Saturday, September 08, 2007

"Dumbest Government Study" Award

A GAO study, requested by the “Two Johns,” Kerry and McCain, easily wins the award for “Really Dumb Government Study of the Year.”

According to a congressional investigative report to be released this week:

The federal government needs to do a better job addressing how climate change is transforming the hundreds of millions of acres under its watch…”

The 184-page Government Accountability Office report, which Sens. John F. Kerry, D-Mass., and John McCain, R-Ariz., requested in 2004, highlights the extent to which global warming already is affecting the nation's parks, forests, marine sanctuaries and monuments.

Since 1850, the glaciers in Glacier National Park have declined from 150 to 26; climate-triggered coral bleaching in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary is eroding the area's tourist appeal.

Non-native grasses are fast replacing native shrubs in the Mojave Desert, where the grasses also are fueling hotter and longer-lasting wildfires. Even pinyon pines hundreds of years old that have survived droughts before in the Southwest are dying off.

All of this is very interesting. To some it is probably even alarming.

But what is the management of the nation’s parks, forests, marine sanctuaries and monuments going to do to stop the effects of the global warming which has been occurring naturally since 1850?

Is there something they could have done, or could do now, that would reverse the decline of glaciers in Glacier National Parks that began in 1850?

What could that be?

Since the glaciers started declining when the Little Ice Age ended in 1850, I guess the park managers should restart the Little Ice Age to reverse the decline.

What do you do to stop climate-triggered coral bleaching in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary?

I suppose they could do what they did thousands of times during the past millions of years to reverse climate-triggered coral bleaching.

You know what that was, don’t you?


Coral bleaching is a natural process. As reported in National Geographic News:

Coral colonies, when confronted with dramatic environmental changes, may purge themselves of existing algae to make room for other algae more capable of thriving in the challenging conditions. Bleaching, then, may not signify coral's imminent demise, but its ability to tough out new conditions.

In one set of experiments, marine scientist Andrew C. Baker of the New York Aquarium found that corals that undergo bleaching after being exposed to sudden environmental change are more—not less—likely to survive in the long run.

"This counters conventional wisdom that bleaching is detrimental from all perspectives," Baker said.

So do the Two Johns think that national park managers should do something to stop a natural process that has allowed coral to cope with climate changes for millions of years?

Next we have the problem of non-native grasses replacing natural shrubs in the Mojave Desert. What are the national park managers going to do about that?

When they figure out how to stop the infringement of non-native grasses, I hope they will let the rest of us know how they did it. I don’t know about the rest of the country, but we here in Northern California have had invasion after invasion by non-native plant species, and nothing has worked to stop the invasions.

We have Scotch broom, Pampas grass, ice plant, you name it. One characteristic of all our invasive non-native plants is that they grow far better here, in our salubrious Northern California climes, than they ever did in their native lands.

Maybe the national park managers will be able to design and put up fences that will stop the invasion of the non-native grasses.

I hope their fences are more effective at stopping the invasion of non-native grasses, than our current fences in Southern California are at stopping other invasions.

As far as the problem of the non-native grasses fueling hotter and longer-lasting wild fires, the national park managers are probably doing what national park managers all over do, and that is practice forest mismanagement through fire suppression and allowing fuel buildup.

The national park managers at South Lake Tahoe and Los Padres National Forest, among many recent examples, may have finally learned some useful lessons to pass on to others.

Finally, there are the piñon pine dying of drought.

Again, there is an obvious solution that national park managers can easily adopt: do nothing.

In the military, a joke with many variations is told about a Second Lieutenant who, when informed that a surprise inspection team was on its way, shouted to his subordinates, “Don’t just do something, stand there!”

In retrospect, the lieutenant did the right thing. If, when something important is about to happen, the only thing you can think of is to “do something” - clearly giving an invitation to chaos – it's probably best that you just calmly sit back and make a thoughtful analysis of your circumstances.

Since there is abundant evidence that climate change has occurred naturally hundreds of times previously, and that no actions of man will stop Nature from doing what comes naturally, the prudent national park manager takes note of this and prepares informative displays conveying this information to the interested public, and to the ignorant government inquirers.

It won’t change anything. Nature will continue its natural ways, and government inquirers will continue to labor in ignorance, but at least the park employees will be spared doing all sorts of wasteful, ineffective, and useless things to try to stop the inevitable.

Inevitable natural forces:

1. Climate change
2. Ignorant government agency inquiries

Some things just can’t be stopped.

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