Gavin Newsom, Your Carbon Offsets are Burning

Those who leave their energy-guzzling multi-million-dollar mansions when they fly off on their private jets to save-the-planet climate change conferences like to ease their consciences and explain their hypocrisy by pointing to their carbon offsets like paying for trees to be planted somewhere that might mature in a hundred years or so.

There are a lot of trees in California and a good number of them are on fire, thanks to environmental regulations and policies that are supposed to protect the environment but are in fact destroying it. The irony in California that the very trees that are supposed to be sucking up those nasty carbon emissions are now a major producer of carbon emissions. As Chuck DeVore, Texas Public Policy Foundation VP and former California legislator, points out in Forbes:

This is California’s big secret: it’s not climate change that’s burning up the forests, killing people, and destroying hundreds of homes; it’s decades of environmental mismanagement that has created a tinderbox of unharvested timber, dead trees, and thick underbrush.

This dangerous situation attracted attention from President Donald Trump who, during the height of California’s wildfires last year insisted that “There is no reason for these massive, deadly and costly forest fires in California except that forest management is so poor."

The irony is that forest management is so bad on public lands that a new report, ordered by the California legislature in 2010, shows that the portion of California's National Forests protected from timber harvesting is now a net contributor to atmospheric carbon dioxide due to fires and trees killed by insects and disease.

Imagine that. Environmentalists have managed to turn our forests into major polluters. California Governor Gavin Newsom has carried the environmental terrorism practiced by predecessor Jerry Brown to an absurd extreme, blaming capitalism as well as climate change for California’s fires. As Miranda Devine points out in the New York Post:

Former Gov. Jerry Brown famously vetoed a bipartisan wildfire management bill in 2016 that would have mandated “prescribed burns,” claiming the work already was being done.

But clearly whatever he was doing didn’t work.

Newsom, after eight years as Brown’s sidekick, now blames “dog-eat-dog capitalism meeting climate change.” He is trying to scapegoat Pacific Gas and Electric, the nation’s largest private utility, which has cut power to 1.5 million Californians this week in a series of pre-emptive blackouts to prevent its equipment igniting more fires, and ward off the lawsuits that have bankrupted it.

Yet, if capitalism held sway in California, harvesting by timber companies of the millions of dead trees that have been allowed to litter the California landscape and provide fuel for these fires would have been permitted. Perhaps the lumber produced could have built a lot of so-called affordable housing for the homeless in Newsom’s state.

California utility PG&E has been scapegoated by Newsom and others, who blame its power lines and equipment for most of the fires. Yet without the fuel provided by forest mismanagement promoted by environmentalists these firs would not have reached almost Biblical proportions.  Not harvesting dead trees and not clearing away dry brush is what fueled these fires, not climate change.

A February 12, 2019 press release by the U.S. Forest Service shows the extent of the problem caused by environmentalists and suggests that maybe if we didn’t allow the 18 million California trees that died last year to rest in peace but instead harvested them perhaps the fire problem wouldn’t be of such tragic proportions;

The USDA Forest Service announced today that an additional 18 million trees, mostly conifers, died in California since fall 2017. Over 147 million trees have died across 9.7 million acres of federal, state, local and private lands in California since the drought began in 2010. Since 2016, federal, state, and local partners have felled 1.5 million dead trees, primarily those posing the highest hazards to life and property.

While the 2016-2017 winter officially ended California’s drought, below-average precipitation recorded in 2017-2018 slowed the recovery of the state’s surviving trees. Dead trees continue to pose a significant hazard to people and critical infrastructure, mostly centered on the west side of the southern Sierra Nevada range; however, other forested areas throughout the state and at higher elevations have also been impacted.

Again, President Trump and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke were attacked by the media and environmentalists when they pointed out the folly and likely consequences of hugging dead trees instead of harvesting them:

When President Trump and then-Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke pointed out the green culpability in California’s conflagrations last year, they were roundly condemned.

“There is no reason for these massive, deadly and costly forest fires in California except that forest management is so poor,” Trump tweeted last year.

Zinke went even further: When “we try to thin forests of dead and dying timber, or we try to sustainably harvest timber from dense and fire-prone areas, we are attacked with frivolous litigation from radical environmentalists who would rather see forests and communities burn than see a logger in the woods.”

For his forthright approach, Zinke became green enemy No. 1, before he was bundled out of office this year in a stitched-up scandal over charter planes.

Trees are a good thing in the green scheme of things and deforestation is bad. We must plant as many trees as we can to suck up all that CO2, you know, that pollutant that sustains all plant and therefore all animal life on earth. Old growth forests must be protected from those nasty loggers.

The trouble is, according to Thomas M. Bonnicksen, professor emeritus of forest science at Texas A&M University, leaving forests in a “pristine” condition leaves forests full of too many trees and too many dead ones, both types providing fuel for the devastating forest fires that have ravaged California recently. 

Want to  see deforestation? Take a look at California’s scorched earth and the crispy critters in their natural habitat. California shows the easiest way to destroy the environment is by trying to protect it.

Daniel John Sobieski is a former editorial writer for Investor’s Business Daily and freelance writer whose pieces have appeared in Human Events, Reason Magazine, and the Chicago Sun-Times among other publications.               

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