On Mark Hertsgaard’s “Hot: Living Through the Next Fifty Years on Earth,” and the Forest Fire in My Backyard (Almost)

So I’m continuing in my quest to read every book ever written about Global Warming. (Well, not all of them, but I have read quite a few.) I’m also starting to think only wimps use the term ‘Climate Change,’ which seems a Republican dodge, too: Let’s just pretend things are changing, maybe for the better!
In that quest, I’m now reading Mark Hertsgaard’s Hot: Living Through the Next Fifty Years on Earth (2011). On the political side of things, Hertsgaard does acknowledge that the U.S. is one of the few industrialized countries that are fighting the acknowledgement of global warming and the obvious conclusion that we had better do something about it, fast. Which of course we’re not. And he does mention the mainstream media’s idiocy on the subject, specifically their constant mention of it as being a ‘theory’ that may be wrong, when scientists have moved on from that nonsense in the early years of the last decade.
Consider the hot, dry summer we’re having, and always the statement gets thrust into the forecast, “It’s not global warming!” It just certainly seems like it, right? When places like Oklahoma and Wichita are breaking records and drought is scorching the South and Southwest, it’s always good to try to convince the populace that this isn’t something we should be concerned about.
Hertsgaard’s book is not one of the best, but there’s much to like about it. He frames the argument from the point of view of a father with a five-year-old daughter, and since my daughter, Lili, is about to turn five in October, naturally I’m sympathetic. Sometimes he harps on this a bit too much, though. (I’m sure I harp about my darling girl too much, as well.) But here’s a good quote, that matches the world I’m witnessing in the West:
“In the American West, the weather of the last twenty years sparked four times as many large fires as during the previous twenty years. Firefighters are worried: in 2006, their Association for Fire Ecology warned, ‘Under future drought and high heat scenarios, fires may become larger more quickly and be more difficult to manage.’ In 2009, a study by Harvard University scientists endorsed the firefighters’ concerns. The area burned by wildfires in the American West could increase by 50 percent by 2050, the study found: in the Pacific Northwest and the Rockies, the increase could be as much as 175 percent” (59).
This June my home turf in Colorado, Custer County, had the Duckett Fire, which has now dwindled (thank god), but quickly grew from 100 acres to nearly 5,000 before it was slowed, mainly by the onset of wetter weather and lower winds. My daughter and I watched it one day and she described this picture as a “fire sun.”

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