Your SUV did not cause the California wildfires

Since the beginning of time, California has had forest fires.  In recent years we have been able to control the fires—if government wanted to, but instead, it has PROMOTED fires.

“While many cite human-caused climate change, the evidence points to forest management issues as far more important. California has always had dry winds and vegetation prone to fire. But fire suppression, declining forest harvests, and insect damage appear to be the main causes of increased fire destruction.

The Little Hoover Commission report of 2018 pointed out that a century of forest fire suppression in California had produced “disastrous results.” Fire suppression generated crowded forests choked with tinder-dry brush and worsened conditions for insect damage and disease. The report described “frequent low-intensity fire” as a “critical component for California’s forest ecosystems.”

Instead of suing PG&E, folks should be suing Sacramento and government agencies for their refusal to prevent fires.  That could have—but decided fires means bigger government and a reason to hate capitalism—when it is the Totalitarian State that is a major cause of the fires.

Your SUV did not cause the California wildfires

by Steve Goreham, Washington Examiner,   11/12/19  

California nears the end of another disastrous wildfire season. Democratic California Gov. Gavin Newsom and others are blaming human-caused climate change for California fire destruction. But causes for the destructiveness of these fires appear to be dominated by other factors, not emissions from power plants or sport utility vehicles.

Data from the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection shows 2019 to be another year of fire disaster. As of Nov. 3, more than 6,000 California fires had burned almost 200,000 acres, destroyed 730 structures, and claimed three lives. The Kincade fire in Sonoma County north of San Francisco did the most damage, burning over 77,000 acres to date. As of Nov. 3, this fire was 80 percent contained with the direct cause unknown.

But fire damage in 2019 so far pales in comparison to the 2017 and 2018 seasons. Both years saw more than 1.5 million acres burned and more than 10,000 structures destroyed. Ninety-three people lost their lives in the 2018 fires.

Regarding the cause of the wildfires, Newsom stated, “If anyone is wondering if climate change is real, come to California.” CNN headlines warned, “How the climate crisis is fueling wildfires and changing life in the Golden State.” CBS News announced, “Experts see a direct line between California wildfires and climate change.”

Newsom also blames Pacific Gas & Electric for “years of neglect” in maintaining power lines and towers and keeping them free of brush. PG&E is a utility serving 16 million people in central and Northern California.

Power lines can certainly ignite falling or windblown tree branches. PG&E filed for bankruptcy last January due to an estimated $30 billion in liability claims from fires caused by its equipment in 2018 and 2017. In order to reduce fire risk, this year the company implemented a program of “safety outages,” shutting off electricity during periods of high winds to prevent fires.

On Oct. 9, PG&E shut down power to more than 500,000 people in Northern California between Redding and Sacramento. On Oct. 26, the company halted power to more than 1.3 million people in Marin County, north of San Francisco, during a fierce windstorm. That same day, further north in Lake County, a half million residents lost power, an outage that would last as long as five days.

During a period of near-freezing temperatures, Lake County residents had no light and no electricity for appliances. Spoiled food, silent cellphones, dead water pumps, and intermittent internet service disrupted daily life. Californians couldn’t plan their day without the assurance that electricity would be available.

Damage from California wildfires is rising. Ten of the top 20 most damaging fires in state history, in terms of structures destroyed, burned during the last 10 years.

But can global warming be the cause of this destructive fire increase? The world’s leading temperature data from NASA, NOAA, and East Anglia University in the United Kingdom show a global surface temperature rise of only 1 degree Celsius over the last 135 years since 1880. It is highly unlikely that a few tenths of a degree rise in average temperatures in California over the last few decades has made these fires more destructive.

While many cite human-caused climate change, the evidence points to forest management issues as far more important. California has always had dry winds and vegetation prone to fire. But fire suppression, declining forest harvests, and insect damage appear to be the main causes of increased fire destruction.

The Little Hoover Commission report of 2018 pointed out that a century of forest fire suppression in California had produced “disastrous results.” Fire suppression generated crowded forests choked with tinder-dry brush and worsened conditions for insect damage and disease. The report described “frequent low-intensity fire” as a “critical component for California’s forest ecosystems.”

In part due to strong opposition from environmental groups, the California forestry industry has been in decline for more than three decades. California harvested only 1.6 million board-feet of timber in 2018, down 30% from 2000 and down 65% from the late 1980s. Declining forest harvests added fuel to recent destructive fires.

Insect damage is also a major factor. Forest overcrowding due to fire suppression created ideal conditions for bark beetle infestations of California’s conifers. Millions of trees now die each year from overcrowding, drought, and the bark beetle. The U.S. Forest Service estimated in 2018 that California had 147 million dead trees, most dying since 2010.

Because of poor forest management techniques, California forests are packed with fuel and ripe for continued destructive combustion. The adoption of electric cars and solar panels will not fix the problem. Rather, improved forest management is the solution to reducing the damage that wildfires cause.

Steve Goreham is a speaker on the environment, business, and public policy and author of the book Outside the Green Box: Rethinking Sustainable Development.

About Stephen Frank

Stephen Frank is the publisher and editor of California Political News and Views. He speaks all over California and appears as a guest on several radio shows each week. He has also served as a guest host on radio talk shows. He is a fulltime political consultant.