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Lions Roar : March 2006
// / Topography of Gannett, Desolation, and Rampart Peaks in the Wind River Mountain Range. The sky blazes. Shoshone storytellers once said that Cottontail saved the earth from burning up. The sun was too strong and, after several tries, the rabbit knocked the glowing orb out of the sky with his fire drill. The sun fell. Cottontail cut the sun's chest open, took out its gall bladder, and from it made a new sun and a moon that would shine, but not too hard or too long in a world where day would alternate with night. A tree-engine churns as wind roars up its white trunk and the sky is thrown into surging planes of gray and black. Lightning dangles-the sky's lost jewelry. A piece of a rainbow hangs down from a cloud. Rain drives at a diagonal from above a ridge. The night grows cold. How brief summer is here: July still feels like spring but by mid-August, there'll be snow. THE REGIONAL AND GLOBAL CRISIS we are feeling seems surreal. Climate change is being driven by human -caused pollution. Glaciers are melting, species extinctions are rampant, and the alarming warming trend of the weather is accelerating. The temperature increase at high elevations on Fremont Peak is 3.5 degrees Celsius. At the same time, the oil and gas industry (the source of all greenhouse gas pollution) is forcing its way into these regions of extraor- dinary mountains and valleys. Air pollution is now a problem; the 6,OOO-year-old migration of antelope, the longest migration corridor in the lower forty-eight, is severely threatened; and glaciers in the Winds have receded dra- matically since 1986. The concept of beauty itself, and its necessary place in human soci- ety, is no longer recognized. Climate change is most obvious in the Arc- tic where the thickness of seasonal sea ice has gone from an average of twenty- five inches. But if you look closely enough, you'll see it is happening everywhere. Two years ago, during an unseasonably hot summer in the fifth year of drought, there was an outburst flood- what glaciologists call a jokulhlaup-and a thirty-acre, ice-dammed lake at the head of >- page 104