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climate change

West Fork firefighter serving as a lookout for Hotshot crews working below on the Nelson Creek fire.
Inciweb

On the Senate floor Wednesday, both of Montana's senators gave 10-minute speeches about wildfires in Montana.

"Climate change is real, and we can't continue to sit on the sidelines," Democratic Senator Jon Tester said.

Republican Senator Steve Daines focused on, "The mis-management of our federal forests, and these radical environmentalists."

Both Daines and Tester talked about Montana's fires in the context of the nation's attention being primarily on hurricanes at the moment.

From left to right, Rep. Greg Gianforte, Sen. Steve Daines, Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke during a visit to the Lolo Peak Fire operations center August 24, 2017.
Eric Whitney

Two extraordinary things happened at the incident command post for the Lolo Peak Fire Thursday. One, it rained a little. The National Weather Service said .01 inches of precipitation came down mid-day. Two, a pair of cabinet secretaries, a U.S. Senator, and Montana’s congressman visited.

Faced with declining enrollment and a budget deficit, the University of Montana is offering early retirement buyouts to some faculty members. Well-known, climate science Professor Steve Running accepted the offer and is set to retire.

Running was a member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change team, which was collectively awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007 for its broad report on the connection between human activities and global warming. Running was a lead author for one of the chapters in the IPCC report. He's also on the NASA Advisory Council Science Committee and has taught at the University of Montana for 38 years.

MTPR’s Katie Riordan spoke with Running about his decision to retire and his future plans.

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“This has been a difficult year," Democratic Governor Steve Bullock says. "By some estimates our fire seasons are now about 78 days longer than they were two decades ago.”
Credit Nate Hegyi / YPR

State climatologist Kelsey Jencso says what folks are seeing this summer -- extreme fires, sudden droughts, snowpacks melting quickly -- may be a vision of Montana’s future.

If you’re wondering what climate change will look like in Montana, state climatologist Kelsey Jencso says take a look outside. 

“This is certainly what the future may look like,” he says.

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