Representative McMorris Rodgers Mourns Firefighters, Ignores The Problem That Burned Them Alive
Recently, U.S. Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers spoke movingly of the loss of three firefighters who died while trying to fight one of the record number of wildfires that have surged across the American West this year. “I rise today in memory of three brave firefighters – Tom Zbyszewski, Andrew Zajac, and Richard Wheeler – who were killed after their vehicle crashed near Twisp, Washington, leaving the men in the path of a raging fire,” she said. “Washington State has faced record forest fires this season. Nearly a million acres have burned. There has been a lot of loss, including the lives of these three men.”
What McMorris Rodgers said is touching, but it is not the job of a U.S. Representative to be touching, or to speak movingly. It is the job of a member of Congress to pass legislation that makes concrete changes to solve problems.
Unfortunately, for years, Cathy McMorris Rodgers has been promoting an agenda of inaction on the cause of the increased number and intensity of wildfires.
Climatologists have been warning us for years that climate change caused by human beings will be drying out the American West, resulting in more intense wildfires as well as an increase in the number of wildfires. As Michael Sainato writes in The Hill, “This disaster should serve as a wake-up call to everyone who refutes the existence of climate change.”
Cathy McMorris Rodgers has refused, however, to be awakened by the alarms. She writes that “Scientific reports are inconclusive at best on human culpability for global warming,” but that’s simply not the case. The IPCC, a panel of scientists who have conducted the most thorough review of scientific research related to climate change, state in their most recent report that “Human influence on the climate system is clear, and recent anthropogenic emissions of green- house gases are the highest in history. Recent climate changes have had widespread impacts on human and natural systems,” and that “Impacts from recent climate-related extremes, such as heat waves, droughts, floods, cyclones and wildfires, reveal significant vulnerability and exposure of some ecosystems and many human systems to current climate variability (very high confidence).”
The science on anthropogenic climate change is not at all inconclusive. There is a strong statistical basis, along multiple lines of evidence, for the conclusion that dramatic global climate change is currently taking place, and that it is caused primarily by human activity.
Cathy McMorris Rodgers has consistently opposed efforts to deal with climate change – and she has had a financial interest in doing so, haven taken more than a quarter of a million dollars in payments from people working for the fossil fuel industry.
Representative McMorris Rodgers hasn’t been elected to represent the fossil fuels industry, however. She has been elected to represent the interests of the people who live in the 5th congressional district of Washington. Right now, that district is on fire.
If Cathy McMorris Rodgers continues to block legislation to strongly deal with climate climate, the 5th congressional district will see many more years of fire like this in the future.