Bad Policies Fuel Fires

“Mother Earth is angry!” says Nancy Pelosi in my newest video.

“The debate is over around climate change!” says California Governor Gavin Newsom, smirking, strangely.

They’re eager to blame climate change for the wildfires in their state. I’m surprised they didn’t say it causes COVID-19, too.

Newsom, ridiculously, says wildfires are another reason to get more electric cars on the road. I wonder if he even knows that electricity for such cars comes from natural gas.

“This catastrophizing around climate change is just a huge distraction,” says environmentalist Michael Shellenberger, author of the new bestseller, “Apocalypse Never,”

Shellenberger says: “Climate change is real, but it’s not the end of the world. It’s not our most serious environmental problem.”

California warmed 3 degrees over the past 50 years, but that’s not the main cause of California’s fires, no matter how often politicians and the media say it is.

Why do they keep saying it?

“If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail,” says Shellenberger. “Every weather event you blame on climate change.”

What actually is to blame, as usual, is stupid government policies.

Forests are supposed to burn. If there aren’t small fires, debris from dead trees and plants accumulate. That provides fuel for big, deadlier fires, that are more likely to burn out of control.

But for years, governments and environmentalists put out every small fire they could, while also fighting logging.

Megafires could have been avoided if forests had just been better managed.

An example is Shaver Lake forest, managed by Southern California Edison. The company thinned that forest, creating fire breaks with selective logging. When the wildfires reached Shaver Lake, they diminished into low intensity “surface fire.” That protected the bigger, older trees.

Forests in America’s west were supposed to burn more often, says Shellenberger. “When Europeans came, they reported California being very smoky and on fire during the summers. And Native Americans burned huge amounts of land.”

“So, for the past years, it’s been unnaturally un-smoky?” I ask.

“It’s what a lot of forest ecosystems require,” answers Shellenberger. “We haven’t had enough fires for maybe 100 years.”

But it’s hard to convince governments to allow small fires when politicians demand that every fire be put out, and the media call every fire a disaster.

Recently, wildfire hit the ancient redwoods in Big Basin State Park. Politicians and East Coast environmental reporters worried about the redwoods disappearing.

But of course, they didn’t.

“Redwood trees and other old growth, the bark is very thick, it’s fire-resistant,” says Shellenberger.

The politicians didn’t know that. “They’re still standing!” giggled an astonished Newsom after the fire passed.

But “it was exactly what you would expect,” says Shellenberger. “Journalists go, ‘Wow. What a surprise! The ancient redwoods didn’t burn down!’ Nobody’s more alienated from the natural environment, and nobody’s more apocalyptic than environmental journalists.

Well, maybe politicians.

For years, they and environmentalists increased the risk of big fires by opposing the thinning of forests.

The town of Berry Creek, California, tried to get permits to legally clear their forest. For two years, regulators delayed approval. This year, fire destroyed the town.

Forest Service ecologist Hugh Safford wishes they would “get away from the tree-hugging mentality. It’s the classic ‘not seeing the forest for the trees.'”

This year’s wildfires finally persuaded politicians to allow more people to cut trees down.

“There’s actually widespread agreement on this, says Shellenberger. “The governor of California and President Trump recently signed an agreement to clear much more area. Even the Sierra Club, which opposed the thinning of forests, has now changed its tune.”

It’s about time.

Politicians and environmentalists, eager to raise money, cite climate change and blame fossil fuels for problem after problem.

While climate change is a problem, Shellenberger points out, “the number of deaths from natural disasters declined 90% over the last hundred years. A small change in temperature is not the difference between normalcy and catastrophe.”

Image by skeeze from Pixabay

7 thoughts on “Bad Policies Fuel Fires

  1. Thank you for posting this. My hometown community is devastated by the creek fire in California. The Sierra Club has caused many problems for years when it comes to managing the forests. Gavin Newsom and Kamala Harris used the opportunity to trespass on a property of by family’s burnt home and take a photo shoot. That photo op was then used as a way to further push their “climate change ” agenda. What a slap in the face to all the people who lost their homes. I hope something will change soon. It hurts to see so many suffering, and the politicians not take it seriously.

  2. Let’s face it, all people are liars. You lie about 200 times a day as per Ekman and others. What minimizes your lies? Accountability. Who keeps politicians honest? Nobody. That’s on you. Politicians are not the worst people, the most corrupt, most likely to lie, cheat, and steal, by profession. Freakonomics statisticians Levitt and Dubner says that’s K-12 teachers. By assuming teachers are good people we encourage their natural dishonesty to surface. Why are pathological liars so successful as politicians, CEOs, and teachers (Dr. Hare as well as Babiak’s Snakes in Suits and Jon Ronson’s The Psychopath Test)? Because they tell us sheeple the lies we want to hear. They tell us that we are special, that we’re one of the good guys, that they can fix everything with minimal effort on our part, and that our difficulties are only due to unfair situations we could have never prepared for (Murphy’s BS law). There is no such thing as a tyrannical govt because none can stand without wide support of the citizenry. Gandhi identified the basic principle of all power when writing “even the most despotic bureaucracy cannot stand except for the consent of the governed” (1945). “We have met the enemy and he is us.” (Pogo, 1953)

  3. What many of us on the East Coast can’t understand is that for years, the bankrupt utility PG&E has been blamed, and successfully prosecuted, for causing forest fires through poor equipment maintenance and clearing powerline right-of-ways, up and down California.

    Now, suddenly, after raking the company over the coals (pun intended), this year’s fires are deemed all caused by “climate change.” The utility obviously no longer has the ability to upgrade the equipment, or perform the necessary forest cleanup that they neglected all these years, and the power is still obviously flowing, yet they are no longer considered a factor.

    What happened?

  4. BTW, I personally think the utility is off the hook because otherwise there would be required brownouts, and nobody wants to face COVID, air polution, and record breaking high temperatures without airconditioning!

    IMHO

  5. There’s no money in putting out small fires! That’s where you have to start, follow the money! What are the dispatch and response policies in California, and do they change with the conditions? The El Dorado fire started at a gender reveal party and was reported immediately, but it still got out of control and turned into a massive wildfire, taking the life of a firefighter… Why aren’t these fires being contained and extinguished when they are small and manageable?

    The CAMP fire that destroyed the town of Paradise, and several other small communities, is an exception. The fire started in a very remote and mountainous area, full size fire trucks couldn’t get to it, and the 50 mph easterly winds spread that fire so fast that dispatchers and 911 operators couldn’t keep track of where the fire was and where it wasn’t, telling some people that they were safe and didn’t need to worry when they were actually being over run by the fire… But this is an exception.

    Most of California’s fires are reported when they are small and fire resources can easily get to them. So why are they getting so big?

  6. President Trump has said this just recently about the fires in the west. That the fires need to be contained and extinguished when they are small and manageable. Why don’t they listen and put it in high gear. Let’s hope they do. Great video.

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