“A spark neglected makes a mighty fire.”
We have seen a record number of devastating wildfires in the Western United States. 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.
The Select Committee examined these issues on Thursday, Nov 1st at a hearing entitled “Wildfires and the Climate Crisis.”
Chairman Markey also sent a “Dear Colleague” letter on the subject on October 19th where he pointed to a study published in Science in 2006 (Below).
For additional resource information on the California wildfires, we urge you to visit Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s website, www.speaker.gov, which has compiled a helpful list of links to information and recovery efforts.
Markey Faults Bush Admin. for Suppressing “Wildfires of Scientific Accuracy” in Climate Discussion
Forest Chief Testifies to What Disease Chief Could Not
In the Select Committee hearing on Wildfires, the Chief of the Forest Service, Gail Kimbell, took the position that global warming was having a noticeable effect on the size of the area burned and the intensity and the frequency of wildfires in the United States. This testimony essentially contradicts White House handlers who just two weeks ago muzzled the Director of the Center for Disease Control Julie Gerberding from testifying to virtually the same facts before Congress.
CLICK HERE for more.
WILDFIRE QUESTIONS TAKEN ONLINE
Chairman Markey went online and asked Daily Kos readers for their thoughts on wildfires and climate change. To view the conversation CLICK HERE. One of the questions was even featured during the hearing.
10 AM THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 1, 2007
Contact: Select Committee, 202-225-4012
A Spark Neglected: Wildfires and Global Warming
Select Committee to Examine Link Between Changing Climate, Frequency and Intensity of Wildfires
Following the devastating fires in Southern California, the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming will hold a hearing examining the scientific link between a changing climate and the frequency and intensity of wildfires.
Witnesses will discuss the present effects of climate change on wildfires and contributing factors such as increased drought, changes in snowmelt patterns, changes in precipitation, and higher temperatures. In addition, mitigation and adaptation strategies will be discussed.
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 a record 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.
WHAT: Select Committee Hearing, "Wildfires and the Climate Crisis"
WHEN: Thursday, November 1st, 2007, 10 AM
WHERE: 2172 Rayburn House Office Building, Washington, DC
Or on the web at globalwarming.house.gov
- 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
Dear Colleague Letter
Record-Breaking Forest Fires in Western United States
Increasingly Fueled By Global Warming
October 19, 2007
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." 
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. For further information please contact Stephanie Herring or Morgan Gray on my staff at x5-4012. Thank you.
Edward J. Markey
Member of Congress
Links to Science Magazine article here.
The Select Committee was active during the 110th and 111th Congresses. This is an archived version of the website, to ensure that the public has ongoing access to the Select Committee record. This website, including external links, will not be updated after Jan. 3rd, 2010.
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