Manataka American Indian Council




Mother Earth Watch

April 2010



Point - Counter Point

Opinions on global warming



Climate change problems hit Native Americans close to home

By James Steele

The history of American Indians is varied and each tribe has its own customs, but one belief that binds us all is our deep respect for the Earth and the gifts it has given us. This belief has inspired the Salish and Kootenai people’s effort to protect our air, water and other natural resources for future generations. We now recognize that one environmental threat poses a challenge like no other: global climate change.


It was with these thoughts in mind that I journeyed to Copenhagen, Denmark, in December to represent the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes at the international climate-change conference. It was apparent in Copenhagen that the whole world awaits action from the country most responsible for carbon pollution: the United States. The U.S. needs to lead the world by passing strong, comprehensive clean-energy and climate legislation through Congress.


Effects already noticed

And we need to do this now because Montana is already impacted by global climate change. Research by University of Montana Nobel Laureate Dr. Steve Running shows our mountain snowpack is melting an average of three weeks earlier in the spring. Reduced snowpack means lower and warmer stream flows in midsummer, which threatens our native fish as well as agricultural users of water. On the Flathead reservation, where we obtain most of our own energy from hydropower, less water also threatens our ability to generate electricity for our citizens and businesses.


Global warming threatens Native people disproportionately. A 2007 report from the University of Colorado indicates that global warming is likely to hit American Indians especially hard, as rising seas flood Native lands in Florida, and droughts trigger water wars in the Southwest. In Alaska, global climate change is already eroding the permafrost and melting the sea ice, leaving costal towns – largely inhabited by Natives – increasingly vulnerable to storm surges.


We need Congress to act. As representatives of a state that is home to seven recognized (and one unrecognized) tribes, Sens. Max Baucus and Jon Tester, as well as Rep. Dennis Rehberg, should be leaders in congressional efforts to pass clean-energy legislation with a strong limit on greenhouse gas pollution.


The effects of such legislation will also greatly benefit Montanans. A cap on carbon pollution will trigger an investment in clean energy and energy conservation, and that means jobs for Montana. Whether it is insulating and retrofitting homes in Arlee, or installing wind turbines near Great Falls, these investments will create well-paying jobs that cannot be outsourced to China. These clean-energy jobs will benefit the whole state, including Native people. Anyone who has been to Browning knows the power of its wind. A wind generation facility there would provide economic benefits to the Blackfeet people and supply Montana with an additional source of clean energy.


$14 a month, per family

A cap on carbon emissions will not cost much, only about $14 per month for the average family, according to the Congressional Budget Office’s review of the bill that passed the House of Representatives. That’s a small price to pay for policies that will help break our dependence on foreign sources of energy and create economic opportunities. And low-income households are actually expected to save money under climate legislation, as a result of the implementation of energy conservation and efficiency programs.


When I was in Copenhagen, I met people from around the globe who had come to emphasize the urgent need to slow global warming. The message was clear: the U.S. must lead the world by enacting a strong, science-based cap on greenhouse gas pollution. The cost of inaction is too high, for our people as well as our wildlife and natural resources.


James Steele of Pablo is chairman of the Montana-Wyoming Tribal Leaders Council and former chairman of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes.



Climate Warming is voodoo science and a boondoggle for politicians

by Takatoka


Theories of catastrophic global climate warming are proven to be pure junk science. 


Dr. Richard S. Lindzen, is former professor at MIT, Harvard University and the University of Chicago, a member of the National Academy of Sciences and served on the United Nation's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).  He has authored and coauthored over 200 papers and books and has been involved in climate and climate-related research for over thirty years.  


In testimony before the U.S. Senate, Dr. Lindzen said, "...the increase in global mean temperature over the past century is about 1°F which is smaller than the normal inter-annual variability for smaller regions like North America and Europe, and comparable to the inter-annual variability for the globe. Which is to say that temperature is always changing, which is why it has proven so difficult to demonstrate human agency... that warming is likely to be concentrated in winters and at night. This is an empirical result based on data from the past century. It represents what is on the whole a beneficial pattern... increases in temperature on the order of 1°F are not catastrophic and may be beneficial..."


Dr. Lindzen says the small increase (1°F) in global warming that has taken place in this century has been beneficial to the environment and the over-whelming majority of climatologists agree.


Mr. Steele cites Dr. Running's work on stream flow, but he failed to note that Dr. Running's work is not peer-reviewed and his report was designed to mislead the public about natural whether variations.  His report fails to account for more extreme climate variations occurring over the past millennium that were not caused by so-called greenhouse gases and carbon emissions.  Both Mr. Steele and Dr. Running receive salaries originating from the federal government. 


Mr. Steele may ask his ancestors what it was like in Montana during the Medieval Warm Period. Scientists say it was much warmer and drier from 800-1250 AD than in the twenty-first century. Glaciers in Glacier National Park did not exist during that time and were created during the Little Ice Age and the glacial ice is only 200-300 years old.

A few years ago, former Vice President Al Gore ran around the country like Chicken Little ("The Sky is Failing!" toting a UN report that says there are about 2,500 scientists who say global warming will have a catastrophic affect on the world.  More recently, Ian Bowles, a political appointee and former senior science advisor on environmental issues at the National Security Council said,  “...the basic link between carbon emissions, accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, and the phenomenon of climate change is not seriously disputed in the scientific community.” Boston Globe, 4/22/09


All the hype about global warming is waning because there are more than 31,000 climatologists and scientists who state otherwise.  All the alarmist data pointing to global warming is about ten years out of date.


Thousands of climate experts are skeptical about global warming, with some even saying there is a greater chance of prolonged global cooling than of imminent global warming. Republican Sen. James Inhofe has called global warming "the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people."


James Steele says a cap on carbon emissions will not cost much, only about $14 per month for the average family.  This is shear nonsense.  The federal government is notorious for bungling and over-spending on every program it touches.  $168 a year may not sound like much, but multiply that number by ten or twenty would be more realistic. To what end will such a program result?  More government bureaucracy, more government intrusion into the lives of citizens, and more mismanagement and waste.  The cost per family that Mr. Steele quotes is totally inaccurate.  There are many serious indirect costs to be understood. The cost of living will dramatically increase. 


Our dependence on foreign energy has nothing to do with the so-called global warming farce.   What is stopping the development of alternative energy? 


If chairman Steele is concerned about global warming, he could start by stop spending tribal (federal) money on expensive airline junkets to Copenhagen that burns so much carbon monoxide.   Is he going to ask his Oklahoma Indian brothers to stop working on oil rigs?  Is he going to demand that Canadian Indians stop accepting jobs and lease payments from mining operations?  If he is concerned about carbon emissions, will Mr. Steele stop driving a car?  Flying?  Heating his home and office?


Mr. Steele is not a climatologist and he should stop participating in media-hype and sitting around waiting for a hand-out from Obama.  Mr. Steele should refrain from being drawn into a discussion about issues that he is not familiar. 




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