Glacier National Park’s Jackson Glacier, 1911-2009
Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) seems to want his legacy to be the destruction of Montana’s Glacier National Park. Baucus has joined the climate peacock caucus, saying that “climate change is a real issue that has to be addressed” but that “he supports a measure that would ban the Environmental Protection Agency from writing climate change legislation to regulate greenhouse gases linked to climate change.” As CNN’s Jessica Ellis reports, the unwillingness of senators like Baucus to act on global warming pollution is having profound consequences:
As recently as 100 years ago, Montana’s Glacier National Park had more than 150 glaciers throughout its more than one million acres. In 2005 only 27 remained. Today the total is down to a just 25 and those that are left are mere remnants of their former frozen selves. With warmer temperatures and changes to the water cycle, scientists predict Glacier National Park will be glacier-free by 2030.
Daniel Fagre, a U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) ecologist, told CNN he would not be surprised if the remaining glaciers are gone within the decade.
The destruction of the park’s ecosystem by the burning of fossil fuels doesn’t just matter to the mountain goats, bighorn sheep, and grizzly bears that call the remote, once-icy landscape their home. “Many people are directly dependent on the water coming out of mountains and in the arid western United States that figure is much larger, it is about 85 percent,” said Fagre.