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I wanted to share a few video clips from the wildfire hearing. I asked the question raised in Wednesday’s discussion about global warming expanding the areas at risk of wildfires, and what is being done to educate the public in those states.

I asked the question both to Forest Service Chief Gail Kimbell:

And to our panel of scientists:

While this was the question I chose, all of your comments and ideas were helpful in preparing for the hearing. In addition to the question on the expansion of at-risk areas,Wednesday's conversation contained several great comments on land use and smart growth strategies that I was tempted to raise. However, I felt it was important to keep the hearing focused on the link between forest fires and global warming.

One of the most interesting points to come from the hearing was Chief Kimbell’s statement that global warming was indeed having an impact on the intensity, frequency and size of wildfires. I applauded her frankness, but was curious why just two weeks ago the White House chose to censor the same statement from Julie Gerberding, Director of Center for Disease Control, when she testified before the Senate. I have more information and a press release on this contradiction located on the Select Committee website.

Thank you again. This was a great exercise in opening up government and the hearing process to a wider audience. I look forward to doing it again.

Originally posted to Senator Ed Markey on Fri Nov 02, 2007 at 10:38 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  more of your coworkers (8+ / 0-)

    should do the same, before they have a committee hearing. You did a very good thing by asking us what our thoughts were.

  •  Hey (5+ / 0-)

    For those of us who can't watch video at work, would someone transcribe what the question actually was?

    Thanks for your work, Congressman, and thanks for keeping us informed.

  •  I'm not curious at all why. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Miss Blue, netguyct

    I know it's because we have a certifiable boob at the helm.  One who gets his advice from a higher "father".

  •  Thanks for asking (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    NYFM, Fabian, Bikemom

    This whole thing reminds me of the stories Grandpa and Dad'd tell about the dirty 30's.  They were ranchers, but did have stands of alfalfa and the like.  They practiced contour plowing in an effort to make sure the soil wouldn't erode.  A minor change in technique, but very effective.  There must be something along that line for wildfires as well.  I still can't get over the WhiteHouse editing Gerberding's report.  

    •  Ironically (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      badger

      Higher than normal rainfall actually contributes to the problem by producing more vegetation => more fuel in following years.

      The base problem is the winds.  Those winds can push the smallest fire into a conflagration.  The winds can ground aircraft that are needed to fight the fire on rugged terrain.  The winds can make the standard fire breaks almost useless.

      The big question is whether climate change will make the Santa Ana winds stronger and occur more often.  If that is the case, then the only real remedy will be regular controlled burns.  It sounds simple, but it would be a tedious and expensive process.  Otherwise with strong winds and ample fuel, there will continue to be widespread catastrophic wild fires.

      No more lies - IMPEACH!

      by Fabian on Fri Nov 02, 2007 at 11:02:42 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Fit Environment (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Fabian

        The winds don't harm as much when the local vegetation has evolved to resist its fire conditions. That's why I asked about alien plant species in the area, and replanting with species evolved to handle the conditions we can't change (not nearly as easily, anyway), like the winds and some small fires started among them.

        "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

        by DocGonzo on Fri Nov 02, 2007 at 11:24:13 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Oh, the vegetation is fine. (0+ / 0-)

          It is a fire ecosystem after all.

          But houses, power lines and other human contrivances have yet to evolve fire resistance.  (Perhaps they should?)

          No more lies - IMPEACH!

          by Fabian on Fri Nov 02, 2007 at 11:27:18 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Is It? (0+ / 0-)

            As I'd pointed out, N California's native redwoods were replaced after clearcutting, with eucalyptus. Redwoods evolved fire retardant coping mechanisms, while eucalyptus evolved the opposite mechanism. Eucalyptus amplifies fires to burn themselves out, but that doesn't happen in the different environment of California than in Australia.

            Is the S California vegetation also native, and using the coping mechanisms evolved in that environment? If so, it's likely the best the vegetation can do. Even though the environment is changing, meddling with the complex system by, say, introducing or modifying to new plants is probably just as arrogant and shortsighted as  was ignoring our effects on the environment. But at least we can just narrow our focus to the other things we do know how to control, like protecting homes, evacuating, and fighting the fires before they get out of control, but letting them play their role in controlling vegetation overgrowth.

            "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

            by DocGonzo on Fri Nov 02, 2007 at 11:42:40 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  The S CA vegetation (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              DocGonzo

              is largely native AFAIK and has been through repeated cycles of explosive growth when rains are heavy and explosive fire during dry seasons, since about forever. It's not hard to find excerpts from the writings of the first Spanish settlers detailing the same fire conditions that exist today, and the archaelogical record pre-dating the Spanish provides support as well.

              In other parts of the west, things like cheat grass and knapweed are serious fire problems, and both are invasives. But largely ecosystems in the western US (with the exception of a few small, very wet coastal areas from N CA to AK) are tuned to repeated fire. What varies is the fire return interval, which can be as short as 5 years or as long as several hundred, and is climate dependent.

              The recent changes in western ecosystems are more due to the exclusion and supression of fire, which was more widespread and frequent prior to European settlement (and of course things like logging and grazing).

              There is no more New Frontier - we have got to make it here - Henley/Frey

              by badger on Fri Nov 02, 2007 at 01:46:55 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

  •  Curious. (0+ / 0-)

    What are the usual speeds of the Santana winds at this time of year?  30-40 mph I have no problem believing, but clocking in at 100 mph?  That's incredible and any wildfire with that kind of wind behind it would be a firestorm.

    No more lies - IMPEACH!

    by Fabian on Fri Nov 02, 2007 at 10:54:20 AM PDT

  •  So Fox News was wrong about (0+ / 0-)

    fires being started by gay terrorists?

    Imagine that.

  •  Excellent Access Method (5+ / 0-)

    Turning to DKos for actual questions to ask actual officials you're holding accountable is an excellent use of the medium. Really of both media: discussion websites and representative democracy. Congratulations on pulling it off, and even more for repeating the success.

    I look forward to your finding a way to get similarly legitimate questions from people on websites not as likely to applaud you. While I favor your soliciting questions from a website I frequent to represent in the public's business, you'll be even more effective when you can represent legitimate questions from websites whose people I disagree with, but with whom I share common ground elsewhere anyway. Because we're all more in common than opposed, in our legitimate interests.

    Best of luck in the innovative progress!

    "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

    by DocGonzo on Fri Nov 02, 2007 at 11:20:46 AM PDT

  •  I really look forward to hearing more (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cfk

    from you, Congressman. This was cool.

    My candidate was virgin-born out of an apple pie left to cool in the shade of an American flag. - Hunter

    by Buffalo Girl on Fri Nov 02, 2007 at 12:50:05 PM PDT

  •  Thank you Congressman! (0+ / 0-)

    And thanks to Adam, for supplying the dial-ups and work lurkers with the question.

    Virginia Wilderness Bill passes House! Thanks for the help, kossacks!

    by emmasnacker on Fri Nov 02, 2007 at 04:12:04 PM PDT

  •  thank you (0+ / 0-)

    this was outstanding. i am glad you want to continue in future and just wish you were my rep. i really appreciate having the video of the testimony.

  •  would love your view on this idea (0+ / 0-)

    i wrote diary to suggest that our prez candidates use kossack advisory panels during campaign so that they can get feedback on issues as they arise during campaign and also on substantive policy. what do you think of idea? would any dems use a KAP? thanks

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