Global warming comes home to Northwest Colorado
Friends of Northwest Colorado, a Craig group researching both a sustainable economy and a sustainable local ecosystem, presents the following three-part series on Moffat County's experience in contributing to, being harmed by, and seeking to decrease global warming.
The Daily Press' recent poll of Moffat County residents' acceptance of the science of global warming produced these numbers:
• 40 percent accepted the science
• 34 percent thought it was propaganda
• 26 percent were uncertain
The news of climate change is now frequent. The changes result from pollutant gases that over-concentrate in the earth's atmosphere, remain caught and less dispersible, and capture the sun's heat, interfering with the sun's various ray components and their dispersal. In some surface areas, concentrated sun heat increases water evaporation, dries soil and foliage, and may release the congested evaporation far away from typical rainfall/snowfall areas. The increased evaporation can be pulled by atmospheric stronger, longer winds - such as those forming and moving the North American Jet Stream - to different-than-usual global zones, abandoning some to drought and others to over-precipitation.
The Pacific Ocean's currents also receive evaporation plus recently melted cold glacier waters that, in colder and greater amounts, sink to ocean bottoms and are carried by current toward the equator where they gradually warm and thus rise toward the surface to become part - but a cooler part - of the Gulf Stream that slants northeast from the Gulf across the Atlantic to eastern Canada, Greenland, and Europe, bringing colder winters.
Or, as recent studies at Steamboat's Mount Werner Storm Peak Lab show, evaporation from longer heat seasons, where the elevated CO2 levels also carry sulphur and nitrate particles from both coal-burning and natural or stronger forest fires, will decrease annual rain and snow totals. The particles attract and hold cloud moisture and scatter it, rather than allowing large enough moisture drops to attract each other into clouds that, when moisture-filled, release rain or snow to the ground. Polluted clouds are shown to "yield at least 15 percent less precipitation than clouds formed in clean air" (Daily Press & Steamboat Pilot, Mike Lawrence, June 14, 2007, Power Play: Ski Area's Face Warm Wind of Change).
In the midst of such changed temperatures and wet/dry cycles and areas, available forage and growth and even the bird and bee carriers of seeds or pollen may have to relocate for reproductive assurance. Bill Stanley of the Nature Conservancy Global Climate Change Initiative has said we may have to "design new nature reserves to accommodate the movement of whole ecosystems - fungi, centipedes, anonymous species and known species."
Thus, news reports appear of armadillos in northeast Arkansas, 50-million acre fires in Siberia, a hundred gigatons of ice melted from Greenland's glaciers and a manatee seen swimming past Chelsea Pier in New York City.
(Part I of III: Authored by Rick Hammel, David Morris, Monty Robertson, Jane Yazzie Ann Wagner and Pastor Bob Woods. The Daily Press will publish parts II and III Tuesday and Wednesday.)