Denying Climate Change While Enjoying Balmy Winter Weather

Out here in Wyoming, we want to believe that CO2 from our coal is not causing global warming. And we are pretty much in denial about this whole climate change argument.

But there is some evidence...

Instead of dealing with devastation like Superstorm Sandy, these weather trends are causing us to be basking in Indian-summer weather during October and November. Most of us who have lived here awhile know that November is always a bitter-cold, windy, gray, snowy month. October, about every other year, is an early duplicate of November.

Not last year. And not this year either.

This was the year when those of us who stayed home are teasing our snowbird friends who headed south. About 18 days ago, my thermometer read 71 degrees here in Lander. That, incredibly, was during the Thanksgiving holiday.

Yes, it makes sense to worry about climate change and to stew over worldwide ramifications of global warming.

But in the meantime most of us are guiltily appreciating this balmy weather during what used to be a bitter cold time.

In the big picture, there appears to be not so much that can be done here locally to stop worldwide emissions when in China and India a new coal-fired plant is coming online every three weeks.

The world is warming up and it is scary. I wish there was a way we could easily stop it. But in the meantime, folks who live in normally cold climes are enjoying this warm weather.

This last presidential election saw the arrival of a new kind of TV ad that was ubiquitous and continues to be airing. It is the “I am an energy voter” ad where folks tout the importance of energy jobs, especially coal.

There is no doubt President Barack Obama is at war with the coal industry. He believes in global warming and sees CO2 emissions from coal-fired plants as the chief culprit.

The folks putting airing those TV ads are adamant about their cause. “President Obama has placed a de facto embargo on energy production on American lands,” said a spokesman for the American Energy Alliance in the New York Times about their $7 million TV ad budget.

But then again, Obama won the election. And coal-producing states are facing the consequences.

So where can Wyoming coal producers sell their product?

Folks over the years have expressed displeasure over the seemingly cavalier way railroads can haul coal out of Wyoming without much state oversight.

But those same rules might be the key to Wyoming being able to export its coal to the world.

Obama’s administration is effectively killing the U. S. coal-powered power plant market. For Wyoming’s vast coal mines to have a place to sell their coal, they need the railroads to be able to ship coal to Pacific ports.

Environmentalists in Oregon and Washington are fighting against the railroads. But they are running into the same old interstate commerce laws written decades ago that allow railroads to move goods quite easily, thank you. And to hell with state laws and regulations.

If you want to know the future of Wyoming’s coal industry, just look west. A long ways west.

Three other weather-related thoughts:

• The top guy at the new NCAR weather super computer in Cheyenne mentioned that northern Europe could be almost desert-like by the end of the 21st century, according to long-range projections. This is again part of the climate change theory. He talked at the annual Wyoming Business Alliance forum.
• My friend Dewey Vanderhoff of Cody is one of those folks who knows a lot about a lot of things. He has a theory about the Bighorn Medicine Wheel east of Lovell in the Big Horn Mountains.
He says after the ice age ended 10,000 years ago, the world heated up immensely and it was probably “balmy” up there at 9,000 feet where the famous circle of rocks is located. Thus, folks may have been living there year-around, rather than down in the super-scorched valleys where we all live today.
• And finally one of the most-viewed documentary movies being seen this year is Chasing Ice, which consists of images of some 34-time lapse cameras showing the disappearance of glaciers around the world.

Now that would be a scary thing to watch.

The filmmaker was quoted as saying on National Public Radio that by 2030, the new name of a big park north of us might be “Formerly Glacier National Park.”

Check out Bill Sniffin’s columns and blogs at He is a longtime Wyoming journalist from Lander who has written four books. His most recent book is “Wyoming’s 7 Greatest Natural Wonders” which is available at

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