About Those California Wildfires

As everyone knows, wildfires have burned out of control in both northern and southern California. Some have been killed and many more are missing. The fires are a human tragedy, one that seems to have become more common in California in recent years. Liberals, predictably, have blamed global warming–and therefore conservatives–for the fires. California Governor Jerry Brown, for one, has specifically said that global warming skeptics are partly responsible for the loss of life.

It is hard to imagine a more contemptible assertion. My first thought, when I saw the headlines about “climate change,” was, do they think it is extraordinarily hot in California in November? Presumably not. The theory is that “climate change,” that all-purpose mantra, has caused California to be dryer than in previous decades or centuries. But that isn’t true either, as Ken Haapala of the Science and Environmental Policy Project points out:

The worst fire has been in the area of Paradise, California, which is in the Sierra Nevada foothills north and east of the Sacramento Valley about 85 miles (137 km) north of Sacramento. The climate is classified as hot-summer Mediterranean and the community is spread out on a wide ridge between deep canyons formed by a branch of the Feather River and Butte Creek. Much of the recent housing is in area have young woodlands at elevations above 1,700 feet (525 m). The rainy season of 2016–2017 was considered Northern California’s wettest winter in over 100 years. The heavy snow and rain caused significant pressure on nearby Oroville Dam, and the spillway failed.

Much of what has been written about the tragic fires has ignored the distinction between the areas of Northern and Southern California and that heavy rains fell in Northern California of 2016-2017. This commentary will focus on the worst fire, near Paradise. It is here that news photographs show strings of burnt vehicles abandoned by those trying to flee the fires.

Unfortunately, the governor of California, Jerry Brown, has tried to assign blame for the tragedy to “climate change” – the perfect excuse for politicians. Not only was the prior year very wet in Northern California, a chart by NOAA, reproduced by Icecap, shows California has had no downtrend in annual precipitation since 1895. In fact, no trend at all for 120 years, except for wild changes over short periods of time. The chart shows that precipitation in California has drastically changed frequently, and this change is totally unrelated to changing atmospheric carbon dioxide.

Meteorologist Cliff Mass, who is not a “climate denier,” gives his analysis of what apparently caused the fire – power lines downed by high winds. Mass states the conditions were predictable, and that under such circumstances power should be shut-off in vulnerable lines during periods of high winds. This is not an ideal solution, but it is better than what occurred.

That is way too practical a suggestion, with little or no political potential. So it will quickly be forgotten.

President Trump has suggested that the California wild fires were caused, at least in part, by forest management practices dictated by environmentalists. That may not be the whole story, but it is certainly part of it. For quite a few years, experts in land management have been pointing out that the liberals’ forest management practices are producing more wild fires. Recognizing this fact, in 2016 a bipartisan California legislature passed a Wildfire Management Bill, but Brown vetoed it. Maybe that is why he wanted to deflect attention to “global warming.” In November.

Much has been written about the misguided forest management practices that have been implemented, at the insistence of environmentalists, not just in California but around the country. This is just one of many such sources, Krystina Skurk at The Federalist:

Right now, the most deadly fire in California’s history is racing across northern California. The Camp Fire has already killed at least 56 people, burned down 7,700 homes, and destroyed the entire town of Paradise. A brush fire is also wreaking havoc on southern California. The Woolsey Fire has destroyed 98,362 acres, killed two people, and damaged several Hollywood landmarks such as the set of “MASH” and the Reagan Ranch.

Article after article blames two things for California’s frequent fires: global warming and human action…. While dry conditions make fires more likely and people often start them, this misses the big picture. President Trump summed it up on Nov 10. He wrote, “There is no reason for these massive, deadly and costly forest fires in California except that forest management is so poor…Remedy now, or no more Fed payments!”

Trump is right. Mismanagement and overregulation deserve most of the blame, but he should keep in mind that the federal government owns 57 percent of California forest land.
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For decades, environmental protection schemes have usurped common sense. For example, most fire ecologists say that the surest way of preventing massive forest fires is to use prescribed burns. The California Environmental Protection Agency states that “prescribed burning is the intentional use of fire to reduce wildfire hazards, clear downed trees, control plant diseases, improve rangeland and wildlife habitats, and restore natural ecosystems.”
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Despite scientific evidence, the federal government continues spending more money on fire suppression than prescribed burns.

There is much more at the link. For now, let’s conclude that it is ridiculous to accuse those who point out the logical and mathematical errors of the global warming hysterics of being responsible for wild fires.

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