Lake, Mountain, Sea, Part 2

November 30, 2018

Lake, Mountain, Sea, Part 2

LAMOSE comes from the words Lake, Mountain, Sea, and is meant to represent the great outdoors that so many of us enjoy and fight to protect. Our products take names of these natural wonders, Mount Robson, Moraine Lake, and the Hudson's Bay to show that we stand in solidarity with protecting these beautiful places. In the spirit of LAMOSE, these next posts will be focused on unveiling an issue of a specific issue that's facing a lake, mountain, or sea.

Image credit: Google Maps

Image credit: Google Maps

The Rocky Mountains are a massive group of stone peaks that stretch from central Canada to the Southern United States. Its near 5000 kilometer length encompass many provinces and territories and are the homes to several unique, endangered, and iconic species of animals. From the great Grizzly bears that roam the forests or the humble Pika at the peaks, the Rockies are a natural wonder that should be respected and protected. The glaciers at the snow capped points feed into rivers that provide ecosystems and humans with the water needed to survive, and the beautiful landscapes within the Rockies attract adventurers from around the globe. The range was crafted some time between 170 to 40 million years ago when the Pacific Ocean’s tectonic plate drove itself underneath the plate of what is today’s North America, forcing the land to bunch and climb. Forged by living stone and burning magma, they are some of the most beautiful mountains in the world.

The humble pika. Image credit: nps.gov

The humble pika.

Image credit: nps.gov

The Rocky Mountains are home to numerous unique species, and draw in billions of dollars worth of tourism to Canada and the United States. Loved across the board by hikers, campers, ski and snowboarders, it is unfortunate to hear the natural wonder is being threatened by climate change. Despite many seeing mountains as rough impassable terrain whose hardiness fosters even hardier beings, mountain ecosystems are extremely sensitive to climate change. According to the United States Geological Survey, the Rocky Mountains have experienced three times a temperature change that is three times the global average (USGS website). These numbers should be concerning, as these ecosystems are a large source of water for nearby communities and connected ecosystems, are habitats for several endangered species that are quite susceptible to minute environmental changes.

Melting glaciers on the Rocky Mountains in Wyoming.

Melting glaciers on the Rocky Mountains of Wyoming.

Image credit: Scientific American

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-rocky-mountains-largest-glaciers-are-melting-with-little-fanfare/

 

The Rocky mountains are extremely vast, but we can divide the range into 3 distinct areas: the Montane, the Subalpine, and the Alpine. The montane ecosystem is the area encompassed by forest, far below the timber line, where trees stop growing. Many of the species that reside here are larger animals like elk, moose, bears, and wolves, and many other species use the forests as a haven after being driven out of their natural habitat by human expansion. These are the areas threatened by forest fires and logging. The next step up would be the Subalpine. This region is the areas just below the timber line, Due to the increased exposure to wind, sun, and snow, the vegetation here is much sparser and forests give way to vast grasslands and later into tundras. The trees that grow here tend to be smaller, or grow into what are called “krummholz”, or “twisted tree” which grow more horizontally or into curled shaped due to the harsh weather conditions.

Krummholz

An example of a tree twisted by the sheer exposure of high altitudes. 

Image credit: MeezenPlace.com

 

Finally is the Alpine, or what I like to call the “oxymoron” zone. This is where you find the most niche of mountain species, those who have adapted specifically to live in the extreme conditions atop mountains. These organisms are undeniably hardy, yet at the same time are very sensitive to environmental changes. Beautiful alpine mosses and the aforementioned pika live here, ut suffer each year due to climate change and careless hikers. Global warming trends reduce the amount of the Alpine that exists for pika to roam in, and careless hikers can risk trampling the mosses which take hundreds of years to recover. The increasing temperature has massive impacts on the mountain range. The warmth reduces the amount of snow melt available which means less water to be used by ecosystems and people. It also makes it easier for invasive species like pine beetles to inhabit the region and cause irreparable damage. The decreased moisture in the air makes forest fires more likely, as seen right now as massive fires ravage the West Coast of the United States. The impact of these fires is easily experienced as the smoke clouds travel and clog up cities as far as Los Angeles. In addition, these warming trends impact all you avid skiers and snowboarders: according to Powder.com, if emissions are left unchecked, 60 to 70% of snow resorts will not be able to open by Christmas in the 2050 season.

Fortunately, it’s easy to see the positives in the situation. Non-profits are working to protect our wild places, and many are successfully lobbying governments to make moves to ensure the future of the Rockies and other natural wonders. But how can we help? You could consider joining or donating to organizations like the Sierra Club Foundation (https://www.sierraclub.ca/) or the Wilderness Committee (https://www.wildernesscommittee.org/). If you are an outdoorsperson yourself, you can always reach out to people on social media and help educate others on the joys of the outdoors and why we need to protect them. Practice good Leave No Trace practices (https://www.leavenotrace.ca/principles) to ensure you have a minimal micro-level impact while you’re enjoying our wonders, or go a step further and consider reducing your environmental impact anyway you can. Consider switching to alternative forms of transportation, or even to an Electric Vehicle. An even more effective way to reduce your footprint is to stop eating meat. According to the documentary Cowspiracy, animal agriculture accounts for more released greenhouse gas than the exhausts from all the transportation in the world, and livestock byproducts are the source of over half of the world's greenhouse gas emissions in total. Going vegetarian is a huge step, going vegan even more so. There is a tonne of stigma around the lifestyle choice, but it’s better if you experience it for yourself. I challenge you to have a meal at a local vegan restaurant and try a dish with a meat substitute. It might surprise you how delicious it is.


We believe that we will be able to tackle the world’s issues together. Will you stand with us? #LAMOSEGo!



Sources:

 https://www.avenuecalgary.com/Things-to-Do/Out-of-Town/Mountains/Ski-Resorts-Close-to-Calgary/

https://www.britannica.com/place/Rocky-Mountains

http://www.cowspiracy.com/facts/

https://geomaps.wr.usgs.gov/parks/province/rockymtn.html

https://meezenplace.com/2016/12/18/the-krummholz-effect/

https://www.myrockymountainpark.com/park/climate-change-affects-rocky-mountain-national-park

https://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2011/03/110302-rocky-mountains-colorado-mystery-new-theory-earth-science/

https://www.nps.gov/romo/learn/nature/climatechange.htm


https://www.powder.com/stories/climate-change/climate-change-study-2090/


https://www.powder.com/stories/snowmaking-will-not-save-us/#ZvSuTmlkE5D5FLIO.97


https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/02/180221152414.htm


https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-rocky-mountains-largest-glaciers-are-melting-with-little-fanfare/


https://www.usgs.gov/centers/norock/science/climate-change-mountain-ecosystems-ccme?qt-science_center_objects=0#qt-science_center_objects


https://www.wired.com/story/ski-resorts-fight-climate-change-with-snow-blowers-and-buses/


http://www.worldwatch.org/node/6160

Featured Image: https://www.nationalparks.org/explore-parks/rocky-mountain-national-park

 

 



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