Commissioners show wisdom by refunding Firewise

I thank the Montezuma County commissioners for refunding the Firewise program.

My thanks are partly for personal reasons. Rebecca Somulski of Firewise gave me invaluable advice on how to protect our home were fire to engulf the pinon-juniper forest that abuts our home on two sides. Additionally, the program helped substantially in defraying our cost in renting a giant chipper.

My thanks also involve larger issues. On Google Earth you can appreciate the vastness of the forested land that extends irregularly between Dolores and Mancos north and south of Highway 184. The Colorado forest fires of recent years have been so gigantic and devastating in part because of the effects of drought. The scientifically developed predictions that the drought may continue for years to come may or may not prove correct, but it would be foolhardy to ignore them. The commissioners demonstrate in their decision to refund that they are not fools. Incidentally, science never pretends to absolutes, unlike its ideologically based anti-empirical critics.

What is scientifically well-established is that forest fires are an important contributor to global warming gasses. Leaving aside the debate over the role of humans in causing global warming — that is, leaving aside the perspectives of the scientific community, the fossil fuel industry, and advocates of an unregulated free market among others — the empirically grounded of all camps agree global warming is a fact and global extreme weather is a consequence.

Since no one knows precisely how global climate change will unfold in coming decades, our commissioners are to be thanked for their wisdom in taking the long view and not being penny-wise and pound-foolish.

Perhaps the myopic politicians of both parties could take a pointer from them. As could the climate change deniers like the Fox News “newscasters” who claim the heavy snows falls of recent years and the vortex of Arctic air currently buffeting much of the nation prove their case. In fact, there are solid empirical grounds to claim that heavy snow and the vortex of Arctic air are directly caused by global warming.

Ned Harper