The link first: ClimateLurker pulls information together and presents it in tabular form. If nothing else, check out the temperature table.
The first story comes from yesterday’s Denver Post entitled “With friends like this, the West doesn’t need enemies”. The meat? Brace yourselves: “Bush’s budget calls for cuts to the Forest Service that would further endanger areas prone to catastrophic forest fires.” I’ve written about part of the problem before. I’ve also written about some potential solutions to the problems the region is facing, proposed by Gov. Bill Ritter. The skinny: 1.5 million acres of lodgepole pine have been turned into matchsticks. That’s a huge potential issue given some bad conditions, which we saw in the beginning of this decade.
Now onto the newest part of the story: Bush’s budget would cut funding by 11.2% for CO, WY, SD, NE and KS. The hazardous fuels reduction program funding would decrease by 4% and the state fire assistance program would be cut by 23%. Imagine if somebody proposed cutting any portion of the defense budget by 23%. The horror! Let me state right now that I think more folks in this regions are concerned by the potential of a catastrophic conflagration in an upcoming summer than an attack by a terrorist (Confined only to brown and/or Muslim people, btw. Crazy white people shooting up schools and churches seem to be okay).
Sen. Salazar told USDA Undersecretary Mark Rey and Forest Service chief Gail Kimbell he thought the budget priorities were sending the “wrong message.” The Op-Ed ends with the following: “These are troubled times for the forests of our region. They need additional care, not a steward who ignores its problems.” Which is interesting when you consider they endorsed Bush for President in 2004. You see, when Republican policies fail, they fail spectacularly.
I certainly hope this problems gets more attention. It’s not going away, in fact it’s getting worse. Bush won’t do anything but cut public services in support of privatizing everything. What will Sen. Salazar do? Stern messages in an oversight hearing are nice. Unfortunately, it doesn’t solve the problem.
I’ll share a second global-warming related story a little later today.