California Governor Gavin Newsom is blaming the horrific West Coast wildfires on his fallback excuse of climate change. The chief differences in this year’s fires from previous years is the greater loss of life in these wildfires and their widespread nature. I can’t recall a time when simultaneous evacuations were taking place in Oregon, Washington State and California. Wildfires and their associated evacuations are nothing new to California. The climate in California is such that 90% of the state’s rainfall takes place during the winter and spring months. During the “dry season” (April-October) an errant campfire or cigarette butt can trigger a fire among dry underbrush. Brisk Sant Ana winds (common this time of year) can take the smallest of ember and quickly build it into an inferno. Instead of blaming climate change Governor Newsom need look no further than his own destructive policies for these wildfires. Although it did not begin with his administration, liberal environmental policies have led to the mismanagement of California’s forests. Logging companies have been banned in California for many years leading to high tree density and dense underbrush, both of which greatly raises the risk for wildfires. Forests that are permitted to become too densely packed compete for essential nutrients such as water and sunlight. This competition often results in disease and even death in less healthy trees. Smaller trees on the forest floor are unable to get enough sunlight to grow and undergrowth may die from lack of nutrients as well. Controlled burns could remove dead underbrush while selective logging would remove the dead and diseased trees. Decluttering the forest creates a healthier environment for the remaining trees, plants and wildlife. Several years ago the California Natural Resources Agency suggested that there were some 150 million dead trees within California forests that should be removed. Proper forest management is essential to the well-being of the forest ecosystem. Environmentalists may be well-intentioned, but they don’t understand all the intricacies of forest management.
The West Coast wildfires are a tragedy in terms of humanity lost, wildlife killed and displaced, and the suffering caused by careless (and in some cases evil) human activities. As with most wildfires humans are usually responsible for initiating these fires. Occasionally lightning strikes trigger a fire but to blame wildfires on climate change is pure fantasy. Until the Governor is willing to listen to forestry experts these fires will continue every summer and fall. Efforts to affect climate change (although noble) will take decades to see any beneficial change. If the Governor is willing to heed the advice of forestry management he can save his forests in a matter of years. My personal impression of Governor Newsom is that he believes he knows best and is unwilling to listen to others because he already has all the answers.