Sunday, August 3, 2014

WILD, WILD WILDFIRES -- And more to come

Paul Delaney (Cheney Free Press, 7/31/14) takes exception to the contention that “climate change is the culprit for longer, bigger and more intense wildfires.” According to Delaney, it’s all about forest management.

Well, Washington isn’t the only state fighting longer, bigger and more intense wildfires. Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Oregon, Wyoming, and Utah are all fighting wildfires in triple-digit temperatures, in drought-stricken areas.

The largest of Oregon’s 18 major fires – known as the “Buzzard Complex” and located in the high desert central portion of the state – now totals 272,352 acres and is just 20 percent contained. Ranchers report cows and calves killed in the blaze, which was cause by a lightning strike.
According to the National Interagency Fire Center, we are experiencing an unusual wildfire season, with 32 large active fires going on, most in the Pacific Northwest; over 30,000 blazes nationwide. Governor Inslee said, “I know people have seen fires before. This is a different beast. This is a fire storm.”

According to the Oregon Climate Research Institute, drought-fueled wildfires, exacerbated by an increase in forest morbidity due to pest infestation, is projected as a major impact of global warming in the Pacific Northwest -- a forecast supported by the Climate Impacts Group at the University of Washington.

It’s past time for us to tackle global warming head on. The first priority is to price carbon so that it reflects the costs of carbon pollution. Costs for which we taxpayers end up footing the bill, whether it’s for crop loss due to drought, or declining shellfish harvest due to ocean acidification, or for fighting longer, bigger, more intense wildfires.

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