Climate Change Theory

Source: The Forest Blog by Russ Vaagen

Climate Change caused by human activity is a theory.  Is it possible that human activity is influencing the earth’s climate? Sure.  Is it probable that it’s having an effect on our climate? It seems likely.  That doesn’t change the fact that it’s still a theory.  Basing a movement on a theory and calling those that question it “deniers” or implying that people are somehow less intelligent if they challenge the argument is not productive.  In fact, it’s divisive.

I believe that pollution of all types is the issue at hand.  Our collective interest is to have a clean environment.  Why aren’t we more focused on that?  If someone doesn’t believe in human-caused climate change yet wants to do things to improve the environment by reducing pollution that should be applauded.  Another person believes passionately that human-caused carbon pollution is causing climate change and does the same things as the other person, what’s the difference?  If these efforts don’t fix climate change, but they make the area around us better, isn’t that a good thing?

A Theory Doesn’t Equal Fact

Our forests and relating fires are not a direct indication of climate change.  The fires are an exact reflection of policies that have caused a ten-fold growth in the amount of brush and trees on our landscape.  If carbon pollution is a major contributor climate change, then these forests and the resulting fires have become major contributors.  The fact that the news reports that fires are indicators rather than a major cause of climate change, doesn’t make any sense to most people who live near the affected areas.

This leads people to believe climate change is mostly political rather than based on facts.  When these fair questions are asked people are labelled.  The fact is we need to ask these questions to get to real answers.  The real answers would lead us to significantly alter how the public sees active forest management.  Particularly when it comes to federal land.

Wildfire Creates Climate Change

If all of these fires were a direct result of climate change, then why is the overwhelming amount of fire happens in federal forests and to a much lesser extent private forestland?  This doesn’t mean that we need to clear-cut the National Forest.  It simply means that we need to aggressively work to get forests back to natural spacing.  This is particularly important in our historically fire-prone landscapes.  If we are able to restore these areas using the latest available logging methods and collaboratively developed techniques we can start to make a great impact.

When this is done effectively the naturally occurring fire can have a positive effect in the forest.  Rather than a catastrophic wildfire that burns incredibly hot, the understory will burn off leaving trees alive and healthy in its wake.  Not only does this have a positive effect on the forest, it also changes the composition of the smoke.  Recent research has proven that large-scale catastrophic wildfire produces not only a highly concentrated smoke but smoke that is much more toxic.  Regardless of your belief on climate change, reducing the risk of this massive pollution is of interest to every American.

We need to move away from the position of “Climate Change is human-caused and it’s a fact.”  By doing this we are separating people from what’s really important.  What is important is that our interest in having a safe, healthy, and clean planet.  We need to focus on our interests of healthy forests, clean water, and clean air.  If we can do that we can all win regardless of which theory we believe.