A blog published earlier this month by Roger Roots, an attorney, reveals overheated desperation of a different sort than we tend to hear about in the mainstream media.
Titled “Glacier National Park Quietly Removes Its ‘Gone by 2020′ Signs,” Roots’ article describes a scramble by federal park officials to hide or replace evidence of now-embarrassingly inaccurate and alarmist predictions in a manner that skirts public attention.
The centerpiece of this hysteria featured a large three-dimensional diorama at the St. Mary visitor center on GNP’s east boundary. Visitors were invited to press a button to see the display which lit up like a Christmas tree in 1850, fade to complete dark by 2020 as more and more glacier indicator lights went out.
As recently as last year, the diorama also displayed a painted sign stating that GNP’s glaciers were expected to entirely disappear by 2020.
Those meltdown forecasts received lots of purposefully-intended Obama administration media attention. The implicit human-caused global warming calamity meme was repeated in The New York Times, National Geographic, and by other international news sources.
Not reported was why the dire doom displays inauspiciously disappeared last winter during a time when the visitor center was closed to the public.
Workers replaced the diorama’s “gone by 2020” engraving with a new sign postponing a threat that the glaciers will be gone in “future generations.”
Park Service claims of impending glacier disappearances were removed or replaced throughout GNP with more nuanced messaging of assurances that “everyone agrees glaciers are melting”; and that this ominous trend is “accelerating.”
Two large steel trash cans at the Many Glacier Hotel depicting “before and after” engravings depicting significant shrinkage of the Grinnell Glacier between 1910 and 2009 quietly disappeared altogether.
Roots observes that a common trick used by the National Park Service at GNP is to display old black-and-white photos of glaciers from bygone years (say, “1922”), next to photos of the same glaciers taken in more recent years showing the glaciers much diminished, (say, “2006”).
He notes, “Anyone familiar with glaciers in the northern Rockies knows that glaciers tend to grow for nine months each winter and melt for three months each summer. Thus, such photo displays without precise calendar dates may be highly deceptive.”
Annual September Lysander Spooner University research team GNP visits have reported that the park’s most famous glaciers, the Grinnell Glacier and Jackson Glacier, appear to have been growing — not shrinking — since about 2010.
This finding is confirmed by a viral video published on the popular climate blog Wattsupwiththat.com showing that the Grinnell Glacier is slightly larger than now than it was in 2009.
A display was previously erected at a Jackson Glacier overlook along the Going-To-The-Sun Highway with two photos: one showing the glacier in 1911; and the other portraying the glacier perhaps 10-20 percent diminished in 2009.
Visitors who are familiar with the scene over the years since 2009 will appreciate that Jackson may have grown as much 25 percent or more over the past decade since that second depiction.
Nevertheless, no mainstream news outlet has exhibited any interest whatsoever regarding an apparent stabilization and recovery of GNP glaciers over the past decade.
This remarkable reporting reticence even applies to local Montana news sources such as The Missoulian, Billings Gazette and Bozeman Daily Chronicle which would logically be most aware of actual conditions.
Curiously, one might also wonder why area publicists aren’t more objectively concerned regarding negative economic implications of losing a signature landmark tourist attraction.
None of this narrative is offered to disclaim a true fact that the climate has been gradually warming in fits and starts over the past three centuries since the end of the last “little ice age”. Nor is there anything new about simultaneous regional and local gains and losses of global glaciers throughout this subsequent three-century-long period.
A study reported in the journal Sciences Advances based upon declassified spy-satellite data indicates that Himalayan glaciers lost volume twice faster between 2000 and 2016, compared with a slower rate between 1975 and 2000. This retreat was attributed to about one degree Celsius higher regional temperatures in the more recent time frame.
Meanwhile, each of Iceland’s largest glaciers which had been losing autumn-to-autumn ice mass over the past two decades — Hofsjökull, Langjökull, Mýrdalsjökull, and Vatnajökull — are now growing. As I previously reported, a study published in the March issue of the journal Nature linked these changes to cooling ocean currents in the waters of Disko Bay.
Globally-dispersed glaciers have repeatedly changed courses since long before we homo sapiens first domesticated fire, erected smoke stacks, and traded in horse-drawn carriages for SUVs.
There is no reason for the park service, or anyone else, to expect GNP’s Grinnell or Jackson to behave any less independently than they always have.