Today’s Helena Independent Record included dueling guest columns concerning the Colt Summit timber sale lawsuit, which is the first lawsuit of a timber sale on the Lolo National Forest in over five years. One oped comes from Michael Garrity, a 5th generation Montanan, who’s the director of the Alliance for the Wild Rockies. The other oped is co-written by Keith Olson, director of the Montana Logging Association and Tom France, regional director of the National Wildlife Federation. The most recent Colt Summit posts from this blog are found here and here. Click here for the entire Colt Summit archive.
As reported by the New York Times, climate scientist Michael Mann bemoans the “rise of the Internet as a vehicle for the spread of scientific misinformation.” In the spirit of Sharon’s “period of reflection” regarding this blog, I offer the following article about his book, not to inflame, but as an opportunity to commend Sharon for her attempts to provide a forum for posters to present scientific facts along with a wide array of sometimes not so scientific opinions while attempting to keep a clear distinction between the two. Sometimes the debate fostered by NCFP seems poised to devolve into a” shouting match” but usually folks here can agree to disagree. Occasionally I see comments that skirt the margins of Sharon’s no-name-calling rule but I have yet to see a comment (other than spam) that I would refuse to approve. Maybe they get zapped first by Sharon, or maybe the sort of people who participate here are just inclined to be civil (unlike, apparently, some talk show hosts.) It certainly takes a special breed to while away one’s spare time debating the finer points of planning the future of our national forests!
A Dispatch From the BarricadesBy JUSTIN GILLIS
As I noted in a recent article, the debate over climate science has come to resemble other angry battles in the nation’s culture wars. Much as one might dislike the idea of the earth’s future being decided in a shouting match, that seems to be the reality of the situation we are in.
That’s how Michael E. Mann puts it in a new book called “The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars.” Dr. Mann, a scientist at Pennsylvania State University, gives readers an inside look at a string of battles going back to 1999 in which he has played a central role. Many of these center on the famous “hockey stick,” a reconstruction by Dr. Mann and colleagues of the past thousand years of temperatures on the planet, relying on indicators like tree rings.
The graph of reconstructed temperatures is called a hockey stick because the right-hand side shows temperatures veering sharply upward in the last century. The paper and its graph, along with subsequent studies by Dr. Mann and several other scientists, suggest that this recent warming is anomalous, at least over the past millennium. Through no choice of Dr. Mann’s, the graph became a symbol of modern climate science when it was featured prominently in a 2001 report by a United Nations panel.
His book, published by Columbia University Press, is essentially about the drama that ensued after the paper was set upon by climate-change contrarians determined to undermine Dr. Mann’s conclusions. The tale features hearings in Congress, fevered denunciations of climate science as a “hoax,” stolen or leaked e-mails and one investigation after another after another. It also features mainstream scientists and leading scientific journals roused to defend Dr. Mann and the scientific method.
The book is secondarily about something else: the rise of the Internet as a vehicle for the spread of scientific misinformation. As it happens, the years when Dr. Mann was fighting these battles were also the years that public discourse of all kinds moved off the traditional news pages and into cyberspace. That offers enormous possibilities for the advancement of human knowledge, of course, but no informed reader will come away from Dr. Mann’s book feeling very happy about the way it has played out so far.
Important as the topic may be, I suspect this book will be more useful for insiders already familiar with the players and key events and less so for general readers. Anyone wanting a straightforward, elegantly written overview of the science might prefer Kerry Emanuel’s “What We Know About Climate Change,” which has the merit of being both complete and short. A reader seeking to understand climate politics in Washington might be better advised to pick up Eric Pooley’s “The Climate War.” (Dr. Mann, it turns out, was not the first to use martial language.)
Dr. Mann is focused instead on telling the tale of the hockey stick as he lived it. That is fair enough, but some of the discussion gets pretty arcane, as when he spends many pages on the details of the statistical arguments between him and his critics. It was probably necessary that he do so, but it will be tough going for a reader without much statistical background. Dr. Mann said he hoped that general readers would tackle the book and simply skip the parts they find too technical.
The Mann case exemplifies what to me is one of the central mysteries of climate contrarianism. Dr. Mann’s findings are but a small element in a vast body of scientific research suggesting that human society is running a serious risk with the planet. But many of the contrarians have been obsessed with the hockey stick for a decade, gnawing it over and over as a dog would a bone. They seem to think if they can disprove one small element of climate science, the whole edifice will collapse.
Unfortunately for our future, the findings of modern climate science are a great deal more robust than that. They do not depend on the validity of the hockey stick, as Dr. Mann himself makes clear. Even if they did, climate science would appear to be in pretty good shape: subsequent papers by other researchers with no stake in the original have confirmed his results. Investigations of Dr. Mann and other scientists have led pretty much nowhere, with the latest of them, by an attorney general in Virginia who is a climate contrarian, effectively shut down by that state’s Supreme Court last week.
Still, the climate wars go on, and perhaps they will for as long as the fossil-fuel industry sees political delay as being in its interests.
“The decades of delay in reducing carbon emissions have already incurred a very real cost to humanity and our environment,” Dr. Mann writes. “Each year that emissions reductions are delayed, it becomes increasingly difficult to stabilize CO2 concentrations below safe levels.”
As part of the NCFP blog reflection period (please see sidebar), which will continue until Easter, I determined more consciously to attempt to include positive articles about things we can all agree on. With Larry’s inspiring photos, we should be able to, perhaps, provide a better balance of positive and negative energies on the blog. I started a category called “Good Things” for projects and ideas we can all agree are beneficial.
Here’s a Madeleine L’Engle quote:
How do we learn to bless, rather than damn, those with whom we disagree, those whom we fear, those who are different? … To look for hell, not heaven, is a kind of blasphemy, for we are called to live in hope.
Source: A Stone for a Pillow
Forest Service volunteer of the year hopes more will join his cause
By GAIL COLE, Corvallis Gazette-Times | Posted: Tuesday, February 21, 2012 11:00 am | (2) Comments
Joel Starr’s idea of a good time is sawing apart felled logs and brush blocking a trail in the forest.
“I like to feel like I’ve accomplished something,” Starr said.
Starr’s accomplished quite a lot when it comes to keeping recreation areas maintained for the public.
As trail boss for the Oregon Equestrian Trails’ mid-valley chapter, Starr has helped the group organize from 10 to 12 trail cleanups a year, both locally and throughout the Pacific Northwest. He’s worked on Marys Peak, Bald Hill and the McDonald Forest as well as the Willamette, Deschutes, Siuslaw and Mount Hood national forests.
The 100-member chapter typically logs 2,400 volunteer hours each year clearing trails.
In recognition of his efforts, the U.S. Forest Service has named Starr its national individual volunteer of the year – as well as its individual volunteer of the year on Region 6, which covers Oregon and Washington.
Jennifer Velez, a spokesperson with the Willamette National Forest, said that Starr recently was honored for his Region 6 contributions at Willamette’s Sweet Home Ranger Station. Plans still are in the works for his national recognition award ceremony.
Starr began clearing trails in 1995, but these days, he’s also teaching the skill to others. He is one of only five people in the Pacific Northwest who are certified to train prospective volunteers in the use of both a crosscut saw and a chain saw to clear trails.
And because no motorized vehicles or chain saws are allowed in many parts of Forest Service land, Starr has also learned how to sharpen crosscut saws – a three-hour chore he does once a year. He’s even built a few cross-cut saws himself, but Starr said his own creations don’t compare to the cross-cut saws used by early-20th century loggers.
“They haven’t made decent crosscut saws (since) 1950,” Starr said.
A former process engineer, Starr’s talent for organization is evident in the Oregon Equestrian Trails chapter’s supply trailer, which is parked on his Philomath property. It’s well-stocked with shovels, hard hats and other equipment needed to clear trails. A work party can equip itself at his trailer and be ready to go in 30 minutes or less.
“We never have to say, ‘Where’s the shovels?’” Starr said.
During work parties, Starr likes to get volunteers of many talents involved in his trail-clearing excursions. In addition to those who can cut up felled logs, volunteers are needed who know fire prevention and who are CPR- and first aid-certified.
“We have the attitude that everyone has something to offer,” he said.
Also a member of the Pacific Crest Trail Association and Back Country Horseman of Oregon, Starr has worked with several other groups on equestrian trail work parties who’ve also volunteered to clear forestland trails, such as AmeriCorps’ Northwest Youth Corps and the Sierra Club.
Starr, who is 65, is hoping to get enough people motivated and involved so that he can pass along his mission of keeping public recreation areas accessible to a new generation of volunteers.
“If they want this when they’re older, they’ll need to get proactive,” Starr said.
Volunteers are filling a vital role in maintaining recreation areas – a task no longer adequately funded, Starr said.
The Forest Service administers 193 million acres of forestland and grassland with an overall fiscal year 2012 budget of $5.9 billion – or, around $30.57 per acre. That total is down from $6.13 billion in 2011.
Within those 193 million acres are miles of recreation trails. For example, the Willamette National Forest’s south Santiam travel corridor, found along Highway 20, includes more than 30 day-use hiking and horse trails.
“For people to enjoy the legacy that we have, volunteers have got to maintain it,” Starr said.