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USA Government Scientist Blocked from Talking About Climate and Wildfires

Government Scientist Blocked from Talking About Climate and Wildfires
Critics are accusing the Trump administration of stifling the dissemination of taxpayer-funded science, Scientific American , 
By Brittany PattersonClimateWire on October 31, 2017 

A U.S. Forest Service scientist who was scheduled to talk about the role that climate change plays in wildfire conditions was denied approval to attend the conference featuring fire experts from around the country.

William Jolly, a research ecologist with the agency’s Rocky Mountain Research Station in Missoula, Mont., was supposed to give a 30-minute presentation titled “Climate-Induced Variations in Global Severe Fire Weather Conditions” at the International Fire Congress in Orlando, Fla., next month. The event is hosted by the Association for Fire Ecology (AFE).

The travel denial follows reports last week that U.S. EPA blocked three scientists from making presentations at a conference in Rhode Island featuring climate change. Critics accused the Trump administration of stifling the dissemination of taxpayer-funded science……..

Jolly’s presentation was slated to be part of a special session exploring the connection between wildfire and climate change. It focuses on what scientists can learn about fire behavior in a warming future by looking at clues from the past, according to Anthony Westerling, a professor at the University of California who is moderating the session.

“It’s kind of weird that they would make it hard for a government scientist to take part in this because managing wildfire is a huge challenge logistically and financially on a vast array of federal lands,” he said. “These scientists, by participating in these kinds of society meetings, share their thoughts and hear other people’s thoughts, which is important because their work is supposed to form how these lands are managed and how we prepare for and adapt under climate change.”

Jolly is not the only scientist whose request was denied. No travel authorizations were given to researchers from the Rocky Mountain Research Station’s Human Dimensions Science Program, according to AFE. That includes Karin Riley, a research ecologist who studies the relationship between climate and wildfire. Riley is vice president of AFE’s board of directors.

Three U.S. Geological Survey researchers who are scheduled to give presentations at the wildfire conference next month have been in limbo for months while their travel request is reviewed. All three scientists are slated to speak about climate change…….

The science shared at the Fire Congress draws on real world catastrophes. The United States is experiencing its most expensive fire season in history, with more than 8.8 million acres burned, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.

Massive fires have rained chaos on communities in Montana and California, in part due to climate change increasing the number of fires and making them more severe. A 2015 report by the Forest Service found that modern fire seasons are 78 days longer and burn twice as many acres as they did in 1970. The agency predicted that the number of acres burned could double again by 2050 (Climatewire, Aug. 6, 2015)……. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/government-scientist-blocked-from-talking-about-climate-and-wildfires/

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November 2, 2017 - Posted by | civil liberties, climate change, USA

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