Climate Change Affecting Washington State/Glaciers Worldwide

North Cascade Glaciers

You MUST look at these pictures.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007 · Last updated 6:01 p.m. PT

New study says climate change already affecting Washington


SEATTLE -- From more devastating wildfires to decreased snow in the mountains, climate change is already affecting Washington's economy, a new report says.

And as temperatures continue to increase, the changes will only become more dramatic: Low-lying areas such as the Skagit River delta will flood as sea levels rise, more people will get asthma as pollution worsens and the state's dairy cows will produce less milk in hotter weather, to cite a few of the report's warnings.

The report was commissioned by the state departments of Ecology and Community Trade and Economic Development, and was researched and written by Climate Leadership Initiative at the University of Oregon, with guidance from Washington economists and scientists.

There are too many variables involved to put a price tag on the impact climate change is already having or will have in the future, the report said.

"Absent focused efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to prepare, to the extent possible, for the environmental and economic changes that cannot be avoided, damage to our Northwest economy will only increase," Ecology Director Jay Manning said in a news release.

The 119-page report weighs the effects of warmer temperatures on various sectors of the economy, based on predictions that the region's climate will warm half-a-degree per decade over the next several decades, and poses questions for policymakers to consider.

Among the gravest concerns are effects that retreating snowpack in the mountains will have on hydropower generation, drinking water supplies, irrigation for crops and stream flows for salmon. As many as 75 percent of glaciers in the North Cascades could vanish in this century if those warming predictions prove true, the report said.

Climate Change Affecting Washington State
Glaciers are melting all over the world from the Himalayas, to the Alps, to South America, to Africa, New Zealand, Greenland, the Arctic, and also right here in the United States. And they are melting at a faster rate than scientists had previously predicted because the real affects of human induced climate change combined with other weather phenomenon are much more extreme than anticipated as well.

The signs are there regarding what human behavior regarding burning fossil fuels to wasteful management of resources is doing to our planet and our resources, chief among them water. It is time for people to see these signs, understand them truthfully, and prepare for what we have put into motion as well by doing everything possible to preserve what we have left. We threaten our future existence the longer we continue to drag our feet.

Many people do not realize how important an indicator melting glaciers are regarding climate change. With every inch that melts, it is less snow pack to fill rivers and streams that provide water for living. With every inch that melts, a bit of climate history goes with it.

Glaciers Melting Worldwide, Study Finds

I do not believe we can now stop these glaciers from melting, but we can hopefully slow it down and begin to help mitigating even more catastrophic affects of the climate crisis that will threaten the world water supply even more severely in years to come. Conservation is key. Facing the crisis of overpopulation is key in regards to providing people in underdeveloped and developing countries with information on family planning and birth control. Looking into alternate energies (not corn ethanol) for underdeveloped countries and developing countries that do not waste water (as in solar power.) And most importantly, educating people about irrigation methods (such as subsurface drip irrigation) that do not waste water!

This for sure is a crisis that has already begun. However, the most devastating effects of it can be mitigated if we only see the URGENCY of acting NOW. How long will we wait? Until the Snows of Kilamanjaro are gone? Until there are no more Alps? No more Himalayas? The repercussions of such a thing are simply too catastrophic to contemplate.

Also see my other entries on this topic with more to come:

The Glaciers of South America: Cities In Peril Of Losing Water

Tibet's Lofty Glaciers Melting Away

Water At Risk For Millions Due To Melting Glaciers