#CampFire #WoolseyFire Blaming climate – ignoring incompetence

The Camp Fire seen at 10:45 AM on November 8th in full conflagration. Image from LandSat8

California wildfires incinerate people, wildlife and habitats. Politicians blame climate change.

Foreword:

Over 8,000 homes and businesses have been reduced to ashes and rubble by the latest California conflagrations. Well over 60 people have perished, over 50,000 are homeless, hundreds remain missing. “This is the new abnormal,” Governor Jerry Brown insists. “Dryness, warmth, drought, all those things are going to intensify,” because of climate change. Even if we do more on forest management, that won’t stop climate change. “And those who deny that are definitely contributing to the tragedies.”

Those assertions have no basis in fact. The hard, incontrovertible reality is that California has always been a largely arid state, afflicted by prolonged droughts, interspersed with periods of intense rainfall, and buffeted almost every autumn by strong winds that can whip forest fires into infernos. The problem isn’t climate change. It’s ideological, even criminally incompetent forest management practices demanded by politicians, regulators, judges and environmentalists in recent decades. My article presents the real story.


Paul Driessen

Two more raging infernos in California have burned an area nearly ten times the size of Washington, DC. Wildlife and habitats have been torched. Over 8,000 homes and businesses, and nearly the entire town of Paradise, are now ashes and rubble. Cars were partly charred and melted as they escaped the flames, others completely incinerated, sometimes with occupants still inside. Well over 60 people have perished. Over 50,000 are homeless. Hundreds remain missing.

President Trump expressed deep support for the thousands of courageous firefighters battling the conflagrations, urged residents to evacuate quickly and expedited disaster assistance to the ravaged communities. He also sent a poorly crafted tweet: “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!”

The tweet is “partisan,” “ill-informed” and “insensitive” to those who are suffering, state politicians and celebrities railed – before engaging in their own ill-informed, partisan insensitivity.

“This is not the ‘new normal.’ This is the ‘new abnormal,’ Governor Jerry Brown asserted. “And this new abnormal will continue. Dryness, warmth, drought, all those things, they’re going to intensify.” We have to “do more” on forest management, he continued. “But managing all the forests everywhere we can does not stop climate change. 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.” This chart refutes his climate claims.

Resorting to “manmade climate change” has become the favorite, most politically expedient tactic for deflecting attention away from the abject, ideological, even criminally incompetent forest management practices demanded by politicians, regulators, judges and environmentalists in recent decades.

The hard, incontrovertible reality is that California is and always has been a largely arid state, afflicted on repeated occasions by prolonged droughts, interspersed with periods of intense rainfall, and buffeted almost every autumn by powerful winds that can whip forest fires into infernos.

43% of California timberlands are privately owned, 1% are state owned, and all of them are governed by state laws, regulations and regulators. The remaining 56% are federally owned and managed, largely by preservation-oriented, change-resistant bureaucrats, subject to constant litigation by environmentalists.

This past summer brought unusual rainfall that spurred plant growth. It was followed by hot weather that dried foliage out and set the stage for conflagrations in thick, poorly managed brush and trees.

In this context, it doesn’t much matter if the state is also now confronting climate change, whether natural or manmade – or that California’s or the world’s average temperatures may have risen 0.01, 0.1, 0.5 or even 1.0 degree in recent decades. It doesn’t matter if humans or nature caused the recent fires.

Instead of casting blame, responsible parties need to come together, and deal with the situation at hand. That means first extinguishing these fires and helping devastated families rebuild their lives. Thankfully, everyone is committed to doing that. But it also means better forest management, which is not happening.

In 2016, Governor Brown vetoed a bipartisan wildfire management bill that had unanimously passed the state Assembly and Senate. For decades, radical environmentalists have demanded – and legislators, regulators and judges have approved – “wildlands preservation” and “fires are natural” policies. Tree thinning has been banned, resulting in thousands of skinny, fire-susceptible trees growing where only a few hundred should be present. Even removing diseased, dead and burned trees has been prohibited.

All that timber could have gone to sawmills, to create jobs … and lumber for homes. Instead, the mills and jobs are gone. It could also have fueled biomass electricity generating plants; but most are also closed. State and federal forests in California now host over 129 million dead trees that cannot be touched!

In 2009, Clinton-appointed Judge Claudia Wilken ruled that the Bush era US Forest Service had not fully analyzed the effects of potential timber harvesting on endangered plants and animals. In 2015, Obama-appointed Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson rejected concerns that new, highly restrictive Obama-era forest planswould further harm local economies and increase the risk of forest fires.

Did those judges and pressure groups, or the politicians and regulators who support them, ever ponder how thoroughly the inevitable infernos exterminate habitats, immolate endangered plants and animals, leave surviving animals starving, and incinerate organic matter in the thin soils? Did they consider how subsequent downpours and snowmelts denude hillsides, wash soils into streambeds, and ensure that trees and biodiversity won’t recover for decades?

Did they gave a moment’s thought to the way horrific conflagrations obliterate communities and kill firefighters, parents and children who get trapped by sudden walls of fast-moving flames? Not likely.

But now many of them seem ready to blame Pacific Gas & Electric, whose power lines may have caused a spark that ignited the current deadly inferno on private lands in Northern California. Let no one forget that these pressure groups and government employees share the blame – by causing and perpetuating the conditions that set the stage for this horrendous destruction and loss of life.

Governor Brown recently said that, especially during this “new abnormal,” you have to “do prevention” and “have escape routes” and adapt to “a changed world that not so many people were aware of or were thinking about.” These actions are part of his job – the job of regulators, politicians and judges.

Not only have they been derelict in their duties. They have colluded to prevent tree thinning and dead tree removal. They’ve contested recent initiatives by the Interior Department and Forest Service to revise and reverse policies that invite deadly infernos in the 56% of California forests that are under direct federal control. They’ve perpetuated what Congressman Tom McClintock (R-CA) calls “ponderous, byzantine laws and regulations administered by a cadre of ideological zealots.”

In too many areas, tree and brush clearing, dead and diseased tree removal, and the construction of fire breaks and additional escape routes are prohibited – or must go through decades-long study, review, approval and litigation processes. Only a fool or ideologue would fail to foresee the inevitable results.

In many cases, companies are not even allowed to salvage blackened trees that might be left standing after a conflagration has passed through an area. In stark contrast to these areas, privately and tribally managed forests outside the once-Golden State are actively managed to prevent major fires like those that have devastated vast national forest areas in California and other Western states.

In California, if private landowners want to burn leaves and tree limbs to reduce fire hazards, they must first obtain air-quality permits from local air districts, burn permits from local fire agencies, and other permits depending on the location, size, type and timing of a proposed burn, air and ground moisture levels, and other factors. That’s all well and good, if the rules prevent fires that could turn into infernos.

But do the bureaucrats make any attempt to factor in the horrendous air pollution and utter destruction from the monstrous fires their decrees cause by delaying or blocking brush clearing or controlled burns?

As to climate change, what actual evidence can alarmists provide to show that today’s climate and weather conditions are predominantly due to fossil fuel use – or would be significantly different if the state or USA went 100% renewable, especially when the developing world continues to increase its coal, oil and gas use to lift billions out of poverty? Can they prove energy and climate edicts would enable the state to control the timing, frequency and severity of future climate fluctuations, rains, droughts, winds, and other weather events? Will Governor-elect Gavin Newsom seek common ground on forest issues?

We clearly need less hidebound ideology, greater compassion and respect for human and animal life – and greater willingness to find bipartisan ways to deal with the perpetually arid conditions in California and throughout the West, via responsible and scientific management of our forest heritage.

Above all, we need to remember that people live in these areas and need to be protected. And right now, we should all lend a hand to those who have lost their homes, livelihoods and family members – perhaps by donating to the Red Cross or the WattsUpWithThat.com Camp fire relief fund.


Paul Driessen is policy advisor for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow and author of articles and books on energy, natural resource, climate change, health, environmental and human rights issues.

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74 thoughts on “#CampFire #WoolseyFire Blaming climate – ignoring incompetence

  1. From the post:

    “In 2016, Governor Brown vetoed a bipartisan wildfire management bill that had unanimously passed the state Assembly and Senate. For decades, radical environmentalists have demanded – and legislators, regulators and judges have approved – “wildlands preservation” and “fires are natural” policies. Tree thinning has been banned, resulting in thousands of skinny, fire-susceptible trees growing where only a few hundred should be present. Even removing diseased, dead and burned trees has been prohibited.

    All that timber could have gone to sawmills, to create jobs … and lumber for homes. Instead, the mills and jobs are gone. It could also have fueled biomass electricity generating plants; but most are also closed. State and federal forests in California now host over 129 million dead trees that cannot be touched!”

    The California Lawmakers even saw the problem, but a single man Vetoed it despite strong support of the bill. Now that SAME single man is playing the blame game against the bogeyman that he and his environmentalists zealots created over the years.

    The man truly that stupid or he doesn’t care as long as he is a hero to a subset of society?

      • Can he be sued ? Or are governors immune to prosecution?

        P.S. Mr Hansen: have you succeeded in setting up a Paypal link to the Camp Fire relief fund yet?

      • Yes, it really is a firm a Democide.

        This article says “The tweet is “partisan,” “ill-informed” and “insensitive” to ”
        regarding Trump’s tweet.

        I agree somewhat on insensitive to the unfolding disaster in that it was not time to talk about financial restrictions. However it was not ill-informed or partisan, as it was truthful!

    • “In 2016, Governor Brown vetoed a bipartisan wildfire management bill that had unanimously passed the state Assembly and Senate”

      If the bill passed unanimously in both Houses, then why didn’t both Houses override Governor Brown’s veto? It would seem they had the votes.

      • I was told yesterday that a lot of legislators voted for it, knowing that Brown would veto it.
        They got to virtue signal to those who cared about fire prevention, without having to worry about the wrath of the environmentalists.

    • Worse – it’s a crime against humanity. Millions will die if they are led to believe – to have faith in the warmists’ view that by simply reducing AGHG emissions; Sea Level Rise, major cyclonic systems, horrific floods, dangerous heat waves, tornadoes, forest fires, etc., will cease to threaten them.

      Only when they are educated about the history – the historical record of our extreme weather and naturally occurring dramatic climate change – will they begin to make intelligent decisions that protect their way of life.

      Those like Gov Moonbeam should be charged w/ crimes against humanity.

    • California environmental policy is based on depopulation. Ultimately, only people living in the Central Valley and Los Angeles Basis and High Desert will remain. The rest will be burned out.

      • Q: What’s the difference between an environmentalist and a developer?
        A: The environmentalist already owns a house in the woods.

        The elites don’t want hoi poloi messing up their vacations spots.

  2. Is there anything the mighty climate change (disruption, cancer, warming, whatever) can’t do or be blamed of ?

    Reassuring though. I have the right excuse should I forget to buy broccoli or switch settings at transition altitude.

    (Implicit palmface…)

  3. Where is the evidence that Paradise is experiencing climate change? There was no drought up there, this is Northern California.

    Paradise weather averages
    Annual high temperature: 70.9°F
    Annual low temperature: 51.2°F
    Average temperature: 61.05°F
    Average annual precipitation – rainfall: 58.11 inch

  4. I think it is true that the environment often survives despite the best efforts of “environ-mental-ists” to destroy it.

    They talk about saving birds – so what do they do – they put up arrays of bird mincers that kill 75% of all predators

    In my local “bog” the environmentalists took charge, and decided that the woods that had been there hundreds of years – and in which the deer lived – were not natural in a “bog” so they cut them down. The result was that the bog is now filled with small trees that the deer used to eat and in places the BOG they said they were preserving is turning to woodland. YOU COULDN’T MAKE IT UP

    I’ve also looked at hydrology – where there is a new fashion for “naturalising” rivers and streams to make them “more natural”. Likewise, they get rid of places where people and animals have forded rivers for centuries because they “stop fish movements” – in other words, they allow in predatory fish that then devastate areas that used to be free from those fish.

    Of course – at the end of the day – the reason environ-mental-ists want so much interference, is nothing to do with helping the environment, but because it creates jobs for left-leaning eco-nutters who otherwise couldn’t get a job.

  5. The True Believers cannot pay attention to reality. As they define anything done by Man is bad, obviously nothing should be done.

  6. Whilst living on an elevated site with views surrounded by natural wilderness its considered by many to be an ideal lifestyle, WHEN ultimately the inevitable fire comes, it becomes the worst possible choice, especially if the buildup of fuel within the forest is allowed to go unchecked.
    Either there has to be restrictions placed on people living there, or the forest needs to be cleared to provide a safe environment for human habitation.
    Facing one catastrophic fire in a generation is one too many.

  7. In May of 2016, Jerry Brown suggested to the NY Times that the drought would never end in CA due to climate change. Immediately afterwards, the winter of 2016-2017 produced record rainfall and snow pack in most of Northern and Central CA, filling many reservoirs to maximum capacity, which immediately caused the water saving executive order he signed that month to be rescinded the following year. Remember the Oroville Dam emergency due to the emergency spillway overflowing? That is the same watershed as the Paradise disaster.

    Yes, better forest management will help, and CA will always have wet years and dry years, but the real culprit will always be the high wind speed and a spark, all that’s needed to cause a conflagration. Strong N/E winds happen every fall in CA in localized areas through mountainous terrain, caused by the difference between high and low pressure over the Great Basin. Paradise happened to be the perfect storm, a spark at the right location, with high winds following a dry year, causing the fire to move at great speed directly into a community with limited escape routes. Of course this is followed up by the inevitable politicians “never let a crisis go to waste”, driven into hyper speed by social media.

    I was a first responder in CA for over 32 years. I’ve lived here for 58, and watched this scenario repeated many times. Unless you can eliminate that possibility of that first spark (you can’t, but mitigation on the high tension and power lines can help), these wind driven fires will always occur here due to weather, and nothing man can do will ever eliminate the fire threat. You can lesson the damage by not building in canyons (I’m looking at you Malibu), but you will never eliminate the primary driver. A spark and strong winds.

    • I watched the fire crest the hills north of Malibu park and hopscotch it’s way to the houses there in a matter of a few short minutes. With a 50 to 60 mph wind supplying unlimited oxygen, the flame front is a firestorm. Any home with the slightest breach quickly succumbs to the equivalent of a massive cutting torch, leaving only ash, metal and masonary.
      In viewing the remains today, it is hard to find a single piece of combustible material that was exposed to the wind. Even 6×6 lumber steps on hillsides, with dirt on two sides, have completely evaporated leaving their rebar moorings completely exposed.
      The hillsides the surrounding mountains are now absolutely bare save for the trunk of an occasional scrub tree. One can only hope for a gentle rain to start the vegetation for a watershed.

    • The very high winds are the real culprit in these fires. The strong winds turn a normal fire into a quickly moving blast furnace.

      We can tell from weather patterns when these winds are going to be a problem. Perhaps weather forcasters could put more emphasis on these dangersous winds, and citizens should pay more attention to how the wind is blowing.

  8. The parallels between this and anti-2nd Amendment are so striking. This is akin to blaming the 700-year-old invention of the firearm for murder, yet that is the precise argument of anti-2nd Amendment progressives. To a progressive this is pure “ends justifies the means” as they are obsessed with and need absolute power to “progress” even though they always create shitholes.

  9. In 2016, Governor Brown vetoed a bipartisan wildfire management bill that had unanimously passed the state Assembly and Senate.

    And in 2017, Governor Brown vetoed a bipartisan non-structural seismic school hazards bill that had also unanimously passed the state Assembly and Senate. What is the matter with our lawmakers (both parties) that they put their fear of the governor over the safety of the public?

    • This looks like another case where the Legislatures could have overridden Governor Brown’s veto.

      You say they are afraid of Brown? Do you know why the Legislatures did not override his veto?

      • Beats me. California legislatures have not overriden a veto since 1979. When bills getting 100% approval by both houses are vetoed, and neither party rises to object there is something strange going on. I can only speculate. Possibilities: the governor’s party doesn’t act because they don’t want to embarrass him or they fear his political power. The opposing party doesn’t act because they think (perhaps correctly) that they can’t win. Don’t know what may be a solution. Maybe give the public the power to override a veto? Probably wouldn’t fly; people are already complaining about too many propositions.

        http://www.latimes.com/politics/la-pol-ca-road-map-governor-veto-override-california-legislature-20180930-story.html

      • Tom Abbott – November 19, 2018 at 4:19 am

        You say they are afraid of Brown? Do you know why the Legislatures did not override his veto?

        Like what Sherlock Holmes never said, …. “Elementary my dear Watson Tom Abbot, ….. elementary.

        It was a “win /win” situation for the Legislators not to override the veto.

        No matter “which” voter wanted ”what”, ….. to insure their continued support at the polls, those Legislators will blame it on the Governor’s veto.

        • That’s a heck of a way to run a State government.

          I heard about a poll this morning that said 46 percent of the people living in San Francisco want to leave. Unfortunately, they move to Red States and turn them Blue when they take their leftist politics with them..

          • Unfortunately, they move to …… and …….. they take their leftist politics (and national loyalty, criminal activity, etc.) with them..

            And that is exactly what has been occurring with the hordes of illegal immigrant “INVADERS” crossing our southern borders …… with the ones already in the US joining in their “home country flag waving” support with the 8K to 12K intent on becoming illegal immigrant “INVADERS” that are currently amassing on the Mexican side of the border.

  10. From a article 1996, …..From the very beginning, fire has defined Malibu in the American imagination. Sailing northward from San Pedro to Santa Barbara in 1835, Richard Henry Dana described (in Two Years Before the Mast) a vast blaze along the coast of Jose Tapia’s Rancho Topanga Malibu Sequit. Despite (or, perhaps, because of) Spanish prohibition of the Chumash and Gabrielino Indians’ practice of annual burning, mountain infernos repeatedly menaced the Malibu area throughout the 19th century.

    http://www.ic.unicamp.br/~stolfi/misc/misc/SoCalFires.html

    • Nature has a way of telling humans, in fact all forms of life, that this or that environment is unable to sustain them or otherwise suitable for their occupation.
      Here in Australia, the aborigines historically practiced annual burning which they claimed provided new growth that attracted game to be hunted. I think that perhaps the greatest benefit was that newly burnt ground provided safe haven that ensured their survival from wildfires themselves.
      But by the same token, in a time when wildfires went unchecked and were allowed to burn themselves out, the buildup of fuel as occurs now as humans seek to protect the environment, more likely the assets, simply didn’t happen.
      If fires now are more ferocious, it is most likely due to the unnatural buildup of fuel rather than any change in the climate. It is good seasons of higher rainfall that ultimately provide an extra fuel load for fires rather than a dry season with low growth.

  11. Here in Australia it is being reported that, due to the fires, some cities in California have the worst air polution on the planet. What a meaningless statement of absolute drivell ! Still it keeps the alarmist atittude about global warming going. The fact that in a few days time the winds will clear the air doesn’t seem to enter their thinking. On the other hand cities like Bejing and Delhi retain their air pollution 365 days a year. Don’t mention it.

  12. As a part-time Calif. resident for much of the last 55 years, I can attest to the fact that
    “climate” has not changed during that time. Nor does the historic evidence show that it
    has. The State simply has too many people in the wrong place to prevent eco-functionality
    disasters from increasing. It is unlikely to change without a significant change in its polit-
    icians and bureaucrats. The probability of that changing is equally small. I recommend
    moving.

  13. Paradise was a tragedy waiting to happen. It was a death trap. Built on a ridge between canyons; covered with pine trees; the ground covered with pine needles; limited egress. It was a bomb waiting to go off. Everyone knew it was coming, but hoped that it wouldn’t. Sometimes we just have to live with the consequences of our decisions. Anthony saw it coming and hightailed it out of there.

    https://www.chicoer.com/2018/11/17/editorial-camp-fire-the-tragedy-we-were-all-warned-about/

  14. Something else to consider is the coniferous tree content of the forest. Watching a video on the dangers of dessicated Christmas trees should provide some perspective as to the temperatures at which the bulk of this fire could attain.

    • Burning coniferous species in fireplaces has resulted in flue fires that damaged or destroyed several homes of folks I know. The stuff really burns hot and quick, I’m not sure how many folks realize that. Might be worth a national safety campaign.

        • Coniferous timber will burn at a higher rate than deciduous timber simply because the former is a “low” density wood and their leaves and bark contain volatile hydrocarbons, whereas the latter is a “high” density wood that contains no volatile hydrocarbons.

          Thus, the literal fact is, iffen an extra-dry coniferous woodlands catches fire, it is more than likely that it will “create its own wind”.

          And the reason for that is, conifers produce lots of rosin, which is the solid form of their resin (tree sap), both of which contain volatile terpene components. And terpenes are hydrocarbons, combustible hydrocarbons, ….. and when ignited they burn like gasoline.

          The sap of other tree species also contain hydrocarbons (sugars) but they are not combustible.

          Iffen you are ever out in the woods on a cold, rainy day, …… a chunk of pine rosin will help ya get a fire started post haste.

          • But here is the part most folks haven’t been noticing or commenting on. As it regards Paradise, this was primarily a grass/brush fire. If you look at the post burn photos, the coniferous trees are still standing and still green in many areas of town while the houses in between are gone. It appears that high winds were driving a primary ground fire, not a crown fire that would burn up / burn down? the trees.

            It seems to me that perhaps there needs to be some thinking about how to attack this type of blaze. More cleared space around dwellings? 50′ has been required forever. How many years did I rake pine needles away from the buildings on our home place near Oak Run, CA? Different approach to, perhaps, green belts or cleared space that could be used in conjuction with water or retardents? Individual home protection requirements, such as whole house foam systems for homes where defensible space cannot be achieved? Here is one, there are many. http://www.consumerfireproducts.com/wildfire-protection-systems.html

            Brush and grass abatement, thinning the forests, (paid for by the loggers who take out the saleable trees as part of their contract with the Forest Service). There are so many ways to help besides the aprochraphal stories about native Americans buring the woods every years. We need to get out of the current unsustainable, kill everybody and everything approach we’re taking toward this issue. We have to get away from the ‘if we burn it in the name of Gaia’ we’re holy mindset and start using the fuel that burns out of control and put it to use for the good of all.

            Rant done.

  15. Good post …… but

    “………. He also sent a poorly crafted tweet: “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!” ”

    ====
    Actually a well crafted tweet. Trump issued notice that change will be required. End of BS regulations. The PC house is coming down or the perpetrators will pay for it themselves.

  16. For the last 13,000+ years pre-California residents managed the vegetation by annual burning for a variety of purposes. That traditional practice resulted in prairie and savanna conditions with grassy ground fuels but without contiguous forest canopies. Lightning and other unintended fires still occurred, but such fires were confined to pre-burned patches and did not do severe damage.

    Those annual burning practices were curtailed by Euro-Americans immigrants in the 19th century. In many places, particularly on public land, fuels have been building up for over 100 years. One or two dry or wet years have no substantial effect on 100+ years of fuel loading.

    Most CA cities have adjacent land with excessive fuels. Paradise is/was not an exceptional case. Californians have and will suffer catastrophic urban as well as rural fires until the fuels are managed. New records for death tolls will continue to be set. Wind turbines and electric cars will not mitigate the carnage

  17. “Instead of casting blame…’ Paul says, but he sure does a lot of that! What a lot of assertions – but no details, no evidence…how much can we believe?

    “Tree thinning has been banned, resulting in thousands of skinny, fire-susceptible trees growing where only a few hundred should be present. Even removing diseased, dead and burned trees has been prohibited.”

    Where?

    I have no idea, really, what “radical environmentalists” want, but that these radicals are actually having an effect on how forests are managed is debatable.

    I ran across this article that discusses many of the relevant issues with a couple environmental lawyers. It’s informative.
    https://www.outsideonline.com/2335416/zinkes-hot-take-fires-conspiracy-theory

    What Paul doesn’t address is the cost of the measures that he claims would prevent fires, and who is responsible for paying them.

    This is a very complex issue. To simply say that forests aren’t being managed, or they are being managed poorly, is a very easy claim to make. Blaming it on environmentalists is simplistic, to say the least. I examined the satellite photos of the area around the origination of the Camp Fire. It has been extensively clear-cut toward the west, in the direction the fire traveled so quickly. Most of the land between there and Paradise is not actually forested.

    TO SAY THE CAMP FIRE HAD ANYTHING TO DO WITH ENVIRONMENTALISTS IS SIMPLY ABSURD.

    And gee – you have to get permits for burning off? He complains about THAT? WTF?

    Maybe this has something to do with climate change, maybe it doesn’t. There is some reasonably good evidence, but I’m not going to argue about it. I just ask the question: what if it does? What if this is the trend it appears to be for California (national trends are irrelevant!)? This could be just one single example of the kinds of things climate change can do. Sure, we could adapt. But if people keep fighting any and all evidence of climate change, even adaptation will be put on the back burner while disasters keep happening.

    According to these graphics, nine of the top ten largest and most destructive fires in CA since 1895 have occurred since 2000, and they appear to be associated with summer temperature and precipitation. The animation is particularly telling.
    https://twitter.com/RARohde/status/1061932207940530176

    • Whilst any impact from a changing climate is debatable, for instance is it wetter conditions that leads to increased fuel loads or drier conditions that increase the fire risk that contribute most, what is not in doubt is that if infrastructure continues to be built high on rises surrounded by heavily vegetated forest areas, virtually impossible to be protected from fire, losses are only going to increase going forward, climate change or no climate change.

      • Krist,
        I read the article you linked to. It discussed “years long” approval processes for forest management. This is one of factors contributing to the mess we have in California There were many “science” based claims in the article without any references. There was even a claim about science being settled regarding forest management. I can understand lawyers being under such a misconception, but after personally studying and applying science for more the 4 decades I have learned that science is never settled.

        Most of California only receives rainfall in the winter. The rest of the year is dry and the humidity is uniformly lower then humidity one finds in the US east of the Mississippi. Most of our fires occur during periods when there is an inland high pressure area which causes hot and very dry off shore winds to blast through parched canyons at speeds over 60 mph. (The normal airflow is on shore. )

        Wet winters increase the fuel load in our forests. Current regulations mean that controlled burns are rare. The result is that we are having fewer but much larger fires because of the misguided thinking that letting fuel accumulate year after year is somehow beneficial.

        • Brooks H Hurd,

          Yes, it’s true that there weren’t a lot of references in the article. For that reason, I did some research on my own, and what I read supported the main questions I had, such as whether logging increased fuel on the ground layer. But it makes complete sense to me, anyway based on my knowledge of forest ecology.

          There was one link to an extensive review of the subject,
          http://www.pnas.org/content/114/18/4582#sec-8
          You might find it interesting.

          “There was even a claim about science being settled regarding forest management.” I missed this. Just read it again quickly, and didn’t see it.

          “It discussed “years long” approval processes for forest management. ”

          This wasn’t for approval as in permitting, it was to “inform decision making on our public lands.” I interpret this to mean things like how to balance economic concerns with protection of rare and endangered species, whether/how much old growth should be logged, to what extent are stakeholders responsible for invasive species control, how wide should buffer zones along waterways be, etc. Yes, it’s slow. It’s a bureaucracy, and there are many competing concerns…and it’s better to do it well than be wrong and have poor management for the next 25 years.

          Controlled burns area good thing, it’s too bad they are rare. I have a feeling that will change. I don’t think people believe fuel accumulation is beneficial, I think they don’t like the smoke, and it costs money, and it has to be done at the right time to be safe.

          This has been an interesting topic. I’m pretty familiar with forest ecology and logging practices, but haven’t thought much about fire management in forestry, at least not in CA.

          I hear again and again from those who study fire ecology that climate change is a contributing factor in CA fires.

      • kalsel3294,

        Agreed! Construction materials, too, make a difference. I just heard an interview with a wildfire researcher who was talking about towns in Australia that are built to withstand wildfire.

    • Why don’t you get your facts straight before you start to blather? Hmmm? The area to the east was not clear cut, it burned. When you look at Google Earth and make assumptions your resultant conclusions are just bunk.

      Historically, the biggest most destructive (not houses) fires in the contiguous United States were all more than a 100 years ago. And the worst were in Montana/Wyoming/Idaho and Michigan. Do your research.

      • McComber Boy,

        To the east of what? The fire’s origin? Yes, I know. I never said forest didn’t burn! Do you think I’m that clueless? Blather, indeed!

        What assumptions? I made no assumptions. Well, OK, I assume that environmentalists aren’t responsible for the fact that the forest around Paradise wasn’t fire-proof, and that they didn’t champion the clear-cutting between the origin and the forest around paradise. Clear-cutting is not something I associate with environmentalist ideology. Perhaps you have evidence to the contrary, hmmm?

        “Historically, the biggest most destructive (not houses) fires in the contiguous United States were all more than a 100 years ago. And the worst were in Montana/Wyoming/Idaho and Michigan. Do your research.”

        I don’t give a dam about the U.S. stats, I’m talking about California.

        (And if you are going to make claims like that, why not just provide a link? …Oh, I bet it’s Wikipedia! Did you notice anything about CALIFORNIA fires? Surely you are aware that climate change is predicted to have different effects depending on the region? Generally speaking, dry areas are supposed to get drier and wet areas wetter, and precipitation events more extreme – and in general, more or less, that has been the U.S. pattern. I’m sure you’re aware of this, though, and if not – do your research.)

        • Kristi,

          Here is your quote: “It has been extensively clear-cut toward the west, in the direction the fire traveled so quickly. Most of the land between there and Paradise is not actually forested.”

          Please cite your source for the above. AFAICT it was previously burned, not clear cut.

          The largest fire in California history was the Santiago Canyon fire in 1889. The low end estimate is 300,000 acres. The high end is 495,000 acres. (See http://www.californiachaparral.org/images/K2009_Large_Fires_Debunking_EA.pdf for a Keely paper analyzing the Santiago Canyon fire and other fires in southern California.) This exceeds the hype of the so called Mendocino Complex fire this summer.

          Interestingly, both fires consumed more brush than trees and very little of what we would term salable timber. Live oaks, valley oaks, digger pines, chapparel, manzanita and the like have no commercial value and would not be on anyone’s radar for thinning or other mitigation that was not deliberate in nature.

    • “with a couple environmental lawyers. It’s informative.”

      Wow, there’s an unbiased and knowledgeable source for environmental information. /sarc

      • MarkW,

        How would you know?

        Do you think a petroleum geologist is a source of unbiased information about climate change? Or “policy advisor for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow ” is an unbiased, knowledgeable source of information about the potential relationship between climate change and wildfire in California?

    • Kristi Silber – November 18, 2018 at 8:17 pm

      I ran across this article that discusses many of the relevant issues with a couple environmental lawyers.

      Kristi S, ….. I think you have a really serious problem iffen you think/believe that environmental lawyers are worth paying attention too, ……. even if they said/wrote “good morning” as they passed you by.

      A Lawyer’s sworn duty is to aid and support whatever their client has contracted them to do. And if that “aid and support” includes swaying public opinion to insure a favorable jury decision, so much the better.

      • Samuel C Coger,

        I don’t care if they are environmental lawyers or not. I read what they said, and did some research to see whether their claims held water, used my knowledge of forests, and found that they made sense.

        Dismissing what they say just because they are environmental lawyers is just as ridiculous as automatically believing what Zinke thinks about forest management for fire control.

    • Read the article. Here is what I got from it. Everything the environmental groups currently propose is working fine, while the changes the current administration want to make are a bunch of wildly incorrect practices that will benefit some rich guys.

      Sorry to tell you, the premise that current practices are fine and result in healthy forests that are no danger to anyone or anything is simply ludicrous. The authors of this article don’t even address the issue that there are catastrophic fires currently happening and why they might be managed better. The notion that all the policies and practices of the current administration have no value and are only being made to advance the wealth of a few is extremely biased and leave no room for any compromise.

      Result: No change and continuing catastrophic fires with loss of life and property just as we currently have. That’s a really good outcome isn’t it?

      • Jim Gorman,

        I think you read a different article from me. The article I read didn’t say current practices were working fine. It did, however, suggest that Zinke’s ideas weren’t any better. And why would they be? What does he know about forest management for fire control?

  18. Maybe someone can document the temperature and precipitation time series for a square 2 degrees by 2 degrees in size set in the Camp Fire starting spot, for the last 40 years or so? This would allow us to see what has been happening. The trend for september, october and november would seem to be a good diagnostic?

  19. All this discussion about climate change is a red herring. What everyone should be scared to death about is the use fire as a weapon. California could be rendered virtually uninhabitable by a small well planned fire attack. The Japanese tried to do it in WW II with their balloon bombs. Look at the photo at the top of this article, the fire started in a very small area and was spread downwind by ideal weather and terrain. Anyone with a computer and the inclination can find similar ideal spots to start a fire that would run for miles and destroy everything is its path. This is no longer a forest management issue, it’s a national security issue, and a big one.

    • Right you are, Yooper, …… but give it up, ….. forget it, ……. cause iffen the majority of California residents can’t be convinced that wide-open southern border and tens-of-millions of illegal immigrants are national security issues that threatens the socio-economic status of America, ….. then good forest management doesn’t stand a “snowball’s chance in a California firestorm” of ever being seriously considered.

  20. Yes, it really is a firm a Democide.

    This article says “The tweet is “partisan,” “ill-informed” and “insensitive” to ”
    regarding Trump’s tweet.

    I agree somewhat on insensitive to the unfolding disaster in that it was not time to talk about financial restrictions. However it was not ill-informed or partisan, as it was truthful!

  21. Much like the policies of BC Canada California is reaping the spoils of their follies. In BC Canada the successive governments over the years have listened to the green lobbyists to restrict the water bomber pick up points to “Protect” the environment of the lakes and the areas around them. The largest water bomber in the world has sat idle for the last two years because it has been regulated off the very lakes it can operate from. Last summer the southern BC area was burning to the extent that the crops in Alberta were not getting enough sunlight from the down wind smoke cloud. The air quality from these fires brutal and to go outside was causing massive distress to your respiratory system. Meanwhile the absence of water bombers and fight forest fires the “environmental way caused these fires to burn out of control for most of the summer. Our environment minister Climate Barbie was blaming these fires on Global Warming but the Okanagan RCMP reported that over the last 4 years 28 major fires were caused by deliberate arson from persons unknown.

  22. It’s time for extraordinary measures. The Federal Government needs to act like the national issue this all is. Identify regional or county mill project. Identify legit former mill owners / operators and make a 20 year contract. Offer them 1% loan money to start up and run a mill, up to a loan of $500K. ( IDK, maybe more is needed, but you get the idea ).

    Need to accelerate process of milling. Next up is getting timber to mills, but that should be the easier part. Maybe even give the mills and lumber companies “crop” guarantees for a 3 year period as they work the kinks out getting up to speed, but it needs to be a robust clearing operation with emphasis on fire danger.

    I would guess there is plenty of demand for timber, but if not, with the crop guarantee, the Government could pay a ” bottom dollar ” if need be and warehouse lumber for later when the market is better. #1 priority is set up long term renewal of timber industry and all those smaller mills and get those forests thinned.

    Crazy idea?

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