On June 7th of this year, smoke from Canadian wildfires fires darkened the skies over New York City and left New Yorkers with some of the worst air quality of any city earth – even polluted Beijing had better air quality. Of course, the legacy media was quick identify the culprit—climate change! But such claims are inconsistent with peer-reviewed science and the observational record. The reality is that the atmosphere is a chaotic system, dominated by random natural variability. And even though an increasing number of peer-reviewed papers document how the effects of the earth’s ever-changing climate on weather are relatively small compared to random variations inherent in a hugely complex system, that fact doesn’t deter a reckless media from hyping the climate change hysteria.
The fires that caused the poor air quality in New York originated in the forests of northern Quebec. But forest fires in this region are common especially at this time of year; additionally, the ecology of these forests relies on fire for the release of seeds and forest health. These fires historically occur in the spring after the snow has melted but before the growing season for grasses and small plants has begun and after the dead vegetation from prior years has sufficiently dried thus becoming an ignition source for lighting or errant human activity.
Meanwhile, a strong high-pressure system over southern Canada produced the conditions for these fires and of course, which according to the media could only have been caused by climate change. Meanwhile, peer-reviewed research has found no evidence that the high-pressure system was in any way associated with climate change as the apocalyptists proclaim.
~ Wildfire Season ~
Today the nation prepares for another wildfire season, especially in the West where decades of mismanagement has led to choked forests. This is important to understand because in the simplest of terms, forest management is not dissimilar from gardening. Just as a gardener must keep his or her garden free from weeds, so too, forests must be kept open and free of combustible materials in a process known as forest management. Forest management is a rigorous, methodical, and a time-tested combination of practices and technologies designed in part to reduce the severity and frequency of forest fires and mega fires.
~ Can’t See the Forest for the Trees ~
Wildfires disrupt transportation, communications, electrical, water and gas services and result in the loss of life, property, crops, and resources, not to mention wildlife, and domestic animals. But rather investigating and redressing actual causes of this destruction, climate activists virtue-signal and thereby relieve themselves of any responsibility of actually doing something to alleviate the suffering of those affected by these fires.
According to the Congressional Budget Office, federal fire suppression spending on federal lands alone averaged $2.5 billion between 2016 – 2020. And in terms of damages, 2017 was the largest amount spent in US history, with wildfires causing $24 billion worth of damages. 2018 was a close second, at $22 billion, and 2020 came in third, causing $16 billion in damages.
It is also worth noting that these figures do not include indirect damage costs, such as reduced business revenue, lost tax revenue, and a decline in property value. And currently there is no standardized methodology for assessing the total economic impact of wildfire across all verticals (direct, indirect, rehabilitation, and others), but one study estimated that the nationwide impact of California’s 2018 wildfire season totaled $148.5 billion in economic damage.
Nonetheless, once the fire season begins you can be sure there will be no lack of expert opinions as to the cause of the wildfires. CNN, the NY Times, and the Washington Post will have experts, politicians and even a few celebrities weighing in with their opinions on who or what’s to blame. The commentary will be predictable and will not address the devastation caused by wildfires; instead the focus will almost exclusively be about climate change.
Here’s a fact that will surprise many – the area burned in California has decreased by 80% since the Europeans first arrived here. And while that’s an informative fact, it’s not necessarily a good thing because decades of fire suppression, i.e., not letting forests burn naturally has allowed increasing amounts of timber, grasses, and brush to accumulate which in turn causes more intense fires.
You will get little argument that the West Coast has had catastrophic fire seasons in recent years burning millions of acres across California and the Pacific Northwest – and it’s going to happen again and again and again because the activists, journalists, and politicians are determined to blame climate change for everything even though the consensus from forestry experts and firefighters overwhelming agree that better forest management is a far more realistic solution than simply casting blame on climate change when the climate is neither a part of the cause nor the solution.
Quote of the day: “A grove of giant redwoods or sequoias should be kept just as we keep a great or beautiful cathedral.” – Theodore Roosevelt