Tags: Fires | Global | Warming

Global Warming Being Blamed for Calif. Wildfires

Monday, 22 Oct 2007 05:39 PM

By Jim Meyers

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Man-made global warming is being blamed for yet another natural calamity – the roaring California wildfires.

As the fires raged out of control in a number of Southern California locations, Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada flatly declared on Tuesday: “One reason why we have the fires in California is global warming.” He cited the fires in stressing the need to pass the Democrats’ comprehensive energy package, The Hill newspaper reported.

When asked by a reporter if he really believed global warming caused the fires, however, Reid appeared to back away from his remark, saying many factors contributed to the disaster.

But “NBC Nightly News” on Tuesday night also chased the global warming connection, with anchor Brian Williams telling viewers: “This has been the driest season on record, unusually severe, that’s leading some people here to wonder: Are these fires somehow a result of climate change? The U.N. panel on global warming did warn that we would see more wildfires, so is there a real connection?”

Williams then turned to the network’s chief environmental affairs correspondent, Anne Thompson.

She said: “Wildfires so unusual today may not be in the future. A new study out this week suggests the impact of climate change could be stronger and sooner than expected. And one of the predicted impacts from climate change could be more wildfires.”

NBC did not point out that Thompson in August filed a story smearing critics of global warming panic as “deniers,” and more recently endorsed Al Gore’s position on the threat of climate change, NewsBusters.org observed.

Thompson continued: “The wildfires are just one example of this fall’s extreme weather: Tornadoes in Michigan, a lack of fall color in the Carolinas, the spectacular foliage muted by drought and warm temperatures…

“And here in Minnesota’s twin cities, they are still awaiting the first official frost, when the temperature dips to 32 degrees. It should have happened two weeks ago. But not this year. So does all this add up to global warming?”

She then acknowledged: “Scientists say you can’t answer that question after just one season.”

But NBC also spoke with Princeton professor Michael Oppenheimer, without pointing out that he has been called a leading global warming alarmist and serves as science adviser to Environmental Defense, an organization that warns about climate change.

“The weather we’ve seen this fall may or may not be due to the global warming trend,” he said, “but it’s certainly a clear picture of what the future is going to look like if we don’t act quickly to cut emissions of the greenhouse gases.”

Like Thompson, Oppenheimer did not offer a scientific explanation of the connection between greenhouse gas emissions and the California wildfires.

But Thompson termed Oppenheimer’s comments “a stark warning in this autumn of change.”

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