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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

August 13, 2013 at 4:31 PM

Glaciers melting before our eyes

Science goes both ways

The Shepard Glacier in Glacier National Park, Mont., first in 1913, top, and then in 2005, revealing the dramatic change as the glacier has all but disappeared. Gradual warming continues to nibble away at the park's famed glaciers. [AP Photo/1913 W.C. Alden, USGS;  2005 Blase Reardon, USGS / Courtesy of Glacier National Park Archives]

The Shepard Glacier in Glacier National Park, Mont., first in 1913, top, and then in 2005, revealing the dramatic change as the glacier has all but disappeared. Gradual warming continues to nibble away at the park’s famed glaciers. [AP Photo/1913 W.C. Alden, USGS; 2005 Blase Reardon, USGS / Courtesy of Glacier National Park Archives]

Jonathan Martin’s lament for the retreating glaciers in Glacier National Park is understandable; If the glaciers continue retreating, the park’s name will no longer be meaningful, and all of us who enjoy the sight of glaciers will miss out. [“Column: Glacier National Park, melting before our eyes,” Opinion, Aug. 12.]

But if we really are to pay attention to science here, and Martin makes clear his disdain for those who would deny science, it’s necessary to point out that these glaciers were first reported shrinking in 1850. That makes sense, because the earth was coming out of the Little Ice Age.

The cause of the retreat of these particular glaciers is probably more directly related to changes in precipitation, not temperature.

The author further complains that he watched “full-size trucks, probably getting no more than 15 miles per gallon, lumber up the incline” at Logan Pass.

Depending on the size of the truck, 15 miles per gallon may not actually be a bad number, and since we are adhering strictly to science, it’s worth noting that raising a certain mass a certain distance will require a certain amount of energy, regardless of what Congress says about it. Perhaps you can move 20 tons of lumber with Prius mileage figures, but I’d guess not. We should think realistically about the science of that, too.

Dennis Evans, Kirkland

Comments | More in Environment, Seattle | Topics: environment, glaciers, global warming

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