Pondering Changes

Star Photography gives me plenty of time to contemplate. After all, each photo has about a 25 second exposure period. At -20 degrees, there were not any other humans nearby and I could not detect any human-caused noises. It was quite peaceful. I wondered what the scene before me will look like mid-century. Probably the night-time scene will look the same. The mountains will erode a little but not a perceptible amount. The stars won’t change much. There will still be light pollution encroaching on the night sky. It is easy to be complacent and not consider the future.

Star-filled sky over the Teton mountain range. Sony a7R III + 16-35mm lens @ 16 mm, ISO 3200, f/2.8, 25s. ©Stanley Buman. All Rights Reserved.

But Climate Change is here and it is real. According to NOAA, “The January 2020 global land and ocean surface temperature was the highest on record. The four warmest Januaries documented in the climate record (past 141 years) have occurred since 2016; the 10 warmest have all occurred since 2002.” Do you want a few more unsettling statistics? “January 2020 marked the 44th consecutive January and the 421st consecutive month with temperatures, at least nominally, above the 20th-century average.”

The January 27, 2020 edition of the Jackson Hole Daily newspaper had a front-page article entitled “Study: Big burns brewing” that highlighted an article published in the journal Ecological Applications. The climate models predict warmer and drier conditions will lead to more fires. A combination of factors will lead to a land transition away from forests.

Evergreen trees are prevalent in Grand Teton National Park. By mid-century, this may change. Sony a7R III + 24-105mm lens @ 77 mm, ISO 400, f/11, 1/1250s. ©Stanley Buman. All Rights Reserved.

So, while the mountains and the stars will remain, the vegetation will change and so will the wildlife. Wildlife will either need to adapt, move, or die off. The prognosis for some species is extinction. Others, such as the Red Fox may increase in numbers as their range expands northward. But their range expansion is to the detriment of the smaller Arctic Fox that has to compete.

The Red Fox is quite adaptable and is currently expanding its range. Sony a9 + 100-400mm lens & 1.4x teleconverter @ 560 mm, ISO 400, f/10, 1/2000. ©Stanley Buman. All Rights Reserved.

Regarding waterfowl, the folks at Ducks Unlimited estimate that, “Most major waterfowl habitats in North America face potentially significant, detrimental impacts from the effects of climate change”.

A Barrow’s Goldeneye Drake runs across the surface of water to fight off another male intruding on his territory. Sony a9 + 100-400mm lens & 1.4x teleconverter @ 560 mm, ISO 400, f/8, 1/2000. ©Stanley Buman. All Rights Reserved.

Climate change is nothing new. What is new is the rate of change; greatly accelerated by human activity. We can either choose to ignore the issue or work to slow down the rate of change, giving plants and animals more time to adapt to the change. What role will you play?

2 thoughts on “Pondering Changes”

  1. I really enjoy your updates and amazing photos. Inspired by you, I’m taking my family to Grand Tetons/Yellowstone this summer. Too much beauty to not see for ourselves. Great post too. An area for sure we all tend to dismiss in our daily life.

    1. Thank you Caleb. You and your family will love the Grand Tetons/Yellowstone area. There is a lot to see so don’t rush it. I recommend slowing down and not try to see everything during your first visit. You can always go back. Let me know if I can answer any questions for you.

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