Here's a not-so-cheery air quality map for the Pacific Northwest. In two words, it sucks.
When I set off for a dog walk about an hour ago, the setting sun was as red as the Unhealthy coded color for most of Oregon, including Salem, where I live.
There aren't any wildfires in our immediate area. But smoke is drifting into the Willamette Valley from British Columbia and Eastern Washington.
Wildfire smoke has been an annoying aspect of summers in Oregon for the past few years. It wasn't always this way. I've lived in Oregon since 1971. Summers are much hotter and drier than they used to be. Climate change is the culprit.
Which means climate change, a.k.a. global warming, is the main reason wildfires are burning considerably more fiercely and more often than they used to. This is a fact, no matter what the clueless Secretary of Interior, Ryan Zinke, says about "environmental terrorist groups" being the problem.
Here's a quote from the Washington Post story that speaks the truth, not Trumpian propaganda.
Many took issue with Zinke's refusal to acknowledge that climate change is a major factor in the California fires.
"This has nothing to do with climate change," Zinke told NBC affiliate KCRA this month. "This has to do with active forest management."
Research shows that human-caused climate change is a primary factor behind the recent increase in fire severity. A 2016 study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that the heat and drought brought about by climate change was responsible for doubling the amount of land burned in the western U.S. between 1984 and 2015.
"There is a broad effort to deny the science of climate change and its links to the horrible wildfires in California and it’s just not accurate," Leah C. Stokes, professor of environmental and political science at UC Santa Barbara, told the Post.
My wife and I have lived in rural south Salem since 1990. The tree changes in our neighborhood are undeniable. Douglas firs are turning brown and dying at a rapid rate. Here's some photos I took on today's dog walk.
It's infuriating that Donald Trump and his fellow global-warming-denying lackeys are reversing Obama-era policies aimed at reducing the greenhouse gas emissions that are creating the hotter and drier conditions which fuel fires and kill trees.
And it isn't just the folks in Washington D.C. who are to blame. I'm pleased to live in a city that voted for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election, but 38% of Salem voters cast a ballot for Trump -- so they're complicit in creating the smoky air that appears to be with us for many years to come.
For sure, 2020 can't come soon enough for me and my wife. The quicker our country gets rid of Trump and his cronies, the quicker we can get back to taking strong steps to keep our one and only Planet Earth habitable for humans.
I think we can lay a lot of things to global warming and tree die-off is one.
I don't buy that global warming is why the fires. As a practice, trees of the same sort have been planted, leading to the pine beetle infestation in our mountains. Mono-cultures can't be put to global warming but rather forestry practices. I've lived in the PNW all my life. As a child a huge fire in the Washington Cascades threatened our home and burned some of the 80 acres my parents owned. In Oregon, the Tillamook Burn happened in the '30s-- https://oregonencyclopedia.org/articles/tillamook_burn/#.W3wQlbhG2Uk -- huge fires where the devastation was unreal when you drove through it and now it's all replanted to forests. I know the left wants to make this all about climate change. It's not that simple-- other than as a partisan issue where details are often ignored when they don't suit an agenda. Big fires have long been a factor and more catastrophic as people move out, have shake roofs, don't clear around their homes. California is prime for it with rains in the winter to encourage undergrowth and grass-- the the dry summers, which is what its pattern has long been. Global warming may do many things, can't blame everything on it though.
Posted by: Rain Trueax | August 21, 2018 at 06:19 AM
I agree with Rain, as I often do.
What the left needs to do if they believe in human caused climate change is to quit being hypocrites and STOP BUYING STUFF!!
Posted by: tucson | August 21, 2018 at 07:55 AM
Brian's trees are dying due to global warming. LOL!!
Global warming is real and 100% man caused.
At least one of these statements is laughably false.
Could they both be?
Posted by: Skyline | August 21, 2018 at 09:30 AM
You can say that it's not 100% related to global warming, that is true. But we do have to accept that the problem is still "man made". We are responsible for the forests. And often we are doing both a bad job of properly managing them, (or avoiding managing them altogether) because we're too busy with the politics of it.
We are likely to see more fires related to global warming because the side effect of our bureaucracy means there will always be plenty of fuel for those fires! I listened to my neighbor rattle on this morning about all the damage The Tree Huggers have caused. I got why he was saying what he was saying. About "them" not allowing the forests to by logged or controlled fires to be set. I knew it was pointless to point out that that was not entirely true. The truth is no one can *agree* on how much is acceptable for logging and just who would get those the very lucrative bids for what you did allocate to be logged.
No one can *agree* on who much is acceptable or how often control burns need to happen. No one in towns near these areas can *agree* on when the burns should happen because no matter what, their livelihoods will be affected. NO ONE, and I mean no one, can *agree* on who will pay for it and who will over see it or how the park lands will be properly managed around it all when it happens. I'm not even touching on eco-system issues that are affecting our regulations. They passed a new law not that long ago that you pretty much couldn't remove trees near streams that carried Salmon or Trout because the shade from the trees keeps the water cold, and they need it cold to survive. Saving fish is pretty much a good thing no? There are dozens of single issue regulations tossed into the mix every few years that also hamper any possible agreements around logging and burning.
Everyone has valid arguments and concerns. So why is it just one sides fault exactly? While I get people wanting to point fingers at the side of conservation. I would hope none of you need to be reminded of what happened when we didn't properly maintain and manger what we had in the past. When we let people do exactly what they wanted. https://www.thebalance.com/what-was-the-dust-bowl-causes-and-effects-3305689
So I don't care if you lean Left or Right, this is a man made problem at this point. And it is going to contribute to the acceleration of global warming if we don't start *agreeing* on where to start instead of pointing fingers.
Posted by: logan | August 21, 2018 at 01:01 PM
Brian, after thinking about it all day while working in the hot smoky sun:
I think you should STOP what you are doing right now and go visit the folks at the dept of Forestry and Dept of Agriculture and inform them that they are barking up the wrong tree with their diagnosis of conifer die-offs in the PNW.
It would be really greedy of you to let them continue down the road of some little beetle (like a beetle can kill a tree; I wasn't born yesterday) when in reality the problem is global warming!!!
Can you imagine how embarrassing it must be for them to learn the truth after YEARS of mis-diagnosis?
Posted by: Skyline | August 21, 2018 at 04:44 PM
Skyline, there's plenty of evidence that global warming is contributing to tree deaths in the Pacific Northwest. It took me about one minute to find a bunch of stories and articles about this. For example:
I accept your apology for doubting what I said in this blog post. Next time, do some research before claiming you know something that actually isn't true.
Posted by: Brian Hines | August 22, 2018 at 03:42 PM
Maybe your approach is right.
When the folks at Forestry and Agriculture find out that their education, research and work is all trumped just in one minute of internet searches, it could be devastating for them.
You know how those "science people" are ...
But, with enough time and patience, eventually they may believe as you believe.
Thanks for the honesty.
Posted by: Skyline | August 23, 2018 at 07:12 PM
Skyline, it appears you don't believe in science. I do. The studies I linked to were done by scientists. They all say that global warming is leading trees to be stressed, making them more likely to be infected by insects and to be weakened, or die, from drought and heat. I realize this is an inconvenient truth for you. But truth is truth.
Posted by: Brian Hines | August 23, 2018 at 08:09 PM
To clarify my remark above:
There is no cure if global warming is man made. This is because humans want stuff and stuff needs to be manufactured. All manufacturing requires raw materials and energy = greenhouse gases. Even solar requires manufacturing = greenhouse gases. Making a Prius creates greenhouse gases. Need a new door knob for your bathroom? or a wrench? =greenhouse gases. Environmental activists want to put a stranglehold on industry so that greenhouse gases are not produced (In the meantime China and India ignore laws and go on polluting while gaining a competitive advantage on the US which complies and has to charge more for their products in order to do so). Then environmentalists go and buy stuff anyway. They're hypocrites. Even if they go out and buy, instead of a car, a bicycle, it still = greenhouse gases. Computers =greenhouse gases. If they want to save the world, they should go back to a pre-industrial revolution, primarily agrarian, lifestyle ( a stone age hunter-gatherer lifestyle would be best for the planet if we can get about 90% of the world's population to die of a plague or something.) Otherwise, modern civilization, which is insane, will have to run its course, like influenza, and no one knows what that end result will be.
So, there are three possibilities:
1) Global warming exists and is man-made (or "human-caused" in 2018 PC American English);
2) Global warming exists and is naturally occurring;
3) Global warming exists due to both natural and man-made causes;
3) Global warming doesn't exist.
Case 1: There's nothing we can do about it.
Case 2: There's nothing we can do about it.
Case 3: There's nothing we can do about it
Case 4: There's no problem.
Posted by: tucson | September 08, 2018 at 02:28 PM
Some good news!!!
Today I had to work in the Ankeny game reserve.
On my return trip, I decided to take Liberty Rd back into town.
As carefully as I looked, I did not see a single tree that had come down with a bad case of global warming!!!
Posted by: Skyline | September 14, 2018 at 09:54 PM