Alexandria Ocasio Cortez and all of her climate change doomsayers are declaring the California wildfires to be the result of “climate change.” She (as well as others) should be ashamed of herself for needlessly creating more climate hysteria. Wildfires have taken place with some regularity for decades, if not centuries. Rainfall totals in California vary from year to year but precipitation tends to fall in a cyclic pattern. The weather patterns in California are sometimes referred to as a “Mediterranean-type” climate. Winter months tend to be cool and wet while summer months are warm and dry. The vast majority of California’s rainfall (approximately 90%) occurs between the months of October and April. In extremely dry years the fire risk rises proportionate to the degree of drought. Last year (2018) was the most destructive wildfire season in California’s history with a total of 8,527 recorded fires that involved nearly 2 million acres of land. There were 97 civilian fatalities and 6 firefighters died fighting the blazes. Wildfire season is generally triggered by the appearance of the Santa Ana winds. The Santa Anas are created when high pressure air masses in the upper Mojave Desert are pulled toward low pressure zones off the Pacific coast. As the air is drawn through narrow mountain valleys it warms and gains velocity. Wind speeds will often exceed 40 mph or more and any spark or embers amid the dry vegetation can quickly develop into a large fire. Although PG&E accepted some of the responsibility for the 2018 wildfires, adequate land management could have prevented much of the damage and fatalities.
The California Natural Resources Agency has suggested there are 150 million dead trees in California that must be removed. Uncleared dead flora and underbrush are an accident waiting to happen. An independent state agency suggests there may be four times as many trees present per acre as there should be. State land ownership and regulatory impediments resulted in a situation of extreme tree density. High tree density creates an environment where there is intense competition for essential nutrients such as water and sunlight. Without appropriate thinning, particularly of dead or diseased trees, high tree density raises wildfire risk. Climate change may be responsible for a rise in atmospheric temperature but it is poor land management that is more responsible for the California wildfires. Mechanical thinning, perhaps by private logging companies would go a long way to preventing future wildfires. Controlled burns of underbrush would eliminate the forest of “fuel” for future fires. Proactive forest management is the best way to minimize the impact of future wildfires. California’s Governor must be willing to accept the advice of forestry experts and not politicians.