Back With A Vengeance!

It has been a while since I last posted on this site as my sister and brother in law visited me and we spent 18 wonderful days together during which I was privileged to show them ‘my Alaska’. I say ‘my Alaska’ because across the years I’ve discovered many magnificent places to visit which very few tourists even know exist let alone visit. Examples are the Denali Highway (AK 8), Teklanika campsite in Denali NP&P, the west side of the Kenai Peninsula and the East End Road in Homer which is at the terminus of the Sterling Highway (AK 1). Both were mesmerized by these and other locations; the fact they’ve spent maybe 35 years living on the front range of the Colorado Rockies only highlights the majesty and awe-inspiring nature of ‘The Great Land’. I was sad to say ‘adios’ to them in Anchorage yesterday but also whetted their appetite for a return trip by explaining we still had the east side of the state to explore. Hopefully we will be able to do so in the near future.

So now I’m once again able to post my thoughts and I find this initial piece will be a bit different from most of the previous. The nucleus for my post began to coalesce with my reading of an excellent tome titled “State of Fear” by Michael Crichton. It is an amazing read focusing on how ‘We the People’ are being manipulated by a consortium of political, legal and media special interest groups with a focus on the outright lies perpetrated by the extremists in the environmental circles. Without a doubt Mr. Crichton has his own opinions and some of his ‘science’ is both a bit slanted and outdated – the latter not his fault as the book was published in 2004 – but overall I found the book eye-opening to say the least. He makes it abundantly clear that the current ‘global warming’ disaster claims are based on shoddy and incomplete science at best and often employ fear-mongering along with political and economic pressures to produce the desired outcomes. If one doubts this I can only point to the fact that many of the websites and on-line postings he highlighted as support for his beliefs have since disappeared from sight.

But I truly enjoyed his basic message which is; “Think for yourself, do your own research, question everything and do not just buy-in to what the lame-stream media or the current political party are spewing!” I’ve often railed about the average American being led around by their noses through the liberally biased lame-stream media agendas thinly veiled as ‘news’. Even these losers no longer try to claim they are ‘journalists’; indeed, we haven’t seen true journalism in these outlets since the early seventies. To me this should make it even more apparent to those of us who can remember the likes of Murrow and Cronkite – both of liberal beliefs, by the way, but unwilling to color their reporting with their own beliefs – that the current mass media outlets all have their own biases and use their programming to push said agendas. The purpose of ‘the Fifth Estate’ was to be a watchdog on the federal and state governments; given they now support liberal politics and smear anything else should not be lost on the American people.

Imagine my surprise when yesterday I read a story in ‘Discovery News’ which spoke to the falsehoods behind the environmental extremists who have been shouting that polar bears will be extinct due to starvation by 2068 when it is forecast that the Arctic sea ice will be absent 180 consecutive days each year. Apparently a just released report from American Museum of Natural History now states that polar bears are much more adaptable regarding food sources than the wacko environmental extremists wanted us to believe. There is now reason to believe these bruins will learn to eat other food sources which will substitute for the seal pups they will no longer be able to hunt and kill in the absence of Arctic ice. Of course this will pressure the species and that is not good but their impending extinction so touted by extreme environmentalists as a clear sign of our impending doom will most likely not materialize.

Do I doubt the climate is changing? Not in the least; the earth’s history shows the climate has been in continual flux since there was a ‘climate’. Do I doubt we are seeing warming temps? Living in Alaska this is abundantly clear and other world-wide data would seem to support this concept. Do I believe man is the main cause? By no means!! While I do believe mankind has contributed to the warming I remain unsure as to just how much. In addition I feel we know so little about the Earth’s climate over the past billion years we should not try to draw conclusions based upon a mere century or even a millennium of data. Only now are we beginning to learn of the effect of solar cycles on the Earth’s climate; the jury is still out on creeping shifts in the magnetic poles. I could go on and on but I believe I’ve made my point.

If we are to truly trust scientific research then we need to completely remove the influence of funding from special interest groups with their own agendas, allow research that is free from political pressure based upon pseudo-science and remove the emotionalism from all scientific efforts. Without this we will almost certainly continue to exist in a ‘state of fear’…

Meteorological Mischief or Global Warming..?

Even though I have not spent an October in Alaska until this one I did a lot of research on the weather of my possible retirement locations – it ultimately came down to Homer in the southern Kenai Peninsula on Kachemak Bay or Talkeetna – and experienced fall and some spring weather in each location as well.  Indeed, one of the determining factors in my final choice of Talkeetna was its propensity for cold, snowy winters.  Therefore imagine my surprise given the weather I’ve actually experienced since arriving in the early afternoon of August 6th!  The remainder of August was warmer than normal with above normal precipitation, September was at least four degrees above normal in terms of temps and saw well over twice the normal rainfall and now October has been at least five degrees above normal temps and we’ve already seen 199% of October’s normal average rainfall of 2.90″.  During the completed 19 days of October to this point I’ve reported measurable precipitation on 16 of those days (that’s 84.2%..!!) and today being the 20th day will definitely see some rain before midnight.

In conversations with the locals I’ve been told October normally sports steadily cooling temperatures but many days with dry sunshine and some of the best weather of the year.  According to NWS climatological records the average first snowfall in Talkeetna is around October 3rd yet we have yet to see any snow and will probably not see any for at least another couple of days.  When it finally does snow it will most likely be mixed with rain and occur only during the early morning hours before turning over to just rain.  I was also told that by this time last October the lakes and rivers had frozen over and people were beginning to ice skate on them!  Only twice have I seen any ice on the local ponds and lakes and that was just the barest trace.  I have noted numerous reports of snow in the lower 48; my sister saw accumulating snow in Monument, Colorado – a northern suburb of Colorado Springs – three days ago.  But NWS is saying all of Alaska will see well above normal temps for at least the next six to ten days.

I’m not convinced of the validity of ‘global warming’ or perhaps I should clarify; I do without question believe the earth’s climate is getting warmer but I remain unconvinced it’s all humanity’s fault.  Sure, I can believe we’ve played a part but I also believe there’s much more going on in terms of geological processes and climate cycles than we understand or have even recognized.  With all this said what I’ve experienced since August certainly would seem to support the climate is warming although to make such an assumption based upon a couple of warm months is a scientific absurdity.  However, when I first visited Alaska in the early fall of ’96 I know Denali NP&P closed around the start of the second full week in September generally because it was already dropping well below freezing and staying right around that temp during the days.  Yet as the years have passed I’ve seen the Park remain open later and later; I believe it didn’t close this year until the end of September.  I also remember growing up in SE Michigan when we did see snow on the ground one out of every three or four Thanksgivings; while I haven’t checked the actual data I’m sure its been decades since there was snow on the ground by late November in that area.

Regardless, the weather I’ve experienced in Talkeetna to this point has been very unusual in terms of warmth and rainfall; data from years of observations back this up.  It is interesting to still see insects outside when the temp rises above 40 F and especially if we see just a bit of direct sunlight during those temps.  My neighbor told me that in a ‘typical’ year all the insects are history by the first part of October.  I cannot help but wonder if this run of warm and wet weather will continue into November which at this time is just eleven days out.  I do know I could sure use a break in the darn rain as I have a lot of material I need to get burned before it begins to snow and accumulate – assuming this ever happens – but right now everything is saturated.  I have a huge pile of cardboard boxes stacked by the burn barrel which are soggy and beginning to fall apart; I’ve tried building a wood fire inside the barrel and then feeding said cardboard slowly into it but this requires hours of such effort to burn just a few boxes.  Trying to hurry the process just puts out the fire in the barrel.

Remnants of moving boxes and packing too saturated to burn

Remnants of moving boxes and packing material too saturated to burn

I’ve also grown tired of running my dehumidifier almost constantly since I first purchased it a few days after arriving.  However, failure to do so will allow the relative  humidity to slowly climb above 70% which is just too darn high!  Prior to moving up here I wouldn’t have thought a dehumidifier would become an absolute necessity but its possible that if the local weather does return to some kind of ‘normal’ then perhaps I won’t need to run it constantly.  I do know one thing for sure; Mother Nature will do as she will regardless of my wishes – or anyone else’s for that matter – so I’d best just learn to roll with the punches and try to work around the less than favorable situations…