On Friday, Sept. 20, my wife and I returned from spending two weeks visiting eight national parks in the west. I was wondering how much that would cost us visiting all those national parks. When we stopped at the first national park the lady asked us if I was a senior. I said, “Yes.”
She said, “You qualify for a reduced fee. It will cost the two of you $20 and its good this year.” She smiled and said, “Enjoy your visit to our National Parks!” We visited three in California and five in Utah. So if you are reading this, wait until you are a senior citizen, and consider going west in September when the kids are in school and the parks are not as crowded.
Going across the flat land of Nebraska we saw a lot of corn growing. In the east they did not use irrigation. However, in the central and western part of the state we saw a lot of irrigation from pumping up water from the Ogallala Aquifer to shower across the fields of corn. Nebraska considers the aquifer as a natural resource. They will not let a pipeline company put in a petroleum line across it ¬– as a leak in the line could cause a serious problem.
Where a road crossed the Interstate Highway they dug a lot of dirt along the interstate line for approaches to the crossing highway. Some of those lakes are fifteen feet deep, and could hold a lot of fish. So Nebraska has named the ponds, near the interstate, as recreation areas. So a state without lakes from a glacier suddenly had a lot of lakes to fish.
In Zion National Park, in Utah, we used a shuttle bus tour where the driver gave us a history perspective of what we were seeing. Someone asked the driver how much rain they have had and he said it is usually about 8 to 10 inches a year. But this year we have had almost 20 inches of rain. Then the driver told us about flash flood last year. “They closed three stops as the road was washed out and reaper work was being done.”
At the next stop I asked the driver, “Are you having more flash floods in the last ten years?”
“Oh Yes.” He said. “Thirty years ago we didn’t have flash floods like we have today.”
So I asked, “Is that due to Global Warming?”
“Beyond a doubt!” he said.
I looked at Diana and said, “The Mountains here are about 8,500 feet high. Think about what happens when they get two inches of rain on a mountain with all rock. Compared to back home with our hills 500 to 600 feet high. The rivers here will really rise fast. No place for someone who is camping along the river.” The storms of our grandchildren are here in Utah and Wisconsin.
In Colorado, on our way back home, we saw a train with each car loaded with coal. I said to Diana. “I wonder where that train is going. Most of the utilities have changed to burn natural gas as it’s cheaper than coal. Remember when out president said he wanted to put all coal miners back to work?”
In his book, “Storms of My Grandchildren,” Dr. James Hansen said, “Coal causes our greatest amount of carbon emissions in the world. And we have to get rid of coal.”
In his book Dr. Hanson wrote, “Coal burning at power plants is the greatest source of increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide. It is also the source most susceptible to control.“
In the preface of his book Dr. Hanson wrote. “The startling conclusion is that continued exploration of all fossil fuels on Earth threatens not only the other millions of species on the planet but also the survival of humanity itself – and the timetable is shorten than we thought.”
Warmer ocean levels means that we have the capacity for more water to be stored in the atmosphere and in summer comes down as rain. In his book Dr. Hanson wrote, “When air becomes warmer it can hold more water vapor. Air holds much more water vapor in summer than in winter.” Now we know why this spring farmers had to wait for the fields to dry out before planting corn. Also, the canoe rental business in Ontario couldn’t rent canoes in a flooding Kickapoo River.
More rain is not good for canoeing, farming, or trout fishing. We know what the last ten years have brought. What about the next ten years? History tells us we will have more flash floods as an increase of water keeps coming down from the sky.