By Kait Baffoe
I recently went on a wonderful vacation to one our Country’s hidden gems- Glacier National Park, and then traveled North to Banff National Park in Canada. Reconnecting with nature is so good for our mental health and these parks had it all. We saw several bears- including a Grizzly Bear, and a Black Bear Momma with three of her cubs. We also saw elk, moose, long horned sheep, mountain goats, several different rodent species, bats, and birds. Not to mention the spectacular views and vigorous hiking. Being out in the wild (we were tent camping) always re-centers me to what really matters in life but it also brings you face to face with a stark reality- Global Warming is real.
These beautiful parks use to be covered in glaciers (hence, glacier national park) but they have since receded greatly due to rising temperatures. Our first Glacier we visitedin the park was an 11 mile hike, straight up and down a mountain- Grinell Glacier. The sights on the way to the glacier are breathtaking as you see a series of glacial lakes up the mountain. It is the most photographed glacier in the park. When we finally reached it, we were surprised to see it was more like a giant lake slushy, then a solid glacier like we were expecting. It was unbelievable, this giant mass of ice that had helped form the mountains around it was in the process of being reduced into a really cold puddle.
Grinell Glacier lost almost 40% of its acreage between 1966 and 2005. If carbon dioxide levels have increased as high as predicted, all of the glaciers in the park, including Grinell, will disappear by year 2030. The glaciers in Glacier national park will not exist for my children’s, children.
The sad story continued into Canada, as we visited the Athabasca Glacier- the most visited glacier in North America, part of the Columbia Icefield in the Canadian Rockies. The glacier has receded nearly a mile and lost more than half of its volume in the past 125 years. It continues to lose about 16ft in length annually. This glacier too is on pace for melting completely.
I knew about global warming and about the glaciers melting, but seeing it in person is surreal. It is a sad reality of the policies and practices we have adopted, and the end of those policies is not in the foreseeable future. So today- in this Monday memo, I urge you to do something to reduce your carbon emissions- big or small, do something. Comment what you did on our Facebook wall so we can start getting other people to do the same. And for goodness sake, get yourself to these parks to see these glaciers- before it is too late.