Living with Climate Change: Wildfires

Posted by Brad Johnson Mon, 13 Jun 2022 17:00:00 GMT

The Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI) invites you to a briefing on policies and practices to address wildfires. Billions of dollars are spent fighting wildfires every year, and the cascading economic, health, and societal impacts of wildfires are enormous. Compounding these challenges, wildfires also release greenhouse gases and harmful aerosols into the atmosphere. Over the last century, battling wildfires after they have started has been the main approach to address this threat. Yet, with record-setting fire seasons happening almost every year, more proactive and preventative steps are needed.

Panelists will discuss policies and practices that would allow the United States to reduce the overall risk of wildfires, including how innovations in community-centered wildfire protection can improve resilience for humans and ecosystems.

  • Rep. Joe Neguse (D-Colo.)
  • Carly Phillips, Western States Climate Team Fellow, Union of Concerned Scientists
  • Kimiko Barrett, Wildfire Research & Policy Lead, Headwaters Economics
  • Margo Robbins, Executive Director, Cultural Fire Management Council
  • Steve Bowen, Managing Director and Head of Catastrophe Insight, Aon

A live webcast will be streamed at 01:00 PM EDT.


Meeting with Governors on 2021 Wildfires

Posted by Brad Johnson Fri, 30 Jul 2021 15:45:00 GMT

The President and The Vice President meet with Governors to discuss ongoing efforts to strengthen wildfire prevention, preparedness and response efforts, and hear firsthand about the ongoing impacts of the 2021 wildfire season, which are growing more severe.

From CNN:
The virtual meeting will last an hour with governors whose states are experiencing wildfires and drought: Govs. Greg Gianforte of Montana, Jay Inslee of Washington, Gavin Newsom of California, Brad Little of Idaho, Kate Brown of Oregon, Tim Walz of Minnesota and Mark Gordon of Wyoming.

Biden and Harris will discuss efforts to strengthen wildfire prevention, preparedness, mitigation and response efforts, and will hear how an early and severe wildfire season is impacting residents and land in the states. The group is also expected to discuss funding and investing in wildland firefighters, including increasing pay for federal firefighters who are battling blazes, and extending hiring for temporary firefighters.

The White House on Friday will also announce two new interagency working groups pointed at the impact wildfires and extreme heat. Biden’s National Climate Task force, which is chaired by National Climate Advisor Gina McCarthy, will announce a Wildfire Resilience Interagency Working Group, and an Extreme Heat Interagency Working Group.

The Wildfire Resilience Interagency Group will be chaired by US Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland, while the Extreme Heat Interagency Working Group will be chaired by Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Administrator Dr. Richard Spinrad, and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan. There are 82 large fires burning in the West this week. Around 3.4 million acres have been burned in wildfires so far this year.

Heat, Fires, and the Climate Connection

Posted by Brad Johnson Thu, 08 Jul 2021 17:00:00 GMT

The wildfires forecast this summer in the American West could be the biggest climate story of 2021 (until November’s Glasgow summit). And the unprecedented heat waves now scorching much of the American West are another painful sign that the climate emergency is here. Conditions are likely to worsen as much of the region is suffering severe drought and the hottest months of the year are still to come. Good journalism will not only inform people how to stay safe, but also make the climate connection to communicate what’s driving the dangers at hand.

To talk about how to cover the story, please join Covering Climate Now for our next Talking Shop webinar. We’ll discuss the science behind the heat wave, drought, and wildfires; the extreme weather that is also afflicting countries throughout the world; and how journalists can cover these stories in ways that connect with their audiences.

All bona fide journalists are invited to attend, even if their newsrooms are not formal partners of CCNow.


Mark Hertsgaard, CCNow’s executive director, and the environment correspondent for The Nation, will moderate.


Thursday, July 8th at 1pm US Eastern Time/10am US Pacific Time.


Reserve your spot here — You can submit your questions ahead of time in the RSVP form or during the Q&A portion of the webinar.

Questions? Please email [email protected]

In 1957, Climate Scientist Warned Congress That Fossil-Fueled Global Warming Could Turn California Into A Desert

Posted by Brad Johnson Thu, 10 Sep 2020 17:18:00 GMT

Dr. Roger Revelle (seated, far right) testifies before Congress, May 1, 1957. (Roger Revelle papers, UCSD)

Unprecedented heat and wildfires driven by fossil-fueled global warming are ravaging the forests of California and the Pacific Northwest – in line with scientific predictions to the U.S. Congress from the 1950s.

Over sixty-three years ago, physical oceanographer Roger Revelle testified to Congress that fossil-fueled climate change could turn southern California and most of Texas into “real deserts.”

On May 1, 1957, Dr. Revelle testified at the hearing on appropriations for the International Geophysical Year, Independent Offices Subcommittee, House Committee on Appropriations:

The last time that I was here I talked about the responsibility of climatic changes due to the changing carbon dioxide content of the atmosphere and you will remember that I mentioned the fact that during the last 100 years there apparently has been a slight increase in the carbon dioxide because of the burning of coal and oil and natural gas.

If we look at the probable amounts of these substances that will be burned in the future, it is fairly easy to predict that the carbon dioxide content of the atmosphere could easily increase by about 20 percent. This might, in fact, make a considerable change in the climate. It would mean that the lines of equal temperature on the earth would move north and the lines of equal rainfall would move north and that southern California and a good part of Texas, instead of being just barely livable as they are now, would become real deserts.

Atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations in 1957 were 315 parts per million. It reached 378 ppm, Revelle’s cautioned 20 percent increase, in 2004.

In 2015, California Gov. Jerry Brown announced the state’s first-ever mandatory water use restrictions.

As of September 2020, the planet is now at 410 ppm, a 30 percent increase.

Revelle’s testimony in the previous year in support of federal funding to monitor atmospheric and oceanic carbon dioxide levels was the first time that manmade global warming was discussed in the Congressional record.

“We are making perhaps the greatest geophysical experiment in history,” he said on March 8, 1956, “an experiment which could not be made in the past because we didn’t have an industrial civilization and which will be impossible to make in the future because all the fossil fuels will be gone.”

Revelle also noted that regional shifts in climate in the past led to “the rise and fall and complete decay of many civilizations.”

In response to questions from Rep. Sydney Yates (D-Ill.) and Rep. Albert Thomas (D-Texas), Dr. Revelle elucidated further:

People talk about making fresh water out of sea water. God does that for them far better than any man ever could. He evaporates three feet of water on every square foot of the ocean every year. The problem is that the distribution system is bad. The water coming from the ocean moves over the land but mostly over the northern and southern parts of the land, and this circulation pattern, or transport of water vapor from the sea to the land and the precipitation on the land, apparently shifts with the temperature; at least we think it does, and there seems to be a broad belt called the horse latitudes between the equatorial regions and the belt of cyclonic storms where the precipitation is minimal.

If you increase the temperature of the earth, the north latitude belt, which covers most of the western part of the United States and the Southwest, would move to the north.

“Only God knows whether what I am saying is true or not,” Revelle concluded. But his understanding of the science of fossil-fueled global warming has now been proven correct. The climate of southern California has undergone a phase shift to a persistently hotter, drier regime — a permanent shift if action is not taken to end the burning of fossil fuels and reduce the concentration of industrial greenhouse pollution in the atmosphere.

Transcript of Revelle’s testimony, under the heading “EFFECTS OF FOSSIL FUELS ON CLIMATE

WonkLine: May 8, 2009

Posted by Wonk Room Fri, 08 May 2009 14:31:00 GMT

From the Wonk Room.


“Thousands more people have been forced to flee their homes as strong winds drive fierce wildfires” fueled by “temperatures in the 90s, dry air and wind gusts as high as 40 miles per hour” in California, now in a state of emergency.

“Climate change is the greatest strategic risk facing property and casualty insurers”: Studies conducted in the last few years have demonstrated that “global warming is causing wildfires in the Western U.S. to occur more frequently, last longer, and cover more ground than they did in the past,” and “more and more severe wildfires will raise insurance rates, too.”

An unusually warm spring thaw in Alaska is causing some of the state’s worst flooding in decades, with rising rivers wiping out an entire village,” forcing Gov. Sarah Palin (R-AK) to declare a disaster for the flooded areas and to cancel her attendance at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner.

WonkLine: April 24, 2009

Posted by Wonk Room Fri, 24 Apr 2009 17:51:00 GMT

From the Wonk Room.


As a wildfire in Myrtle Beach on the South Carolina coast “spread over thousands of acres by early Friday” and a “7,500-acre-plus blaze” raged in South Florida, scientists reported that “wildfires spur climate change, which in turn makes blazes bigger, more frequent and more damaging to the environment.”

Rep. Gene Green (D-TX), who “represents a district with several oil refineries, a huge source of greenhouse gas emissions, said about the Waxman-Markey clean energy bill, “they have to get our votes, and I’m not going to vote for a bill without refinery allowances.”

Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY), a prominent coal industry advocate, asked administration nominees whether they agreed with comments this week by Jon Wellinghoff, chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, that no new nuclear or coal plants may ever be needed in the United States.

WonkLine: April 15, 2009

Posted by Wonk Room Wed, 15 Apr 2009 16:29:00 GMT

From the Wonk Room.

Wildfires fueled by “high winds and bone-dry conditionsraged through Oklahoma and Texas, burning over 200,000 acres of land. In Texas, the fires destroyed two towns and killed three people, while in Oklahoma, “losses from wildfires could reach $20 million dollars.”

Michigan officials “announced investments in four new operations that would employ several thousand workers” in advanced battery production collectively worth about $1.7 billion. The projects “illustrate the state’s burgeoning hold on the vehicle battery production market.”

St. Louis-based Peabody Energy Corp, the world’s largest coal company, announced “first-quarter profit tripled” to $170 million.

Forest Service Oversight

Posted by Brad Johnson Wed, 11 Mar 2009 13:30:00 GMT

  • Robin Nazzaro, director for natural resources and the environment, GAO
  • Phyllis Fong, inspector general,Agriculture Department
E&E News:
House appropriators will delve into the state of the Forest Service on Wednesday, likely focusing on the escalating cost of wildfires and the agency’s fire management plans.

The session is one in a series of pre-budget hearings designed to get assessments and input from federal watchdogs on the operation of agencies overseen by the Interior Appropriations Subcommittee.

One inescapable topic is how to fix the Forest Service’s budget problems due to wildfire costs. In recent years, the agency has run out of firefighting money and had to transfer hundreds of millions from its other programs to cover the wildfire costs, causing major disruptions to its other priorities.

The Obama administration wants to create a new contingent reserve fund for catastrophic wildfires. The fund would be tapped only if federal agencies exhaust regularly budgeted money for wildfires, which would continue to be fully funded based on the 10-year average cost of fire suppression.

The discretionary reserve fund would include $75 million for Interior agencies and $282 million for the Forest Service for firefighting. The fund would be tapped into after the $1.1 billion appropriated 10-year average runs out.

Schwarzenegger: In California, It's 'Fire Season All Year Round'

Posted by Wonk Room Tue, 18 Nov 2008 23:45:00 GMT

From the Wonk Room.

In a weekend interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R-CA) talks of the impact of global warming on California’s wildfires. Climate change is lowering snowpack in the Rockies and increasing droughts, heat waves and lightning strikes, stoking more intense fires over a longer season:

Through global warming, we have now fire season all year round. We used to have fire seasons only in the fall, but now the fire seasons start in February already, so this means that we have to really upgrade, have more resources, more fire engines, more manpower and all of this, which does cost extra money.
Watch it:

By May of this year wildfires were raging at levels traditionally seen only in July. After California’s driest spring in 114 years of recordkeeping, 1700 wildfires set a record 840,000 acres ablaze from June to July, costing the state more than $200 million. Fires in the past month, the worst in the Los Angeles area in four decades, have destroyed over 1000 homes. “Through last week, 1.24 million acres burned in California, the most since 1970, when consistent, modern records were first kept.”

Last month, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) called for the Bush administration to end delays in assistance, saying, “As the climate warms and wildland fires become bigger and more intense, a rapid response is critical to prevent the spread of fires.”

Markup of wildfire management and other bills

Posted by Brad Johnson Thu, 17 Apr 2008 18:00:00 GMT

The House Natural Resources Committee, led by Chairman Nick J. Rahall (D-WV), will meet in open markup session to mark up the following bills:

  • H.R. 5541 (Rahall): To provide a supplemental funding source for catastrophic emergency wildland fire suppression activities on Department of the Interior and National Forest System lands, to require the Secretary of the Interior and the Secretary of Agriculture to develop a cohesive wildland fire management strategy, and for other purposes. “Federal Land Assistance, Management and Enhancement Act or FLAME Act”
  • H.R. 3522 (T. Udall): To ratify a conveyance of a portion of the Jicarilla Apache Reservation to Rio Arriba County, State of New Mexico, pursuant to the settlement of litigation between the Jicarilla Apache Nation and Rio Arriba County, State of New Mexico, to authorize issuance of a patent for said lands, and to change the exterior boundary of the Jicarilla Apache Reservation accordingly, and for other purposes.
  • S. 2457 (Lieberman): A bill to provide for extensions of leases of certain land by Mashantucket Pequot (Western) Tribe.
  • H.R. 1575 (Stupak): To reaffirm and clarify the Federal relationship of the Burt Lake Band as a distinct federally recognized Indian Tribe, and for other purposes. “Burt Lake Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians Reaffirmation Act”
  • H.R. 3490 (Radanovich): To transfer administrative jurisdiction of certain Federal lands from the Bureau of Land Management to the Bureau of Indian Affairs, to take such lands into trust for Tuolumne Band of Me-Wuk Indians of the Tuolumne Rancheria, and for other purposes. “Tuolumne Me-Wuk Land Transfer Act of 2007”

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