An Outdoor View: Global warming

I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of hearing bad news about global warming. To hear it, you’d think everyone aboard Earth is heading for the Apocalypse.

Having given the news about global warming a few minutes of serious thought, here’s my take on it: If Newton’s “for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction” is true, then we ought to be hearing equal amounts of good and bad news.

Although there’s still a lot of spirited discussion about the cause of global warming, almost everyone agrees that Earth’s climate is getting warmer. According to NOAA and NASA, the 16 warmest years of record have occurred since 1998. The year 2015 was the warmest Global Year recorded since recording began, 136 years ago.

The bad news is that the warming is melting Earth’s frozen places, causing oceans to rise and creating an urge in waterfront homeowners to sell out and move to higher ground. The media use “disastrous” and “catastrophic” to describe the horrors that lie ahead.

The good news is that people who can’t afford pricey waterfront property, but who build homes just uphill from it, will eventually discover the good side of global warming. The rising water will turn their decks into docks, and their driveways into boat ramps. Instead of catastrophe, they’ll see their property value skyrocketing with every inch of sea-level change.

The bad news is that oceans are not only rising, but becoming warmer. Some of the impacts on Alaska’s salmon fisheries in recent years are likely due to this warming trend.

However, the good news is that warmer waters will increase the ranges of several species. The first changes we’ll see in Kenai Peninsula waters are steelhead and cutthroat trout showing up in streams where they previously didn’t exist. Anglers fishing for king salmon on the Kenai River will occasionally be catching sturgeon, a fish common along the Pacific Northwest, but currently not found in Alaska.

The bad news is that warmer Alaskan waters will attract more predators. These will include everything from mackerel to great white sharks, all of which will eat salmon.

But wait. The good news is that, if the warming trend persists into the next century as some scientists predict, we’ll be catching striped bass in the lower Kenai River. “Stripers” were introduced to San Francisco Bay from the East Coast in the late 1800s. Striped bass fisheries are as popular as salmon fisheries.

The bad news is that, at some point, Alaska’s glaciers will be melted away, and the Kenai River is mostly glacier meltwater. At that point, the $35,000 Willie Boat and 50-hp Yamaha outboard that’s perfect for fishing the present lower Kenai will end up as lawn art.

The good news is that, by the end of this century, Kenai Peninsula lakes will contain largemouth bass that will be put there by people who grew up fishing for bass in the Lower 48. Marine waters around the Kenai Peninsula will contain species that now are caught off California, such as bonito, barracuda, marlin and yellowtail.

A warmer climate will cause droughts and harsh weather, and that’s bad news for many farmers in the Lower 48.

But a longer growing season in Alaska will mean that we’re able to grow our own apples, plums, pears and cherries, and that’s good news. It’s not too much of a stretch to imagine lemon and avocado trees in our yards, as Californians have. The cost of our groceries will drop, and everything will be fresher.

I’ve always wanted to hunt wild turkeys, which don’t inhabit Alaska, but I’m sure they will after we warm up a bit.

In years past, when people have said they saw a mountain lion or a Sitka blacktail deer on the Kenai Peninsula, I was skeptical. No more. Any day now, I expect to look out my kitchen window and see a cougar stalking a deer.

There seems to be no end of good things about global warming. I suggest a new Alaska State Motto: Global Warming: It ain’t all bad.

 

Les Palmer can be reached at les.palmer@rocketmail.com.

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