At the Bottom of The Mountain

A Winter Day Trip to Mt. Rainier in the Throes of Climate Change,

Monday 29 December 2014

Morgan (L) & Anne outside the Nisqually Entrance to Mount Rainier National Park.

Morgan (L) & Anne outside the Nisqually Entrance to Mount Rainier National Park. Normally the snow is deep and there isn’t much frozen snowmelt on the road. Not the case here this time nor up around the bend.

On the last Monday in the Year 2014 Common Era, I drove three of us to Mount Rainier National Park. The other two were my oldest daughter Morgan, a few months shy of turning 21, and her maternal cousin, Anne, of about the same age but a little older. Morgan had recently moved back to Seattle from Bellingham to prepare for her journey along the Appalachian Trail. Her mother Gwen Hughes, Anne’s auntie, and now my ex-wife tho still dear friend, and I had thruhiked the AT once upon a somewhat long time ago back in 1991. Gwen and I, originally from Virginia, still lived in Seattle, Washington. Anne was from Florida, and had not ever been to Seattle or Mt. Rainier before, and wanted to go. Woo Hoo, Mt. Rainier! Off we went. We didn’t make it past the bottom of The Mountain.

We determined to have fun anyway.

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Lyman Glacier Melts Away: Global Climate Disruption in One Local Spot

Global Climate Disruption as exemplified in one solitary place in the Glacier Peak Wilderness of the Washington Cascades from a hiker’s perspective

Modified from Image of Mt. Chiwawa's Lyman Glacier melting away across 118 years between 1890 and 2008 per glaciology field research by Nichols College based in Dudley, Massachusetts.

Modified from Image of Mt. Chiwawa’s Lyman Glacier melting away across 118 years between 1890 and 2008 per glaciology field research in the North Cascade Glacier Climate Project by Nichols College based in Dudley, Massachusetts.

In August 2006 and nine years later in July 2015 I climbed up Spider Gap and looked down the flanks of Chiwawa Mountain upon the dirty ice of Lyman Glacier. I was shocked to behold how much snow and ice had vanished across such a relatively short span of time. This short article is my attempt to record this one example of Global Climate Disruption in one solitary spot thru my words and pictures. Far fewer pictures exist for 2006 as most of my then-extensive fotograf collections were destroyed when my house burned down back in March of 2010. For the record, the science is clear human pollution is destructive to our planetary biosphere and affects our global climate.

Lyman Glacier melting and dropping rockslide debris into Upper Lyman Lake, Glacier Peak Wilderness, Tuesday 28 July 2015.

Lyman Glacier melting and dropping rockslide debris into Upper Lyman Lake, Glacier Peak Wilderness, Tuesday 28 July 2015. This and all subsequent Fotos by William Dudley Bass & are copyrighted with all rights reserved, thank you.

Older controversies regarding global cooling have already been addressed, resolved, and discarded. Now, however, newer material emerges as we’ve become aware our solar system is undergoing numerous widespread changes as it speeds thru a section of the Milky Way Galaxy currently dense in cosmic radiation. It appears this galactic-solarial interaction may be having a much greater impact upon Earth’s climate than human pollution. This process is also not understood, and our pollution clearly makes our destabilized global climate worse. In addition, long-term planetary history demonstrates periods of global warming are followed by ice ages. Which means we really don’t know what the hell is gonna happen next. Right now, however, we in the American Pacific Northwest are entering into the third year of a drought. Although snow has recently fallen in our alpine elevations, an unusually powerful El Nino system in the wake of the Pacific Blob anomaly promises a wild, warm ride into the unknown. Continue reading “Lyman Glacier Melts Away: Global Climate Disruption in One Local Spot” »

Hiking & Climbing up Mt. Rainier to Camp Muir

Foto Essay of a Day Hike & Climb

Up thru Global Climate Disruption & the Movement to Restore Native Names

to the Mountains

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Global Climate Disruption leaves Mount Rainier bare, baked, and dirty. Even so, it’s time to restore The Mountain to her Native name: Ti’Swaq’ … the Sky Wiper!

“Saw something beautiful Tuesday I’ve not ever seen before. During a dark, early morning drive to Mt. Rainier, the upper half of the massive volcano appeared to spout clear yellow flames without smoke. Weird. And pretty! The top half split into a dozen scimitar slices of bright golden pink. Ahhh, sunrise! The mountain’s glaciers, bereft of snow due to the drought, revealed giant crevasses open wide and staggered one above the other up the side of the volcano. These steep-sloped glacial crevasses of undirtied ice caught the dawn reflections. Traffic was too heavy to snap a pic, & I hate shitty pics. So I drove on. We ended up hiking up to Camp Muir at about 10,180 ft. Needed crampons. Hard blue ice. And dirt. No snow. True gold was the morning Light as it fell from the heavens into the open jaws of Earth.”

~ From my Facebook post of Thursday 8 October 2015 “at 5:20pm.”

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Global Climate Disruption, Capitalism, and the Opportunity for Democratic Socialism

HUMAN-CAUSED POLLUTION, DRAMATICALLY WORSENED BY CAPITALISM, CONSISTENTLY EXCEEDS POLLUTION FROM VOLCANIC ERUPTIONS TO CAUSE SEVERE CLIMATE CHANGE INCLUDING GLACIER MELT, GLOBAL WARMING, SUPERSTORMS WITH EXTREME WEATHER AND TEMPERATURE OSCILLATIONS, AND TUNDRA THAW WITH MASSIVE METHANE RELEASE AND REVIVAL OF LONG-FROZEN PREHISTORIC MICROORGANISMS

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West Antarctica’s Thwaites Glacier melts into Earth’s Southern Ocean.

 

 

Antarctica and Greenland

“Remember the front page of The Seattle Times one day last week, a week ago last Monday?” I asked the other participants in the room as I held up a copy from 12 May 2014. The lead article was adorned with a dramatic photograph of West Antarctica’s Thwaites Glacier melting in slow yet accelerating collapse into the Southern Ocean. The image was beautiful. Huge. The photo made this crisis feel Leviathan. It felt personal. Still does. For me seeing this news report was my “Oh Shit!” moment, my big “Oh Shit!” moment.

This crisis, this moment also presents an opportunity for those of us on the Revolutionary Left. We’ve been engaged in struggles to unify the working classes and others among the 99% to build a Democratic Socialist civilization atop the wreckage of our Capitalist system for a long time. This is now our time, and it will stay our time but only if we make it so. Climate change will not wait. Capitalism will not wait as it continues to bind the world into an iron net of digital tyranny and financial despotism. The logical conclusion of Capitalism is globalized Fascism and self-destruction as what’s left of our biosphere is ruined in the desperate scramble for anything to eat, steal, sell, or blame. The twin disasters of Capitalism and climate change seem slow and twisting. Yet they accelerate toward one disaster after another. Neither crisis will wait for anyone or for anything.

The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change, the UN IPCC, released a new and disturbing report earlier this Spring of 2014. It firmly established the primacy of anthropogenic or human-made causes of climate change over other factors. The scientists involved drove home climate change is a long-term problem with a severe impact upon our biosphere. Indeed, there will be multiple severe effects. This likely will produce unexpected surprises. Perhaps the surprises won’t be as dramatic as a world war or an extreme climate yo-yo but something more subtle such as the resurrection of dormant prehistoric bacteria and viruses released from thawing tundra.

Scientists earlier this year discovered giant viruses reanimating out in the Siberian tundra. The world is warming up. The Arctic tundra is thawing out. Methane gas is escaping from the permafrost. Frozen mammoth specimens are found in spectacular condition. And the largest known viruses, so far, are reviving. The most recent one is an enormous Siberian Pithovirus 30,000 years old. These giant viruses are still alive. They’re infecting and killing the local amoeba population. Scientists consider it easily probable other prehistoric pathogens, frozen alive for tens of thousands of years, may escape as temperatures rise to cause pandemics of deadly diseases among contemporary humans, livestock, and crops as well as wild plants and animals.

30,000 year old amoeba-killing Pithovirus from Siberia. Image by Julia Baroli & Chantal Abergel, IGS, CNRS/AMU, 05 March 2014.

Giant 30,000 year old amoeba-killing Pithovirus from Siberia. Image by Julia Baroli & Chantal Abergel, IGS, CNRS/AMU, 05 March 2014.

We are vulnerable as a species. Adaptation and preparation will prove crucial although exhausting. We’ll encounter limits as we run out of options. Most importantly, however, is we move forward with great speed and urgency to implement significant, indeed revolutionary changes. We do not have much time. We do, however, have choices and proven strategies.

A Democratic Socialist alternative, for example, will allow our species to establish a common front to address this Capitalist-induced destruction of our planet. We must first build such a unified front. Here in Seattle, those of us in the Socialist Alternative are positioned to provide leadership and inspiration to working people during this time of worldwide climate disruption. A majority of citizens recently elected Kshama Sawant, a teacher, economist, and activist in the Socialist Alternative, to the Seattle City Council in 2013 over a long-entrenched Democrat. Together with other labor activists we successfully spearheaded a rough and tumble drive to raise the minimum working wage to $15.00 an hour.

Numerous other groups are active as well in the struggle for our environment. Most of them are focused on singular issues such as stopping the coal and oil trains, tackling fracking, reducing carbon dioxide emissions, cleaning up polluted areas, and transitioning away from fossil fuels to green renewables. There has been a patchwork of local and regional successes, but many have been reduced under repeated onslaughts of Big Business as Capitalists seek to deepen their grip on our society. The Corporatocracy is relentless in its pursuit of resources to fuel its expansion of power. We’re focused, however, on local-global economic and labor issues. Yet climate change won’t wait for workers to wake up and take charge of our economy. Nor will the Capitalists in power wait for us workers to rise up. Earth’s environmental crises, however, won’t wait, not for anyone. Within the past year we Democratic Socialists achieved remarkable successes locally. We’ve been driving hard in a most difficult struggle to improve the lives of workers and their families. Economic and environmental issues are mutually intertwined. Will we take this opportunity?

Look at the picture of those melting glaciers in West Antarctica again.

James Yungel of the NASA team captured the photo. The “collapse of massive portions of the Antarctic ice sheet” appeared “inevitable.” Indeed, the speed of melting and collapse with rising seas is faster than initially feared. The epic disaster unfolding across our southernmost continent was deemed “unstoppable.” Mother Jones even shouted, “Holy Shit!”

This calamity is global. It was visible. You can see it all around without the immediate drama of human beings with their towns and cities ravaged by wars and earthquakes. Yet it could conceivably help bring an end to the current global civilization humans have built here on Earth. The melting West Antarctic ice sheets reinforce the idea global climate change, including global warming, is really global climate disruption.

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