We Can Breathe Again!

In a recent interview, a fire ecologist at the University of Montana, Philip Higuera, said about our smoke-filled summer, “. . .these types of years are what we expect to see more frequently.” Then he made an interesting analogy about the relationship of our warming temperatures to the fires we are experiencing this summer. “If a baseball player is using steroids and hits a home run, can you attribute that home run to steroids? You can’t—but you know that at some point some component of that was brought to you by this artificial input to the system.”

We have some very poorly educated people — some of them elected officials — ignoring the climate connection and talking about logging the mountains to prevent catastrophic fires. Higuera sees things as someone who’s studied fires on the ground. The full interview is here: https://www.citylab.com/environment/2017/09/the-west-is-on-fire-get-used-to-it/539352/

Three different friends of ours were evacuated this summer, one family to the north in Seeley Lake (Rice Ridge Fire), one in Lolo (The Lolo Peak Fire), and the third up the West Fork of the Bitterroot (Nelson Creek Fire). A member of our action committee, Robbie Liben expressed the anger many of us are feeling in a recent letter-to-the-editor. He mentions the smoke and the fires causing “climate refugees,” and he’s angry at the mirrors, the elected officials who won’t do anything about “the new normal” of a changed climate. His letter is here: http://helenair.com/opinion/columnists/angry-at-smoke-and-mirrors/article_3019f1b8-3ee9-54ed-be72-9397e0a35ed6.html

But, there was some good news, too, this week about the coming rain and about an innovative project to store and release energy, a new kind of battery being built up near Martensdale, Montana. This “pumped storage hydro plant” puts in place one of the major puzzle pieces to move Montana to a clean energy system. It’s a way to provide electricity to the grid when the dams aren’t enough and the wind’s not blowing and the sun’s not shining. It’s big (400 megawatts), and it opens us up to all kinds of possibilities for replacing our carbon-heavy and methane-heavy electrical generators with renewable energy. The article is here: http://www.ge.com/reports/idea-holds-water-rural-montana-town-make-splash-renewable-energy/

Finally, a reminder that you’re invited to 350 Montana’s ACTION COMMITTEE meeting next Monday, September 18, at 5:30 p.m., at Imagine Nation Brewery, 1151 West Broadway. We’re discussing our statewide “Renewables Now!” tour coming up this fall, a trip to Washington this week to visit with Senator Tester, and other actions needed. Maybe you have some ideas for actions the local climate movement can take.

There’s more information on our work is at www.350montana.org or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/350-Montana-525032514230565/

Jeff Smith, co-chair, 350 Montana