Letter: Climate link is clear

On Aug. 16, there were 11 wildfires over 100 acres in size burning in Colorado, the majority located on the Western Slope. Many are still burning.

Scott Tipton, who represents this area in Congress, has recently affirmed his commitment to seek aid in order to strategically clear dead fall and provide emergency funding to fight fires that does not draw upon the Forest Service’s operational budget. We appreciate this step. However, he does not mention one of the primary factors that is considered to be contributing to this excessive fuel load – shifting climate patterns. These are considered a driving force for both regional drought and the beetle epidemic.

There is a 97 percent scientific consensus that fossil fuel emissions are causing small increases in global atmospheric temperatures. One consequence has been shifts in climate patterns around the world.

In the West, climate change is about water. Brad Udall, a hydrologist working on western water issues, was hosted at Colorado Mountain College by the Eagle River Water and Sanitation District in June. His presentation included data showing that Colorado weather patterns are shifting as predicted by climate models. “Drought” and warmer winter temperatures will likely be the new normal. A consequence is that the “fuel load” of our forests will continue to increase.

At the end of his talk, Udall endorsed his priority solution — enacting federal legislation that would put a price on fossil fuels. A carbon fee and dividend plan would return the proceeds of the collected fee to citizens on an equal basis. This solution is endorsed by politicians and economists across the political spectrum — including leaders within the Republican party. The Climate Leadership Council speaks to this.

Although many Republican congressmen are reluctant to speak up, this hesitancy is shifting. I encourage voters who wish to remain loyal to the Republican party and who also recognize the link between fossil fuels and climate change, to hold their government representatives accountable.

Pam Gibbs


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