Climate Change Link to Fires Ignites Senate Committee - NYTimes.com
Climate change crept into the discussion of fire management at a Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources hearing yesterday, despite Republicans' tiptoeing around the issue.
Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell, one of the witnesses present at the hearing, cited research from within the service to link fires and climate change.
"Throughout the country, we're seeing longer fire seasons, and we're seeing snowpacks that, on average, are disappearing a little earlier every spring," he said, as well as devastating droughts. As a result, fire seasons have lengthened by more than 30 days, on average.
"Our scientists believe this is due to a change in climate," said Tidwell.
Tidwell's testimony was prompted by Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.), who used the positive response to chide committee members into considering climate change as one of the committee's key issues.
Sen. James Risch (R-Idaho) questioned Franken's authority, given his lack of a degree in fire science or natural resources. Climate change proponents, he added, are in part to blame for the overabundance of wood that has served as fuel for fires.
Bingaman tied many of this year's natural disasters to climate change in his opening address, citing the recent "America's Climate Choices" report from the National Academy of Sciences.