Saturday, November 17, 2018

The Deadly California Fires

From Investor's Business Daily:
As reported by PJ Media's Bridget Johnson, Brown calls the devastating conflagration now roaring through the northern part of the state "the new normal." The fires have killed at least six people, including two firefighters, torched more than a thousand homes, and burnt close to 130,000 acres. The fires are horrible. Cal Fire, the state fire agency, blamed "steep terrain, erratic winds, and previously unburned fuels" for fueling the fires.

Brown had a different culprit: global warming. "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 called on dramatic, extremely costly steps to "shift the weather back to where it historically was," claiming current weather conditions hadn't been so hot "since civilization emerged 10,000 years ago."

Succinct, and very wrong. In fact, a look at global temperatures for the last 10,000 years shows that temperatures have been much warmer than they are today for much if not most of the time during that period. Indeed, many historians and anthropologists attribute the rise of civilization to global warming following the last Ice Age. And, no, despite Brown's claims, we're not having more fires. A study in the journal Science determined that the global burnt area from fires, rather than growing, had declined by roughly 25% from 1999 to 2017.

Another paper, this one appearing in 2016 in the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, concluded: "Many consider wildfire an accelerating problem, with widely held perceptions both in the media and scientific papers of increasing fire occurrence, severity and resulting losses. However, important exceptions aside, the quantitative evidence available does not support these perceived trends."

But what about California? No question, the state is going through a hot spell and big fires. But a study released last year showed that, since 1970, the number of big fires — those of 300 acres or more — have steadily declined. The past year has seen some unusually hot months, no question, drying things out. But that's weather — not climate change.

That's not to say there aren't problems.  There are. But it doesn't lie with California Gov. Brown's white whale, global warming, on which he is truly an Ahab-like fanatic. He should instead point the finger of blame at two major reasons for destructive fires: One, in recent decades we've built homes and expanded towns in remote areas where previously there were few people or none. But even more seriously is the federal government's foolish policies related to fire control.

"One of the biggest problems is the overcrowding of Western forests with dead trees, and the areas beween stand with dry, flammable grasses," noted a recent analysis in the Washington Examiner. "Part of the problem is that logging and grazing have been discontinued or discouraged in too many places."

Worse, the federal government's policy of wildfire suppression has, perhaps paradoxically, contributed to the problem. Before humans lived here in enormous numbers, the landscape had many small fires that suddenly erupted from lightning strikes and other causes, and then burnt themselves out. But in recent decades, the policy has been to stop fires immediately. This leaves huge areas of accumulating dry brush that catches fire fast and burns hot, with the fire traveling quickly once lit. That's where we are today. (Read more.)

From The Washington Times:
 “It’s time to rise above political posturing and recognize that active forest management — including logging, thinning, grazing and controlled burning — are tools that can and must be used to reduce fire risks and help mitigate the impacts to landscapes,” Mr. Dructor said in a statement. According to the council, some 60 million to 80 million acres of national forest are at “high, to very high, risk of catastrophic wildfire.” Citing research from the U.S. Forest Service, the council backs such methods as thinning stressed trees and prescribed burns to reduce wildfires but said “only a small fraction of high-risk acres are being treated.”

Mr. Dructor advised the Trump administration and Congress to expand public-private partnerships to manage the problem. “The federal government does not have resources to treat every forest by itself. Yet America’s forest sector has the infrastructure to manage and improve the health of our federal forests. The raw excess material from overgrown forests can provide renewable energy and a number of American-made products and provide thousands of family-wage jobs,” Mr. Dructor said. “Loggers are America’s ‘boots on the ground’ to conserve our forests and reduce the risks of wildfire,” council president Chris Potts said in a statement.

“We work in the woods every day, we understand forestry and see the dangers every day, and we know what needs to be done. Without forests, we are out of business. That’s why we’ll continue to work with Republicans and Democrats on needed reforms that will help to sustain our forests and protect our forests and communities from wildfire,” he said. (Read more.)

And a major climate study has been revealed to be flawed. To quote:
The error was first discovered by Nic Lewis, a retired British man who holds a bachelors degree in math from the University of Cambridge and who reads science papers for fun. He has also written a couple of published papers of his own on climate science. “I've always liked to understand the world and to check whether people's research makes sense to me. Once I find something that seems wrong to me, I like to get to the bottom of it,” Lewis told Fox News. Lewis said the incident should serve as a cautionary tale. (Read more.)

1 comment:

julygirl said...

I am certainly no expert on forest management but do know from my elementary school science classes we were taught how part of forest management was controlled burning of certain areas. That is the way it is done in my home State of Maryland. It does not affect the wildlife because during the burning the wildlife evacuate to other areas where they are safe. Also certain types of trees require an area to be burned in order for their 'off springs' to take hold and grow new trees.

As far as global warming, there was a time before the 'mini ice age' when wine was produced in England, but as the area cooled they switched to growing grain needed to produce beer and ale. To this day, Northern European Countries produce beer and Southern European Countries produce wine.