainfall, unusual temperatures and storms. The average temperature last month was 77.6 degrees. That breaks the old record from July 1936 of 77.4, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Records go back to 1895. “It’s a pretty significant increase over the last record,” said climate scientist Jake Crouch of NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C. In the past, skeptics of global warming have pointed to the Dust Bowl to argue that recent heat isn’t unprecedented. But Crouch said this shows that the current year “is out and beyond those Dust Bowl years. We’re rivaling and beating them consistently from month to month”/Associated Press. More here. (AP file photo: The exposed bottom of the Mississippi River is baked and cracked by extreme heat and lack of rain, near St. Louis)
Question: Do you attribute the unprecedented heat besetting much of the country, to global warming?
MOUNTAINEERING — Safely below the snowline, I was hiking in the Alps near Chamonix, France, last week when 9 climbers were killed by an avalanche on Mont Blanc, the highest peak in western Europe. It was particularly eery for me and my family, since we had just shared a train ride with a South Africa couple who had just climbed the peak — and we had shared breakfast on a previous day with a man who was headed up to climb.
The tragedy in bringing international attention to what appear to be increasing danger and unpredictibility in snow-country climbing and backcountry skiing.
Following the tragedy in the Alps as well as another on Mount McKinley, the New York Times has published this report citing veteran climbers pointing out that today’s conditions are combining to create a volatile highball of risk.
About 40 people on Monday urged local leaders to find out how vastly increased train traffic could cause health problems in Spokane.
After hearing from them, the Spokane City Council unanimously approved a nonbinding resolution asking state and federal officials to study the environmental effects of significantly increasing the amount of coal traveling by train through Spokane. They also requested that a hearing on the matter be held locally.
“As these trains come through, there’s going to be an impact,” Councilman Mike Allen said. “We just need to know the entire ramification.”
WILDLIFE – An internationally recognized polar bear expert who moved to Stevens County will present a slide program about the threatened status of the arctic bruins at 7 p.m., March 2, at the Colville Community College.
Steven Amstrup, who’s studied polar bears in Alaska for 30 years, will discuss the impacts of global warming on the bears, followed by a question-answer period.
The program is sponsored by the Friends of the Little Pend Oreille National Wildlife Refuge.
The S-R recently reported that Amstrup, who worked at the U.S. Geological Survey’s Alaska Science Center, is one of 29 conservations up for a prestigious $100,000 Indianapolis Prize for 2012, to be awarded Sept. 29.
CLIMATE CHANGE — Driven by an unprecedented meltdown across much of the Canadian North, the planet's Arctic ice cover has retreated this summer to its second-smallest extent in the 30-year satellite era — and may yet shrink beyond the record-setting thaw that alarmed scientists around the world in 2007. The story is being covered by PostMedia.
The opening in August of both the southern and northern routes of the Northwest Passage through Canada's Arctic islands, along with the clearing out of ice from much of the Beaufort Sea north of the Yukon-Alaska border, are among the highlights of a new report on the state of Arctic ice issued this week by the U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Center.
BEDFORD, N.H. – GOP presidential candidate Rick Perry told New Hampshire voters Wednesday that he does not believe in manmade global warming, calling it a scientific theory that has not been proven.
“I think we’re seeing almost weekly, or even daily, scientists that are coming forward and questioning the original idea that manmade global warming is what is causing the climate to change,” the Texas governor said on the first stop of a two-day trip to the first-in-the-nation primary state.
Do you think Perry's views on global warming reflect the views of many Americans?
FISHING — Native cutthroat trout are likely to feel the heat from climate change.
A new study shows a changing climate could reduce suitable trout habitat in the western U.S. by about 50 percent over the next 70 years, with some trout species experiencing greater declines than others.
The results were reported by a team of 11 scientists from Trout Unlimited, the U.S. Forest Service Rocky Mountain Research Station, Colorado State University, the U.S. Geological Survey and the University of Washington Climate Impacts Group.
The study, published today in the peer-reviewed science journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, predicts native cutthroat throughout the West could decline by as much as 58 percent, while introduced brook trout could decline by as much as 77 percent. Rainbow and brown trout populations, according to the study, would also decline by an estimated 35 percent and 48 percent respectively. (Read the study report.)
The study notes that the decline of cutthroat trout is “of particular significance,” because cutthroats are the only trout native to much of the West and a keystone species in the Rocky Mountain ecosystem.
Read on for reaction from Trout Unlimited, and some reason for hope.
The following was asked on The S-R's candidate questionnaire. Candidate Chris Bowen declined to submit a questionnaire. Here are the answers, which were allowed to be up to 150 words, from the five other people hoping to replace Bob Apple and represent Northeast Spokane on the council.
Do you support the sustainability plan promoted by Mayor Mary Verner, which was adopted by the Spokane City Council in 2010? Do you support the decision of former Mayor Dennis Hession to sign the U.S.Conference of Mayors’ Climate Protection Agreement?
Continue reading the post to find out their answers.
In his column today in the Coeur d'Alene Press, weatherman Cliff Harris of Hayden writes: “There is no peer-confirmed scientific research that establishes a cause-and-effect relationship between increased atmospheric carbon dioxide and higher (or lower) global temperatures. This is a clever deception put forth by those attempting to impose a centralized, worldwide socialistic form of government headed by an empowered United Nations.” More here.
Question: Which do you believe in more/less global warming or a “centralized, worldwide socialistic form of government heading by an empowered United Nations”?
Good evening, Netizens…
Today cartoonist David Horsey takes a shot at global warming and climate change in light of the blizzards, snowfall and bad winter weather on the Eastern Coast that largely shut down several major US cities. There are some who persist in believing that the largely unprecedented snowfall in Atlanta, Georgia is somehow related to climate change. There are perhaps even more who swear vociferously that the freezing spell to hit Florida's citrus-growing areas are likewise caused by climate change rather than weather.
The question remains largely unanswered whether these dramatic weather changes are normal cyclical aberrations of weather or part of an evolution in our climate.
I'll concede pollution of our atmosphere caused by fossil fuels and airborne hydrocarbon byproducts are being largely blamed for changes in our climate, and perhaps that is so. Al Gore would have us believe this is true, as would some of our most-critical thinkers in atmospheric studies.
Still, in our climatological history, we have seen the Deep South and portions of the Eastern United States have severe cold snaps and occasional blizzards in other eras long before we polluted our atmosphere with hydrocarbons.
Perhaps the only viable understanding of climate change requires that we as a learned people, discuss and analyze the long-term weather trends to see what is or is not truthful.
As you head for the air conditioning or reach for the ice tea today, consider this: Today may be hot, but the last decade was the hottest one on record.
Or at least that’s what the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says in a report released today.
The federal agency that monitors the weather has a new report that quotes scientists from 48 countries saying that 10 key indicators show that the ‘00s were hotter than the ‘90s, which were hotter than the ‘80s, which were hotter than the ‘70s.
“Based on comprehensive data from multiple sources, the report defines 10 measurable planet-wide features used to gauge global temperature changes. The relative movement of each of these indicators proves consistent with a warming world. Seven indicators are rising: air temperature over land, sea-surface temperature, air temperature over oceans, sea level, ocean heat, humidity and tropospheric temperature in the “active-weather” layer of the atmosphere closest to the Earth’s surface. Three indicators are declining: Arctic sea ice, glaciers and spring snow cover in the Northern hemisphere.”
Of course, these are just 300 scientists from 48 countries saying that global warming is real. Who you gonna believe? Them, or some members of the Spokane City Council and a handful of folks who protest things like turning off the lights for “Earth Hour”?
The Spokane City Council just after midnight adopted a plan aimed at cutting carbon emissions and reducing the city’s dependence on oil.
The 5-2 decision was the second time the council voted on a report finished last year by Mayor Mary Verner’s 13-member Sustainability Task Force. Council members Nancy McLaughlin and Bob Apple voted against the plan.
When the council took its first action on the plan, in May 2009, there were only enough votes on the council to “accept” the report. Since then, two City Council members have been replaced.
“I’m honored to have another opportunity to adopt” the report,” City Councilman Steve Corker late Monday night.
City officials say that new state rules require that the city have an “adopted” plan to reduce emissions to qualify for some state grants.
The report recommends several steps the city should take to cut its dependence on oil and reduce the city’s negative effect on climate change. Ideas include promoting energy-efficient construction and transportation. It also sets a goal for the city to acquire 100 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2030.
The Greenland ice sheet, shown above, is reportedly losing 200 million cubic meters of ice a year.
WASHINGTON, DC — Following a scandal over stolen emails and the discovery of errors in a prominent research report, the number of Americans in doubt over climate change has grown, particularly along ideological lines.
A Gallup poll published last week found that overall, more Americans feel the media exaggerates the seriousness of climate change today than they did two years ago. Women, liberals and young adults are more likely to believe the effects of climate change are already happening. Story here.
Is your opinion about climate change different than the view you held a few years ago?
Good morning, Netizens…
Strictly in the Spirit of the impending Christmas Season, once again I present cartoonist David Horsey’s Climate Carol, an irreverent play on that old favorite, “Santa Claus is Coming to Town”.
Now I have read the portions of several recent message threads about global warming, and while I am aware that there are many opinions of global warming, both pro and con, at the same time I have to admit Horsey’s cartoon is pointed and quite funny.
Your opinions, however, may differ. By all means feel free to contribute a Christmas Carol of your own.
Good morning, Netizens…
Cartoonist David Horsey once again takes on the Global Climate debate by depicting Mother Nature departing the climate conference in Copenhagen.
My initial reaction to this cartoon is what is Mother Nature doing riding in what appears to be a limousine? Then the next question is, if she wouldn’t be riding in a limousine, just how would she be getting around? A horse-drawn carriage? A Model-T Ford? How about a 1949 Dodge Pickup Truck with a boom box stereo?
As for Mother Nature’s recommendation we might want to find a new planet, when do we leave?
Hoo boy! Now there is the question of the day. It becomes a question of not if but when.
Gov. Chris Gregoire said today she’s checked out some energy-efficient cars while at the climate sumitt in Denmark, talked up Washington state with “green” manufacurers, had meetings with other governors and provincial premiers and spent time assuring delegates from around the world that things are happening in the United States to address climate change.
She got a chance to watch reports of the maiden flight of the Boeing 787 on Danish television, and while she didn’t understand what the newscaster was saying, the video looked good.
But she hasn’t seen any of the protests, which is part of the coverage many Americans are getting seeing from the UN Climate Summit in Copenagen.
“It’s sad that’s the representations we’re left with. I have not seen any of the disruptions,” Gregoire said in a telephone press conference.
Although she’s been told Danish security is respectful of free speech rights, she described their reaction to protests as anything but: They’ll round up 700 protesters, let 699 go the next day and just cite one.
“Nothing gets started. They take immediate action,” she said.
Good morning, Netizens…
Now before I get down to the serious business writing about the Russian journalists who were visiting Spokane this week, a visit which Jeanie and yours truly played small but emotional roles, I must open this can of worms called Global Warming, at least viewed by cartoonist David Horsey.
It should be noted that, from my position and thinking, the threat of Global Warming is true. However, this is just an opinion based upon what limited facts I have from which to draw my conclusion. In the cartoon, even David Horsey suggests that scientists are hyping the truth about Global Warming, which also might be truthful.
However, Horsey also draws the same conclusion that others have reached, that it is altogether too often that both scientists and government leaders “massage” the numbers to match their opinions. Thus David Horsey’s ethical question does not contain another element which I have often found to be far too truthful, and thus is inelegantly unethical.
There are people throughout the Blogosphere who have developed a considerable following when speaking of Global Warming, who lack either the scientific acumen nor have the political authority to declare Global Warming either exists or does not. Yet because they are purportedly unbiased, that they are not swayed by either scientific researchers nor political persuasion, they are therefore more ethical and thus more likely to possess the facts. Thus is not always the case, in my opinion.
The truth or untruth about Global Warming depends upon which source(s) you find most ethical. That perhaps is the more difficult question than whether or not Global Warming exists or its impact upon our lives.
Good morning, Netizens…
As David Horsey suggests in this morning’s cartoon, the world’s leaders are hemming and hawing over climate change like a group of farmers sitting around the Grange after a bad harvest is complete and they are wondering if they have enough profit to buy seed for the next year’s planting. They haven’t solved the problem, but instead constantly poke at it, constantly rehash it over and over again, and maybe if they are lucky, they might even agree on but not solve the issues. You cannot beat Mother Nature when it comes to handing out a good butt-kicking.
Perhaps worse than that, you cannot get the purported experts upon whose opinions we depend to tell us how bad the climate is or is about to become in another generation or two. One set of scientists are broadcasting doom and gloom, such as how the icebergs in the Arctic and Antarctic are melting faster than ever before, while other scientists say, “Piffle. That is a bunch of poppycock.”
Getting scientists to agree with one another is about like getting meteorologists to accurately forecast the weather over a long period of time.
So what David Horsey is saying is at least partially true. If each of the world leaders are listening to different scientists, each coming to the table with their very diverse opinions, the world’s leaders probably will sit at the Great Table and instead of taking active steps to combat global warming, they make vague, lofty-sounding statements that play well with the “folks back home” while accomplishing very little. Isn’t this what is happening right now?
Sometimes I wonder when or if the pendulum will swing the other way; instead of global warming will might have global cooling.
Good morning, Netizens…
Cartoonist David Horsey gives us some clinically-flawless examples of medieval thinking this morning which would be highly functional, were it not for the Republican Caucus hiding behind their covert doorways advancing their theories about science.
I can see it now. In the Arctic Regions, icebergs hold covert but unsentient meetings and vote unanimously to “melt down for the heck of it”. You cannot deny they are melting down, because there is proof what is taking place. Giant icebergs calving is not that scientific in nature: just pull up your lawn chair, have a seat and watch. If you can’t figure out why they are melting down, you call the scientific theory of the time a hoax and be done with it.
Asking members of the Republican Caucus to approach scientific thinking, or even critical thinking for that matter, with a clear path of thought seems an anachronism to some, but then long ago in history we had people who swore on their honor that the world was flat and that the sun revolved the planet earth. Time changes things; things change time. It will be interesting to see what the theories we currently hold about Global Warming will be like in a few decades, perhaps.
Perhaps by then we might even have some theories about how Republicans feel about Global Warming then.
Good evening, Netizens…
Yesterday, the Eiffel Tower is shown
just after the 20,000 bulbs illuminating the tower went out for five
minutes. The City of Lights went dim when thousands of Parisians
joined in an hour “lights-out” campaign aimed at showing
citizens concern over climate change. (AP Photo/ Thibault Camus)
(March 28, 2009)
This was all a campaign to highlight the threat of climate change. Did you turn your lights out? To put it a bit more succinctly, do you care?
Which would I rather see, half the world turn the lights on their big commercial building lights off over concern for world climate change or eliminating nuclear weapons from the world’s arsenals? At the rate they are continuing to grow in numbers, won’t nuclear weapons eventually get used unless someone stops the madness?
The question which I feel challenges us all, which is more likely to eliminate mankind as we know it to be, global warming or nuclear holocaust? We must stop the proliferation of nuclear weapons.
Maybe there is such a thing as Global Warming?… Nah.
Global warming is a hot debate topic in our country today, but is it actually in existence? Cliff Harris and Dr. Douglass attack the concept from an opposing stand point.
In “The ‘cold truth’ from Dr. Douglass about global warming,” Cliff Harris dissects the research performed by Dr. William Campbell Douglass II, M.D., to disprove the idea of global warming. A chart with global temperatures dating back to 2500 B.C. and running through 2040 A.D. pointed out major temperature swings, which Harris then used to compare against averages from recent times. His findings weren’t anything extraordinary, either.
In Harris’ opinion, the concept of global warming has been blown out of proportion due to politics, paid researchers, and environmental activists. He says, “Until this global warming hubbub, climatology wasn’t considered a life-or-death issue the way medicine is. …Since global warming has become a divisive political minefield, there’s big-time grant and research money being tossed about to help politicians (regardless of their stance on the issue) make their points. …The same climatologists and researchers who advocate global warming are often being paid to study it.”
His opinion, research, and evidence may or may not be enough to sway someone on the topic, but check this out. He concludes his article (published February 20th in a local newspaper) with weather predictions for the rest of February and early March, based off the data he gathered from earlier temperature swings. Cliff Harris’ predictions for February were dead on, as are his March predictions thus far. Harris wrote, “Early March should feature some snowy and cold periods with lower than usual snow levels down to the valley floor locations, even along the warmer lakes that are currently free of ice. …Stay tuned.”
Even if the entire idea of global warming is not real, the fear of its possibility is enough to “scare” the United States into acting for the benefit of the environment, which can protect the U.S. from other environmental problems. By acting in environmentaly concious ways, the United States safeguards itself from negative environmental effects AND global warming, if global warming exists. Could this whole issue be nothing more than a scare? If so, is it because no one knows whether global warming exists, or is it for other reasons?