Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.), a self-proclaimed climate change “skeptic,” is scheduled to visit Montana’s Glacier National Park on Thursday in celebration of the National Park Service’s 100th birthday.
Daines’ office announced his trip in an email advisory Wednesday, saying the senator would join other Instagram users at a park “InstaMeet,” an event that brings park visitors together to “make friends, take photos, and exchange ideas.”
The idea that man-made climate change is fueling the retreat of the park’s namesake glaciers, however, is likely not something Daines will be entertaining.
In a 2014 interview with Montana Public Radio, Daines said “the jury is still out” about whether fossil fuels contribute to climate change. He said he’s seen “very good data” suggesting there are other contributing factors, including solar cycles.
“Climate change,” Daines told the radio station, “is very real. The climate is always changing, it’s either warming or it’s cooling. The climate is dynamic, it’s not static ... I think the question certainly is what part does man-made climate change factor [into] this equation, certainly with CO2 and greenhouse gases. And I think there’s just still reasonable debate here, whether or not it is a significant part of this or not.”
That kind of comment makes most climate scientists cringe. Studies suggest that 97 percent or more of scientists who are actively publishing research believe climate-warming trends over the past century are very likely due to human activities.
A visit to Glacier National Park is a front-row seat to the severity of the problem. In 1850, there were roughly 150 glaciers in the area. Today, there are just 25, many “mere remnants of what they once were,” according to the National Park Service.
“If the current rate of warming persists, scientists predict the glaciers in Glacier National Park will be completely gone by the year 2030, if not earlier,” the park service writes on its website.
In a Facebook Live interview with The Huffington Post this week, Bill Nye “The Science Guy” said that during a recent trip to Glacier, park rangers told him they expect all the glaciers to be gone in five or six years.
“So it will be Sandy Hillside National Park,” Nye joked.
For anyone who runs into Daines on Thursday, ask if he’s concerned about the park losing the glaciers that have carved its landscape and have drawn more than 100 million visitors.
Daines’ office did not respond to The Huffington Post’s request for comment Wednesday.
In April, Daines was among more than two dozen Republican senators who asked Secretary of State John Kerry to cut funding for the United States’ involvement in United Nations effort to address climate change.