Rep. Markey on Wildfire-Climate Connection 12

Posted by Brad Johnson Fri, 26 Oct 2007 20:35:00 GMT

Last week, Markey sent this dear colleague letter (forwarded to Hill Heat) on the connection between wildfires and global warming, the subject of a Global Warming Committee hearing next week:

Record-Breaking Forest Fires in Western United State Increasingly Fueled By Global Warming

October 19, 2007

Dear Colleague,

Evidence shows that as a result of global warming, forest fires in our western states are burning more frequently and with greater intensity than we have ever seen before. Last year was the worst fire season in recorded history and this season is already second, with eight million acres burned.

What has brought this change about? A study published in the journal Science in 2006 revealed the frightening conclusion that global warming is contributing to the increased loss of our forests to fire. This publication revealed the impact of global warming, even while controlling for land use and management practices which also effect forest fires.

According to the Science paper, “Wildfires have consumed increasing areas of western United States forests in recent years, and fire-fighting expenditures by federal land-management agencies now regularly exceed US$1 billion/year. Hundreds of homes are burned annually by wildfires, and damages to natural resources are sometimes extreme and irreversible.” [1]

Global Warming’s impact on fires in the West and the threat that an increasing number of wild fires pose will be featured on 60 Minutes this Sunday, Oct. 21, at 7 p.m. ET/PT. 60 Minutes will speak with author Tom Swetnam, an author on the 2006 Science paper, on the role global warming has played on the frequency and intensity of these mega-fires. I encourage you watch this program to learn more about this important issue.

Sincerely,

Edward J. Markey

Member of Congress

[1] C. Whitlock, Nature 432, 28 (2004).

See also Is Global Warming Causing More, Larger Wildfires? (Running, Science v313. no.5789, pp. 927-928) and Warming and Earlier Spring Increase Western U.S. Forest Wildfire Activity (Westerling et al., Science v313 no.5789, pp. 940-943)

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