Climate change is not a good excuse – Sept. 2014

Recently the U.S. Fish and Wildlife announced they were not going to list the wolverine as threatened or endangered.  The document stated the major reason for consideration of the listing, climate change, had so many variables that it was difficult to tell what the impact would be and therefore whether it would result in wolverines declining or increasing.  It should be noted that in the original listing proposal it was stated that wolverines were gone from certain areas in the Mid-West because of earlier climate changes (back in the late 1700s and early 1800s) and that in parts of the West the wolverine is making a comeback despite climate change.

Of course the decision was met with the predictable outcries from those folks who want to see everything listed, so that nothing can be allowed to happen.  They immediately filed the necessary notice to sue the Fish & Wildlife Service.

By saying that they can’t predict what impact climate change will have on the wolverine, the Fish & Wildlife Service will also have to be careful not to start a precedent.  It seems like anymore when something goes awry with a land management agency, the excuse du jour is always climate change.  Wildfires burn up some trees – it’s climate change.  Floods wash out some fields and homes – it’s climate change.  Water holes dry up – it’s climate change.  Little Joey has a hang nail – it’s climate change.  Well maybe not that last one.

A few decades ago the environmental community was dead set against clear cutting trees.  In areas where trees were clear cut they would fly over those areas in the winter when the snow made a good contrast and take pictures.  These would then end up in publications showing the public how bad these clear cuts were in their minds.  This tactic along with their lawsuit strategy was so effective that the timber sale program ground to a halt and lumber mills shut their doors and laid off their employees.

Now we jump forward several decades and should some of those environmentalists overfly the forests in Wyoming today, they would see hundreds of thousands of acres of dead trees.  Of course we’re told the reason for this is climate change.

However, recently Sen. Bebout from Fremont County was flying his plane over some forests.  He took some pictures of areas that were clear cut several years ago and guess what…While the surrounding forest had dead or dying trees because of “climate change,” those areas that were clear cut were green and growing trees.  These areas were pretty small compared to the dead areas, but we can only speculate about how the forest would look today had we been allowed to harvest those trees 30 years ago. Given the photographic evidence of previous clear cut areas, we can conclude that we’d have a lot more green areas in the forest than we have today.

But the most important thing we’ve learned is that dead forests aren’t the result of climate change, but mismanagement by the courts after the lawsuits were filed.  So, the next time someone wants to blame some ill on climate change; be a little skeptical.

By Ken Hamilton, Wyoming Farm Bureau Federation Executive Vice President

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