Letter to the Editor: Climate Change Should Be a Bridge, Not a Wedge

In the face of conclusive contradictory evidence, President Donald Trump blames the devastating Western wildfires primarily on forest management while dismissing global warming.

Although fire-management practices do play a role with regard to these tragic fires, climate change also has a profound impact. It’s important to take note of a 2015 issue of the U.S. Forest Service’s journal, Fire Management Today, titled “Climate Change: The Future Is Here.” This publication states, “Increasing temperatures and changes in precipitation and snowmelt patterns are increasing the severity and size of wildfires in the West.” Concern is also expressed about the “occurrence of fire that is outside the range of our existing experience” and the danger this poses to firefighters and communities.

Hotter temperatures evaporate soil moisture and dry vegetation, making it more likely to burn. According to a study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, during the last three decades, human-caused climate change has doubled the area affected by forest fires in the western United States.

Biologist F. Stuart Chapin III has said that the planet is calling out, but no one is listening. Many members of Wisconsin’s state legislature and congressional delegation are avid hunters who have a great appreciation for the outdoors. It’s crucial for these politicians to hear the plea from our nation’s forests and wildlands and take a leadership role regarding climate action.

Climate change should be a bridge rather than a wedge issue. I’m heartened that the bipartisan Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act has been reintroduced in the House of Representatives. This bill puts a steadily rising price on carbon-dioxide emissions and returns the money to the American people.

Let’s reach across divides to provide U.S. leadership in the fight to slow climate change.

Terry Hansen

Hales Corners, Wisconsin