Trump challenges Warmists on California wildfires; media fight back
It was all sweetness and light yesterday when President Trump traveled to California and met with the outgoing and incoming governors of the Golden State. But already, with characteristic bluntness, President Trump had challenged the Warmist establishment that blames all misfortune in the natural world on global warming. California’s Governor Jerry Brown had already blamed purported warming for the historic wildfires currently raging, as he had for earlier wildfires during his administration, when President Turmp tweeted:
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!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 10, 2018
That is heretical, of course, because We’re gonna die!! unless we huddle in the cold winters, swelter in the hot summers, and ride bicycles, while Al Gore saves the world jetting around from once conference to another, and visiting his outsize homes. The media are hysterical over the badthink. Consider this headline in the Los Angeles Times:
Trump blames fires, erroneously, on California forest management. Firefighters call it a 'shameful attack'
Not everyone agrees: For instance Krystina Skurk in The Federalist:
Prescribed burns keep forests healthy by burning up the underbrush that accumulates on the forest floor and by thinning trees. Yet for decades the Forest Service has suppressed most fires. According to a California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection executive summary: “Land and fire management have in many cases increased fire hazard. In some shrub types, fire suppression appears to have shifted the fire regime away from more, smaller fires toward fewer, larger fire.”
Despite scientific evidence, the federal government continues spending more money on fire suppression than prescribed burns. The Forest Service has performed prescribed burns on an average of 2,187,64 2 acres a year for the past ten years, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.
This means the Forest Service has only performed prescribed burns on 11.3 percent of the land they manage. When explaining to Mother Jones why the California Wine Country fires were so bad last October, fire ecologist Sasha Berleman said, “We have 100 years of fire suppression that has led to this huge accumulation of fuel loads.”
Moreover, that increase in the worst, most damaging fires is not explained by purported warmer temperatures:
The policy of fire suppression has created what insurance companies call “mega catastrophes,” a term that describes disasters that result in insured losses of more than $1 billion. Mega catastrophes are becoming the norm in California. In 2017, there were 5,906 fires on state and private land, Kathleen Schori, an assistant chief at CAL FIRE, said in a phone interview. “Extreme fire behavior has become more commonplace,” says the Forest Service.
Moreover, the people who work in forests also support Trump. Jennifer Harper in the Washington Times:
A national logging organization is offering support to President Trump following catastrophic wildfires in California and a political debate over the causes of the destructive blazes.
“President Trump blamed poor forest management for wildfires in California and throughout the West, and there is truth to statements he has made,” said Daniel Dructor, executive vice president of the American Loggers Council, a coalition of state and regional associations that represents independent contract loggers.
“It’s time to rise above political posturing and recognize that active forest management — including logging, thinning, grazing and controlled burning — are tools that can and must be used to reduce fire risks and help mitigate the impacts to landscapes,” Mr. Dructor said in a statement.
According to the council, some 60 million to 80 million acres of national forest are at “high, to very high, risk of catastrophic wildfire.”
On his visit to California yesterday, President Trump avoided direct confrontation on the issue.
Trump visits wildfire victims (NBC via YouTube screen grab)
Trump was joined in his afternoon visit by Gov. Jerry Brown and Gov.-elect Gavin Newsom as they put aside political tensions to discuss how to join forces to help the state recover and prevent future wildfires.
The president vowed to help California “100%” and did not repeat controversial — and hotly contested — remarks he made last weekend that blamed the disasters on California’s fire and forest management.
“I think everybody’s seen the light,” he said. “We’re all on the same page now. It’s all going to work out well.”
Trump even had warm words for Brown, a political nemesis who has loudly criticized him on climate change, environmental regulations and immigration.
“I’ve known Jerry for a long time but I think we’ve gotten closer today than we’ve got over the last 20 years,” Trump said. “We both want to come to the right conclusion. And the right conclusion is we have to get these forest fires to stop.”
Brown, for his part, thanked Trump for putting a spotlight on the tragedies, and Newsom praised him for issuing major disaster and emergency declarations, which will provide federal funding to cover up to 75% of California’s cost to remove debris, conduct emergency activities and provide transitional sheltering. The Trump administration also has issued three grants to provide similar levels of funding to states to cover the costs of assistance to California.
Right now, the victims must be the center of attention. But by breaking the obsession that global warming causes everything bad and focusing on misguided environmentalism, President Trump has done a service. Genuine science exams data and tests hypotheses. With the stakes so high in California, that examination will take place on forest management.