Pipelines are essentially super-highways for carbon on its way into Earth’s atmosphere. There is this link between new pipelines and future forest fires. We have been learning by our own experience about weather volatility that comes with climate change: extremes of wind, rain, heat and cold. Most of us in Northern Wisconsin have experienced an effect when we bring the cold dry winter air of January inside our homes and warm it up; the warmed air sucks the moisture right out of our skin and our bodies. It’s because warmed air attracts more water than cold air can hold. The more we warm our collective home, the Earth, the more that the warmed air will sponge up the available moisture. Over land that moisture is surrendered by our fields and forests.
In Northern Wisconsin the risk of oil pipelines is not only to our waters during delivery, but also to our forests and farms in the soon-to-be future. There was a time when nature alone balanced the carbon cycle: plants breath it in; we breath it out. But now the exponential growth of humanity and our technologies has undone this balance. The ever increasing quantities of carbon in the atmosphere have led to a slow but insidious and continuing warming of the planet and our atmosphere. Taking carbon out of the ground (oil, coal and gas) and putting it into the atmosphere, won’t end well in the long run.
We’ve come to understand that more heat and moisture in the atmosphere can lead to extreme storms; and we are seeing that these extreme weather events can come with extreme heat (California) or extreme cold (Texas) extreme rain, wind, or drought. It will be periods of heat and dryness that will suck the moisture out of our fields and forests (drought).
Our forests are vulnerable to loss of moisture as climate-change progresses. That means an increasing risk of forest fires in Northern Wisconsin and our neighboring states. I hope this fire alert is enough to focus our attention on the need to fight climate-change. Better to fight climate-change now than more frequent and extreme forest fires later. New pipelines are part of the problem because they are massive investments which require many decades of cost recovery through their operation. Once the investment is made, investors will strongly resist shutting them down. We just can’t afford to wait decades to shut down these super highways of unnatural carbon flow into our atmosphere. Keeping those highways open longer than absolutely necessary is the road map to disaster.
George Einar Busséy