Muftic: Wildfires heat up partisan politics and the global warming debate
Here I am sitting in my living room above Fraser with my view of Byers Peak some 10 miles away across the Fraser River Valley disappearing in a smoky haze and watching television reports of the devastating record breaking Carr/Mendocino Complex fire in northern California. Colorado wildfires’ smoke plumes blowing my way are fueled by beetle killed trees the like of which I have never seen in my 50 years of full- and part-time living in the valley. Does it have anything to do with global warming or climate change? Yes. There is a relationship, but politics color our opinions and actions and it depends upon whether you are a Democrat, Republican, or a Green. Partisan views get in the way of believing scientific evidence and shaping effective and rational policies. The Trump administration is the leader in denying the science. A March 2018 Gallup poll found that Democrats take global warming seriously, Republicans are skeptical with 69 percent of Republicans say global warming is exaggerated.
With a warming globe, whether wildfires are caused by lightning as two near my home were, or were started by human activity, the problem is the increase in fuel. If you ever tried to get a campfire or a fireplace logs catching fire, you know dry fuel ignites easier, burns hotter, spreads faster. Global warming temperatures cause early snow melt and ground and foliage to dry out in California. In Colorado, beetle killed gray ghosts of lodgepole pines occupy much of the mountain landscape and fuel many wildfires. Per the U.S. Department of Agriculture, warming winters have not killed off the beetles as they once did and dense growth makes it easy for insects to infect the next tree. World meteorologists agree that rates of wildfires burning forests have not been seen for at least the last 10,000 years.
In recent years, producers of coal, oil, and gas (fossil fuels) have poured massive amounts of money into GOP candidates and elections. To promote an anti-climate change mantra the Trump administration not only pulled out of the Paris Climate accord, it has purged any White House reference to global warming/climate change. Aug. 5, Donald Trump ignorantly tried to claim California wildfires were caused by a environmental policy engineered water shortage, but reservoirs were full. In addition, the Trump administration has filled policy making bodies with fossil fuel executives who either deny global warming is occurring or contend that fossil fuels are not the cause. His pro fossil fuel appointees have been taking steps to weaken rules regarding coal powered plant and future automobile emissions standards.
Some believe global warming is just a natural cycle. No. It is the speed and extremes that are unnatural. It is a data proven fact that the globe has rapidly heated up by two degrees since the industrial revolution began 150 years ago and predictions are the earth will heat up two degrees more by the end of this century. Per NASA, 97 percent of scientists agree it is “extremely likely” the warming is caused by emissions by humans. Gases act like a greenhouse roof and keep heat from released to space, so the earth warms. Per the Environmental Protection Agency, the gases released by burning fossil fuels are the “largest source” of these greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide). There are those who call this “fake science,” but Kate Marvel, writing for the magazine Scientific American’s blog summed up the scientific community rebuttal to the science deniers ” … overturning that understanding would take a radical paradigm shift that would call into question much of what we know about physics and chemistry.”
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This is only a summary of the issues, but for those who want to know what main sources of data and information influenced me are linked at http://www.mufticforumblog.blogspot.com.
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