California acknowledges government policy failures in wildfires – not nebulous “climate change” excuses

Guest essay by Larry Hamlin

Articles in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and Orange County Register address Governor Newsom’s declaration of a state of emergency to allow the state to waive environmental extremist laws and regulations that are needed so that Cal Fire can proceed with actions to clear dead trees, remove excessive undergrowth, thin out excessive tree growth and crowding, use prescribed fire, etc. to improve forest health and decrease Ca. wildfire risks.

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California Governor Brown erroneously claimed that scientifically unsupported and nebulous “climate change” was driving the states wildfires while ignoring decades of pleas from forest and fire fighting professionals to address failed government and regulatory policies which were allowing the build up of excessive fuel which was leading to more intense and dangerous wildfires as addressed in a WUWT article as follows:

“In October 18, 2015 L. A. Times article wildfire experts unsupportive of Brown’s position noted that:

“Today’s forest fires are indeed larger than those of the past, said National Park Service climate change scientist Patrick Gonzalez.

At a symposium sponsored by Brown’s administration, Gonzalez presented research attributing that trend to policies of fighting the fires, which create thick under layers of growth, rather than allowing them to burn.

“We are living right now with a legacy of unnatural fire suppression of approximately a century,” Gonzalez told attendees.”

This century long policy of fire suppression and its impact of Ca. wildfires is further reflected in a 2015 University of California Berkeley study which noted:

“National parks and other protected areas clearly provide an important function in removing carbon from the atmosphere and storing it,” said Battles. “But we also know from previous research that a century of fire suppression has contributed to a potentially unsustainable buildup of vegetation. This buildup provides abundant fuel for fires that contribute to carbon emissions.”

Before this state of emergency action by Governor Newsom the state ignored the comprehensive Little Hoover Commission report of February 2017 that laid out in detail the failure of states forest management and environmental polices which were found to be driving the increased wildfire intensity and damage.

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Governor Newsom’s state of emergency declaration action is in accordance with recommendations contained in the most recent wildfire study by Cal Fire.

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Governor Browns flawed and politically contrived claim of “climate change” driven wildfires was never supported by scientific data which shows that California has a long history going back centuries of extensive and severe droughts and that recent droughts are in fact less severe than the state has experienced in the past.

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The Los Angeles Times article noted that some “experts” were in disagreement with the need for Governor Newsom to take these actions but the Governor rebutted these challenges as follows:.

“At the news conference, Newsom acknowledged the criticism, and rebutted it.

“Some people, you know, want to maintain our processes and they want to maintain our rules and protocols,” the governor said. “But I’m going to push back on that. Some of these projects quite literally, not figuratively, could take two years to get done, or we could get them done in the next two months. That’s our choice.”

Finally California has begun to address reality in dealing with the state wildfire debacle by acknowledging its role in building this huge problem instead of continuing to make phony “climate change” excuses for these wildfires.

This action should never have taken so long to occur but instead should have been initiated many years ago.

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85 thoughts on “California acknowledges government policy failures in wildfires – not nebulous “climate change” excuses

    • It was a long time coming but I feel the wind is slowly starting to turn.

      Often it takes a disaster to shake people to their senses.

    • Don’t misrepresent this news. Of course climate change is responsible for wildfires, but we can reverse it by removing excessive fuel 😉

        • Yes, climate change is responsible of all kind of things, and obviously it´s making some groups stupidity too large.

          Polar bear extinction was solved when they learned some mathematics and count them.

          Your President was right, clean your forests and one big problem is solved.

          • I weep for the extinct polar bears of Antarctica. As a result, their main food source, penguins, have exploded and driven almost all other species out of the region.

          • Exploding penguins? That’s terrible! This damned Climate Change, is nothing safe?

            Kowalski, analysis!

          • Give me large amounts of other peoples money and I’ll write a sci ency sounding paper on that I have crayons and coloured paper so it would look good as well.

            James Bull

          • In fact, if you plot the relative areas of Federal and State and County lands burned in wild fires in California, you may be surprised to see that the Federal lands have suffered a great less, although may vary between agencies administering the land. The USFS for instance has had a long standing program of controlled burning to reduce fuel accumulation. The areas where it all goes pear shaped tends to be the interface areas where federal and private lands abutt. Neighboring land owners often complain about controlled burns near their holdings, especially if they have “views” of the forest.

      • It’s a bit like removing climate activists it isn’t an easy job but you have to cut them down often before they build up to critical stupid levels. If they reach those critical levels they self combust.

      • Just like climate change was responsible for hindering me going to work today. What, with London flooded under 20 feet of water. Oh wait – apologies – that was in an alternative IPCC reality.

    • NO! you’ve got it backwards. The “Policy” was the Bay Area liberal-group-think imaginations of HOW NATURE SHOULD WORK … until we got slapped in the face by reality. Governor Newsom had to declare an emergency to over-ride bad policy. After his emergency is rescinded, we go back to SOP in wacko-ville as usual.

      Newsom probably looked in the history books and found that former Cali Governor Gray Davis was wacked out of office (recalled and replaced by The Schwarzenegger) because environmental regulations prevented building a sufficient number of fossil fuel power plants. The electricity demand exceeded supply, and the lights went out several days in a row (rolling blackouts). Probably Jerry Brown is most at fault for the current mess, especially having served three terms in the 70s and 80s and just completed three more before being term-limited out of office again.

      I was working in a data-center for Intel when these blackouts happened. It was a complete fire-drill every time starting at 11:00 AM sharp … well really starting at noon when the lights came back on. Of course we didn’t get lunchy for several days straight. Our site operations pretty much didn’t come back up to speed until about quitting time and most salaried folks just left for the day … only to have the same thing happen again tomorrow. How much does it cost to pay 8,000 idled workers for a week?

      • The fires are how nature works, but considering that is the case, when humans are living near it or within if, it must be aggressively managed. This is of course mortal sin to the environmental extremists, which view any kind of human intervention nature as “wrong.”

      • Michael

        You are on the ball here. If social relations are designable by fiat, why not gender and nature? It is natural” that nature should also be suborned to political whim. If gender is a social construct, and political systems are social constructs, and the economy is a social construct, and intuition I a social construct, how on earth can nature not also be susceptible to socially-informed construction? And if constructed, it can be reconstructed.

        Now, I am in favour of this last point from the perspective of Bill Mollison: nature can be harnessed to work far better deliberately than it does randomly. (Yes, I know this is anathema in some quarters.) Permaculture is Man dominating nature, but not by social construction. Rather it is by understanding and complying with Nature in the greatest sense.

      • My memory of Enron driven electrical supply shortages is of two biomass burning generating plants near Red Bluff and Redding that couldn’t power a light bulb: no wood. No stockpile of biomass to burn. Useless. Why? Econazis lobby had filed litigation against every Federal and State contract to remove fuels. Sierra Club gets donations volunteered from public and private employee paychecks at zero cost. All the bookkeeping and money transfers are borne by taxpayers and employers.

    • Too bad most of the land that burns in California is owned by the feds. Trump keeps slashing already tight public lands budgets so I doubt much will get done.

      • How much does it cost to not fight a fire that you don’t need to fight?
        The idea that “public lands budgets” are so tight that they can no longer do their jobs is laughable.

  1. Un-ban wood stoves in CA. Modern ones produce little smoke or sparks (put a spark trap on the chimney). Rural people in CA are generally poor. They would leave no dead wood on the ground.

    • Yes and this would be a good time for Trump to show his consistency on this issue with a bit of praise of the common sense approach of the new governor. Would make it harder for the anti-trump radicals to critique his wise direction on forrest management.

      • Also, praise from Trump would further alienate Newsom from his Progressive/radical base.

        That could only be a good thing.

      • With a clear understanding that when Trump says white the press goes into spasms of knee jerk over-reaction proclaiming Black and broadcasting it for 3 straight weeks along with chattering morons proclaiming that white is asinine ergo Trump is an idiot.

        This would not be problematic, simply annoying and avoidable by turning off your TV but unfortunately ever under educated millennial will adopt black and enter it into their book of known facts which the keep on their “Smart” phones and then go vote for anyone who runs around making speeches Declaring for Black and The press will hail him/her as the next coming of BETO or AOC. Somebody needs to save us from ourselves.

    • Nuh uh, AC! It only became true when Gavin said it. Whatever Trump said, it’s still wrong.

  2. And bring back logging and logging roads. Most of the lumber Tarik and Christina use comes from Canada. While we’re at it, get rid of these “green belt” (brown belt) laws that stop new home construction. And let people clear the ‘natural” creosote brush from their property.

  3. Although the main reason for California’s wildfire problems are more fuel on the ground and more ignition sources due to a population that is growing without growing more careful about things such as keeping trees away from the growing population of power lines, it’s not comforting to see a graph showing the American West having more drought in times when the world was warmer and less drought in times when the world was cooler.

  4. Good news. Last Summer in Victoria BC we got a lot of Californian Wildfire smoke as well as our own from the mainland. Should this policy shift produce the desired result, it will be nice not to have to wear a breathing mask when going out into the garden.

  5. When green activism, with its procession of socio economic catastrophes, ecological disasters, causing thousands of harmed and dead people, finally crashes against the wall of reality.

  6. California, and the US in general, needs to revise the environmental impact review process. Currently, various green NGO’s can obstruct anything they care to, and obstruction is their default choice.
    And as the “science” behind the Spotted Owl related logging ban was defective, remove that atrocity as one of the first things to be revisited.

    • They are also able ( and willing and do choose) to obstruct outside the US.
      The funneling of monies from US based environmental NGOs ( Tides, Sierra Club …) to their Canadian affiliates for the sole and documented purpose of obstructing pipelines to the West Coast is now well documented by journalist Vivian Krause. G**gle her name for both sides of the story.

      Interference in the election process by these and other ‘foreign’ NGO/Environmental entities is accomplished the same way. It may or may not be coincidental that we currently have a provincial Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy ( yes that is his title) who served as the Executive Director of the Sierra Club of BC.
      I have queried his department of Environment and Climate Change Strategy 3 times over months asking for disclosure of any environmental academic credentials he might hold that would qualify him for such a position. I have received only automated ‘We are so happy we got your email. THANKS. ‘ responses. Nothing else has been sent to me.
      Further, I phoned his constituency office asking for details of his academic training in environmental science and was told that it was private information.

      So I can only surmise that we have a Minister of the Environment whose sole training in the field has been provided by the Sierra Club.
      “California, and the US in general, needs to revise the environmental impact review process. “. Well you may be right Tom Halla, but I caution you to be careful what you ask for. You may just have the Sierra Club doing the rewrite of your process as we have.

  7. Newsom was a business man. Brown was a lawyer who, at one time, intended to become a priest.

    When a man runs a business … it concentrates his mind wonderfully.

    Apologies to Samuel Johnson.

  8. CA residents who lost their homes and loved ones should sue these lying globalists who plan to compound the assault and prevent the from re-building.

  9. “National parks and other protected areas clearly provide an important function in removing carbon from the atmosphere and storing it,” said Battles.

    Oh good Lord, enough w/the infantile virtue-signaling. This is a serious issue for adults — grow up.

  10. ““But we also know from previous research that a century of fire suppression has contributed to a potentially unsustainable buildup of vegetation. This buildup provides abundant fuel for fires that contribute to carbon emissions.””

    I knew that 60 years ago when my parents took us on the great American road trip that included Sequoia National Park. The rangers back then told us that the under story growth was a fire danger to the forest which could otherwise withstand a ground cover fire, but not what would occur if what the then 68 year old park management had allowed to grow since 1890 were to burn.

  11. Executive Summary (for those that don’t like data): These area are predisposed to burn. They have burned in the past, they burn in the present, and will burn in the future. There are only two things we can do about it. Fight the natural burning, and let the dry fuel load build up until you have a wild fire that cannot be controlled under the worst possible conditions, OR maintain a lower level of dry fuel load.
    We have satellites that can help us determine which areas have excessive fuel load, and we know which areas are subject to dangerous wind patterns that will drive a wild fire into more fuel. Those areas need to have controlled burns under conditions favorable to containment.
    This has nothing to do with the constant and continuous changes in the climate, and everything to do with bad decisions by stupid bureaucrats.

    • TL;DR Summary (for those with hopelessly short attention spans):
      Small fire now, small fire later.
      No fire now, big fire later.
      No fire now, no fire later, GINORMOUS RAGING INFERNO much later.
      New Cali governor thinks some small fires now would be a good idea.

  12. Quite a bit of the South American western coastline is also desert and for the same reason: cold ocean currents that flow from the Antarctic and cause atmospheric moisture to condense and fall into the ocean before it reaches the coastline.

  13. While I agree with most of the article, it’s not true that wildfires are not worse than they were in earlier years. Recent studies have shown that far more acreage was burned 100+ years ago than now. What is different now is the increased population in wooded regions and the insane eco-nuts’ insistence that humans not manage nature at all. When I was much younger (back in the mid 20th century), it was common practice to remove dead trees, burn back excess brush, and replant burned forests with fresh pine trees. It made for a much healthier forest and far less catastrophe for humans.

  14. I grew up on the East Coast and Mid-West, therefore I am familiar with one wild fire control method which is commonplace in much of the country. but not in California. This is the use of fire breaks. I have lived on California for 30 years and traveled through much of state. Fire breaks are conspicuously absent in the Golden State.

    • Huh? Have you seen the presuppression fuel breaks done in the brushfields and hills of So. Calif? Shaded fuel breaks in timber lands used to be commonly done, but the econazis even fought those so most national forests gave up.

      Leave it up to CA, they’ll use the big government program to chip up useable wood and forbid logging any trees over 24″ dbh. Does everyone know that over 70% of CA’s lumber and paper needs are supplied from out of state while logging in the state keeps going downhill. No wonder there has been a huge buildup of stocking in the woodlands. The state is growing a lot more vegetation than is being taken out. Ca is not even coming close to cutting it’s annual growth. The Feds are the lowest producers in the State and private timber owners are finding it less and less profitable to grow timber for use because of the internal friction of the regulations and monkey motion to grow and harvest timber in this state.

  15. Its a shame innit – We need to destroy this village so we can save it.

    Is anyone up to doing a bit of a Fourier Transform?

    This time we’re gonna transform time into space and it happens already right here on Planet Earth.

    The time line we have is ‘California’ or especially how the ‘forest’ is going to evolve.
    The forest is on an irreversible decline, driven by the gradual (10’s and 100’s of thousands of years) disappearance of the dirt, into the ocean.
    Eventually the plants will stop growing, a series of epic dust storms will blow up and Earth will venture into an (other) Ice Age.

    What is being proposed here, the removal and burning of ‘surplus’ vegetation is speeding up that timeline.

    The space transformation is nicely observable by visiting Tunisia in North Africa.
    Should you do that, you will be visiting the northern part of the country. That’s where the towns/cities are.
    You will be able, very easily organised, to go on a guided tour/coach trip to “Visit The Desert” in the south.
    Sahara as it ‘appens, Shocked aren’t you?

    As you travel south, you will see olive trees being cultivated – fairly well the *only* things that will grow there.
    And they are farmed.
    Properly farmed and planted on nice square grid patterns. Which is handy for what you’re looking for.
    Climate Change.

    As you go south in your (hopefully) air conditioned vehicle, you will notice that the grids get bigger and bigger = the trees are planted further & further apart.
    There are less & less of them as you go south.
    Until you reach The Desert proper (you will know that because the trees start turning into camels) – you will notice that there are no trees at all.
    None. Just sand.
    Miles and miles of it.
    No people. No houses. No nuffink.
    Not even any power lines.
    (Beware any rocks you find, there may be lawyers lurking under them)

    Thus, a coach trip of ~400 miles south in Tunisia is a trip into the future of California…
    Enjoy

    • Much of California has been a coastal desert, just like coastal Chile for 10s of thousands of years. Currently we are in a wet period after several 200 year droughts 1,000 to 1,500 years ago.

  16. Of course, when the president talked about poor forest management being behind the runaway, catastrophic wildfires, the CA political establishment screamed that he was a moron.

    Then, a few months later, the right-thinking Governor Newsom changed CA policy in agreement with Trump’s criticism.

    Trump tweet, Nov 10, 2018: “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!”

  17. Serious question.

    Can’t they just go to court and get a judge to overturn this emergency decree? Or, can the CA legislature overturn it? Or, how about the US Congress? Could Trump stop them?

    After all, the climate activists have a great deal of experience using the legal system to impose their views.

    • I would prefer that the eco-nazis were held responsible through manslaughter charges for those who died. Actions have consequences and there haven’t really been any consequences for those that that set up this state of affairs. Former Governor Brown would be a good starting point.

      • yes as in Aus making those who banned clearing and removal of dead trees and banned grazing the woody weedy undergrowth to be held to public account!
        its 10 yrs sine Victorias huge fires, homes in forest and with large trees close to homes
        bad idea
        and Sth Aus adel hills now has megayuppies with green tinges doing the exact same thing.

  18. Many of these fires are caused by “Pyroterrorism”. The U.S. Forest Service had a conference on “Pyroterrorism”. There are instructions on the internet in Arabic for building remote-controlled incendiary devices. It’s part of the Jihad against “The Great Satan”. Look up “pyroterrrorism” on Google.

    • I doubt pyro-terrorism. Terrorism doesn’t work if the victims don’t know that they are targets. If they think it is “nature” then the terrorists have failed.

  19. What a tragedy that people had to die, animals and plants had to die, and millions and millions of dollars’ worth of property had to be destroyed on the altar of the Green Weenies, who kept the State from implementing common-sense forest management policies.

    Leftism destroys everything it touches.

  20. Governor Moonbeam Brown might suddenly now notice the real cause of Californian Bushfires. It is the lack of forest management which was caused by a dangerous increase in the number of Climate Alarmists. Climate change is not responsible for any weather but it is responsible for the growth of group stupidity.

  21. so that Cal Fire can proceed with actions to clear dead trees, remove excessive undergrowth, thin out excessive tree growth…

    I know! Sell it all the UK as Biomass.

    Win-win!

    • if only we could remove the majority! prickly acacia is protected and called kerosine bush for good reason..
      but the birdies live in some
      yeah
      and so do foxes and rabbits!(and feral cats looking for a snack)

  22. “California has begun to address reality in dealing with the state wildfire debacle by acknowledging its role in building this huge problem…”

    So they’re going to charge those responsible for this “huge problem” that killed what 86? people. They are guilty as sin and they just acknowledged that. They need to prosecute the government not the electricity supplier.

    • Exactly right, Greg. The electricity suppliers were forced into this position by crappy regulations, phony “scientists,” the environmental law industry, and feeble politicians. Actual experts were ignored, belittled, and ridiculed for the past 30 years when assuring the obvious — these events were predictable, predicted, and largely preventable except for the nitwits in charge. I hope we have learned out lesson (though recent past history suggests not) and that the individuals and agencies truly responsible for these avoidable catastrophes are publicly and legally held accountable for their misdirections. It wasn’t the people who use electricity that should be falsely accused.

  23. Better late than never, apparently. Professional foresters and many scientists have known for more than 25 years — and generally been ignored or ridiculed — that “climate change” was a feeble excuse for the disastrous wildfires that have killed hundreds of people and caused billions of dollars in damage the past three decades.

    Rather, it has been the regulatory models emanating from Washington DC that have resulted in passive management policies regarding Wilderness areas, Endangered species listings, road decommissionings, etc., and other anti-active management actions that have predictably resulted in these events. They were clearly predicted and could have been largely prevented if people had simply listened to actual experts on these topics, rather than reverting to computer model jockeys and self-serving politicians for their misdirections and subsequent rationales.

    These fires represent a modern-day form of Lysenkoism, where a centralized government using bogus “science” (modeling is not science — it is simply a tool) has resulted in widespread misery and death. Thank goodness for Californians and their wildlife that Governor Brown is gone and that Hillary Clinton wasn’t elected president. Maybe we have finally turned the corner back to common sense and active management of our forests. If so, better late than never.

  24. The February 2009 Black Saturday bushfires in Victoria killed 173 people. One of the key recommendations of the Royal Commission that followed the tragedy was:

    “RECOMMENDATION 56 The State fund and commit to implementing a long-term program of prescribed burning based on an annual rolling target of 5 per cent minimum of public land”

    January and February in Victoria this year were hotter than usual. This followed a spring, autumn proscribed burning season when the green obsessed, socialist Left, Labor government of Victoria established pretty much an all-time low with only about 1 percent of public land subjected to fuel reduction burns. So we see bushfires to the east of Melbourne some of which started in February still burning in the ranges, part of Melbourne’s water catchment zone.
    This picture, http://tiny.cc/jw6e4y was taken on 16 March 2009 in Central Victoria, about 100 miles from the fires.

    • My apologies, the picture linked in my comment above was not taken in 2009, it was taken this year on 16 March, 2019.

  25. The state tallies all the lost property tax revenue from all the cities destroyed, finds that the losses are increasing, and can either just eat all those income losses, or do something to stop it. Like good Democrats, big on taxes, and big on revenues, when their money supply is threatened they tell the environmentalists to go to hell and move quickly to protect their incomes.

  26. The elephant in the room nobody is addressing is arson. Yes, some of these criminals have been caught and convicted. Another type of arsonist is one that works as a firefighter with the BLM and Forest Service – these folks want and need hazard pay that this job provides and if there are no fires there is no hazard pay. As a teenager I lived near a BLM camp and these bored guys would complain about spending their summers idle making little money until miraculously, a fire started with no known cause.

  27. So this is an admission of the policy victims of Gov. Brown and the California legislature and the Sierra Club.

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