Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer and First Dog Jag, his border collie, will be SEJ's guests at the opening reception and dinner Wednesday evening. Thomas Friedman, in Hot, Flat and Crowded, quotes Gov. Schweitzer at length on global warming. The governor and his wife, Nancy, are plugging an electric ZAP truck in this photo.
It turns out that Montanans get it: elk hunting season has had to be pushed back from October to November, because the heavy mountain snows that push elk to lower elevations where hunters can track and kill them don’t arrive in October any more.
“Changing the date for the start of elk hunting season is not being driven by scientists,” he said. It’s being driven by guys who want to hunt and are telling me, ‘I have not shot an elk in three years.’ These are just regular people, and they may not have the climate data, but they know what they know, and they know something is different.”
Montana’s getting less snow and it’s melting off earlier. Temperatures in trout streams are rising, not good for those cold-loving trout. Some rivers have been closed to fishing. Insects larvae that used to be killed by frigid winter temperatures are surviving warmer winters (relatively speaking – it’s still Montana), to eat up the trees. More dead trees means more devastating forest fires.
“We now have acres and acres of dead and dying trees in the Rockies,” said Schweitzer. “Nature has her way of dealing with that – lightning strikes. A healthy forest will burn a little and then a little rain will come and it will all stay in balance. Now, with so many dead and dying trees, you get a lightning strike and boom – 500,000 acres of trees are gone. It is changing the whole composition of the forest.”
See Chapter 5, Global Wierding, of Friedman’s book for more. I look forward to hearing Gov. Schweitzer at the dinner, and meeting Jag. The conference will have lots of sessions on subjects from wildfire to salmon. See you there.