Of Arsonists and Insane Environmentalists: The American West Is on Fire
by Patrick Ruckert
September 16, 2020
The wildfires now sweeping the Western states, especially California, Oregon, and Washington, are devastating and deadly, creating a firestorm consuming millions of acres and a smoke plume which now extends to the East Coast. But social media throughout the country yesterday was pounding with the most relevant question: How come other countries, even including Canada, which have massive forestlands, are not subject to the same devastating fires? The same theme was struck by President Trump in his meeting with California Governor Gavin Newsom. The President pointed to Germany as an example of well managed forests with very limited fire events, while Newsom tried to lecture the President about his fervent belief in the myth of catastrophic climate change. “You’ll see,” the President countered, “it will get even cooler.”
In the meantime, last week, the Wacko Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, underlined the cult like religious belief which is actually responsible for the fires, along with arsonists, four of whom have been recently arrested. Pelosi told MSNBC’s Joy Reid on September 10th that, “Mother Earth Is Angry” and has unleashed these fires to tell us that the “climate crisis” is real. Pelosi thus revealed herself as a Gaia worshipper, a Malthusian witch denying both the divinity of God and human beings.
Professional foresters and others have warned for decades that forest practices and environmentalist policies would lead to exactly the disaster we are now experiencing. As we document here, environmentalists deliberately shutdown scientific practices limiting fuel for fires. Had science been followed, rather than the crazed ideas of the Malthusians, the fires today would have been a manageable disturbance.
The Pacific Coast of the United States is not only suffering from fires caused by criminally negligent environmental policies. The policies of the Jacobin Democratic governments in these states have resulted now in a mass migration out of them by a fleeing population. The electricity grid does not work as “renewables” and a failed infrastructure policy result in frequent brownouts. The cities are awash in open drug use, riots, crime, and homelessness. The Democratic officials propose to make the current riots and crime wave permanent by defunding the police. The very rich have prospered. They live in gated communities protected by force of arms. The rest of the population lives a hard scrabble existence, always on the edge of falling into poverty. This dystopian reality will spread if the Harris/Biden ticket prevails in November.
The Current Fire Landscape
The blitz of wildfires across Oregon, California, Washington, and other Western states has destroyed thousands of homes and a half-dozen small towns, scorching nearly 5 million acres and killing more than 35 people since early August. Dozens of others remain missing, with the death toll expected to rise. Currently, the majority of the fires are in California (29), Washington (16), Oregon (34), and Idaho (10), with fires also in Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming.
The ongoing western conflagration began in mid-August, with an unusual and massive electrical storm in the San Francisco Bay Area that set off about 700 fires in grasslands and forests. Record-breaking temperatures and high winds in the region that had earlier experienced a dry winter, fueled the flames which have been out of control since. In Oregon and Washington states, drought, warm weather, and high winds have fueled wildfires, but some of the fires also were deliberately set. Four arsonists have been arrested, and there is speculation that these arsons may be related to the current civil unrest in all three states, a topic of urgent investigation.
California Governor Gavin Newsom, along with Governors Inslee and Brown, have been megaphones for near-hysterical statements that the cause of the fires and their destructive effects is all due to “global warming.” Newsom is doubling down on continuing California’s shift to “renewable energy production,” despite recent rolling blackouts in the state caused by California’s antiquated electrical grid and the complete failure of renewables to provide reliable electricity.
Massive California Fires Are Not Unprecedented, and Neither Are Droughts
Despite the hysterical claims of the governors, Nancy Pelosi, and Joe Biden, California over the past 150 years has experienced one of the mildest and wettest climates on its climatic record which spans 2,000 years.
More narrowly, with respect to their claims that the fires are unprecedented in size, massive fires occurred in the state throughout the last half of the 19th Century. Even in these past 70 years, the average area burned annually is about 250,000 acres. Prior to the past 200 years, climate scientists and anthropologists estimate that 4.4 to 12 million acres burned annually. Those fires were usually started by lightning or deliberately set by Native Americans to clear the forests of underbrush.
A review of newspapers from the last half of the 19th Century shows reportage of many fires, some of them even larger than the present devastation. For example, the San Francisco Times of September 3, 1899 reported that a “Fire Which Started a Week Ago Has Traversed 700,000 Acres and Cannot Be Controlled.” The “Great Fire of 1910,” also known as the “Big Burn,” destroyed more than 3 million acres that year.
That was about the time that President Theodore Roosevelt and his first head of the newly created U.S. Forest Service, Gifford Pinchot, began the policy which is the primary cause of big fires today—stop all fires in all forests as quickly as possible. Prior to the most recent environmental onslaught and re-adoption of Teddy Roosevelt’s nonsense, Americans knew how to garden and maintain forest lands based on science known to most of the world.
And the drought which occurred during 2011–2016, the backdrop cause assigned to fires since, was not the “worst drought in 500 years caused by global warming.” Rather, California and the West generally have been the site of mega-droughts alternating with mega-floods for millennia.
As documented by paleoclimatologists, the West, over the past 2,000-year period, has experienced mega-droughts lasting decades, and mega-floods which far surpass the famous 1861–1862 flood that put Sacramento and the entire Central Valley of California under 10 to 20 feet of water for months. But since that last Sacramento and Central Valley mega-flood, over the past 150 years or so California has experienced an anomaly in that otherwise consistent paleoclimatic history. This period of more than a century has been one of the mildest and wettest on record.
Climate and weather in the West today are characterized by irregular precipitation, which is determined by the complex behavior of the Pacific Ocean and its exchange of water and energy with the atmosphere. For those who confuse weather with climate (an often problem for those who just react to their daily experience), weather is what you experience today, while climate is the description of weather over a given period of time (usually 30 years) and for a given region.
In response to the arid and semi-arid climate of California, beginning more than 100 years ago and accelerating with President Franklin D. Roosevelt in the 1930s, California built the largest and most complex water management system in the world. That system was continued by President John Kennedy and California Governor Pat Brown in the 1960s. It is one of the world’s greatest examples of how mankind manages his environment, and it ensured that the state became one of the largest producers of food in the world. That the state has not built any more water infrastructure over the past 50 years, while the population went from 20 million to 40 million people, is the real cause of the state’s periodic water crises. Criminal incompetence in forest management over even a longer period is the root cause of the currently devastating fires.
Imagine, for example, that the North American Water and Power Alliance (NAWAPA) great water project had been built, bringing a modest percentage of Alaska’s and Canada’s great river systems south through the West as far as the Gulf of Mexico. Imagine that modular nuclear reactors were deployed throughout the Pacific Northwest and California to fuel desalination of ocean waters and provide power. Imagine that efforts to seed weather systems, particularly the rivers of water in the atmosphere, were explored and deployed. That and actual human management of the forests would have completely prevented the current crisis. But the Luddites and the environmentalists said otherwise, proclaiming their religious devotion to a wholly imagined “Mother Earth” that, if anything, now daily burns everything in sight in apparent obeisance to their criminal incompetence and stupidity.
Forest Management Incompetence and Downright Criminality
As the result of environmentalist dogma, the forests of the nation, especially in the West, are choked with the overgrowth of trees, brush, dead and rotting trees, and other debris. Where the “natural” density of trees in forest land may be about 50 trees to the acre, now the forests are packed with as many as 500 trees to the acre.
Gradually, over recent decades, science has begun to return to the scene in the form of “controlled burns,” “prescribed fires,” and “planned fires,” and the mechanical thinning of the trees and debris on the forest floor by crews of workers. The Trump Administration just signed an agreement with the State of California to thin 500,000 acres of forests yearly on state and Federal land. Forest land in California is 45% owned by the Federal Government, about 3% is owned by the state, with the remaining roughly 40% privately owned.
Logging of the forests, especially in the West, up until the 1980s, also ensured that at least to some degree forests were thinned of fuel. Select cutting of trees, followed up by crews removing the branches left after the logs are removed, eliminated even more potential fuel from the forests. In addition, well-maintained logging roads acted as pathways to facilitate fire equipment access into the forests when required, and as potential fire breaks. Environmentalists succeeded in also eliminating this vital fire brake.
In addition, cattle grazing on forest and range land had been an important element for reducing potential fire fuel. But over recent decades, the Federal Bureau of Land Management and comparable state agencies, again capitulating to environmentalist campaigns, severely limited grazing. A recent study in California found that in 2017 cattle grazing in the state consumed 11.6 billion pounds of potential fire fuel on mainly privately owned rangeland. But Federal and state restrictions over recent decades have reduced the number of cattle grazed in California to 1.8 million, 60% of the peak numbers in the 1980s.
During the five-year drought of 2011–2016, more than 150 million trees in California’s forest were killed by bark beetles and the drought itself. Fifty years ago, the U.S. Forest Service contracted out to logging companies to harvest such dead trees, removing them from the forests so they would not become dry fuel for fires. That also generated revenue to the Federal Government and, of course, provided productive employment for tens of thousands of loggers. That also, is no longer done.
An example of what happens when a fire hits an area in which such dead trees abound is seen in the Creek Fire, one of the mega-fires now burning in California in the Sierra mountains south of Yosemite Park. The millions of dead trees in the area added enormously to the fuel load, exacerbating the great intensity of the fire.
A Note on California’s Electricity Crisis
For two decades, since Enron’s deregulation criminal enterprise blew out the California electricity system and bankrupted the state and Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E), the largest utility in the country, the state policy has been to shift electricity production to “renewables,” primarily wind and solar.
Last year PG&E declared bankruptcy after it was determined that its faulty equipment was responsible for the massive wildfires that burned hundreds of thousands of acres and killed about 100 people in 2017 and 2018. In 2019, to avoid a repeat of its equipment-caused fires, PG&E has shut down electricity to millions of its customers during high fire danger, mostly in northern California. Because of decades of neglect in maintaining its equipment, it is estimated that such shutoffs will be an annual occurrence for most of the next decade. PG&E is also shutting down electricity during high demand periods, such as the recent heat wave, because the state’s insane energy policies have resulted in completely inadequate capacity.