Recent comments

  • NPCA: Climate Change Greatest Threat Facing the National Park System   5 years 15 weeks ago

    I once read that one way to visualize the earth's atmosphere is to think of a standard desk model of the earth. The atmosphere would be represented by a single coat of varnish on the globe. The envelop of gasses critical to life on earth is literally tissue paper thin. Now, imagine countless millions of tons of CO2, methane and other human generated greenhouse gasses being released into this amazingly thin layer. Can we impact our climate? The answer seems obvious.

  • Yellowstone and the Snowmobile: Locking Horns Over National Park Use   5 years 15 weeks ago

    I, too, will look for this book. The issue of snowmobiles in Yellowstone is only the tip of a much larger iceberg. Off-road vehicles (ORVs) and all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) are slicing and dicing ever expanding vast stretches of public lands across the nation. Conservation lands in Alaska are particularly impacted. This includes fragile parklands in Denali, Wrangell-St. Elias, Katmai, Gates of the Arctic, etc.. For those interested, Shredded Wildlands, published by the Sierra Club and Alaska Conservation Foundation addresses the ORV/ATV issue in Alaska. http://www.sierraclub.org/wildlands/ORV/shredded_wildlands.pdf

  • NRA Appeals Ruling Blocking Concealed Carry in National Parks   5 years 15 weeks ago

    I agree with the last few comments; I wish to articulate as such; patience over rides I wrote back about the inner city trauma nurse who evedently understands nothing about CWP

  • Interior Secretary Salazar Sends $15.2 Million to USGS Volcano Observatories to Improve Monitoring   5 years 15 weeks ago

    We got people out of work all around this country, and we waste 15.2 MIL on this crap?

  • Interior Secretary Salazar Sends $15.2 Million to USGS Volcano Observatories to Improve Monitoring   5 years 15 weeks ago

    The link to the USGS Cascades observatory in the story has a lot of information about Mount St. Helens. Although their services aren't specifically tied to NPS areas, a number of the volcanoes the observatories monitor happen to be located in parks.

    The USGS volcano observatories seem to provide a very useful function, and I trust the added funds will be used efficiently.

  • Interior Secretary Salazar Sends $15.2 Million to USGS Volcano Observatories to Improve Monitoring   5 years 15 weeks ago

    Don't forget Mount St. Helens, just because it is administrated by the forest service. On October 2 2004 the USGS issued a full blown level three alert about an imminent major eruption.[*] Fortunately the pressure was reduced by steam and ash venting and the uprising magma did not erupt but spilled slowly in form of dacite in a new lava dome.

    *http://vulcan.wr.usgs.gov/Volcanoes/Cascades/CurrentActivity/2004/current_updates_20041002_volcano_alert.html

  • The Forge of Vulcan   5 years 15 weeks ago

    The "Forge of Vulcan" - now there's a great name for a place with volcanic activity!

  • NRA Appeals Ruling Blocking Concealed Carry in National Parks   5 years 15 weeks ago

    Not to meantion the insane bill sitting on the governor's desk in Montana. A bill that would eliminate the need for federal background checks and registration on guns that are made and sold in the state of Montana. My first question would be: Why in the world would any "law abiding citizen" object to a simple background check to verify that they are a "law abiding citizen" when purchasing a firearm? This will make Montana the "gun capitol" of America. If I were not a "law abiding citizen", I would surely buy my guns there. Indeed, if I were a crime "kingpin", I would set up a dealer there. Oh sure, these guns are not supposed to be transported out of the state, but exactly how is that going to be prevented? And, hey! The fact that these guns are being used to commit crimes in Miami or L.A. isn't Montana's problem. Right? My second question would be: Just what are Montanans afraid of? Or for that matter Idahoans or Wyomingites? Big rash of home invasions in Harve' or Lincoln that I haven't heard about? These states have pretty low violent crime rates compared to the National average. And that's not because of liberal gun laws; it's because of low population densities. Is it the feds themselves that they fear? Do they really think that the Obama "gestapo" is going to bang on their door and take away their guns? And if, in some sort of Bazarro world, that really did happen, do they really think that they would stop at the doors of those who had background checks or registrations? Or do they really think that they could stand up against federal tanks and military weapons with their hunting rifles and handguns? How'd that work out at Waco and Ruby Ridge, BTW?
    Thank goodness the Montana legislature only meets every two years!
    I worry that it will take another national tragedy, like Bobby Kennedy or Martin Luther King, for people to wake up and tides to turn again. People have just become numb to news stories about ten people shot and killed, or twenty or fifty seven. Unless they personally know one of the victims, they are just numbers.

  • Yellowstone and the Snowmobile: Locking Horns Over National Park Use   5 years 15 weeks ago

    Gerald Mernin, the ranger quoted above in Kurt's review of the book, is one of the most astute observers of Yellowstone. He spent almost his entire career in the park and loved it as much as anyone whom I know. He constantly fought against the trivialization of the park, recognizing that making it just like every where else would ultimately lead to the loss of what made it unique and wonderful. He once told me, "There are no bad days in Yellowstone, just different days." It's too bad the former administration and the current park management didn't/don't have the same reverence for the park that Jerry did.

    Rick Smith

  • NRA Appeals Ruling Blocking Concealed Carry in National Parks   5 years 15 weeks ago

    All I can say on the gun issue is, spend a day at your local hospital emergency room and see the terrible consequences of gun violence: the deadly aftermath of gun violence and carnage that fills the hospital morgue with the most pitiless and senseless acts of mans inhumanity to man. If one has witness the incredible and horrendous pressures that a highly trained ER trauma team has to go through to save the life of an individual that has been shot to pieces (like swiss cheese) by a semi-automatic rifle...then perhaps you might think of promoting tougher gun laws. I have seen ALL the aftermath of gun violence (as a former surgical tech) and tagging the toes of the dead before their entry to the morgue. Just the very cold sickly smell of the morgue leaves me with one question...WHY? Why this chronic love affair with guns and more guns in the home and with society? It's just pure stupidity mixed with paranoia that has run amuck with society...and with baseless irrational fear.

  • Yellowstone and the Snowmobile: Locking Horns Over National Park Use   5 years 15 weeks ago

    I will buy and read the book; but, I sure hope he has also captured, not just what snowmobiles do to the Park, but also to West Yellowstone the town. Snowmobiles have damaged the environment and cheapened the experience of the Park; but, it's nothing compared to the effect of the blue smoke, noise, and gangster-controlled environment in the town. Snowmobiles have made West a horrible place to try to live in the winter and it doesn't have to be that way. West has plenty of potential to be so much more; but, the snowmobile racket wants to funnel everything toward their pockets and their control. That's the real "human" legacy of the snowmobiles!

  • Sky Diving at Denali National Park? A Florida-Based Company Thinks It's a Great Idea   5 years 15 weeks ago

    Mr. Burnett - You are right, as usual. The NPS would be saddled with the cost of any recovery of lost people (or bodies) whether there is a waiver or not. Passing that cost along to the Adventure company doesn't cover the cost of losing an NPS (or other) rescuer. It is not an ideal situation but I have been there and, while I agree with the other comments (I liked the letter about the mountain being visible only 17% of the time), it would be a spectacular jump. I could never afford it but I would like to take that jump! What I really liked was the idea that the NPS gets 25% of the cost of the jump for each jumper. Denali is one of the better funded parks but even they need more money to keep the park in the best shape. Upon further review though, the risks probably outweigh the benefits.

  • Sky Diving at Denali National Park? A Florida-Based Company Thinks It's a Great Idea   5 years 15 weeks ago

    National Parks are not places for adventure travel. extreme sports enthusiasts need to get over their sense of entitlement. $25,000 does not buy one the right to apply their "sport" anywhere they choose. they should do it over the state park at denali.

    what about the visual landscape? I for one would be awfully angry if I were observing Denali showing it's peak, a rarity in itself, only to have the view ruined by extreme sky-divers streaking through the sky.

    Note from the Traveler staff: This comment has been edited.

  • Sky Diving at Denali National Park? A Florida-Based Company Thinks It's a Great Idea   5 years 15 weeks ago

    Does this jump come with monogramed body bags. Have any of therse idiots ever been up here,where are they going to land eutopia? I think someone needs to come up and look at the terrain. You have to ride a bus ninety two miles to get a glimpse of denali,and its only visible in a good year 5% of the time so that averages to approximately 17 days a year i say keep your ideas for tourism down there in florida where they belong.

  • NRA Appeals Ruling Blocking Concealed Carry in National Parks   5 years 15 weeks ago

    Your comb won't accidentally discharge when if falls from your pocket and kill my daughter

  • Sky Diving at Denali National Park? A Florida-Based Company Thinks It's a Great Idea   5 years 15 weeks ago

    Jimi Whitten -

    Some interesting ideas, and I appreciate your sharing them.

    However, while a "signed waiver of liability if someone is lost or harmed" may or may not deal with any potential legal issues or costs, it doesn't seem remove the park's obligation to respond and rescue people who are injured - or worse. Especially in a remote location like Denali, who else is there to handle a potentially difficult rescue in such challenging terrain?

    Yes, most parks, including Denali, get invaluable help and support at times from the military, state and local agencies and volunteers in emergencies, but the park still normally has to take the lead when things go wrong on NPS property, irregardless of who is legally liable for the situation.

  • Sky Diving at Denali National Park? A Florida-Based Company Thinks It's a Great Idea   5 years 15 weeks ago

    Where is sierra club here? none of these places were meant to be a theme park,and this foolishness needs to stop.

  • Aging Activists Gather at Congaree National Park to Recall a Nick-of-Time Rescue   5 years 15 weeks ago

    Looking forward to my first visit to Congaree soon (April 19-20.) Odd to think I had never heard of it just a few months ago. Now it seems every time I turn around there is another mention of it someplace. I guess this is building up to be a good trip, I better clean my camera lens! Hopefully will have some great photos and stories posted in a few weeks.

  • Sky Diving at Denali National Park? A Florida-Based Company Thinks It's a Great Idea   5 years 15 weeks ago

    Have them sign a waiver clearing the NPS of liability if someone is lost or harmed. Limit the number of flights or days (say two or four days a month) and have each vendor cut the park in for 25% of the cost of the adventure. Beyond that - slam pandora's box shut with a firm EACH PPLICANT FOR ADVENTURE WILL BE AT THE DISCRETION OF NPS! The park is clear of liability, they firmly state that they get to decide on applicants on a case by case basis and they make a little much needed maintenance money.

  • Mount Rainier National Park: Reaching Out to Camping Newbies   5 years 15 weeks ago

    I lived in Bothell, WA as a child and could actually see Mt. Rainier from my front yard. I loved it up there! Happiest years of my whole childhood! We moved a lot and I now live in the hot Central Valley of California. If I still lived near Seattle, I would most certainly take advantage of this wonderful opportunity. My kids are grown now, but I could take my grandkids!

  • NPCA: Climate Change Greatest Threat Facing the National Park System   5 years 15 weeks ago

    "All catastrophic climate change predictions depend on the idea that small amounts of warming will themselves cause larger amounts of warming. This goes beyond the complexity of the original equation, and requires a shocking amount of voodoo and guesswork, to come to a conclusion that is wholly counterintuitive."

    Why do you think it requires a shocking amount of voodoo and guesswork? It's actually based on solid science. We have extensive records of climate changes over hundreds of thousands of years. The connection between the ice ages and the Milankovitch cycles (variations in the earth's orbit) are well established and yet those variations aren't remotely large enough to cause climate change of that magnitude on their own. Clearly they triggered something else much more significant.

    It was also counterintuitive (to some) once that the earth is not at the center of the universe. Nor do I think it is counterintuitive. It is easy to see that the melting of sea ice, ice caps and glaciers will cause the planet to reflect less heat and absorb more, and that the melting of permafrost leads to more greenhouse emissions.

    The evidence that positive feedbacks play a strong role initially after a smaller effect triggers the start of a climate-changing episode is overwhelming. Negative feedbacks are strong, but kick in much later, which is why climate change periods don't lead to ice worlds or a Venus-on-earth.

    I think that in the end, the question is this: are people willing to follow the science where it leads, whether or not the result is intuitive to them, or will they always see another conspiracy when they don't like the results of the research.

  • Mount Rainier National Park: Reaching Out to Camping Newbies   5 years 15 weeks ago

    I would love to know more detail about it. Our family likes all the outdoor activities, but doesn't have experience about camping at all. We usually go day trip or stay in the hotel overnight.

  • NPCA: Climate Change Greatest Threat Facing the National Park System   5 years 15 weeks ago

    Of course, there are large uncertainties involved in forcasting climate change. Climate change specialists work with uncertain data, alternative mathematical models, competing models, and full quantitative uncertainty analysis. Much of the details are documented in the numerous technical reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (which few who have commented thus far on NPT seem to have taken the time to study).

    The overall IPCC conclusion, with 90% certainty, is that the present trends in climate change is being caused by anthorpogenically enhanced levels of greehouse gases.

    Here is a link to an extensive 2007 technical summary from the IPCC on the physical science basis for their conclusions that it is highly likely, even when accounting for all known sources of uncertainty in data and models, that the present increases in global warming are anthropogenic (i.e., not from sun spots or from insect gases).

    http://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/assessment-report/ar4/wg1/ar4-wg1-ts.pdf

    It seems to me that one of the first steps of human-assisted climate change deniers is to lable the IPCC as a "political" rather than a scientific organization. This to me is an easy tactic used to debunk the concern and to argue against the commitment of any societal resources to combat global warming. The global warming deniers recognize that few individuals have the time or patience to digest the scientific literature to independently evaluate the overall merit of the scientific argument. However, when such an independent service is provided by the IPCC, it's simply attacked as being without appropriate credentials.

    Now with regards to our national parks, I believe that it is perfectly appropriate for the NPS to become engaged in public awareness education about real and potential threats to park resources and to the park experience. What is delivered in official programs, however, should always have a basis in scientific fact. Public education about the potential impact of global climate change on our parks is a legitimate NPS function. Pubic education about other potential threats is also appropriate.

    Whether or not climate change is the single most important threat to our parks depends on one's overall perspective. It depends whether one's outlook extends only to the next park visit, to future visits over the next decade, or whether one is looking at the future of parks over the next 100 to 1000 years. A perspective over the next 10,000 to one million years will likely produce other priorities.

    Owen Hoffman
    Oak Ridge, TN 37830

  • Sky Diving at Denali National Park? A Florida-Based Company Thinks It's a Great Idea   5 years 15 weeks ago

    And let's not forget the issue of park overflights, a contentious matter in places like Grand Canyon and Hawaii. Does Denali have an overflights management plan?

    But what also seems to be overlooked or trivialized by the folks at Incredible Adventures is Denali is a national park, not a theme park. There are plenty of adventures to be had in Denali, and those typically are muscle-powered and rightly so.

    Beyond that, there are plenty of mountains outside the national park that would give just as many thrills.

    As for Pandora's Box, I wonder if IA has looked at parachuting down onto the top of the Grand Teton or Half Dome?

  • NPCA: Climate Change Greatest Threat Facing the National Park System   5 years 15 weeks ago

    I'm afraid the comments section of National Parks Traveler is, if anything, a less suitable place to get into intricacies of climate dynamics than an NPS visitor center. And it strays far from the original point of the post and the comment thread.

    But since you insist on an answer, Richard, I respond that your question is invalid. (This is the correct answer to a lot of life's questions--ask a philosopher!) You seek a simple answer to a question that defies simple answers.

    Let's re-phrase the question: You want to know whether an increased proportion of carbon molecules in the atmosphere will cause the planet's aggregate average temperature to A.) Increase, or B.) Decrease. What this question fails to recognize is that there is an unfathomable number of constants and variables affecting that equation. Many, if not most, of those constants and variables are debatable, unknown, or unknowable. Some cannot be measured with any technique we have. Some, we measure entirely wrong. Of some, we are entirely unaware. Some act in completely screwy ways that we don't understand. Many affect each other in real time. Many have effects that don't manifest for years or decades. Most are of infinitesimally small effect.

    In concrete terms, those variables include the entire global atmosphere, all liquid, gaseous, and frozen water on Earth, a wide variety of geological factors, every living thing, including rainforests, ants, and humans, the position and mass of the Moon, and any and all solar activity, or lack thereof. We know that the Earth's climate has varied in the past--this is not an insignificant point. So whatever the role of greenhouse gases, we know that some of these other variables can have an impact far larger than anything we have actually observed from CO2.

    This is why it is fabulously difficult to solve for the effect of carbon gases on global temperature. And that's assuming that the desired solution is itself a valid [url http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/03/070315101129.htm]concept[/url].

    Then there is the matter of feedback loops. All catastrophic climate change predictions depend on the idea that small amounts of warming will themselves cause larger amounts of warming. (This is reflected in Ray Bane's comment, and every claim that it is already, or may soon be, "too late.") This goes beyond the complexity of the original equation, and requires a shocking amount of voodoo and guesswork, to come to a conclusion that is wholly counterintuitive. In the macro view, the physical history of these systems shows that in the most recent few millions of years, the Earth has been fairly steady. An Ice Age here, a great drought there; these things are normal, and do not lead to catastrophic, cascading changes. Yes, massive glaciation across the upper Midwest would be terribly inconvenient, but it's happened before, and life went on. It is the very existence of life, in all its glorious variety, which illustrates that the earth's climate, as a whole, possesses positive dynamic stability.

    That is, when something like CO2 concentration gets out of whack, the system as a whole compensates. It's not a conscious thing; rather, the system can exist only because it compensates. Otherwise, it would have spun out of control eons ago, and would never have attained the stability necessary for millions of years of evolution. A simple and familiar illustration of positive dynamic stability would be vegetal processing of CO2. If increased CO2 concentrations (natural or anthropogenic) warmed the Earth's climate, one important result would be an increase in vegetation, as ranges and growing seasons expanded. Greater plant growth would consume more CO2 and sequester it in solid organic matter, leading eventually to a reversion to the mean--less atmospheric CO2, cooler weather, decreased range, less plants. This is merely an example to illustrate the concept, though I stress that this interaction is described by the same great equation that we previously arranged to solve for global average temperature. It has just as many constants and variables, and is just as difficult to test.

    Did anyone bother reading all that? Now would be a good time to mention that I gave up on my scientific career goals somewhere around 10th grade, when I figured out that my chemistry teacher was a schmuck, and that I sucked at math. But I was around long enough to learn that science is about debate, not consensus. (Would now be a good time to talk about eugenics, and how nasty things can become when scientists convince politicians that they've figured it all out?) Instead, I'm just a historian. A historian with enough career ambition not to put his name on comments that, I hope, have been reasonable and insightful, but that are contrary to the prevailing political and organizational winds.

    Now, here's what I want out of this. I don't want to convince anyone that I know everything, or anything, about climate science. I don't want to convince anyone that global warming is a myth or a hoax; I don't have the scientific moxy to do it. But I do want every reader to stop caricaturing their political opponents! Each camp is made up of a range of people, including some on both sides who contribute nothing more than annoyed scoffs. There are enough evasions and logical fallacies bandied about by both sides to make Aristotle cry. But there are also people who know what they are talking about, and are debating in good faith. Let each reader consider: If you brush these people and their arguments aside, you are no more than a scoffer, and you are not part of the debate--you have picked your team based on the color of their uniforms.

    If you want to seriously consider skepticism about climate change, rather than dismissing it summarily because of the color of its uniform, I can certainly recommend starting with Warren Meyer's blog, www.climate-skeptic.com . He's serious, skeptical, and debates in good faith.