In this file photo shot by firefighter Andrew Ashcraft, members of the Granite Mountain Hotshots watch a growing wildfire that later swept over and killed the crew of 19 firefighters near Yarnell, Ariz., Sunday, June 30, 2013.
Before the tragic Yarnell wildfire, CBS News anchor Scott Pelley interviewed the commander of the hotshot squadron. The commander said the frequency and severity of wild fires had increased so dramatically in recent years, and he did not know of one firefighter who did not believe in climate change.
The commander's observation is supported in the recently released "Assessment of Climate Change in the Southwest United States." This comprehensive report is part of the National Climate Assessment, which was mandated by Congress in 1990. Prominent Utah climate scientists contributed to the report, including James Steenburgh (University of Utah), Robert Gillies (Utah State University) and John Hovel (University of Utah).
Besides documenting the worsening wildfires in the West, the report outlines other significant changes from increased atmospheric greenhouse gasses, and predicts more record heat and drought, among other trends. There is a 20-page "Summary for Decision Makers" at the beginning of the 506-page book. At a minimum, the summary should be required reading for every Utah politician and recommended for anyone else who wants to understand what is happening with our climate how we can plan for the future.