Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Oregon): Carbon pollution is “assaulting” Oregon’s agriculture, fishing, oyster, and timber industries; western forests of U.S. in great peril. [For fact checking & general commentary]

January 28, 2014 5:31 pm3 comments

POSTED FOR COMMENTARY BY SCIENTISTS

The following statements are from Senator Jeff Merkley (R-Oregon) during the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Work’s hearing titled “Review of the President’s Climate Action Plan.” The hearing was held on January 16, 2014.  The statements start at 32:30.

Senator Jeff Merkley (D-Oregon)

Senator Jeff Merkley (D-Oregon)

Senator Jeff Merkley (D-Oregon)

No matter where you travel in our state, you see the assault of carbon pollution on our natural resources:

  1. You can start with farming, we have had 3 worst ever droughts in the [inaudible]’s basin in a 13 year period, and based on the snow pack this year, we may well have a fourth coming this summer, devastating a key agriculture part of our state.
  2. If you turn to fishing, we have streams that are smaller and warmer, affecting our trout and salmon. […]
  3. And if we turn to our sea life off the cost, we are having trouble with oyster seeds – the baby oysters that are distributed throughout the industry to create the oyster industry – they are having trouble because there is more carbonic acid in the ocean. Why? The carbon pollution assaulting our natural resource base […]
  4. And if we turn to our forests, we have pine beetle infestation that is out of control, because we don’t have cold snaps cold enough and long enough to kill them off in the winter. We have large red zones that I have taken tours in the air in — you see red trees as far as the eye can see. And we have forest fires – the worst ever in a 100 years, the summer before last, and year after year with drier forests, more lightning strikes, and more devastation […]. In fact the Department of Energy has an early version of their study from Los Alamos National Laboratory that says the western forests will be largely whipped out by the combination of forest fires and beetle devastation.

Source: Review of the President’s Climate Action Plan: Hearing on Climate Change and President’s Climate Action Plan before U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, 113th Cong. (2014) (statements by Republican Senators). See video at http://www.c-spanvideo.org/program/317244-1.

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INITIAL COMMENTS BY THE CCNF SCIENTIST COMMUNITY

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Dr. Jim Bouldin

Dr. Jim Bouldin

The inaudible there is the Klamath Basin, SW Oregon.

It’s a *very* brief speech by Merkley, and the several topics he addresses there are each *major* climate effects topics in themselves, worthy of posts, or even series of posts.  Some of them (e.g. fire regime changes) are good examples of how climate change is being over-emphasized relative to other important factors (not just in the media, but even among some scientists), a situation that some ecologists are pretty concerned about.

THE FORUM'S COMMENT THREAD

  • Forest fires are a good example of that. There are multiple factors involved for the increase of fires out West, climate change being one factor. It may become the dominant factor eventually, but for now, historical fire suppression is the biggest driver. See, for example, Marlon et al. (2012): http://www.pnas.org/content/109/9/E535.short

    As with Hurricane Katrina, a misallocation of blame distracts from effective solutions.

    • Could not agree more with your last sentence there John.

      Phrases like “assaulting”, “devastating”, “great peril”, etc–that’s politician- and media-speak. That’s not how scientists discuss things. And indeed, Merkley’s short speech was just a barrage of statements with no following discussion.

  • I think the same is true for the oysters. Even though ocean acidification may present a threat to oyster farms in the future, current acidification events are more likely to be part of natural variability.

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PUBLIC COMMENT THREAD

  • http://atmo.tamu.edu/profile/JNielsen-Gammon John Nielsen-Gammon

    Forest fires are a good example of that. There are multiple factors involved for the increase of fires out West, climate change being one factor. It may become the dominant factor eventually, but for now, historical fire suppression is the biggest driver. See, for example, Marlon et al. (2012): http://www.pnas.org/content/109/9/E535.short

    As with Hurricane Katrina, a misallocation of blame distracts from effective solutions.

    • http://ecologicallyoriented.wordpress.com/ Jim Bouldin

      Could not agree more with your last sentence there John.

      Phrases like “assaulting”, “devastating”, “great peril”, etc–that’s politician- and media-speak. That’s not how scientists discuss things. And indeed, Merkley’s short speech was just a barrage of statements with no following discussion.

  • http://ceoas.oregonstate.edu/profile/schmittner/ Andreas Schmittner

    I think the same is true for the oysters. Even though ocean acidification may present a threat to oyster farms in the future, current acidification events are more likely to be part of natural variability.