Following the devastating fires in Southern California, the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming will hold a hearing on Thursday Nov 1st at 10 AM to examine the scientific link between a changing climate and the frequency and intensity of wildfires.
In an effort to expand the dialogue around this issue, I am seeking ideas, thoughts and questions prior to the hearing. Please have a look at the hearing information below and then post your thoughts in the comment section of this blog. Time for Q&A is limited during Congressional hearings, but I will read all posts beforehand in an effort to inject your ideas into this important debate.
The frequency and intensity of wildfires have increased in recent decades throughout the Western United States. Last year, the Forest Service spent a record $2.5 billion fighting wildfires that burned 9.9 million acres (4 million hectares), compared to the ten-year average of 6 million acres. This year, 8.7 million acres have burned thus far. The current fires burning in California are expected to cause over $1 billion in property damage alone and have already burned an area the size of Rhode Island. Mounting scientific evidence indicates that the growth in wildfires is linked to global warming and that this trend is likely to intensify in the coming decades.
Witnesses for the hearing will discuss the impact of climate change on wildfires. They will also discuss contributing factors such as increased drought, changes in snowmelt patterns, changes in precipitation, higher temperatures, mitigation and adaptation strategies.
Witnesses include:* Abigail Kimbell, Chief, U.S. Forest Service * Dr. Steven Running, Professor of Ecology, University of Montana * Michael Francis, Director of Forest Program and Deputy Vice President, Wilderness Society * Dr. Michael Medler, Member of Firefighters United for Safety Ethics and Ecology, Assistant Professor at Huxley College
I look forward to your comments and ideas. I will be checking throughout the day, and wilfollow up after the hearing. Please be sure to watch a live webcast of the hearing via our website, on Thursday morning at 10AM, and thank you again.