The 2013 Utah legislative session is heating up with a wildfire bill that, if passed, will allow the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands to develop wildfire policies based on climate change.
“It gives them the ability and authority to consider, analyze and plan for climate change factors in fighting and preventing wildfires,” said bill sponsor Kraig Powell, R-Heber City. “They don’t have the authority to do that unless the legislature gives them that authority.”
Powell acknowledged that scientists may not understand climate change completely, and Utahns across the political spectrum may not agree on what things may need to be done.
“But my constituents in both Wasatch and Summit County, Democrats and Republicans alike, by solid majority read the studies and reports and know it’s really irrefutable at this point that there are major changes occurring in our atmosphere and in our environment due to human activity that we need to study and deal with,” Powell said.
I think the facts will wind up being compelling. I remember when, in the Reagan administration, we found that the ozone layer was in danger of depleting. Most scientists thought it was happening; some questioned it, but they all agreed that, if it happened, it would be catastrophic. I talked with President Reagan a lot about it, and I said, “We should take out an insurance policy,” and the Montreal Protocol came about as a result of that. Sometimes when a clear and desirable objective takes hold, people come up with ideas of how to achieve it—and DuPont did that, so we were able to get an agreement internationally. It turned out that the scientists who were worried were right, and we acted in the nick of time. Now, on the global warming issue, I think by this time it’s pretty obvious that the planet is warming. After all, there’s a new ocean being created, and we’re having big diplomatic issues around access to minerals and navigation rights and what’s going to happen to the native populations in the Arctic. That’s not an opinion; it’s an observable reality. We need to figure out what to do about it as best we can.
New research from the University of New Hampshire finds that the climate change beliefs of independent voters are dramatically swayed by short-term weather conditions. The research was conducted by Lawrence Hamilton, professor of sociology and senior fellow at the Carsey Institute, and Mary Stampone, assistant professor of geography and the New Hampshire state climatologist.
The research is presented in the article “Blowin’ in the Wind: Short-Term Weather and Belief in Anthropogenic Climate Change” in the American Meteorological Society journal Weather, Climate, and Society.
“We find that over 10 surveys, Republicans and Democrats remain far apart and firm in their beliefs about climate change. Independents fall in between these extremes, but their beliefs appear weakly held — literally blowing in the wind.
“Interviewed on unseasonably warm days, independents tend to agree with the scientific consensus on human-caused climate change. On unseasonably cool days, they tend not to,” Hamilton and Stampone say.
There is a very interesting and highly idealistic planned community in the works in northern Idaho. It is contemplated for about 3,500-7,000 families on two to three thousand acres, including commercial, civic and green space. It won’t have the highly urban density of, say, Greenwich Village (this is rural Idaho), but when the net residential acreage is calculated it will definitely be walkable. It is very much designed to be. The new town “is not your typical planned community where the developer’s objective is selling cookie-cutter homes at the highest possible profit-margin,” says the project’s website.
It will have multiple car-free zones, especially in residential areas, where families will enjoy a shared commons from their front doors. Neighborhoods will be mixed-income, with affordable housing integrated into all of them (“We want to break the class barriers,” says the project’s leader). It will have community gardens, a farmers’ market and a strong emphasis on localism: national chain stores will be forbidden or discouraged, local crafts will be encouraged and mentored through apprenticeships. There will be a small-business incubator.
“There is nothing wrong with having a vigorous debate over the proper policy prescriptions for addressing climate change, toxic emissions, and other environmental concerns. But members of our party must stop sticking their heads in the sand and denying that these problems even exist, or worse, disparaging the scientists who conduct research on them.
The sooner our party heeds the warnings from responsible scientists and gets serious about these kinds of environmental challenges, the sooner we can begin to address our electoral ones.” - Former Republican Congressman Sherwood Boehlert.
“As members of The Prince of Wales’s Corporate Leaders Group on Climate Change we have long asserted that attempts to set a strong economy at odds with effective policies on climate change are self-defeating. The only successful long-term plan to grow the UK economy will be one which takes account of climate change, both to reduce the risk of a changing climate to business and to support access for British business to the rapidly growing global market for low carbon goods and services.”