Last week, the White House released the third National Climate Assessment report. The more than 800-page report stressed, “ … climate change, once considered an issue for a distant future, has moved firmly into the present … The observed warming and other climatic changes are triggering wide-ranging impacts in every region of our country and throughout our economy.”
The authors — dozens of scientists from universities as well as the government — argue that human actions, many of which are beneficial, such as power plants producing electricity, have changed the planet’s climate. And these changes will continue and, in some cases, intensify.
For the Southwest Region that includes Idyllwild, key messages were a continued reduction in snowpack and its concurrent diminishing stream flow. Less rain and snow also will create more drought conditions, which will increase threats of insect outbreaks and wildfires.
Just a week earlier, the American Lung Association issued its annual “State of the Air” report, which gave Riverside County an “F” grade for air quality.
The report reinforces the statements and warnings offered at Cal Fire’s kickoff of “Wildfire Awareness Week” event last week. “There is mounting evidence that the combination of human-caused temperature increases and recent drought has influenced widespread tree mortality, increased fire occurrence and area burned, and forest insect outbreaks.”
While the report acknowledges that precipitation predictions are less reliable than predictions for temperatures, evidence and data mounts that rainfall and snow packs are becoming fewer and smaller. The report suggests that conservation efforts “… are not projected to be sufficient if current trends for water supply and demand continue.”
The number of wildland fires and acreage burned has been increasing for decades. The models employed in the report indicate there may be “a 74-percent increase in burned areas in California, with Northern California potentially experiencing a doubling under a high-emissions scenario toward the end of the century.”
The recommended protective measures, such prescribed burning, mechanical thinning, and retention of large trees, are activities the U.S. Forest Service and Cal Fire began implementing on the Hill since the 2003 fire siege.