Wasatch Environmental Update; Climate Change in the Intermountain West

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Wasatch Environmental Update for July 12, 2015

By John Worlock, Member SOC Board of Directors

“Climate Change in the Intermountain West”

We are pleased to learn that our local Forest Service leaders are taking a serious attitude toward the ramifications of global climate change. In contrast to many of our leaders in the nation’s Congress, the Intermountain Region of the United States Forest Service is concerned and activated.

The headline in the Ogden Standard Examiner reads “Western forests face climate challenges.” They go on to say that the Forest Service is participating in a region-wide study with a variety of partners called the Intermountain Adaptation Partnership, studying how to merge the best science with the best management, in devising a human response to an uncertain climate future in the Intermountain West. Let’s revisit and interpret that statement.

In spite of the known uncertainties in predictions of climate change, the local Forest Service leaders would like to be prepared with responses to future threats to their forests. Best Science and Best Management are appealing descriptions of responses. Throughout the discussion, the prefix mega– is found: we might expect mega-droughts and mega-wildfires and mega-insect outbreaks. Consequently, the Best Responses are called for.

There is an alternative, of course, and that is to do nothing. The earth and its life forms have evolved for some billions of years – with feast, famine and extinction, along with natural adaptation, bringing us to our current, human-dominated era. While the US Congress appears to be ruled by those who wish to do nothing, the US Forest Service is taking the lead in looking for solutions for the droughts, wildfires and insect-outbreaks that are already evident in the forests of the Intermountain West. Perhaps, they are not yet mega-threats, but they are nevertheless evident and serious threats to the health of our forests, which are the treasures of our Intermountain landscape and often our paths of escape from the pressures of urban living.

And so we applaud the proactive policy of the Forest Service and its partners in the Intermountain Adaptation Partnership, or I A P.

You will want to learn a lot more than we can tell you in this brief message. So please go to the website adaptationpartners dot org slash i a p, and let your heart be warmed by the news of efforts to perpetuate our forest legacy.

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