Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Will Growing Wildfires Tip Opinion on Global Warming?

You see the wildfires in record acreage, burning for days and days, covering more and more territory in California, New Mexico, Colorado. You wonder: will this break people's being stone-deaf to the reality of global warming.
Will people get burned out of their home or hosting others that have been burned out of their home saying, "gee, the fires are getting worse. I wonder if human activity has anything to do with this?"
(The above picture is of a Waldo Canyon fire in Colorado Springs, Colorado.)
One Colorado-based writer and Democratic strategist has written a great rejoinder to George Will's arrogant "Get over it" on ABC's Sunday political talk television show, "The Week." (See this video link on George's wisdom.) Here are her terrific "How Can George Will Still Deny Global Warming?" on U.S. News and World Reports' site:
LAKEWOOD, COLO.—On ABC News's This Week this past Sunday morning, climate change denier George Will had an interesting take on the wildfires in the west and the powerful thunderstorms in the east:
How do we explain the heat? One word: summer. I grew up in Central Illinois in a house that had no air conditioning. What is so unusual about this? ... We're having some hot weather. Get over it.

In the words of Saturday Night Live: "Really?"
Memo from Colorado and the west: These pictures look like a little bit more than "summer".
[See Photos of Erratic Western Wildfires.]
I challenge Mr. Will to say "get over it" to the faces of the families that lost more than 700 homes in my state. I challenge Mr. Will to say "get over it" to the thousands of firefighters—many of whom lack insurance—who worked backbreaking shifts battling the Waldo Canyon Fire, the High Park Fire, the Flagstaff Fire, and any of the dozens of wildfires that have burned in Colorado and the West in the past couple of months.
As the AP put it, this summer is what global warming looks like. According to the New York Times on June 28, "There was agreement that this week's events fit into a pattern of extreme weather events and catastrophic fires that climate scientists predict will only worsen in decades to come."
This picture also looks like a bit more than "hot". That would be the United States Air Force Falcons football stadium in the foreground. Part of the Air Force Academy base housing had to evacuate because of the Waldo Canyon Fires.
[See Photos as Summer Heat Arrives in Full Force.]
Colorado is home to a few other things, including The National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder. The center's scientists won a Nobel Peace Prize in 2007 for their work on climate change. This year they were evacuated due to the Flagstaff fire. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the National Institute for Science and Technology also have offices in Boulder and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory is in Golden. They were, fortunately, not evacuated, although they were on alert just in case.
All of these agencies and their scientists are engaged, in some way or another, with coping with climate change. They are analyzing it, measuring it, and figuring out ways to mitigate it. They don't pooh-pooh it from the seat of an air-conditioned TV studio, maybe because they can see it from their window.
Once upon a time, George Will was a mildly amusing mainstream conservative. But his descent into flat-earther madness on climate change is emblematic of a larger problem: the right's refusal to address, or even acknowledge, the environmental catastrophe right in front of us.
As Molly Ivins once put it about George Bush, "Real Texans do not use 'summer' as a verb." And decent human beings do not use it as a noun to belittle the real suffering of people coping with a natural disaster.
(See this Mike Papantonio video link, "Papantonio: Republicans Bury Their Heads In The Sand on Climate Change.") The New York Times' 2012 electoral projection map for the presidential race is calling the presidential race in Nevada and Colorado. Those states are super hot, and now wildfire season in Colorado is worse than usual. Could the fires and the record temperatures tilt the vote to the Democratic column there this year?
Will 2012's western fires and record temperatures tilt votes so that appointed incumbent Republican Nevada senator Dean Heller (to fill the seat of scandal-plagued John Ensign) gets turned out by Shelley Berkley, Democratic congresswoman from suburban Las Vegas?
* * *
PRESIDENT OBAMA DIRECTS THAT WILDLAND FIREFIGHTERS BE OFFERED INSURANCE Readers abroad would read that headline aghast that firefighters have no insurance.
Cheers for President Obama for offering federal health insurance to uninsured firefighters, the Denver Post reported yesterday, July 10, 2012. Some background:
The 15,000 or so temporary seasonal workers who descend into fire zones are usually young people who work sundry outdoor jobs, depending on the time of year. Some pick up contract work removing trees in the fall or they work at ski areas in the winter. Many are college students.
But because they are not full-time U.S. Forest Service employees, before Tuesday's announcement they did not have the option of purchasing federal health insurance.
Read more at the Denver Post: Obama directive offers wildland firefighters health insurance -
-Thanks to for the reference. Better than Scranton, Pennsylvania, whose mayor is reducing firefighters' pay to minimum wage.

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