Academic Criticises California Governor Jerry Brown for Normalising Climate Change

Jerry Brown pushes for climate action in Germany, jokingly offering to put anti-oil hecklers ‘in the ground’ – LA Times

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

Governor Jerry Brown recently called events like the California Fires “The New Normal”, but climate scientists don’t want to be normal. One environmental scientist at least worries that Browns’ statement amounts to an admission of acceptance of climate change, and will lead to complacency.

In defense of using “the new normal” to describe climate change

While government officials and the media like to throw the phrase around, scientists kind of hate it

AUGUST 18, 2018 4:30PM (UTC)

“Over a decade or so, we’re going to have more fire, more destructive fire, more billions that will have to be spent on it,” California Governor Jerry Brown said last week. “All that is the ‘new normal’ that we will have to face.”

Why on earth is the word normal being thrown around to describe such extraordinary times?

While government officials and the media like to throw the phrase around, scientists kind of hate it.

It sounds like we left the old normal, the old conditions, and arrived at a new normal, a new stasis,” Crystal Kolden, a fire scientist at the University of Idaho, tells me. “Unfortunately, that’s not what our climate projections are telling us. They’re telling us that this is one step on a very long staircase that’s heading toward extreme conditions.”

I, too, was poised to write another takedown, until I spoke with Kory Stamper, lexicographer and author of Word by Word: The Secret Life of Dictionaries. Her quick survey of the history of the phrase shows that scientists’ concern may be misplaced. After all, the word normal has a notoriously slippery definition outside of climatology.

The idea that normal is this fixed star by which we orient everything else around us — that’s not rooted in actual reality,” Stamper says.

Read more:

While it is entertaining to see an academic criticised by Salon for being too radical about climate change, Crystal Kolden’s frustration at Governor Brown’s use of the word “normal” hints at a deeper problem which afflicts the entire climate movement.

What climate scientists have to say usually isn’t that interesting. I mean, when is the last time you heard a climate scientist say something new?

This growing climate message fatigue may be why scientists like Michael Mann have taken to promoting their speaking services.

Perhaps if you ask, Mann will guarantee that during his speech at your event that he will say something new.

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August 18, 2018 1:26 pm

“Governor Jerry Brown recently called events like the California Fires “The New Normal””

really?….if droughts were normal….a normal person would build a way to store more water…..but no
…if fires are normal….a normal person would buy more fire trucks and water bomber planes…but no

Gary Pearse
Reply to  Latitude
August 18, 2018 1:51 pm

Yeah, Latitude, but this is precisely why they dont practice prevention or preparation. It supports the meme. This guy should be arrested and the State subject to class action suits. Are non of those who lost their homes and family members not seeking redress for criminal negligence? Whatever happened to the good old USA litigenous society? Now they only want to sue oil companies for fueling fire fighting planes and trucks. The legislature’s bill that was to get dangerous sparking residential lines repaired turned out to be a warning of imminent danger. It was vetoed by JB – a perfect case.

Bill Murphy
Reply to  Latitude
August 18, 2018 5:27 pm

Brown also called the drought a few years ago, “The New Normal” only a few months before flooding rains and snow hit the state. Both events were cited as proof of his CAGW religion in spite of the well known evidence that both had happened many times in historic and prehistoric times. Only in California… (OK, maybe New York, too)

Reply to  Bill Murphy
August 19, 2018 3:13 am

lake mead filled and they canned restrictions i gather so everyone went back to overuse and olly gosh its getting a bit low again!
education for the kids to be thoughtful on water use seems to be the best way to gain water conservation later in life

Pop Piasa
Reply to  Latitude
August 18, 2018 5:55 pm

Just think of the ‘new’ normal as a change of perspective on the ‘old’ normal.

Reply to  Latitude
August 19, 2018 8:28 am

It very well may be “normal”, but there is hardly anything “new” about it. The record goes well past Moonbeam’s father.

James Bull
Reply to  Latitude
August 20, 2018 12:16 am

I have a teeshirt with the caption

James Bull

CD in Wisconsin
August 18, 2018 1:32 pm

I don’t even know if Mann could pay me enough to listen to him. I know it would cost him quite a bit if I did, and it might very well bankrupt him. The only thing I need to know is how much he is worth…. if anyone out there knows.

Joel O'Bryan
August 18, 2018 1:46 pm

The Left is always about relativism. 3 examples in our lives today.

1. It means an ever-shifting politically-correct (PC) culture.
– Today a statement you make can be PC. But the same position/statement tomorrow, and you’re being shutdown by some crowd of screaming pink-haired, tattooed she/xe/it as a (pick one: hater/misogynist/racist/denier), etc.

2. It means ever shifting moral values (no absolute morals).
– Gay marriage is not allowed, to today it’s okay, to tomorrow you can marry and have sex with your pet goat, etc.
– Putting people in internment camps goes from immoral and repugnant, to placing them in “re-education centers” is okay because the jailers are self-appointed on a mission of “Saving the Planet.”

3. A living US constitution.
The rule of law constantly shifts, even ex post facto. The constitution can be reinterpreted on a dime to comport to new relativism and ever-shifting PC culture values.

As for Gov Moonbeam, he is laying in the bed he has made for himself. Today, he is Maximilien Robespierre leading the PC charge to silence “deniers”, tomorrow his head is in a basket as the Progressive crowd he helped create ultimately devours him too.

Pop Piasa
Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
August 18, 2018 6:20 pm

He’d do well to consider the “new normal that Jews in Germany experienced when the left took over.

August 18, 2018 1:57 pm

I thought California fires ARE normal and ALWAYS HAVE BEEN “normal”.

What’s new is how more people are reacting to the fires, in whose paths they live.

What’s new is some people not caring to prepare their properties for what is a known to be normal occurrence.

What’s new is more people being more careless to start fires in a normally fire-prone region.

Whats new is more fuel in the form of trees and undergrowth, newly protected from proper management to prevent their combustion when more careless people ignite errant sparks.

…and there are probably a few more points to be made.

Reply to  Robert Kernodle
August 18, 2018 8:54 pm

Also what is new is the large number of iPhones to film the bushfires.
They used to be filmed by brave camera folk who generally worked for publications.
They are now filmed by every Tom, Dick and Harry (sorry, I have just mucked up the gender balance).

Reply to  toorightmate
August 19, 2018 7:43 am

“Tomtrans, Dick and Harriet.’

Reply to  Robert Kernodle
August 19, 2018 8:31 am

What is ‘new’ is far more people, in the same old normal.

August 18, 2018 2:05 pm

Why would or does anyone care what Jerry Brown says. He is either an idiot or a liar but most probably both.

Reply to  JimG1
August 18, 2018 8:55 pm

Jerry Brown, the IDIOTIC LIAR.
Most apt.

Reply to  JimG1
August 19, 2018 8:33 am

Because he can rally enough idiots to cause problems for the sane.
Look at the recent fight over automobile mileage regulations.

August 18, 2018 2:38 pm

“The new normal” indeed! Just a few years ago the California governor bought into the alarmist nonsense that drought was “the new normal”. So of course he didn’t spend money maintaining the dams (since the reservoirs would be perpetually dry). So when the rains inevitably returned, one dam came close to bursting. Had it done so, I recall that something like over 100,000 people would have lost their homes. To paraphrase Lucy Van Pelt, of all the Jerry Browns in the world, the California governor is the Jerry Browniest.

Reply to  Phantor48
August 18, 2018 5:11 pm

“Floodrought is the new normal.” There, leaves no base uncovered!

Pop Piasa
Reply to  Phantor48
August 18, 2018 5:12 pm

I guess whatever’s normal at the moment, man…
You think he looks like Charlie Brown too?
comment image

Reply to  Phantor48
August 18, 2018 7:55 pm

The dam was never close to bursting. the emergency overflow was badly eroded, but that it.

The overflow was on the other side of a solid rock ridge from the dam itself.. It would have taken 10’s of thousands of years of constant flooding for it to erode that ridge enough to threaten the dam.

Donald Kasper
August 18, 2018 2:41 pm

Not our fault, more homes going to burn, so what. Well, without logging, the fires in the future will be unstoppable. All the Fed has to do to shut that thinking down is to stop paying the bill for fire control, $500 million for this group of CA fires. When the control gets to tens of billions even Democrats will notice because it takes away from their play money.

John F. Hultquist
Reply to  Donald Kasper
August 18, 2018 4:53 pm

without . . xxx . , the fires in the future will be unstoppable

Too late. Already there is so much fuel in large forests that we have entered “The Era of Mega Fires.” See. LINK

I have been to this presentation and to another different “fire” day event with multiple agencies and speakers. There was a small bit of “climate change” (mostly audience questions) introduced, but mostly the events were serious.

Bill Murphy
Reply to  John F. Hultquist
August 18, 2018 5:45 pm

RE: Too late. Already there is so much fuel in large forests that we have entered “The Era of Mega Fires.”

Forest managers I worked with in the 80’s were already saying that back then. It was probably too late in the 60’s.

T port
Reply to  Donald Kasper
August 18, 2018 7:45 pm

Logging won’t solve anything as logging companies only want the big trees not the junky undergrowth which is the main problem.

Reply to  T port
August 18, 2018 7:57 pm

Thin the big trees enough, and the junky undergrowth stops being such a big problem.

Dr. Bob
Reply to  Donald Kasper
August 19, 2018 9:23 am

In Canada, the lose more timber to fires in unmanaged areas than the harvest as wood. The managed areas have few fires as the fuel is removed periodically.
I am so glad I left California in the 1990’s. It has only gotten worse since then.

August 18, 2018 3:01 pm

“new normal” is as lame as “it’s worst than we thought”

Reply to  Nash
August 18, 2018 8:56 pm

It could be yet another TIPPING POINT.

August 18, 2018 3:09 pm

They’re in the business of exploiting problems, not solving them. Making genuine, effective efforts to solve a problem, or at least mitigate the worst effects, would leave them with one fewer talking point to pound the PC podium with. At best, they’ll pursue over-hyped half-solutions that leave the original problem with a starter crop. At worst, they’ll actively try to exacerbate the problem. Bonus unpoints if they can do both with one policy. They’d rather have the grievance, because weaponized grievance is their path to power. One that requires an underclass of Perpetually Aggrieved.

Should they find a pit, they don’t fill it in. They put spikes in the bottom. Should Johnny Voter fall in, they don’t throw him a rope. They throw him novocaine so the spikes won’t hurt as much. Then they go soapbox about how poor Johnny Voter is still down in the spiked pit and how we need higher taxes to buy him more novocaine.

Ed Zuiderwijk
August 18, 2018 3:17 pm

Personally I prefer more demanncipation.

August 18, 2018 3:42 pm

If there’s been a change, we seemed to have adapted to it quite nicely. Indeed, that’s what we humans do. We came out of Africa where it was quite warm and “normal” all year round, and we populated Europe where it was frequently abnormally cold. That became our new normal. I think we can handle a few degrees of temperature change, don’t you?

August 18, 2018 4:32 pm

Brown wants us to think that if we build more windmills, solar farms, better mileage cars and so forth, we can reduce CO2 and avoid his new normal. His own Cal Fire says no, the problem is not CO2 or climate, it is poor forest management. Greens have insisted the forests be left alone so that “environments” for wildlife are preserved as they were thousands of years ago. So far, they have had their way. But in recent decades, hundreds of thousands of homes have been and are being built in such areas. To preserve the homes, surrounding forests must be managed with a big Or Else. Old growth must be removed. Dead trees must be removed. Undergrowth fuels must be removed with controlled burns or removal. If not, monster forest fires, (fueled even more by lots of wooden homes) will continue as they did in the far distant past. And the creatures living in these environments, animals as always, and now humans, will burn to death.

Brown’s thinking is killing people and more will be killed until proper forest management in populated areas is instituted. And this consequence will have nothing to do with global warming, or climate change, or CO2, whatever it is called. It will be a consequence of a very bad, almost murderous, California Government policy.

It makes me sick.

August 18, 2018 4:40 pm

Brown’s critics seem willfully unaware that all of California’s wildfires in the last few years have been purposeful acts by eco-terrorists, and therefore can’t possibly be related to climate change or any other non-political cause.

Pop Piasa
Reply to  jdgalt
August 18, 2018 5:45 pm

Where can I find the facts that led you to make a statement that certain?

Joel O’Bryan
Reply to  jdgalt
August 18, 2018 6:19 pm

Some have been caused by down powerlines.
Anthropogenic? Yes.
Deliberate? No.

August 18, 2018 5:14 pm

“The New Normal”. This reminds me of the call for a “Stable Climate”.
I want the Stable Climate of 1950.
Or perhaps that of the Medieval Warm Period say AD 1400.
Or even that of the Roman Warm period.
The last only a few degrees warmer than today.
Just pondering…..

August 18, 2018 5:30 pm

Translation: People are becoming “desensitized” to all the climate change doom and gloom, and those whose livelihood is dependent on climate change doom and gloom aren’t happy about that.

Pop Piasa
August 18, 2018 5:33 pm

This Moonbeam guy is a classic example of political legacy and birthright elitism. He was taught by his father Pat to say only what his advisors tell him to say. He is California’s Richard Daley, so to speak. The product of a well oiled, family-owned machine.

August 18, 2018 6:39 pm

I thought Jerry Brown solved the climate change problem in California. He is quite proud of his efforts.
How can it be that there is still climate change causing fires with all those solar panels, electric cars and carbon taxes in place?
Someone is lying here.

August 18, 2018 7:52 pm

“Mann will guarantee that during his speech at your event that he will say something new.”

How about a guarantee that he will say something accurate?

Phil Rae
Reply to  MarkW
August 18, 2018 8:06 pm

That would require him to say nothing at all, perhaps?

Reply to  MarkW
August 19, 2018 1:31 am

“Hi, I’m Michael Mann.”
And it’s all downhill from there.

August 19, 2018 5:48 am

“I give talks on climate change and the intersection of science and politics.”

This is the problem. Politics should never intersect with science.

August 19, 2018 6:30 am

Sorry to be OT Eric but I’ve been following this story for awhile.

Windmill blade manufacturer, crony connected (Patrick Wood III) TPI Composites to fight serious OSHA violations:

August 19, 2018 6:33 am

The “new normal” is that there are a lot more people in California and some of them are stupid enough to start fires, which has increased the number of fires over the years. It’s not a climate problem; it’s an IQ problem. Or, in some cases, a psychological one, as in the case of the guy who was convicted of setting a fire that killed several firefighters.

Reply to  DougalE
August 19, 2018 7:48 am

A good many more are stupid enough to build houses right smack dab in the middle of Matchstick Land. And go back and rebuild them after the predictable firestorm.

August 19, 2018 9:01 am

So climate change is normal? I’m with JB on this one, as long as he doesn’t use it as an excuse for not using good forest management practice.

Steve O
August 20, 2018 4:40 am

Where are the voices from the Left criticizing Jerry Brown for the lack of forest management? If you believe climate change is real, then it is even more important to manage forests responsibly. He essentially claimed he didn’t take action in response to a steady, multi-decade trend, and then blamed the long-term trend instead of his inaction, and nobody on the Left called him out on it.

August 21, 2018 8:01 am

There is nothing “normal” about Governor “Moonbeam” Jerry Brown so “normalizing” is a relative term. It could equally mean “loonie nut case.”

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