Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Trump Blames CA Fires on State's Forest Mismanagement

The president's criticism is absolutely right on the merits, if off on his timing

The wildfires currently bringing death and massive devastation to communities in California are a direct result of the state having embraced radical environmentalism years ago. The Camp Fire, now California’s most destructive fire on record, has caused the death of at least 31 people with over 200 still missing, and it has destroyed the entire town of Paradise, 120 miles north of Sacramento. The unfolding tragedy is truly hard to fathom.

In light of this growing disaster, President Donald Trump on Saturday vented his frustration, asserting, “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!” But Trump also offered praise to firefighters struggling to contain the blaze and condolences for those lives lost, saying, “More than 4,000 are fighting the Camp and Woolsey Fires in California that have burned over 170,000 acres. Our hearts are with those fighting the fires, the 52,000 who have evacuated, and the families of the 11 who have died. The destruction is catastrophic. God Bless them all.”

Not surprisingly, Trump’s blaming of the state’s forest mismanagement and threatening to withhold federal funding didn’t play well with some, and they allege that the president is politicizing a tragedy. California Governor-elect Gavin Newsom (D) reprimanded Trump: “Lives have been lost. Entire towns have been burned to the ground. Cars abandoned on the side of the road. People are being forced to flee their homes. This is not a time for partisanship. This is a time for coordinating relief and response and lifting those in need up.”

We’ll concede that his timing in the midst of the ongoing catastrophe where people are dying comes across as tone-deaf and even politically opportunistic. However, as usual, Trump’s observations are actually right on the merits. California’s leftist leaders, guided by their ideological commitments, have appeased the environmentalist lobby’s anti-economic growth demands for decades. In so doing, the state adopted “feel-good” environmentalist policies rather than the more scientifically sound conservationist approach that would have balanced environmental considerations with that of industry. The resulting forest mismanagement has contributed to the current environmental conditions now responsible for these increasingly massive wildfires.

Meanwhile, California’s outgoing Democrat Gov. Jerry Brown has sought to shift the blame away from the state’s failed forest management policies and onto climate change, but research meteorologist Ryan Maue called him out in August, stating, “Please take a deep breath and read up on California’s forest management issues that are decades in the making. Governor Brown blames climate change for wildfires and avoids any meaningful conversation on policy solutions.” And meteorologist Joe Bastardi predicted this fire season in May.


Jerry Brown: Climate-Change Deniers 'Definitely Contributing' to the 'New Abnormal' of Wildfires

Just an empty assertion. An alternative comment: "In the United States, wildfires are also due in part to a failure to thin forests or remove dead and diseased trees. In 2014, forestry professor David B. South of Auburn University testified to the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee that “data suggest that extremely  large megafires were four-times more common before 1940,” adding that “we cannot reasonably say that anthropogenic global warming causes extremely large wildfires.” As he explained, “To attribute this human-caused increase in fire risk to carbon dioxide emissions is simply unscientific.”

California Gov. Jerry Brown said all climate-change deniers are "definitely contributing" to the fatal wind-whipped wildfires that have pummeled northern and southern parts of the state over the past few days, as well as blazes "in the coming years."

Brown asked the White House for a presidential disaster declaration this morning; the state is already receiving FEMA assistance.

"This is truly a tragedy that all Californians can understand and respond to and be very sympathetic. We're going to do everything we can. We're requesting a presidential declaration, funding coming from the federal government; of course, there will be efforts from the state government as well. It's a time to pull together and work through this tragedy," Brown said at a press conference late this afternoon outside Sacramento at Cal OES.

"This is not the 'new normal.' This is the 'new abnormal.' And this new abnormal will continue, certainly in the next 10 to 15 to 20 years," he added. "And unfortunately the best science is telling us that dryness, warmth, drought, all those things, they're going to intensify. Predictions by some scientists are we've already gone up one degree; I think we can expect a half a degree, which is catastrophic, over the next 10-12 years. So we have a real challenge here threatening our whole way of life."

"And we have to keep understanding it better, but we're in a new abnormal. And things like this will be part of our future... things like this and worse," he warned. "That's why it's so important that we take steps to help communities, to do prevention, and then adaptation to the extent we can -- some of that's forest management, vegetation management, but even with all of that you have to have escape routes, and ways to identify people and to notify them. So we're trying all that, but we're getting caught up here in a changed world that not so many people were aware of or thinking about. So I'd say people are doing the best they can, but it's not good enough and we're going to have to do a lot more."

"And we have to take care of the whole range of threats and conditions and actions that are part of our living with fire, living with fire threats. And while we do more forest management -- both the federal government, which has more land than the state government, and by private people in the state -- we have to all do more," the governor 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."


Radical Environmentalists Are To Blame For California’s Wildfires

At least 31 people are now dead, more than 200 are missing and 250,000 more were forced to flee for their lives from California wildfires over the weekend.

The state known for pushing milestones just surpassed another one: the weekend’s fires in Malibu and Northern California became the deadliest fires in state history.

With California burning, the response from the state’s liberal political elite? It’s climate change, of course.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

The wildfire crisis in California, like other crises plaguing the state, are mostly man-made — but not in the way environmentalists would have you believe.

President Trump was right to chastise state leaders over the weekend as he threatened to withhold federal funds over what he called the “gross mismanagement of forests.”

Indeed, the push from the environmentalist lobby on both the state and federal level has led to deadly consequences.

Thirty years of radical environmental policies which prohibit the proper trimming of forests and brush have created a literal tinder box just waiting to ignite.

A Reason Foundation study found that massive reforms were needed to stop the deadly fires. In their study, Reason reported that it was once the top priority of the U.S. Forestry service to suppress fires – something the professionals did with great success for four decades. From 1910 to the mid-1950s, forest fires fell from 1 million to approximately 250,000 and remained so until they began to rise again near the 1990s.

The reduction of fires continued until 1990, when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service listed the spotted owl as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. This set off alarm bells for wildlife and environmental activists. By the time President Bill Clinton left office, he had implemented the 2001 Roadless Rule that restricted use of roads and prevented the building of new roads near nearly 50 million acres of forest. It may have saved the spotted owl, but the result was that it kept forest service professionals from being able to properly clear brush and manage forests. As a result, during Clinton’s reign from 1992 to 2000, removal of timber declined drastically and from 2000 to 2013, thanks to his rule there was an 80 percent decline in proper forestry removal to prevent deadly fires.

Adding insult to literal injury in an already-fragile state such as California, around the same time a politician-created drought robbed Southern California of precious water resources thanks to yet another environmentalist charade.

In a move that the National Center for Public Policy Research called “a man-made disaster,” Governor Jerry Brown diverted millions of gallons of water into the San Francisco Bay Area – and away from other parts of California – to save a fish the size of a minnow. The result has been water rationing, the killing of precious crops and the increase of dry lawns and brush surrounding residential areas. The single act of a politician dramatically altering a key source of water in California has placed the life of a small fish above the lives and safety of millions of human beings.

Talk about foolishness.

These man-made factors have led to a combustible situation, the likes of which were seen in Malibu and Northern California over the weekend.

Failure to see the cause and effect here is a stubborn refusal to see the evidence and a failure on the part of Democrat leadership and their radical environmentalist base. It’s ironic that the same Democrat leaders who often accuse Republicans of failing to pay attention to science are the ones now failing to do so.

Sadly, with Gov.-elect Gavin Newsom stating that this week’s fire was caused by climate change, it appears that state leaders have learned absolutely nothing from their mistakes.

Until they do, people will continue to die.

Any future solution to California’s vast wildlife crisis will require an honest — one that includes the hard truth — which is that Democrats’ long-heralded policies of radical environmentalism, restriction of proper forestry practices and a politician-created drought are what have led to California’s losses.

Until they realize they are sacrificing human beings on the altar of their environmentalism, every time we hear of a new death from a senseless wildfire California Democrats and their radical environmentalist friends will continue to have blood on their hands.


'So many bears:' Draft plan says Nunavut polar bear numbers unsafe

Too many polar bears in Nunavut, plan says

A proposed management plan, that relies on Inuit knowledge, says polar bears are becoming a public safety risk.

There are too many polar bears in parts of Nunavut and climate change hasn't yet affected any of them, says a draft management plan from the territorial government that contradicts much of conventional scientific thinking.

The proposed plan -- which is to go to public hearings in Iqaluit on Tuesday -- says that growing bear numbers are increasingly jeopardizing public safety and it's time Inuit knowledge drove management policy.

"Inuit believe there are now so many bears that public safety has become a major concern," says the document, the result of four years of study and public consultation.

"Public safety concerns, combined with the effects of polar bears on other species, suggest that in many Nunavut communities, the polar bear may have exceeded the co-existence threshold."

Polar bears killed two Inuit last summer.

The plan leans heavily on Inuit knowledge, which yields population estimates higher than those suggested by western science for almost all of the 13 included bear populations.

Scientists say only one population of bears is growing; Inuit say there are nine. Environment Canada says four populations are shrinking; Inuit say none are.

The proposed plan downplays one of the scientific community's main concerns.

"Although there is growing scientific evidence linking the impacts of climate change to reduced body condition of bears and projections of population declines, no declines have currently been attributed to climate change," it says. "(Inuit knowledge) acknowledges that polar bears are exposed to the effects of climate change, but suggests that they are adaptable."

Environment Canada's response says that's "not in alignment with scientific evidence." It cites two studies suggesting the opposite.

Andrew Derocher, a University of Alberta polar bear expert, is blunter. "That's just plain wrong," he said. "That's been documented in many places now -- not just linked to body condition but reproductive rates and survival."

The government of Nunavut declined an interview request.

Its position is strongly supported by the 11 Inuit groups and hunters' organizations that made submissions. "(Inuit knowledge) has not always been sufficiently incorporated by decision-makers," says a document submitted by Nunavut Tunngavik Inc., the Inuit land-claim organization. "The disconnect between the sentiment in certain scientific communities and (Inuit knowledge) has been pronounced."

Pond Inlet wants to be able to kill any bear within a kilometre of the community without the animal being considered part of the town's quota. Rankin Inlet simply wants to lower bear populations.

In its submission, the Kitikmeot Regional Wildlife Board expresses frustration with how polar bears are used as an icon in the fight against climate change.

"This is very frustrating for Inuit to watch ... We do not have resources to touch bases with movie actors, singers and songwriters who often narrate and provide these messages," it says.

"We know what we are doing and western science and modelling has become too dominant."

The management plan doesn't propose to increase hunting quotas immediately. It contains provisions for increased education and programs on bear safety for hunters and communities.

It does say hunting bans would no longer be automatically applied to shrinking populations and that "management objectives ... could include managing polar bears for a decrease."

Derocher doesn't dispute potentially dangerous bear-human encounters are becoming more frequent. But he, and other southern scientists, insist that's happening as climate change reduces sea ice and drives bears inland.

"They will move into communities seeking food. There's lots of attractants around northern communities."

Places where attacks have occurred are not areas with the highest bear densities, he said.

The plan reflects Nunavut's desire to control its own wildlife resources, Derocher suggested. "They don't ask for input from southern scientists. The less input from the south is where it seems to be moving."

Derocher said the Inuit's ability to export polar bear hides -- or the ability of their hunter clients to take such items home with them -- depends on whether the rest of the world trusts the animals are being well-managed. "If the stated goal is to have fewer polar bears, that may be the tripping point whereby polar bear management in Canada comes under renewed scrutiny."

Canada has fought off two international attempts to ban the trade of polar bear products.

The territory's wildlife management board will take what it hears at the public hearings and include it in a final document, which will go before the Nunavut cabinet for approval.


Why Won’t Liberals Look at the Evidence On Climate?

This is a theme that Steve and I have recurred to many times on this site. Today it is voiced by Freeman Dyson, one of the world’s most eminent scientists. Dyson, a theoretical physicist and professor emeritus of Mathematical Physics and Astrophysics at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, is famous among other things for unifying the three versions of quantum electrodynamics. He has been a harsh critic of the slovenly science practiced by climate alarmists.

Dyson wrote a forward to a report on the benefits of carbon dioxide by Indur Goklany which is quoted at length in the Science and Environmental Policy Project’s The Week That Was. Here are some excerpts:

To any unprejudiced person reading [Goklany’s] account, the facts should be obvious: that the non-climatic effects of carbon dioxide as a sustainer of wildlife and crop plants are enormously beneficial, that the possibly harmful climatic effects of carbon dioxide have been greatly exaggerated, and that the benefits clearly outweigh the possible damage.

I consider myself an unprejudiced person and to me these facts are obvious. But the same facts are not obvious to the majority of scientists and politicians who consider carbon dioxide to be evil and dangerous. The people who are supposed to be experts and who claim to understand the science are precisely the people who are blind to the evidence. Those of my scientific colleagues who believe the prevailing dogma about carbon dioxide will not find Goklany’s evidence convincing. I hope that a few of them will make the effort to examine the evidence in detail and see how it contradicts the prevailing dogma, but I know that the majority will remain blind. That is to me the central mystery of climate science. It is not a scientific mystery but a human mystery. How does it happen that a whole generation of scientific experts is blind to obvious facts? In this foreword I offer a tentative solution of the mystery.

There are many examples in the history of science of irrational beliefs promoted by famous thinkers and adopted by loyal disciples. Sometimes, as in the use of bleeding as a treatment for various diseases, irrational belief did harm to a large number of human victims. George Washington was one of the victims. Other irrational beliefs, such as the phlogiston theory of burning or the Aristotelian cosmology of circular celestial motions, only did harm by delaying the careful examination of nature. In all these cases, we see a community of people happily united in a false belief that brought leaders and followers together. Anyone who questioned the prevailing belief would upset the peace of the community.

Real advances in science require a different cultural tradition, with individuals who invent new tools to explore nature and are not afraid to question authority. Science driven by rebels and heretics searching for truth has made great progress in the last three centuries. But the new culture of scientific scepticism is a recent growth and has not yet penetrated deeply into our thinking. The old culture of group loyalty and dogmatic belief is still alive under the surface, guiding the thoughts of scientists as well as the opinions of ordinary citizens.

To understand human behavior, I look at human evolution. About a hundred thousand years ago, our species invented a new kind of evolution. In addition to biological evolution based on genetic changes, we began a cultural evolution based on social and intellectual changes. Biological evolution did not stop, but cultural evolution was much faster and quickly became dominant. Social customs and beliefs change and spread much more rapidly than genes.

Cultural evolution was enabled by spoken languages and tribal loyalties. Tribe competed with tribe and culture with culture. The cultures that prevailed were those that promoted tribal cohesion. Humans were always social animals, and culture made us even more social. We evolved to feel at home in a group that thinks alike. It was more important for a group of humans to be united than to be right. It was always dangerous and usually undesirable to question authority. When authority was seriously threatened, heretics were burned at the stake.

I am suggesting that the thinking of politicians and scientists about controversial issues today is still tribal. Science and politics are not essentially different from other aspects of human culture. Science and politics are products of cultural evolution. Thinking about scientific questions is still presented to the public as a competitive sport with winners and losers. For players of the sport with public reputations to defend, it is more important to belong to a winning team than to examine the evidence.

Cultural evolution was centered for a hundred thousand years on tales told by elders to children sitting around the cave fire. That cave-fire evolution gave us brains that are wonderfully sensitive to fable and fantasy, but insensitive to facts and figures. To enable a tribe to prevail in the harsh world of predators and prey, it was helpful to have brains with strong emotional bonding to shared songs and stories. It was not helpful to have brains questioning whether the stories were true. Our scientists and politicians of the modern age evolved recently from the cave-children. They still, as Charles Darwin remarked about human beings in general, bear the indelible stamp of their lowly origin.
Indur Goklany has assembled a massive collection of evidence to demonstrate two facts. First, the non-climatic effects of carbon dioxide are dominant over the climatic effects and are overwhelmingly beneficial. Second, the climatic effects observed in the real world are much less damaging than the effects predicted by the climate models, and have also been frequently beneficial. I am hoping that the scientists and politicians who have been blindly demonizing carbon dioxide for 37 years will one day open their eyes and look at the evidence.




Preserving the graphics:  Most graphics on this site are hotlinked from elsewhere.  But hotlinked graphics sometimes have only a short life -- as little as a week in some cases.  After that they no longer come up.  From January 2011 on, therefore, I have posted a monthly copy of everything on this blog to a separate site where I can host text and graphics together -- which should make the graphics available even if they are no longer coming up on this site.  See  here or here


1 comment:

C. S. P. Schofield said...

Leftists won't look at evidence that Climate Change is overblown for the same reasons that they wouldn't look at evidence that Communist States are sordid, corruption raddled, murderous failures. Doing so might interfere with their plans to make their wonderful selves the New Aristocracy, and be in a position to tell all the rest of us what to do.