Back in the month of November, Mt. Hood seemed to be preparing us for an excellent season of snow. On my first trip up to the mountain, the sky was clear, the temperature was in the teens, and one could circumnavigate Timberline Lodge itself in snowshoes without a care in the world. Feet of snow were on the ground at treeline and as you headed up towards Silcox Hut, exposed rock was visible but it seemed only a single storm away from disappearing completely.
Things have gone downhill since then. There were a few additional storms with snow, but the general trend has been towards melting rather than accumulation. Here is a photo taken yesterday of Mt. Hood from Timberline Lodge.
Two months into winter and there is less snow on the mountain today than there was in November. My goal of being up in the mountains–at either Hood, St. Helens, or Adams–once a week to train is completely dashed. I went up 5 times before the end of 2014 but have only been up there once in 2015.
Is it climate change causing such a bleak winter? Or are we just having an extremely poor season thus far?
It has been
well documented that the glaciers in the Pacific Northwest are receding at an alarming rate. Some are gone already, most are well on their way to extinction. Further, the USDA published a report last September that goes into detail explaining how they predict climate change is going to change the North Cascades in the next century, how it will affect the resources under their management, and possible strategies to cope. It is a harrowing read and a rather stark contrast to the US Senate's continued unwillingness to accept climate change.
So, what about this year? By playing with NOAA's Online Weather Data tools, you can see the precipitation and temperatures for Government Camp over the past two months. While precipitation is pretty close to normal, our temperatures have been repeatedly way too warm. Instead of fresh snow, we have been getting more rain and plenty of melting.
And here's the kicker, it is going to get worse. Much much worse. The whole reason I wrote this entry was because my housemate recently got me into The Newsroom and a week ago we saw an episode that dealt with climate change. For a quick recap, checkout the Mother Jones fact check article on the episode.
Watching the episode was painful because while you felt smacked down by its heavy-handed treatment of the material, the reality is that it was completely right. We have had this research in our hands for decades, yet as a species we have not even applied the brakes. This is happening, it is extremely bad, and the majority of people are paying little to no attention. In the United States more than half of our representatives are actively blocking any attempt to even accept that climate change is human caused.
The scale of the problem is immense. Greater than anything we have ever faced. And so, we choose not to face it.