The Commissioner of Public Lands in the State of Washington, Peter J. Goldmark, has issued a challenge to climate change deniers nationwide. Since they don’t believe in global warming, he wants them to explain what is causing the historic drought, the extended forest fire season, and the intense wildfires raging across the American West again this year.
Goldmark issued the challenge this way when he described the situation in the State of Washington. “Our fire season started a month ahead, our crops matured weeks ahead, and the dry weather we usually get in August, we’ve had since May. By heavens, if this isn’t a sign of climate change, then what is climate change going to bring?”
His comments were directed at all climate change deniers, but Goldmark seemed to be aiming his comment at the climate change deniers who are also Republican Presidential candidates: Ted Cruz, Rand Paul and Rick Perry. Commissioner Goldmark’s statement is a direct challenge to those prominent climate change skeptics. How do they explain the obvious climate extremes? And, if the current situation in the American West isn’t caused by climate change, then what would real climate change look like?
Ted Cruz, Rand Paul and Rick Perry have all been strangely silent about Commissioner Goldmark’s challenge. They have not taken up Goldmark’s challenge, and they have not offered a single word of explanation of their own. What could they possibly say that would make sense?
This year is one of the worst wildfire summers on record in the West, especially in Washington. Last week three firefighters died near Chelan in north-central Washington when their vehicle crashed near a wildfire and the fire overran them. The fire was so ferocious that at an apple processing plant it melted the hubcaps of a vehicle caught in the fire, and the liquid metal ran across the parking lot.
“By heavens, if this isn’t a sign of climate change, then what is climate change going to bring?”
Peter J. Goldmark
According to the National Interagency Fire Center, which is responsible for interagency co-ordination of wildland firefighting resources in the United States, about 7.2 million acres in the American West have burned so far this year. That is five times the size of Delaware, and it is more than the acreage burned in each of the previous 10 years.
But Washington isn’t the only western State having a long, dry forest fire season. Tina Boehle, an information officer at the Interagency Fire Center, in Boise, Idaho told the New York Times that what has made this fire season different in the Western states is that it sprang up quickly and ferociously, in “a condensed time frame where everything escalated.”
The situation is just as bad in California, where firefighters are battling seventeen major forest fires. Many of the California fires are on federal land, such as National Forests, but there are five other major wildfires on land owned by the State of California. The Cuesta Fire in San Luis Obispo County has burned 2,446 acres. The Peterson Fire in Lake County has burned 215 acres. The Democrat Fire in Trinity County has burned 180 acres. The Summit Fire in San Bernardino County has burned 100 acres. The Grade Fire in Lake County has burned 22 acres.
The River Complex Fire in Trinity County has burned 57,933 acres of federal land. The Rough Fire in Fresno County has burned 55,900 acres of federal land. The Cabin Fire in Tulare County has burned 6,955 acres of the Sequoia National Forest. The Nickowitz Fire in Del Norte and Humboldt Counties has burned 5,893 acres of the Six Rivers National Forest. The Route Complex Fire in Del Norte County has burned 5,451 acres of federal land. The Walker Fire in Mono County has burned 3,676 acres of federal land.
The South Complex Fire in Trinity County has burned 640 acres of federal land. The Fork Complex Fire in Lake County has burned 312 acres of Shasta Trinity National Forest. The Mad River Complex Fire in Trinity County has burned 190 acres of federal land. The Cabin Fire in Los Angeles County has burned 180 acres of federal land. The Horse Fire in Humboldt County has burned 146 acres of federal land. The Gasquet Complex Fire in Del Norte County has burned 4 acres of the Six Rivers National Forest.
Last Thursday, the United States entered its eighth day on what is known as Preparedness Level 5, which is the highest level of wild fire preparedness. This is the first time that Preparedness Level 5 has been applied since 2013, when it was in effect for seven days.
The Air Force has contributed four C-130 Hercules aircraft, cargo transports which have been converted into airborne tankers. The C-130s have been based in Sacramento, California and help fight the wildfires by dumping thousands of gallons of fire retardant on the fires from the sky. Nine firefighting crews from Alaska and 100 firefighters from Ontario were on fire lines in central Idaho and western Montana. But climate change deniers Ted Cruz, Rand Paul and Rick Perry have contributed nothing.