It’s been 25 years since I first heard the warnings about greenhouse gas pollution. I had a contract to write about what scientists were saying would happen in Montana. The two things that caught my attention were:
- Our forests would begin to see bigger and uncontrollable “mega-fires” and
- Our cold-water fisheries would begin to blink out as our summers warmed.
Last weekend I had an opportunity to join 170 other Montanans at the Faith, Science, and Climate Action conference in Bozeman. There were two days of speakers and workshops, but one speaker from Montana State, Bruce Maxwell, Ph.D., stood out when he summarized how the 2017 Montana Climate Assessment has confirmed the predictions I heard 25 years ago:
- The new “norm” will be similar to the summer of 2017 when 22 days in July in Montana were over 90 degrees with profound impacts on our water resources.
- Since 1951, we’ve added 12 days to the growing season.
- Montana had a normal snowpack in 2017, but a new phenomenon, a “flash drought,” brought fires that burned 1.26 million acres and cost federal and state governments $378.
- We can expect Montana temperatures to continue to rise 4 to 6 degrees by 2050 and 9 to 12 degrees by 2100 if we do nothing to reduce fossil fuel burning.
I found a wild burst of energy being around people of such compassion, intelligence, and dedication. This statewide network of faith leaders is already an important force in the Montana climate movement.
Speaking of which, please join us for two events. The first is 350 Montana’s Action Committee meeting this Monday, October 22, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. in the second floor ballroom of the Union Hall, 208 East Main. This is the way to plug in. The agenda includes a discussion of the report from the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), an explanation of why a bus-load of Missoulians are going to Billings on November 20 to testify at a public hearing on NorthWestern Energy’s first draft of its power plan, a discussion of a city ordinance that would commit Missoula to a 100 percent renewable energy electrical system by 2030, recent letter exchanges and letters-to-the-editor between NorthWestern Energy and 350 Montana, and . . . some surprises.
And on Monday, October 29, from Noon to 1 p.m., in front of the federal courthouse, 201 East Broadway in Missoula, Missoula people are gathering to honor and support 21 young plaintiffs bringing suit in Eugene, Oregon, that day in the historic Juliana v. United States case. In many ways it’s the “trial of the century” because the children are taking on the climate denial of Trump and his government. The children are saying that freedom depends on a climate system that will sustain human life, and the government must prepare and implement a Climate Recovery Plan to protect their basic and most fundamental rights.