Sunday, September 7, 2008

Climate change shows up in fires, drought

Pasadena Star-News: Just in case anyone missed one of the key points of this summer's still simmering siege of California wildfires, it is this: Climate change is here, it's real and it is time to stop quarreling about the causes and get on with doing something about it.

If anything, the actions proposed by the state's Air Resources Board as part of California's response to global warming are too little and too late. Yes, as President Bush noted at midsummer, China and India are large and growing contributors to climate change, with China now emitting even more greenhouse gases than our own country, the previous leader. But no, that does not - as Bush implied - mean America's responsibility to do something and California's need to do its part, have ended.

Rather, what's happened here ought to be a call to even greater actions than those proposed by the ARB, whose plan aims to cut the state's emissions of gases like carbon dioxide by 30 percent before 2020.

For it seems there's a reason California endured an unprecedented June start to the longer-than-ever fire season, with as many as 1,400 naturally started blazes going simultaneously at its peak. That forced firefighters to choose which flames to fight, since there was neither manpower nor equipment to battle them all at once.

…Whatever the cause, it's incumbent on the entire human race to mitigate the change - or else. The fact that some huge nations refuse to recognize this because they've been beaten down or mistreated in times past, as China and India both feel has happened to them, is largely irrelevant. Their refusal to act doesn't mean we can't or should not.

It's not merely the risk of ever-worse fire seasons that threatens us - although that is apparently the coming reality. It's not just drought that figures to afflict us, as it already does, with water rationing now considered likely in large parts of California sometime next summer. This is linked both to dry weather and a court decision favoring the minnow-like delta smelt fish over human consumers of water….

San Diego skyline with looming smoke from wildfires, sunrise, October 23, 2007. This was shot by Kat Miner from San Diego, Wikimedia Commons via Flickr, under Creative CommonsAttribution 2.0 License

1 comment:

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