It is interesting to see the lengths that state and federal governments will go trying to mitigate the emission of greenhouse gases: higher CAFE standards mandating increased mpg for automobiles, renewable portfolio standards that provide incentives for using renewable energy in place of fossil fuels, regulations on air conditioning systems and semi cab designs, etc. But efforts to reduce a profound source of greenhouse gases, seems to fall on deaf ears, presumeably because thinning forests of fire-producing underbrush, small diameter trees, and dead, infected trees is seen as politically incorrect - pitting "environmental" groups and their litigators against the Forest Service assigned with the responsibility of managing public lands.
Two Republican Senators representing western states that have suffered from significant fires and who sit on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee have testified their concern. Says embattled Senator Larry Craig:
Actively managing forests can lead to a 50 to 60 percent reduction in the numbers of acres lost to wildfires each year. Preventing the forests from burning also ensures that we maintain the forests for the consumption of carbon dioxide from other sources.
Senator Pete Domenici made similar points during testimony last July.
In California - site this year of the worst fire season in the state's history - Senator Feinstein recognizes the magnitude of the growing problem and has fought to secure more funding from the USDA Forest Service to address California's needs. However, that is like putting a bandaid on a problem rather than developing an economically sustainable remedy to address the cause of the fires - failure to thin the dense overgrowth of woody biomass. A true partnership is needed between the government and private industry to build and supply forest product industries that can provide funding for biomass removal and proper forest management.
Craig: Wild Fires Impacting Our Climate
Hearing misplaces cause and effect
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Idaho Senator Larry Craig called attention today to the impact wildland fires are having on the global environment in a hearing by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. The hearing examined the "Impacts of Global Climate Change on Wildfire Activity in the U.S."
As a member of the committee, Craig took the opportunity to point out the apparent chicken-egg scenario at play - do wildfires cause climate change, or does climate change cause wildfires?
"Fires in Idaho will emit more than 12 million metric tons of CO2 this year, compared to only 700,000 metric tons from our electricity generation, or 8.6 million metric tons from all of our automobile use," Craig said. "Wild fires in this country this year released the same amount of greenhouse gases as 12 million automobiles. Preventing fires through active management is certainly more feasible and cost effective than asking 12 million people not to drive."
On average, one acre of burning forest releases six tons of CO2. To date, roughly 8.4 million acres have burned in the U.S., meaning that over 50 million tons of CO2 has been released into the atmosphere. That's the equivalent of 12 million vehicles on the road for one year.
Senator Craig, also a member of the appropriations committee, called for a commitment to spending more on preventative forest management policies, noting that "the U.S. spends only $600 million to manage forests and $2 billion to fight fires. If we spent more of our resources on managing and thinning we'd likely not spend so much fighting fires. We'd also be reducing the amount of greenhouse gases from fires, and increasing the amount of CO2 sequestered by healthy trees."
Craig pushed for the active management of our nation's forests to significantly reduce the numbers of acres burned each year, which in turn would prevent significant emissions of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Craig said, "Forest fires of the magnitude of this year's fires in Idaho and in other Western States emit massive quantities of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Actively managing forests can lead to a 50 to 60 percent reduction in the numbers of acres lost to wildfires each year. Preventing the forests from burning also ensures that we maintain the forests for the consumption of carbon dioxide from other sources."
technorati BIOstock, biomass, forestry, wildfires