We are being robbed

There are many things that I absolutely love about living in Utah. Having the opportunity to run in the Wasatch is not lost on me at all. And to top it off, after living here for about a year now (that was fast), I have made some good friends that make Utah a fun place to be.

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Despite loving my home, sometimes it can be hard to live in a state with such blatant disregard for environmental conservation. I feel like I am constantly protesting some legislature and I am always getting emails from the Sierra Club about new problems. It’s depressing.  Even though this has little to do with running, I still think you should know what the Utah (and national) government has in store for this place. Keep in mind, this doesn’t just affect me. Much of the land in Utah is federal and protected by either the National Park Service or the Bureau of Land Management. This land is your land too.

The Fight for Bears Ears and Grand Staircase Escalante National Monuments

National Monuments, much like National Parks, are managed by the Department of the Interior. Often National Parks start out as National Monuments, which generally have more minimal management and staff and less stringent rules about what can be done within the area. While a National Park may not allow grazing or hunting, often times National Monuments do. New National Monuments can be made through the Antiquities Act (started by Theodore Roosevelt) that allows a sitting president to declare federal land a new monument without the approval of congress. Many of our past presidents have done this, including Barack Obama, who declared the controversial Bears Ears National Monument in southeast Utah.

Utah has the Mighty Five National Parks (Zion, Bryce, Capitol Reef, Canyonlands, and Arches) but also seven National Monuments and two National Recreation Areas, all of which are managed by the Department of the Interior. The National Parks alone amount for an estimated $1.7 billion in the state of Utah. We are a state that specializes in outdoor recreation and ecotourism.

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Despite the obvious economic benefit of Utah’s parks, the state and the federal government are fighting to reduce two of our largest National Monuments. On December 4, President Trump rescinded 85% of Bears Ears National Monument and over 50% of Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument in a proclamation that undid years of environmental progress. It is currently being fought in a legal battle between the Federal Government versus Patagonia (the retailer), REI, and the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition (Hopi, Ute, Ute Mountain Ute, Navajo Nation, and Zuni Tribes). As of last week, leases for drilling became available for land within the previous boundaries of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase.

This fight should be important to us all. The federal government and the state of Utah stole land from every American and have shown no respect or regards for the wants and needs of Native peoples. Even if you have no plans to ever visit these places, this land has been taken time and time again from Natives, despite the many archeological sites within the monuments of ancient pueblans and tribes. When left without management from the Department of the Interior, Bears Ears National Monument is subjected to grave robbing of native sites, and now is open for drilling.

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Frank and I went to Bears Ears a few months back. What we found is hard to put into words. We went on hikes with towering cliffs, upon which were small shelters high up where I imagined no human could get to. Everywhere we went went we found the remnants of ancient cultures. It was a silent place, but it was as if we could still hear the people who once walked this land.

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I’ve also been to Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument, which is covered with slots so tiny, we could barely fit. These places are unique and special and worth preserving. Each of these photos were taking within the bounds of these precious monuments and these scenes are not hard to find, you just need to go for a walk (or a run).

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So, here I ask for help. Contact your local legislators about this and tell them that you do not support Trump’s overreach on our lands. Donate to the Native American Rights Fund. Donate to the Sierra Club. They are making a huge difference in this fight. This is not my fight or Utah’s fight. This is everyone’s fight.

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Weekend Adventures in Arches NP

Happy Monday everyone! I hope you had a great weekend. Here’s what Frank and I were up to.

Friday after work, we picked up a friend of ours (yes, we made a friend in Salt Lake City!) and drove down to Moab for a few canyons and a science march. We spent the night camping and woke up at 5:30 for an early start in Arches National Park.

By about 9:30 am, the crowds in Arches are pretty wild, so we made it to the trailhead at 7:00 and hiked into a beautiful canyon called U-Turn.

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U-turn is a pretty nice beginner canyon with a 95-foot repel at the end.

Since Frank works as an ecologist, after the canyon we made sure to go to a science march in Moab. Despite the very small population size, there were over 200 people in attendance. We grabbed a few signs showing our support for Bear Ears National Monument and for land conservation. It was great to see so many people in support of science and conservation.

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After the march (and lunch), we hit up an incredibly beautiful canyon called Medieval Chamber. This canyon had all of the best things Utah has to offer, slots, and arches. The end had us repelling next to a giant arch, with a rather big audience at the bottom.

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The awesome 100-ft repel between the canyon walls and Morning Star Arch
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My audience as I came down the repel… pretty weird.

After the long trek back to the car, we watched the sunset at Dead Horse Point and ate some tacos. Pretty much a perfect end to a perfect day.

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Areli working on some dinner.
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Frank and I at the Dead Horse Point Overlook

The next morning we got up at a more reasonable 7:00 am and quickly packed up to get back into Arches NP for one more canyon.

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Frank had some pretty great morning hair.

Elephant Butte is the highest point in the park, but in order to summit, you need to repel down 100 ft into a canyon that leads to the summit. It’s a fantastic route and definitely had some pretty epic photo ops.

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Coming down the 100-ft repel into the canyon leading to the summit.
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Frank on the last repel down Elephant Butte.

After Elephant Butte, we hopped on the road and made it back to SLC early enough for me to go for an easy 5-mile run.

Next weekend I’ll be back in Moab for some more canyons and some climbing. I feel like I basically live in Moab!

How was your weekend? Have you visited any National Parks lately? What is the closest one to you?

Let’s talk about science

This is a running blog, but today, we’re gonna talk about science.

The scientific method is a process of asking questions and answering those questions with evidence collected by the observer. As humans, we are very good at recognizing patterns, but sometimes our preconceptions get in the way of that recognition which causes us to see things that are not really there (or not see things that are). The scientific method is our way around it. It is strict, rigid and requires analysis of the evidence we collected.

The history of science goes back as long has humans have, and although versions of the scientific method have always been in use, it’s beginnings are generally attributed to Aristotle. There are two things that set the scientific method apart from just general data collection; (1) that you ask the question with a hypothesis BEFORE you collect the data, and (2) that you do not PROVE anything, you just disprove your hypothesis.

Example:

If I am curious about climate change and it’s causes, I do not start collecting data about CO2 levels in the atmosphere until I have a hypothesis.

Hypothesis: The temperature of the planet is rising because of rising CO2 levels in the atmosphere.

 Observation: I collect data on the CO2 levels in the atmosphere along with temperatures of the planet through soil cores, which allows me to know what those temperatures and CO2 levels were in the past. I collect data that tells me what the temperatures and CO2 levels have been for the past 200 years. (don’t worry, I’m just skipping over methods, but assume I have good ones, which climate scientists do)

What did I find? CO2 levels and temperatures both are going up at about the same rate since the industrial revolution, while they remain largely stable before that.

Conclusions (this is important): I cannot disprove the hypothesis that CO2 levels cause a rise in the overall global temperature.

Ok… so why was the conclusion so important? The real power of the scientific method comes from disproving a hypothesis, NOT proving it. It might seem like weird rhetoric, but it is unbelievably important. My experiment to test the hypothesis that CO2 levels are causing a rise in the global temperature did not prove anything at all. CO2 levels and temperature could be rising at the same time due to some outside factor. All I can say after my experiment is that I cannot reject my hypothesis that rising CO2 levels are causing a rise in the global temperature.

So… now that we got how the scientific method works down, lets talk about science a little.

Science has always been rejected by the general public, even when the evidence for a particular theory was overwhelming. We need only look to Galileo, who tested the idea of heliocentrism (that the sun is the center of the solar system). His ideas, although supported by evidence-based science, were fought by the church because they went against the perception that the Earth was the center. Now, going back to the scientific method, a lot of that resistance to Galileo’s ideas has to do with how the science was framed. Galileo did not PROVE that the sun was the center, he simply DISPROVED that the Earth was and could not disprove heliocentrism. There could have been an entirely different explanation. But all Galileo could do was disprove his hypothesis.

It turned out he was right.

Galileo was the most famous case of science denial in history, but this same thing happened again and again. We still, as a country, are resistant to Charles Darwin’s findings about evolution, despite the evidence that is on his side.

Let’s go back to climate change.

The evidence for human caused global warming is unbelievably overwhelming. The trajectory of our climate is a scary one. Scientists predict a potential 6 C rise in the global temperature over the next 100 years. THIS IS SOMETHING THAT MUST BE TALKED ABOUT. However, Donald Trump instituted a gag-order over all science produced by the EPA, National Park Service, USDA, etc. His administration has even gone so far as to force scientists to run their science by him and his politicians before they can release their findings to the public. That means that we have added a new step to the scientific method in America. After your conclusions, you must make sure that it is approved by Trump.

THIS IS NOT SCIENCE.

Due to the real power of the scientific method, science always has a way of coming out… and it always wins. Unfortunately, our science right now suggests that if we continue on the path we are on, the global temperature will cause for unlivable conditions on this planet. Yeah, science is right and will prevail, but we may not.

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The X-axis is year, Y-axis on right is average global temperature, and Y-axis on the left is CO2 in parts per million in the atmosphere. This shows the correlation between temperature and CO2 levels.

I don’t mean to sound like an alarmist, but this stuff is real. This is our reality right now. No alternative facts, just truth. Climate change is the big issue of our time and how we act right now will have effects on generations to come.

Don’t be scared. Be vigilant. Call your congressperson, senators, the white house, etc. Call your policy makers and remind them of the real power of the scientific method. Remind them that science is real and that it is going nowhere. Climate change is not a conspiracy theory. The evidence is there. We just have to listen.