Climate Change: Disaster Courtesy of US Congress

Congressional Climate Change Deniers

U. S. congressional representatives of major energy and development interests continue their long war on climate change. Their chief strategy, deny it, question it, deny its importance, etc.

Oil Refinery Smog

Oil Refineries Create Serious Health Problems in Davis County Utah. Contribute to Climate Change.

The Salt Lake Tribune (March 19, 2013) reports that Republican Chris Stewart, brand new Congressman from Davis County, Utah, and chairman of the House environmental subcommittee,says, “”I’m not as convinced as a lot of people are that man-made climate change is the threat they think it is,” he told The Salt Lake Tribune. “I think it is probably not as immediate as some people do.”

For his 2012 political campaign, Stewart received more than $40,000 from donors associated with the oil and gas industry (Center for Responsive Politics, CRP).  Republicans like Stewart aren’t the only ones to represent big oil.  According to CRP, Democrats that voted in favor of oil company legislation have taken money too.

U. S. land and disaster management agencies prepare

Climate Change Will Increase the Intensity and Frequency of Forest Fires

In a December, 2012 report, the U. S. Forest Service describes what is coming as a result of climate change.  According to the report, the main short-term effects on the national forests will come from the increased intensity and frequency of disturbances.

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“The most rapidly visible and significant short-term effects on forest ecosystems will be caused by altered disturbance regimes, often occurring with increased frequency and severity.  Interacting disturbances will have the biggest effects on ecosystem responses, simultaneously altering species composition, structure, and function.  The type and magnitude of disturbances will differ regionally and will pose significant challenges for resource managers to mitigate and reduce damage to resource values:

  • Wildfire will increase throughout the United States, causing at least a doubling of area burned by the mid-21stcentury.
  • Insect infestations, such as the current advance of bark beetles in forests throughout the Western United States and Canada, will expand, often affecting more land area per year than wildfire.
  • Invasive species will likely become more widespread, especially in areas subject to increased disturbance and in dry forest ecosystems.
  • Increased flooding, erosion, and movement of sediment into streams will be caused by
    • (1) higher precipitation intensity in some regions (e.g., Southern United States),
    • (2) higher rain/snow ratios in mountainous regions (western mountains), and
    • (3) higher area burned (western dry forests).
  • These increases will be highly variable in space and time, affecting decisions about management of roads and other infrastructure, as well as access for users of forest land.
  • Increased drought will exacerbate stress complexes that include insects, fire, and invasive species, leading to higher tree mortality, slow regeneration in some species, and altered species assemblage.

(Vose, James M.; Peterson, David L.; Patel-Weynand, Toral, eds. 2012. Effects of climatic variability and change on forest ecosystems: a comprehensive science synthesis for the U.S. forest sector. Gen. Tech. Rep. PNW-GTR-870. Portland, OR:  U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station. 265 p.).

Of all the many problems faced by our nation and our culture is Money In Politics.  If the U. S. Congress represented the interests of its people, its forests, and its wildlife, the U. S. would have led the fight against human-caused climate change decades ago.  For more on money in politics, go to Common Cause or Open Secrets.

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