Tuesday, November 13, 2018

California's Gov. Brown Again Blames Fires On Global Warming — He Couldn't Be More Wrong

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Global Warming: California once again is burning, with hundreds of thousands of tinder-dry acres going up in flames. Gov. Jerry Brown says it's global warming. President Trump blames forest mismanagement. Who's right?

On Saturday, Trump tweeted: "There is no reason for these massive, deadly and costly forest fires in California except that forest management is so poor. Billions of dollars are given each year, with so many lives lost, all because of gross mismanagement of the forests. Remedy now, or no more Fed payments!"

Brown's take was, well, different: "Managing all the forests in everywhere we can does not stop climate change," he said. "And those who deny that are definitely contributing to the tragedies that we're now witnessing, and will continue to witness in the coming years."

Neither politician will get any points for political delicacy in their remarks. It seems to be part and parcel of today's politics. But Trump seems to know more about the causes of the California conflagration than Brown.


We've discussed Gov. Sunbeam's recent proclivity for blaming bad events on global warming. He's no longer capable of considering his beliefs rationally. He is, in a word, an extremist.

They Blinded Him With Science

This isn't name-calling. Even though there's hard science and expert opinion that suggests no major role for global warming in these fires, Brown persists in blaming the damage on climate. He's held these beliefs for a long time.

When California suffered an earlier outbreak of forest fires in August, Brown described what was happening thusly:

"We're fighting nature with the amount of material we're putting in the environment, and that material traps heat, and the heat fosters fires, and the fires keep burning," he said.

He then said we need to take extraordinary steps to "shift the weather back to where it historically was," noting that current climate is the hottest it's been "since civilization emerged 10,000 years ago."

Global Warming Not The Cause

But there's virtually no real science in anything he has said on this subject. As we noted back in August, the climate record clearly shows there were periods much hotter than today. Brown's talking point is just nonsense.

More troubling is that he and other of the global warming brigade want to stifle any possibility of dissent over their climate theories by demonizing those who disagree. Calling people "deniers" is a crude, not so subtle way of linking them to the phrase "holocaust deniers." It's a despicable abuse of language.

Does that mean climate change has nothing to do with fires? Not necessarily. If the climate were much hotter, things would be drier and more flammable. But average temperatures haven't changed in 20 years. What has changed is that millions of new people live in California, with more than ever living in remote places and others living in hundreds of thousands of new homes to the far edges of suburbia.

When fires do occur, they can quickly become cataclysmic. But don't take our word for it.

U.S. Geological Survey research scientist Jon Keeley has studied the origin of western fires since 1910. He says that 95% of all fires originate with humans. "This is a people problem," Keeley told The Mercury News. "What's changing is not the fires themselves but the fact that we have more and more people at risk.

More People, More Fire Threat

Keeley notes, for instance, that the number of homes threatened by wildfire in the Western U.S. surged from about 607,000 in 1940 to 6.7 million in 2010. That's a more than 1,000% rise. It's a basic matter of population impinging on wilderness areas.

Moreover, a 2017 study found that, since 1970 the number of fires burning 300 acres or more has actually declined. How can that be? Fires once raged across pristine forests and grasslands. But they had far fewer people or small towns in the way, as Keeley notes.

"The story can't be a simply that warming is increasing the numbers of wildfires in California because the number of fires is declining. And area burned has not been increasing either," University of Washington climatologist University of Washington Cliff Mass wrote last August, in response to that month's fires.

So, if not climate, what is the cause? The mismanagement of both state and federal forest lands. It's the triumph of "green" ideology over common sense.

Beginning in 1994, with the best of intentions, President Clinton put in place a plan to limit logging of old-growth trees to protect the endangered Spotted Owl in Western forests. Those moves pretty much ended what had been a policy of active management of fire threats in our national forests. Logging halted, the burnable fuel on the forest floor built up, and fires, while not more frequent, became more intense and threatening to nearby towns and homes.

"(Before 1994) mostly fuels were removed through logging, active management — which they stopped — and grazing," Bob Zybach, a reforestation consultant who has a Ph.D. in environmental science told the Daily Caller Foundation in an interview. "You take away logging, grazing and maintenance, and you get firebombs."

Mismanagement Is Nothing New

The Western Governors Association even warned about the mismanagement of our forest resources as far back as 2005 in a report:

"Over time the fire-prone forests that were not thinned, burn in uncharacteristically destructive wildfires, and the resulting loss of forest carbon is much greater than would occur if the forest had been thinned before fire moved through," the report warned. "In the long term, leaving forests overgrown and prone to unnaturally destructive wildfires means there will be significantly less biomass on the ground, and more greenhouse gases in the atmosphere."

We hate to say it, but Trump seems to know more about the causes of the California conflagration than Brown. What's truly a shame is that Brown is the one in denial. And his policies will lead to bigger fires and more damage to homes than ever before in the future.




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