Recent comments

  • NPCA: Climate Change Greatest Threat Facing the National Park System   5 years 28 weeks ago

    Well MRC, temps have been cooling since 1998 when the last warming period seems to have peaked. I won't venture a guess as to why but remain content in the knowledge that the Earth is not static and change is the norm. We roll with the punches but ultimately our fate, as is the fate of all living beings, is extinction. 99% of all species that have ever appeared on this blue and green marble are now consigned to the category of total oblivion. Makes you really admire the clams, sharks and cockroaches for their tenacity.

  • NPCA: Climate Change Greatest Threat Facing the National Park System   5 years 28 weeks ago

    Forget the ants, they are part of the cycle that is going on for millennia. Co2 in the biosphere is natural and the ecosystems and the global greenhouse is well adopted to it. The problem arises because we pull carbon dioxide from deposits were it was stored for millions of years and sequestered from the biosphere and release it by burning fossil fuels such as coal and oil.

    This carbon dioxide is additional to the amount that the biosphere and the meteorological system is adopted to. And only a fool can think that this won't have consequences. It is this easy. Anyone who does not agree is either a fool or has a personal agenda.

  • NPCA: Climate Change Greatest Threat Facing the National Park System   5 years 28 weeks ago

    I know the Anonymouses are piling up here, but I'm the original, and I think Dean is exactly right. Not right that I'm a denier who believes falsehoods and misrepresentations--anyone who claims that there is such a thing as "settled" science is trying to cover up contradictory evidence through an appeal to authority. There was a time when Newtonian mechanics was the last word in physics...

    Rather, Dean is right that we have agencies for environmental policy, and the NPS would gain nothing and lose much by trying to become another EPA. (Or, to get back to the point of Kurt's original post, the NPCA will gain nothing by turning NPS into another EPA.) If there is a role for the NPS in climate change, it is in educating about effects.

    1. By talking about effects, we work from empirical evidence, rather than theory. Changes in glaciation, plant and animal distribution, rock geology, air quality--these can all be measured and reported on the local level. Their causes are almost never singular. Let's take an example: wildfire. Increased wildfire rates can be attributed to hotter weather, drier weather, insect infestation, misguided fire suppression policies, and increased human carelessness. In many cases, most or all of these are factors. To global-warming zealots, the main cause is global warming. To the timber industry, you can be sure the main cause is bad forest management. Who is right? In the macro sense, they both are. But to each group, every fire is grist for their respective mills. It is wrong for the NPS, or its representatives, to single out a pet cause and use the parks as a pulpit for policy evangelism. But the evangelists can never see that (I'm looking at you, climate zealots!), because they're right, dammit, and why can't everyone else see that?

    2. The parks are discrete areas, with discrete interpretive missions. It is entirely preferable to discuss (for example) receding glaciers in the context of local changes in temperature and precipitation without needing to talk about temperature and precipitation changes on the global scale. We oversimplify the global climate system when we attribute local changes in glaciation to worldwide effects. And we stray far from our appointed topics. If anything, use climate change as a springboard to talk about Glacier NP, but don't use Glacier NP as a springboard to talk about global warming.

    3. Ultimately, educating about effects and their potential causes, without taking policy positions (like NPCA's ridiculous and disastrous cap-and-trade system) based on our personal bêtes noire, is good interpretation. These are complex systems. I do not expect any visitor to gain a mastery of climate science by reading a series of wayside signs. I do not want anyone to come to a conclusion about global warming based off my, or any other interpreter's, 20-minute talk about glaciation. What we can do is introduce the idea that these matters are extremely complex, and that they should be skeptical of anyone who tries to sell them a policy proposal based on a 90-second thumbnail sketch of climate science, either for or against.

  • Mount Rainier National Park: Reaching Out to Camping Newbies   5 years 28 weeks ago

    This is an ambitious, generous program, and I applaud Ranger Carlquist and MORA and Seattle PRD management in their efforts to interest an often forgotten population in recreation opportunities in national parks. This is a new program and, based on my experience with several similar programs in the East, may be asking too much of many of the qualifying families. Aside from demographic issues that work against this program, many urban communities demonstrate an outright fear of "the woods," let alone a chance to camp in what they may interpret as remote wilderness. Perhaps this program should be carried out in stages where families could spend their first night camping in familiar territory closer to their homes. Once acclimated to this experience, families could be put at ease going "into the woods." Another strategy, one that has been extremely successful at Everglades, is a residential camping experience as part of an environmental education program. If I recall correctly, at one time families were encouraged to overnight with their child for one night during the experience. That program was - still is as far as I know - deeply embedded in the regional school system. There are any number of successful options regarding this subject. I trust those involved have explored many of these options beforehand so they can apply the working options and avoid discouragement. Success isn't happening overnight here, so management should support this opportunity for at least three years before pulling the plug. I wish them well.

  • NPCA: Climate Change Greatest Threat Facing the National Park System   5 years 28 weeks ago

    I neglected this articles as well, on the current consensus.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_opinion_on_climate_change

  • NPCA: Climate Change Greatest Threat Facing the National Park System   5 years 28 weeks ago

    Articles like this bring deniers out of the woodwork, and I don't think it's representative overall. They continue to believe falsehoods and misrepresentations. The idea that the world is too big for us puny humans to impact is a constant that environmentalists always had to deal with. Early on, they said the atmosphere was too big for our air pollution to impact. Same for big rivers and lakes. Now it's the climate.

    But getting beyond that, it is important to consider what the NPS' role is for a situation as broad and deep as this. The NPS shouldn't 't take on the role of much larger agencies with an explicit role in policy and/or regulation. But I think that education as to the impact could be it's most important role. Our national parks may be the locale where the most people get the closest to the natural environment. Park bookstores and visitor centers need to rigorously stick to the most well-settled science, even though the kinds of deniers who are responding here will be upset with it.

    Ranger talks shouldn't shy from dealing with this issue, even though they will get snide comments from some visitors. Though some readers may have a fit about it, those aspects of the issue where the consensus is strong (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Consensus_on_climate_change_controversy) should be well-covered and get the focus.

    As well, efforts to help species whose range is being eliminated and where park borders prevent migration could be helped. but not to the degree that we make zoos out of the parks.

  • NPCA: Climate Change Greatest Threat Facing the National Park System   5 years 28 weeks ago

    Ants and termites produce the most greenhouse gases. It's great news for the plant kingdom. We is one big gassy & happy world, we is!

  • NPCA: Climate Change Greatest Threat Facing the National Park System   5 years 28 weeks ago

    Ants, Beamis? Really? I know cows churn out a lot of methane, but didn't know that about ants. Got a link for my edification (seriously)?

    Looking back through the comments, usually the Traveler doesn't see this amount of vitriol bubbling up unless the subject is guns in the parks or, (dare I say), mountain bikes in the parks. And somehow this week we've stumbled upon two highly divisive topics -- cellphone towers and global warming/climate change. Who would have figured?

    The upside of this is that such interest and debate is one of the key goals here at the Traveler, to get folks thinking and discussing and, yes, even debating. I hope I'm not the only one who's been clicking on some of the links offered in the comments to learn more about the various opinions and thoughts that exist on these topics (although I'll be damned if I can figure out just exactly what a deep solar minimum portends, and it seems some NASA experts are in the same boat). Sometimes such debate and efforts to support arguments is the only way to get some to consider something new.

    The downside is that some comments have included unnecessary labels.

    Trying to moderate is a tough job. You'll never make everybody happy. We usually try to take a hands-off approach until the very end, but sometimes that's too late. So, please make our jobs a little easier and stick to the high road. There's no shortage of statistics for that.

  • Mount Rainier National Park: Reaching Out to Camping Newbies   5 years 28 weeks ago

    There's actually a fantastic program similar to this that has been going on in Texas state parks for more than a year. It's called Texas Outdoor Family and teaches families everything from pitching a tent to kayaking to geocaching. It's not free -- $55 covers everything, including park entrance fees, except food and sleeping bags for a family up to 6 or 8 people. Granted, it's not in the national parks, but it's a great program at interesting and significant sites all over Texas.

    For details: http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/learning/bof/

  • Ill-Advised Leap from a Bluff Leads to a Challenging Rescue at Buffalo National River   5 years 28 weeks ago

    This speaks volumes about the rescue workers! As for the victim, well maybe just maybe he learned his lesson. I do hope he is OK.

  • NPCA: Climate Change Greatest Threat Facing the National Park System   5 years 28 weeks ago

    Ray Bane wrote, "I fear you are right, Anonymous. In some ways it [global warming skepticism] seems to be an immature effort to deny responsibility for what is likely to be a worldwide crisis."

    Can we please stop the ad hominem arguments (attacks)? Calling global warming skeptics "immature" and irresponsible in an attempt to discredit an argument certainly would seem to be against NPT's code of conduct.

    I do not think it fair to label "immature" or irresponsible Richard Lindzen, a Harvard-trained atmospheric physicist and Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Meteorology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Nor would it be fair to so label the number of other scientists who are also global warming skeptics.

    I agree with Beamis that there are far too many variables to make an accurate prediction. Glaciers have been retreating for thousands of years, with a brief pause during the solar minimum that corresponded with the Little Ice Age. Solar output is variable and unpredictable, and scientists do not fully understand the physics behind the sunspot cycle. Milankovitch cycles also play a role in climate change. There's the issue data validity and the heat island effect as well as using models versus empirical forecasts.

    Skeptics are not immature or irresponsible nor should the evidence skeptics present or the questions they ask be blithely brushed away. To do so is to act fundamentally; intellectual fundamentalism is a strong disinclination to take seriously the notion that one might be wrong.

    I'm willing to admit that I could be wrong. Are you?

  • Iconic Trail at Grand Canyon National Park Set for a Major Makeover   5 years 28 weeks ago

    Even though I agree with Owen Hoffman that those numerous check-dams are hard on old & damaged bodies, I understand they're needed to help retain the trail tread. Perhaps fewer would be needed if there were also many more drainage outlets. The continuous rock outlining for safety & resource protection often has the effect of keeping snow melt & cloudburst showers on the trail. It's also not uncommon in the colder months for some of the existing drains to be blocked with ice, so that any runoff continues on down the trail. Similar problems exist on the heavily used Paradise trails at Mt. Rainier, where many check dams are (geologically exotic) rock slabs over a foot high that can be difficult for some to negotiate. I'd also agree with Aaron White that NPS management often seems more committed to big restoration projects than ongoing maintenance.

  • Mount Rainier National Park: Reaching Out to Camping Newbies   5 years 28 weeks ago

    Does anyone know if something like this exists in the Oregon area? I have a son who is in middle school and my husband and I would love to see him gain interest in camping and the outdoors. Anyone that can help us with some info would be greatly appreciated.

  • Mount Rainier National Park: Reaching Out to Camping Newbies   5 years 28 weeks ago

    Free camping at Mount Rainier for city kids (The Seattle Times)

    "To make sure families of limited means don't miss out, organizers have been recruiting at community centers in South Park and other low-income and diverse neighborhoods. But interest, they say, has been low."

  • NPS Snowmobile Plan for Yellowstone, Grand Teton Bucks Science, the Public, and Itself   5 years 28 weeks ago

    All loud motorcycles are using illegal mufflers designed to make 10 to 100 times more noise than street legal mufflers. National Parks are federal entities, and each park can enact and enforce its own set of laws. Therefor each park should require that all motorcycles accessing a national park must use EPA labeled mufflers per federal regulations. Each one of these illegally modified motorcycles also pollute more than 30 normal automobiles. Yet in most places the majority of motorcycles (excluding BMW owners) are illegally modified to produce noise.

  • Mount Rainier National Park: Reaching Out to Camping Newbies   5 years 28 weeks ago

    Brad,
    Are you "discriminating" against forever young (55+) no kids. We have raised our children and they are gone, there was no program like this back then.
    we always camped as a family, and would love to go and explore Mt. Rainer with a ranger. let us know if we are welcome.
    Thanks,

  • NPCA: Climate Change Greatest Threat Facing the National Park System   5 years 28 weeks ago

    There is no compelling evidence to correlate CO2 in the atmosphere to rising global temperatures. Ice cores from Antarctica show higher levels of this gas than is found currently in our atmosphere during several ice age epochs, so it is not at all clear what effect it has on the global temperature regime over the broad span of geologic time. In some instances it could cause temperatures to rise and in other scenarios it may not have much effect at all. Climate change is part and parcel of a much larger set of systems than just the singular effect that the emission of carbon dioxide may have in changing the nature of the atmosphere.

    My understanding is that ants produce the most CO2 anyway and I don't see us doing anything to upset the dominance or flatulence of the earth's current ruling species.

    Our planet is too large and dynamic a place to be able to determine, with any degree of certainty, what drives its climate and atmosphere. The idea that humans have somehow caused the climate to change is certainly the least plausible, to my mind. It is way behind sunspot activity, changes in ocean circulation and temperature or even the position of the continents as they drift around the surface of the globe (which is believed to have caused a mass extinction during the Permian), increased volcanic activity or the massive scale involved in the activities of the insect world.

    For more on ants and their rule of our planet: http://snipurl.com/fku4a

  • Mount Rainier National Park: Reaching Out to Camping Newbies   5 years 28 weeks ago

    I have just spoken to Brad and he let me know that the reason this program has not beenheard of is becouse it is fairly new. but he is very glad of the response that he is getting now.
    There are requirment for this program, I strongly sugest that if you are intrested that you call and get the scoop from Brad.

  • Iconic Trail at Grand Canyon National Park Set for a Major Makeover   5 years 28 weeks ago

    As a long-time hiker in the canyon, I am fairly alarmed over the deteriorating and unsafe condition of the South Kaibab. While it is great that it will be rebuilt, must it be without basic maintenance in the meantime?

  • Mount Rainier National Park: Reaching Out to Camping Newbies   5 years 28 weeks ago

    Perhaps part of the poor response is because many people, especially low-income, may not be able to get three days off?

  • Iconic Trail at Grand Canyon National Park Set for a Major Makeover   5 years 28 weeks ago

    I hope that the geological interpretive signs would be restored as part of this trail renovation. When I hiked the trail in late December 2007, the former interpretive signs that identified contact zones in the sedimentary formations were no where to be seen.

    Previous renovations have installed thousands of wooden water breaks across this great trail. This made for painful downhill hiking. My gait upon arrival at Phantom Ranch was more of a hobble than a walk. Perhaps, new water breaks can be better designed to allow for a shallower step when descending?

    If I could genetically manipulate the mules, I'd program them to not pee in one spot. Those decade old rancid pools of mulepiss concentrate are lethal to one's boots.

    Owen Hoffman
    Oak Ridge, TN 37830

  • NPCA: Climate Change Greatest Threat Facing the National Park System   5 years 28 weeks ago

    What do you naysayers think happens to the planet when we put so much carbon into the atmosphere? Do you think there is no global climate repsonse?

  • Verizon Wireless Wants Cellphone Tower Near Grant Grove in Kings Canyon National Park   5 years 28 weeks ago

    Wow, Frank C. I don't think the length of time someone has posted anywhere really matters.

  • Mount Rainier National Park: Reaching Out to Camping Newbies   5 years 28 weeks ago

    It would be a shame to see such an outstanding program fail only due to a lack of public outreach. I was once a city kid myself. Camping in the parks was the highlight of my summers.

    Owen Hoffman
    Oak Ridge, TN 37830

  • NPCA: Climate Change Greatest Threat Facing the National Park System   5 years 28 weeks ago

    I want to thank Bob Krumenaker for commenting and speaking out on National Parks Traveler. It's rare for career employees of the NPS to go public, even on issues as important as global warming.

    It's astounding to me, given the preponderance of scientific evidence, to see how many are in denial over the fact that our Earth is experiencing an increase in average temperatures at an unprecedented rate. Global warming will do much more than melt glaciers (the evidence of which is more than convincing) and cause sea levals to rise. Rapid shifts in climate will ultimately affect the distribution and abundance of native flora and fauna inside parks and beyond their boundaries. The cause of this warming is not variations in the solar output, as some insist, but the presence of increased levels of greenhouse gases from anthropogenic sources.

    The NPS has an important role to play in educating the public about potential threats to park resources. I'm glad Bob has chosen to speak out and weigh in on this topic. Thanks too for the links to authoritative sources of information for more detailed reading.

    Owen Hoffman
    Oak Ridge, TN 37830