Climate Change and Yellowstone National Park

There is an opinion piece in today’s Bozeman Daily Chronicle. It is about the impacts of climate change on Yellowstone’s wildlife. The article is by Pam Mcleod, of the National Parks and Conservation Association. I agree with much about her opinion on what is happening in Yellowstone to it’s iconic wildlife.

The other evening, economist Ernie Nieme said, that most persons who study climate change and national parks like this author Pam Mcleod, think that the pine beetle infestation that is currently devestating Yellowstone’s pine based ecosystems is an artifact of global warming. I very much agree with this and cannot remember beetle devistation at this level. He, like she, mentions the end of Yellowstone’s whitebark pine , a major food source of Yellowstone’s grizzly. I can SEE this happenining as I write this post.

Yellowstone is wildfire country and I have seen wildfires of well over 100,000 acres change entire ecosystems as they rage in Yellowstone National Park and areas around the park. Pine bark beetles will leave huge swaths of pine snags that will further dry as this country drys out as a result of a warming planet. Wild fires will be an artifact of these drying snags and entire ecosystems of what was once forests will begin the desertification process.

If this happens in  places like Yellowstone, what will happen in drier ecosystems like the Great Basin or deserts like the Mojave? Mcleod writes about decreasing poulations of Yellowstone cutthroats, another bear food source. I see the end of the cutworm moth, another major bear food source. I see this happening soon and I can see an outcome, as Yellowstone warms, where food like the calves of elk disappear as a result of a warming climate. Bear’s will disappear soon after this for good in Yellowstone.

I want to be wrong about these outcomes but I fear that I am not.Yellowstone and we may survive the warming planet but I do not think any bear will and I do not see this park as the same without bears…do you?

Matt

P.S. Another typhoon is about to hit the philipines. Who is skeptical about global warming?

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