Guest Opinion: An appeal for a safe climate from a scientist and loving father

By Dominick DellaSala

family hikingThis Earth Day, I am giving thanks for the lingering effects of our cold-wet winter and the beautiful snow-capped mountains. Reservoirs are filling up, fisher-people are casting away in streams with hopes of bountiful catches, and kayakers are bucking the rapids again. We should all enjoy this wet winter that used to be the “norm,” while remembering that we have much work to do to make the climate safe for our children.

I would like to share my family’s story because it concerns all parents, hikers, hunters and other outdoor enthusiasts in the region.

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Earth Day 2017 Public Talk: Keeping Science Cool on a Warming Planet

Join us for a free public talk on the importance of science in combating climate change.

When: Saturday April 22, 2017 at 1pm (right after the Science March)

Where: Science Works Museum (1500 E. Main St, Ashland, OR)

Speaker: Dr. Dominick DellaSala, Chief Scientist of the Geos Institute and Director of the Forest Legacies Initiative

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Thinning forests aims to reduce fire risk

To restore a forest and reduce the risk of severe wildfires, a conservation group is cutting down trees.

The Nature Conservancy is selectively logging dry forests in Washington's Central Cascades as part of a long-term plan to make thousands of privately owned forestland more resilient to fire, disease and climate change.

A century of wildfire suppression has resulted in overgrown tree stands that are ripe for fire, so the group is weeding out smaller trees that can serve as kindling for fires. They're leaving bigger, older and more fire-resistant ponderosa pines while removing tree species such as grand fir that are more susceptible to fire.

Dominick DellaSala, chief scientist of the Geos Institute in Ashland, Oregon, said thinning that's done right can be a good tool but it's not the only one.

"I don't see it as a panacea and it should be strategically used to defend homes and lives and get into the truly flammable area," he said. Often missing from the equation is letting fires burn naturally under safe conditions, he added.

Keep reading the full article in The Virginian-Pilot online

Trump budget bad news for nature

Although President Trump's budget is still taking shape, it appears that it would significantly reduce regulations, impact air and water quality and degrade the health of humans, the natural environment and Southern Oregon's tourism industry, according to local environmental groups.

Dominick DellaSala, president and chief scientist of the Geos Institute in Ashland, said during a working trip to Washington, D.C., that there are many potential negative impacts, ranging from air and water pollution to an increase in disease-bearing insects moving north and west from the tropics.

"Cutting science and climate-change funding via the Trump budget proposal means increased human suffering, especially to vulnerable populations — the young, elderly and poor," said DellaSala, whose daughter has had Lyme disease for five years, caught from a tick in their Talent backyard.

"In D.C., anything to do with science, especially climate change, is in the cross-hairs," DellaSala said. "If there's no viable EPA, there's going to be more air and water pollution and less regulation, but here in Washington, they all say the budget is DOA (dead on arrival)."

Keep reading the full article in the Mail Tribune

Trump appointees a threat to national forest and climate refugia

Dominick DellaSala was interviewed in a recent Climate Central article "Food Security, Forests At Risk Under Trump’s USDA". 

The wildfire threat will not be reduced by efforts in Congress or in the Trump administration to increase logging, said Dominick DellaSala, chief scientist at the Geos Institute, a climate change think tank.

“As climate change results in more extreme fire weather in places, throwing more money at the problem won’t result in a fire-fix as climate increasingly becomes the top-down driver of fire behavior,” he said.

DellaSala said it’s also important that the USDA manage and preserve forests — especially Alaska’s rain forests — as carbon sinks in order for the U.S. to uphold the Paris Climate Agreement. The pact calls for countries to cut climate pollution to prevent global warming from exceeding 2°C (3.6°F), a level considered dangerous by the United Nations.

Read the full article at Climate Central

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