Recent comments

  • NRA Appeals Ruling Blocking Concealed Carry in National Parks   5 years 20 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 20 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 20 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 20 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 20 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 20 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 20 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 20 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 20 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 20 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 20 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.

  • Sky Diving at Denali National Park? A Florida-Based Company Thinks It's a Great Idea   5 years 20 weeks ago

    Anyone remember BASE jumping in Yosemite? I thought that one of the biggest worries was of someone jumping off, the chute not opening, and perhaps injuring someone on the ground.

  • Verizon Wireless Wants Cellphone Tower Near Grant Grove in Kings Canyon National Park   5 years 20 weeks ago

    Richard, re-read my previous comment and click on the link I provided about the defense of the open forum, read all the comments on that article, and my statement, which you're not interpreting correctly, might make more sense.

    Anon, if you really think you can find solitude in Grant Grove, you haven't been there.

  • NPCA: Climate Change Greatest Threat Facing the National Park System   5 years 20 weeks ago

    Richard: Check out this link for an answer:

    http://www.co2science.org/about/position/globalwarming.php

    According to Wikipedia, CO2 accounts for 9 to 26% of the "natural greenhouse effect". That's quite a range, indicating uncertainty.

  • Aging Activists Gather at Congaree National Park to Recall a Nick-of-Time Rescue   5 years 20 weeks ago

    I think you've pretty much hit it on the head, Jim. As Jim said in his opening remarks, "all we had was the voice of the people."

  • Aging Activists Gather at Congaree National Park to Recall a Nick-of-Time Rescue   5 years 20 weeks ago

    What a great reminder that "ordinary people" can make a real difference in our world!

  • Verizon Wireless Wants Cellphone Tower Near Grant Grove in Kings Canyon National Park   5 years 20 weeks ago

    Been there, done that. I've seen it from all sides. Having it there when the conversations were unwanted and not having it there when it would have been very useful and unobtrusive.

    A couple of years ago I was backpacking in Yosemite. A Boy Scout group was next door and I woke up in the morning because one of the kids was talking on his cell phone with his folks. Granted I did call a friend from the top of Half Dome and Clouds Rest, but I placed myself far away from other people when I made those calls.

    Now I do remember being in Grant Village a few days later and needing to meet someone there. Of course no cell phone coverage. If I didn't make the contact it would have been rather difficult to figure out what happened. Later I found myself at Stony Creek Lodge trying to make a reservation over their pay phone. That had to be the scratchiest land line phone I've ever used. I would have loved to have been able to use my cell phone.

  • Sky Diving at Denali National Park? A Florida-Based Company Thinks It's a Great Idea   5 years 20 weeks ago

    I have never been there,but have read much about how dangerous it can be around the mountain at times. i have been around skydiving alot,my father used to haul them as a job.to be nice this sounds extremely foolish at best. they should be rejected with no appeal whatsoever. if something went wrong,pretty fair chance of that, i don't want my tax money used to fix the mess. this kind of thing was not why we protected these lands.

  • Verizon Wireless Wants Cellphone Tower Near Grant Grove in Kings Canyon National Park   5 years 20 weeks ago

    Can't anyone live anymore without being "connected"? If you can't enjoy the nature and solitude, perhaps you should just stay away.

  • NPCA: Climate Change Greatest Threat Facing the National Park System   5 years 20 weeks ago

    I really wanted an answer to my question: What do the naysayers think happens to the planet when we put so much carbon into the atmosphere?

    If there is a question as to what happens to all that carbon, perhaps the precautionary principle is the best way to treat the over abundance of carbon created by mans actions. Unless you don't care.

  • Sky Diving at Denali National Park? A Florida-Based Company Thinks It's a Great Idea   5 years 20 weeks ago

    I think that Yosemite stopped its Fire Fall because it was not a natural part of the park, although for some reason they felt it necessary to keep the golf course. The fire fall attracted crowds into a meadow to watch the spectacle, and was ruining the meadow. If operating a hang gliding operation in Denali is NOT going to damage the environment, go for it. Otherwise forget it. I think that the Park Service sometimes has a double standard regarding what visitors may do in our National Parks.

  • Woman Dies in Fall From Angel's Landing   5 years 20 weeks ago

    We "chickened out" at the chains, but found a much, much better and far safer view at Observation Point. Glad we turned around and enjoyed the day!

  • NPCA: Climate Change Greatest Threat Facing the National Park System   5 years 20 weeks ago

    MRC, If you can't dispute their evidence, call them names. I'm surprised to see you fall into the ad hominem trap. In the interest of civil discourse, ad hominems, appeal to ridicule (calling skeptics "fools"), and other attacks should stop.

    As for the "consensus", that's an argumentum ad populum (Latin: "appeal to the people"), which in logic, is a fallacious argument that concludes a proposition to be true because many or all people believe it; it alleges that "If many believe so, it is so." There was once a majority of people who thought the Earth was the center of the universe.

    There is plenty of room for debate, and those shutting down the debate--by name calling or other means--are displaying characteristics of intellectual fundamentalism and censorship.

    Anonymous wrote, "What we can do is introduce the idea that these matters are extremely complex, and that they should be skeptical of anyone who tries to sell them a policy proposal based on a 90-second thumbnail sketch of climate science, either for or against."

    Well said, sir.

  • Ill-Advised Leap from a Bluff Leads to a Challenging Rescue at Buffalo National River   5 years 20 weeks ago

    I agree with K. Sender. What are these idiot tourists thinking? You sure don't ever hear of a local person doing something stupid like thhis! And people call us dumb hill folks!!

  • NPCA: Climate Change Greatest Threat Facing the National Park System   5 years 20 weeks ago

    Well MRC, temps have been cooling since 1998 when the last warming period seems to have peaked. I won't venture a guess as to why but remain content in the knowledge that the Earth is not static and change is the norm. We roll with the punches but ultimately our fate, as is the fate of all living beings, is extinction. 99% of all species that have ever appeared on this blue and green marble are now consigned to the category of total oblivion. Makes you really admire the clams, sharks and cockroaches for their tenacity.