I was prompted to write this blog after reading an editorial, written by 13 year old Kian Tanner, already an avid trout angler. It was titled “Are There Any Adults in the Room?” (https://www.hatchmag.com/blog/are-there-any-adults-room/7714744).

Call it “Climate Change”, or “Global Warming”, I don’t care. But the inconvenient truth is that our planet is warming. Trout anglers know this very well. Just twenty years ago, spring run-off in the Rockies ended around the 4th of July. Now it ends around the middle of June. This affects the life-cycle of aquatic insects, trout behavior, and so on up the line. These changes are a direct reflection of global warming.

Rather than arguing whether global warming is man-made, or a natural cycle between ice-ages and tropics, it would be more helpful to accept that it’s happening. While it jeopardizes the lives of trout and hence fly fishing, it also makes life on this planet more difficult for all of us. Once we accept that it’s real and harmful, we can consider how to help slow this phenomenon.

The Causes

Thus far, the focus has been on the use of fossil fuels, and the resultant CO2 production. Little attention has been paid to other causes of warming. The media regularly blames Brazil for its reduction of the Amazon rain forest, but what about our own deforestation? Every time I drive past a new housing development with a name like “Oak Forest”, I just shake my head. There usually isn’t a tree in sight! But indeed, there used to be a healthy oak forest.

Trees are nature’s way of mitigating CO2, which is produced by decaying vegetation, the use of fossil fuels, and gaseous ungulates. In fact, ungulates produce far more CO2 than does the use of fossil fuels. Regardless of its source, as part of a tree’s chlorophyl process, CO2 is converted to oxygen.

In addition to reducing CO2, forests also absorb sunlight, and keep the underlying forest floor cool. As a child, almost too long ago to remember, I used to love playing barefoot. The cool, soft lawn was soothing to my feet. But should I step on the concrete sidewalk, or heavens forbid, the asphalt road, my feet were quickly burned. Unfortunately, these are two of the most used materials in cities and sprawling suburbs. They act as super heat-sinks. Any wonder that the temperature in cities is at least ten degrees warmer than in the countryside just a few miles away?

Economists encourage population growth, as increasing population leads to economic growth. But on the other hand, increased population carries with it increased environmental demands. Water shortages already occur regularly in the western USA, and food shortages occur increasingly in Africa and other developing nations. Do we really need population growth?

Stephen Hawking has predicted that Homo Sapiens will breed themselves, that is US, into extinction within the next thousand years. I personally feel that is an optimistic outlook. Nonetheless, he feels that extra-planetary spread of our species is the only way that we will survive. But should we move on and destroy another planet, or try to save our own?

Be a Part of the Solution

I don’t claim to be a perfect environmentalist. I continue to drive gas fueled vehicles, but I do pay attention to their fuel efficiency. And when alternate vehicles that meet my needs become available, I will change my selections. In the meantime, I recycle, rid our small woods of diseased trees, and preserve healthy, growing trees. I plant additional trees, and support streamside tree-planting projects. We installed solar panels for our Montana home, and coated our driveway with gravel rather than asphalt.

There are so many ways that each of us can slow the warming of our planet. As Kian states in his editorial, it isn’t fair that we pass on the responsibility of addressing this threatening problem to our children. Let each of us reflect on this, and consider what we can do to help preserve our trout fisheries and help save our planet.

written by Al Simpson, March, 2019.