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Blaming Climate–Ignoring Incompetence

November 22, 2018

By Paul Homewood




Two more raging infernos in California have burned an area nearly ten times the size of Washington, DC. Wildlife and habitats have been torched. Over 8,000 homes and businesses, and nearly the entire town of Paradise, are now ashes and rubble. Cars were partly charred and melted as they escaped the flames, others completely incinerated, sometimes with occupants still inside. Well over 60 people have perished. Over 50,000 are homeless. Hundreds remain missing.

President Trump expressed deep support for the thousands of courageous firefighters battling the conflagrations, urged residents to evacuate quickly and expedited disaster assistance to the ravaged communities. He also sent a poorly crafted tweet: “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!”

The tweet is “partisan,” “ill-informed” and “insensitive” to those who are suffering, state politicians and celebrities railed – before engaging in their own ill-informed, partisan insensitivity.

“This is not the ‘new normal.’ This is the ‘new abnormal,’ Governor Jerry Brown asserted. “And this new abnormal will continue. Dryness, warmth, drought, all those things, they’re going to intensify.” We have to “do more” on forest management, he 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.” This chart refutes his climate claims.

Resorting to “manmade climate change” has become the favorite, most politically expedient tactic for deflecting attention away from the abject, ideological, even criminally incompetent forest management practices demanded by politicians, regulators, judges and environmentalists in recent decades.

The hard, incontrovertible reality is that California is and always has been a largely arid state, afflicted on repeated occasions by prolonged droughts, interspersed with periods of intense rainfall, and buffeted almost every autumn by powerful winds that can whip forest fires into infernos.

43% of California timberlands are privately owned, 1% are state owned, and all of them are governed by state laws, regulations and regulators. The remaining 56% are federally owned and managed, largely by preservation-oriented, change-resistant bureaucrats, subject to constant litigation by environmentalists.

This past summer brought unusual rainfall that spurred plant growth. It was followed by hot weather that dried foliage out and set the stage for conflagrations in thick, poorly managed brush and trees.

In this context, it doesn’t much matter if the state is also now confronting climate change, whether natural or manmade – or that California’s or the world’s average temperatures may have risen 0.01, 0.1, 0.5 or even 1.0 degree in recent decades. It doesn’t matter if humans or nature caused the recent fires.

Instead of casting blame, responsible parties need to come together, and deal with the situation at hand. That means first extinguishing these fires and helping devastated families rebuild their lives. Thankfully, everyone is committed to doing that. But it also means better forest management, which is not happening.

In 2016, Governor Brown vetoed a bipartisan wildfire management bill that had unanimously passed the state Assembly and Senate. For decades, radical environmentalists have demanded – and legislators, regulators and judges have approved – “wildlands preservation” and “fires are natural” policies. Tree thinning has been banned, resulting in thousands of skinny, fire-susceptible trees growing where only a few hundred should be present. Even removing diseased, dead and burned trees has been prohibited.

All that timber could have gone to sawmills, to create jobs … and lumber for homes. Instead, the mills and jobs are gone. It could also have fueled biomass electricity generating plants; but most are also closed. State and federal forests in California now host over 129 million dead trees that cannot be touched!

In 2009, Clinton-appointed Judge Claudia Wilken ruled that the Bush era US Forest Service had not fully analyzed the effects of potential timber harvesting on endangered plants and animals. In 2015, Obama-appointed Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson rejected concerns that new, highly restrictive Obama-era forest plans would further harm local economies and increase the risk of forest fires.

Did those judges and pressure groups, or the politicians and regulators who support them, ever ponder how thoroughly the inevitable infernos exterminate habitats, immolate endangered plants and animals, leave surviving animals starving, and incinerate organic matter in the thin soils? Did they consider how subsequent downpours and snowmelts denude hillsides, wash soils into streambeds, and ensure that trees and biodiversity won’t recover for decades?

Did they gave a moment’s thought to the way horrific conflagrations obliterate communities and kill firefighters, parents and children who get trapped by sudden walls of fast-moving flames? Not likely.

But now many of them seem ready to blame Pacific Gas & Electric, whose power lines may have may have caused a spark that ignited the current deadly inferno on private lands in Northern California. Let no one forget that these pressure groups and government employees share the blame – by causing and perpetuating the conditions that set the stage for this horrendous destruction and loss of life.

Governor Brown recently said that, especially during this “new abnormal,” you have to “do prevention” and “have escape routes” and adapt to “a changed world that not so many people were aware of or were thinking about.” These actions are part of his job – the job of regulators, politicians and judges.

Not only have they been derelict in their duties. They have colluded to prevent tree thinning and dead tree removal. They’ve contested recent initiatives by the Interior Department and Forest Service to revise and reverse policies that invite deadly infernos in the 56% of California forests that are under direct federal control. They’ve perpetuated what Congressman Tom McClintock (R-CA) calls “ponderous, byzantine laws and regulations administered by a cadre of ideological zealots.”

In too many areas, tree and brush clearing, dead and diseased tree removal, and the construction of fire breaks and additional escape routes are prohibited – or must go through decades-long study, review, approval and litigation processes. Only a fool or ideologue would fail to foresee the inevitable results.

In many cases, companies are not even allowed to salvage blackened trees that might be left standing after a conflagration has passed through an area. In stark contrast to these areas, privately and tribally managed forests outside the once-Golden State are actively managed to prevent major fires like those that have devastated vast national forest areas in California and other Western states.

In California, if private landowners want to burn leaves and tree limbs to reduce fire hazards, they must first obtain air-quality permits from local air districts, burn permits from local fire agencies, and other permits depending on the location, size, type and timing of a proposed burn, air and ground moisture levels, and other factors. That’s all well and good, if the rules prevent fires that could turn into infernos.

But do the bureaucrats make any attempt to factor in the horrendous air pollution and utter destruction from the monstrous fires their decrees cause by delaying or blocking brush clearing or controlled burns?

As to climate change, what actual evidence can alarmists provide to show that today’s climate and weather conditions are predominantly due to fossil fuel use – or would be significantly different if the state or USA went 100% renewable, especially when the developing world continues to increase its coal, oil and gas use to lift billions out of poverty? Can they prove energy and climate edicts would enable the state to control the timing, frequency and severity of future climate fluctuations, rains, droughts, winds, and other weather events? Will Governor-elect Gavin Newsom seek common ground on forest issues?

We clearly need less hidebound ideology, greater compassion and respect for human and animal life – and greater willingness to find bipartisan ways to deal with the perpetually arid conditions in California and throughout the West, via responsible and scientific management of our forest heritage.

CFACT are of course dead right. There is really very little point in blaming weather/climate when you can do nothing about it anyway. It is government’s job to tackle the problems they can do something about.

But as for claims about climate change, is there actually anything to them?

Let’s take a look at temperatures for a start.

Orland, CA is near to the Paradise fire and has good, long term meteorological data. Using data from the Western Regional Climate Center, we can plot summertime daily maximums back to 1903:


As we can see, the hottest summers were in 1908 and 1917. Summers now are much cooler than the period prior to 1940.

We find the same pattern with the highest daily temperatures measured each year.



Record temperatures of 120F were set in 1905 and 1908 at Orland. The highest this year was just 107F.




Indeed there has been very little out of the ordinary at all with temperatures this summer.



Of course it has also been dry this year, but again nothing unusual as far as that part of California is concerned. ( Div 2 is the Sacramento Drainage Division).



And as we know, the 20thC was an unusually wet interlude, as far as California’s longer history is concerned.




Anybody who uses tries to blame California’s wildfires on “extreme weather” is not only flying in the face of the facts, but also failing to deal with the real causes.

  1. November 22, 2018 2:54 pm

    Facts don’t matter to the Greenblob. They don’t mind how many people they kill or how much environmental damage they do. All they are interested in is their own wealth and power.

  2. manicbeancounter permalink
    November 22, 2018 3:14 pm

    Thomas Sowell 1996 – “The Vision of the Anointed: Self-Congratulation as a Basis for Social Policy” – is useful for understanding the Greenblob. Although actual evidence (if one uses a bit of thought) points to regulations of ideologues being the main cause of the horrendous fires, the ideologues will produce plenty of reasons and diversions as to why they are not to blame.

    • November 23, 2018 12:55 pm

      Excellent observations. I love Dr. Thomas Sowell and have several of his books. I remember well, returning from TN on December 30 one year when Dr. Sowell was the guest of Dr. Walter Williams who was subbing for Rush LImbaugh. Sowell made the following comment which has stuck with me: “Reality is unavoidable.”

      Along with Sowell’s “The Vision of the Anointed,” I would add Angleo Codevilla’s “The Ruling Class: How They Corrupted American and What We can Do About It.” A good way to think about these folks is “the high school clique.”

  3. Curious George permalink
    November 22, 2018 3:18 pm

    Blaming climate is a part of The Plan. We the People have too much freedom. They want to get us out of our cars. Air travel will be for elites only.

  4. John F. Hultquist permalink
    November 22, 2018 3:32 pm

    Prof. Cliff Mass, of the University of Washington has posted on this. He does think AGW is a real thing, but in 2 recent posts he explains why global warming is not to blame for the CA fires. These have been cross-posted at WUWT, where they get more comments.

  5. November 22, 2018 5:36 pm

    Reblogged this on Climate Collections.

  6. Stonyground permalink
    November 22, 2018 5:53 pm

    Didn’t the same thing happen regarding the flooding in Somerset? The flooding was greatly exacerbated by lack of maintenance of the waterways but the blame went to climate change.

    • Gerry, England permalink
      November 23, 2018 1:47 pm

      Yes. Aided by huge sums of taxpayer cash from both Defra and the EU paid to the RSPB to promote flooding, which worked out better than they expected. Drowned all the worms and left the birds hungry but why let them get in the way of ideology.

  7. billbedford permalink
    November 22, 2018 8:30 pm

    I think that there is something missing in these reports. If as stated the undergrowth and dead wood is responsible for the ferocity of wildfires then pre-human, if not pre-european, fires must have been of a similar ferocity. Unless, of course, there was some other factor involved. My guess is that at some point in the past, not only were there herds of large herbivores present, but that there was a much stronger community of microorganisms which where able to recycle the nutrients from dead wood more efficiently than they can today.

    • November 22, 2018 8:53 pm

      Bill you may be correct about the presence of large herbivores, if the Pacific coastal regions were being managed by the Native Americans with the same attention as in the eastern region at the time Europeans first settled there. John Smith reported in his memoirs that the woods and forests were so clear of undergrowth that he could gallop through without hindrance and there is evidence that bison grazed as far east as the present New York State.

    • Curious George permalink
      November 22, 2018 9:17 pm

      No. There were no firefighters back then, so fires were more frequent and not extremely destructive. For example, Yosemite Valley Awahnee tribe regularly burned parts of the valley floor.

  8. November 23, 2018 8:48 am

    There must be an element of Russian roulette in building houses in, or close to, any forested land that’s known to have a natural burn cycle.

  9. stephen kent permalink
    November 23, 2018 10:19 am

    Wow !

  10. November 23, 2018 12:47 pm

    President Trump is totally correct. I am so tired of the obligatory swipe at him from these “journalists.”

    “He also sent a poorly crafted tweet: “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!” The tweet is “partisan,” “ill-informed” and “insensitive” to those who are suffering, state politicians and celebrities railed – before engaging in their own ill-informed, partisan insensitivity.”

    First of all, the tweet is neither “poorly crafted” nor partisan. Rather, it is to the point. So his tweet is “insensitive” to those who are “suffering?” Pray tell, how were the actions of numerous California legislatures and Governor Brown over many years NOT insensitive to those who lost their homes and even their lives?

    Instead of listening to those who think nothing on the planet should ever be different from the way it was 5 years ago and any change is someone’s fault, try using common sense. That is what President Trump does. He is not an ideologue, but has an abundance of common sense which serves better.

    If any watched him in California, especially standing in the ruins of homes, it was worth the time. Incoming governor, Gavin Newsom, stood on one foot and then the other. Governor Brown was a cross between “Bambi in the headlights” and being told to “walk the plank.” They had to stand in the ruins of lives they had created with the President of the United States. On camera, President Trump was gracious to both men, but I bet the behind-the-scenes conversations were to the point and common sense.

  11. Gerry, England permalink
    November 23, 2018 1:51 pm

    Moonbeam says that you have to have escape routes so how did they get approval to reduce the width of the road leading away from the fire from 4 lanes to 2 in the town. Intelligent folk pointed out that this could cause deaths as long ago as 2015.


  1. Delingpole: Brown Fiddled While California Burned – REAL News 45

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