That crackling Christmas Day fire — the largest wildfire in recorded state history that continues to burn after scorching an area larger than Rhode Island in Southern California — is a gift for climate change alarmists.
Gov. Jerry Brown, who at times acts more like the high priest of climate change propaganda than a level headed leader on global warming that he can be, cued up the drama in Paris earlier this month when he offered California’s wildfires as exhibit “A” that earth is “on the road to hell.”
Let’s be clear on two points.
uClimate change is as old as the earth itself. The debate centers on how much man is moving the needle.
uMan’s stupidity is a bigger contributor to massive fires than man’s desire to not revert back to horses as a main mode of transportation.
Climate change is how the earth and the environment have evolved. There is no way to question that. However, the wrong manmade problems are being targeted.
The five-year drought took a massive toll on forests and wildlands. There are some 130 million dead trees scattered throughout California thanks to the drought. That’s based on a report by the United States Forest Service.
Topping that off was an extremely wet winter that accelerated a regrowth of weeds that dried out just in time for the 2017 fire season that is on the verge of stretching into the New Year.
Let’s talk about that accumulated vegetation for a moment.
Fire crews are especially aggressive when it comes to tackling wildfires in and around population centers because they are protecting houses. Fire is part of the natural order of things. It cleans out accumulated dead vegetation and even helps fallen pine cones open up to provide seeds for rebirth. It also creates new nutrients for soil. We’ve spent much of the last 50 or so years stomping out wildland fires as fast as we can. It makes sense from the viewpoint of an urbanized society. No one would let homes burn carte blanche.
The problem is fire for fuels keep building instead of getting cleaned out by how nature intended via fire. So when conditions become ideal with dry vegetation and dry, high winds California finds itself on Gov. Brown’s “road to hell.”
It’s a road, by the way, made possible by massive water conveyances that Brown is pushing such as the Twin Tunnels.
Note that most of the modern infernos plaguing modern-day California as measured by homes burned, people evacuated and deaths aren’t in the mountains or flatlands such as much of the Great Central Valley where water flows naturally. It is in areas made possible by the importing of water from hundreds of miles away. It is modern engineering that allows massive subdivisions to be built in the hills surrounding the Los Angeles Basin, California’s own version of the “ring of fire.”
Ground water in such locales pumped by wells would support a fraction of the homes.
And let’s not forget the hot Santa Ana and Diablo winds existed long before anyone coined the term “global warming.”
Add urbanization, toss in nature as far as wind patterns go, and mix in steep rolling terrain with a super-sized amount of fuel to feed an inferno thanks to modern fire practices and you have the reason why wildfires are growing in size and numbers.
Fire science has evolved to the point the fallacy of aggressively snuffing out every wild fire has been proven to be a strategic mistake of epic proportions. It is why prescribed burns now take place on a routine basis in the Stanislaus National Forest and Yosemite National Park.
So how is the State of California responding to prevent future Napa Valley and Oakland Hills, and even Rim Fire conflagrations? The state Air Resources Control Board is pushing to accelerate the reduction rate of carbon emissions by 100 percent. The state goes about cutting carbon emissions by imposing fees and hidden taxes on a wide variety of things such as gasoline.
What will this accomplish? Not much except to make living in California even more expensive. Back in 2015 various studies commissioned by the state and independent sources credited the cap-and-trade effort for reducing carbon emissions by three-tenths of a percent. By comparison wildfires that year, based on a study by the Carbon Balance & Management journal, found wildfires accounted for 6 percent of the state’s carbon emissions.
Cap and trade policies aren’t going to do much to reduce wildfires except burn through money the state siphons from Californians through hidden taxes at the pump and other stealth means where the government assessments are collapsed into the price of a product.
What will reduce the potential for massive wildfires is realistic development standards and pro-active fire management. That is where cap-and-trade money should be spent and not on subsidizing electric cars for people who can afford to plunk down $75,000 a pop.
But why fine tune what we are doing when you can expand what is turning into a politically correct crusade to justify taking more money from Californians to feed the climate change hysteria.
Why should this concern you if you reside in Manteca, Ripon, Turlock, Lathrop, Ceres, or any other valley town that is highly unlikely to suffer a fire on the scale Napa Valley did?
You’ll find the answer in 2018 when your homeowner’s insurance policy comes up for renewal.
That’s because higher premiums is what we’ll be paying while Sacramento fiddles with climate change instead of zeroing in on boring stuff like reducing fire risk.