By Paul Driessen & Duggan Flanakin – Re-Blogged From WUWT
Eliminate fuel, prevent ignition, stop arson, end irresponsible land management policies
“We are all born ignorant,” Benjamin Franklin once said, “but one must work very hard to remain stupid.”
Greens are incensed over suggestions that anything but fossil fuels and climate change might be turning green California and Australian ecosystems into black wastelands, incinerating wildlife, destroying homes and killing people. The notion that they and their policies might be a major factor in these fires gets them so hot under the collar that they could ignite another inferno. But the facts are there for all to see.
PG&E certainly failed to maintain, upgrade and repair its transmission lines and towers, leading to sparks that caused multiple fiery cataclysms. However, California now has over 129 million dead trees in its forests – and a long history of refusing to thin them out, clear brush or permit others to do so. Fuel levels in Aussie forest, brush and grasslands areas have likewise climbed to near-historic levels in recent years.
h/t JoNova; According to a former regional forest manager with over 60 years experience managing bushfires, government incompetence, fuel load and local green activists are responsible for Australia’s 2020 bushfire disaster, not climate change.
An Inferno of Incompetence and Obfuscation
The most frequent question I have received over the last month is “who is to blame for the bushfire mess up and down the east coast?” There is a school of thought, mostly put about by state premiers, that the blame game is bad form. We should put the whole bushfire business behind us and move on, they say. Forget the past, the future will be wonderful. I reject this concept, because in any disaster situation lessons must be learned (or rather re-learned) and those lessons applied to improving the way things are done. I also believe those who need to be accountable for the current mess must be identified and the ways they have let us down highlighted.
from What’s Natural? column, published in Pacifica Tribune
Why Worse Wildfires? Part 2
Figure 1 Managing forest ground fuels
Why worse wildfires? The short answer is more humans cause more wildfire ignitions in altered landscapes. Since 1970, California’s population doubled, adding 20 million people. As more human habitat was developed, the increasingly disturbed landscape quickly became covered in easily ignitable invasive grasses (see part 1). To protect human habitat, fires were suppressed and ground fuels increased. Development also expanded a vulnerable electric grid. Furthermore, more people increased the probability of careless fires and more innocent accidents. And sadly, a larger population added more arsonists.
There are several theories trying to explain the recent uptick in wildfires throughout the western USA. Some scientists blame increased human ignitions. Others suggest accumulating surface fuels due to a century of fire suppression. Others argue landscape changes and invasive grasses have amplified the amount of easily ignited vegetation, while still others blame climate change. What’s the Sage Grouse connection? Like human communities, the Sage Grouse’s habitat is being threatened by fast spreading wildfires, and that increase in bigger wildfires in sagebrush country is due to invading annual grasses, like cheatgrass.
California Wildfires, Climate Change, and the Hot-Dry-Windy Fire Weather Index
Summer and early Fall are fire season in California. It has always been this way. Most summers experience virtually no precipitation over much of California, which means that the vegetation that grows during the cool, wet Winter becomes fuel for wildfires in Summer.
When you add the increasing population, risky forest management practices, and lack of maintenance of power lines, it should be little wonder that wildfire activity there has increased.
Few news reports of wildfires can avoid mentioning some nebulous connection of wildfires to human-caused climate change. This is a little odd from a meteorological perspective, however.
The L A Times is at it again making completely idiotic claims that California is “fighting climate change” and alleging that wildfires and blackouts will hurt this purely politically contrived, monumentally costly and globally meaningless state “fight”.
“The state’s electric grid was experiencing rapid and unprecedented changes even before Pacific Gas & Electric and Southern California Edison began shutting off power to millions of people in a desperate scramble to prevent their transmission lines from sparking wildfires.
Well, it’s that time of the year again, wildfire season, and like clockwork, people are losing their marbles about the wildfires in California. Articles, like the one from Politico below (Figure 1)¹, have been popping up left and right claiming that climate change is causing the wildfires.
Figure 1. Brown: California fires show ‘the horror’ world will face from climate change. – Politico
Endless amounts of disinformation is being spread around on Twitter and Facebook from well-known media outlets, public figures, government officials, and even a handful of well-known scientists.
Earlier this week we joked that with PG&E now scrambling to enforce intentional blackouts every time there are powerful winds for fears the bankrupt company’s aged infrastructure could cause a new fire, “every time the wind blows California will become Venezuela.”
… PG&E warned it will shut off power again on Saturday to as many as 2.5 million people as violent winds batter the state, in what according to Bloomberg will be “California’s largest intentional blackout ever.”
According to a Friday statement, approximately 850,000 homes and businesses in Northern California, including much of the San Francisco Bay Area, may be impacted beginning Saturday evening. And with data models indicating the weather event could be the most powerful in California in decades, with widespread dry Northeast winds between 45-60 miles per hour (mph) and peak gusts of 60-70 mph in the higher elevations through Monday, large swaths of the region could be without power for days.
“The upcoming wind event has the potential to be one of the strongest in the last several years. It’s also likely to be longer than recent wind events, which have lasted about 12 hours or less,” said Scott Strenfel, Principal Meteorologist with PG&E.
The potentially record outage will impact parts of Oakland, Berkeley, San Jose and Marin County. As usual, the city of San Francisco will not be affected, in order to make it easier for pedestrians to avoid stepping into the human faces covering the city’s sidewalks. The full list of affected counties can be found at the following page.
The hot and windy weather event is expected to begin impacting the service area Saturday between 6 and 10 p.m. and lasting until midday Monday, although as of late Friday, PG&E said it has not yet made a definite decision whether it will cut power.
As Bloomberg notes, this would be the third time this month alone that bankrupt PG&E – terrified of potentially sparking another multi-billion dollar blaze – has resorted to massive outages to prevent its power lines from sparking fires in high winds. The company’s aged equipment sparked blazes in 2017 and 2018, saddling the company with an estimated $30 billion in liabilities and forcing it into bankruptcy at the start of 2019. However, leaving millions in the dark has led to debate over how far California must go to prevent fires during windstorms. And despite the shutoffs, fires continue to burn.
Despite recent intentional outages, earlier on Friday California governor Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency as wildfires are now raging at both ends of California. Near Los Angeles, blazes have prompted authorities to order 40,000 evacuations. And north of San Francisco, a blaze is raging amid the vineyards of Sonoma County.
The Sonoma County fire is the one that sent PCG stock tumbling as it began minutes after a PG&E transmission line in the area malfunctioned late Wednesday. While the company had shut down distribution lines to homes and businesses in the area before the flames began, the company said its transmission line was still energized. And while firefighters have not determined the cause of the blaze, a Citi research report said a finding that PG&E was responsible for the fire could leave the equity worthless as another litigation round would cripple the already bankrupt company.
PG&E was not alone: late on Friday, another California utility, Edison International – this one not yet bankrupt – warned that it may cut power to 132,679 customers as strong winds arrive on Sunday. And as PG&E shares plunged over 30% to a record low of just $5, shares of Edison International also fell 8.5%, the most in 11 months, as fires burned in its service territory in Southern California.
Needless to say, the prospect of more liabilities from wildfires is potentially terminal for PG&E, as Bloomberg explains:
Since filing for Chapter 11 in January, the judge overseeing the case has warned that another big blaze would upend the utility’s bankruptcy and potentially wipe out shareholders. Any claims from new fires sparked by PG&E would have to be paid out first — and in full — before those from previous blazes get a dime.
Adding insult to injury, not only are gas prices soaring for any resident who wish to move out of the potentially affected areas, but the high winds arrive at a precarious moment for California, which this summer received almost no rain and a five-year drought earlier this decade killed millions of trees that can now easily ignite, while the recent strong winds have dried out grasses and shrubs even further.
Bottom line: whereas we joked previously that any time California forecasts strong winds it will now turn to the socialist paradise that is Venezuela, it is now the sad reality for the state’s tens of millions of liberal residents, who don’t even have to leave their home state to observe the fruits of a socialist regime first hand.
The Week That Was: October 26, 2019, Brought to You by www.SEPP.org
By Ken Haapala, President, Science and Environmental Policy Project (SEPP)
Quote of the Week – “Beware of false knowledge; it is more dangerous than ignorance.”— George Bernard Shaw [H/t William Readdy]
Number of the Week: $11.69 billion up 31%
Alarmists in Local Media – Using Surface Data: The huge propaganda push by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) on the need for “climate protection” has resulted in many strident claims in the local media, many becoming colorful slogans such as “climate crisis”, “climate chaos”, etc. Joseph D’Aleo, a Certified Consulting Meteorologist, and a fellow of the American Meteorological Society (AMS) has long addressed false ideas about climate change both in the AMS and in the public. D’Aleo was a founder of the Weather Channel and of WeatherBell Analytics, LLC. He is a pioneer in seasonal forecasts based on evidence and statistical modeling. As with many well-known skeptics who rebut the unsubstantiated claims that carbon dioxide is causing dangerous global warming, D’Aleo has been called a shill for oil companies and suffered many other politically motivated attacks.
The Week That Was: October 19, 2019, Brought to You by www.SEPP.org
By Ken Haapala, President, Science and Environmental Policy Project
Quote of the Week –“The human mind is not capable of grasping the universe. We are like a little child entering a huge library. The walls are covered to the ceilings with books in many different tongues. The child knows that someone must have written these books. It does not know who or how. It does not understand the languages in which they are written. But the child notes a definite plan in the arrangement of the books … a mysterious order which it does not comprehend, but only dimly suspects.”— Albert Einstein
Number of the Week: 2,352 cubic feet about 30 tons, with 20,000 vacuum tubes using150 kilowatts of power and with five million hand-soldered connections.
NASA-GISS Audit: A search of the web sites of the major US government-funded global modeling entities revealed an April 5, 2018 audit of NASA’s management of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies by the Office of Inspector General (IG) of NASA. Under the heading “What We Found” the IG report states, in part:
The L. A. Times ran an editorial denying the need for wildfire actions recommended by Cal Fire and authorized by Governor Newsom for immediate implementation facilitated by waving California’s onerous, time consuming and costly environmental regulations.
The Times editorial claims that the Cal Fire actions regarding prioritizing and immediately beginning the of thinning of decades long forest overgrowth in selected forests areas are ineffective, costly and unnecessary. Instead the editorial claims that other measures including hardening of structures, increasing greater clearance distances around structures, etc. would be more effective.
The Cal Fire report containing recommended actions for improving the decades long deteriorated conditions of California forests is a comprehensive report involving the efforts of 40 agencies and organizations that addresses both immediate and longer term needs regarding the state’s wildfire debacle.
Wildfires might be the least of California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s concerns as his state’s citizens struggle with power blackouts.
A previous California governor who struggled to deal with rolling energy blackouts was recalled in 2003.
High gas prices, rolling blackouts, and wildfires are weighing on California citizens.
Recent history might explain why Democratic California Gov. Gavin Newsom is lashing out at the public utility company responsible for rolling blackouts in his state as citizens wrestle with increasing gas prices.
The power has been out in Northern California. More than 1 million Californians were without electricity, one of modern life’s essentials that is frequently taken for granted. The blackout was done on purpose—to prevent sparks from powerlines that could ignite deadly wildfires.
On the surface, the blackout and its causes are simple to understand. But the deeper causes are complicated, span decades of public policy, and dozens of overlapping unintended—and intended—consequences of decisions, both related and unrelated.
The wind in Northern California is blowing in from dry Nevada, as it often does this time of year. It’s called the “Diablo wind.” In Southern California, the comparable current blowing in from the Mojave Desert is known as the “Santa Ana winds.”
In both cases, as the wind rises above California’s mountain spine, then descends, it compresses and heats up. Forests, chaparral and brush, dry this time of year in California’s Mediterranean climate, are primed for wildfires.
The Week That Was: October 12, 2019, Brought to You by www.SEPP.org
By Ken Haapala, President, Science and Environmental Policy Projec
Quote of the Week – “Beware of false knowledge; it is more dangerous than ignorance.”— George Bernard Shaw [William Readdy]
Number of the Week: Up 4850% in 20 Years
Solar-Climate Variability – Svensmark Hypothesis: It its review of recent papers, CO2 Science discusses a study in Nature, Scientific Reports, of a linkage between multi-decade variability in rainfall in the Western Mediterranean and solar activity over the last thousand years. The authors use high-resolution speleothem records (stalagmites) from two caves in Morocco to create a statistical basis for measuring changing precipitation. The paper illustrates how messy observational data can be and how exceptional the data presented in the 2008 report by the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC) from a cave in Oman is. (pp 11-13)
Brazil’s Fires and Biofuels. Published in the Pacifica Tribune September 11, 2019
From leaf cutting ants that cultivate fungus gardens to flowers that fool potential pollinating insects into having sex, the magic of rainforest ecology always inspired my love for nature’s creativity. So, it’s no surprise that any and every report of burning rainforests would rally deep concerns across the globe. Nonetheless I am disturbed by dishonest gloom and doom regards recent Amazon fires. NASA reports since 2003 the square kilometers of forest burned each year has dropped by roughly 25 percent. But such good news doesn’t get headlines.
The inept government, political and regulatory policies of California have clearly driven the present forest management calamitous conditions with that failure leading to disastrous wildfires throughout the state.
Those government and political leaders that are responsible for this situation that has been decades in the making have tried to conceal their incompetence by making scientifically unsupported propaganda claims that “climate change” caused this situation. These government driven problems are clearly identified in two recent reports – one by Cal Fire and the other by the California Legislative Analysts Office. Continue reading →
Brought to You by www.SEPP.org, The Science and Environmental Policy Project
By Ken Haapala, President
Quote of the Week: “I know that most men, including those at ease with problems of the greatest complexity, can seldom accept even the simplest and most obvious truth, if it be such as would oblige them to admit the falsity of conclusions which they have delighted in explaining to colleagues, which they have proudly taught to others, and which they have woven, thread by thread, into the fabric of their lives.” – Leo Tolstoy [William Readdy]
Number of the Week: Up to 100 times more
Why I Don’t “believe” In …: Judith Curry brought up a thoughtful essay by Robert Tracinski illustrating how politicians and the like try to persuade others to accept their views by manipulating meaningful terms to the point of rendering the terms meaningless. Currently it is fashionable to invoke the term “science” to justify one’s political policies and beliefs.
Confirming earlier reports that distressed California utility PG&E had rejected a proposal by some of the world’s most prominent investors that would keep it out of bankruptcy, moments ago Bloomberg reported that the board of the embattled utility which is facing $30 billion in wildfire liabilities, voted late Monday to file for bankruptcy protection as soon as midnight.
In pursuing a Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing, PG&E is declining a proposal by an investing group led by Paul Singer’s Elliott Management that would’ve been backed by $4 billion in bonds and given the company enough cash to stay avoid bankruptcy while working through its liabilities. A second group of investors including Ken Griffin’s Citadel and Leon Black’s Apollo who had pitched a rival plan, were also rebuffed.
In early December I surveyed the horrific Camp Fire disaster in Paradise. Having been director for 25 years of a university field station located in the heart of the Tahoe National Forest, I’ve been a “student” of fire ecology for 30 years and wanted a closer look at why row after row of homes completely incinerated while surrounding trees were merely scorched, with leaves and needles browned but not burnt?
Large fires have recently ravaged about 1.8 million California acres a year, prompting media and politicians to proclaim a “new normal” that’s “evidence of global warming”. But UC Berkeley fire ecologists have calculated that before 1800, fires burned 4 million California acres each year (despite cooler temperatures). So what natural fire dynamics promote such extensive burning?
CORVALLIS, Ore. – Tree rings tell the story of what’s happening physiologically as fire suppression makes forests more dense and less tolerant of drought, pests and wildfires, new research shows.
Scientists at Oregon State University and Utah State University studied 2,800 hectares of mixed-conifer forest in central Oregon, with many of the ponderosa pines in the study area dating back hundreds of years prior to 1910, when putting out wildfires became federal policy.
Other trees in the area, where fire history has been studied extensively, were younger, comparatively fire- and drought-intolerant grand firs.
In light of the devastating wildfires that ravished California last month, I thought it would be interesting to critically review a frequently referenced article published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in 2016 titled “Impact of Anthropogenic Climate Change on Wildfire Across Western US Forests” by John T. Abatzoglou and A. Park Williams.
In the paper, which was the first and most significant quantitative effort to link climate change to wildfires, the authors conclude that roughly 50% of the wild fire acreage in the Western United States from 1979 to 2015 can be attributed to Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) as displayed in the figures below:
An Israeli company is helping America’s disaster victims and first responders
Watergen sends Israeli water-making machine to assist massive wildfires.
Abigail Klein Leichman
An emergency response vehicle (ERV) carrying an innovative Israeli machine that pulls pure drinking water directly out of ambient air is on its way to California, to provide hydration to police and firefighters dealing with the aftermath of two massive wildfires that have taken at least 87 lives and destroyed over 10,000 homes and businesses.
Inspired by the work done by Robert Rohde attempting to link May to October temperatures and rainfall to fires, I thought I’d take a look at the acres burned over the years. Rohde compared the rainfall and temperature records and highlighted the largest fires. However, this gives only a few data points. I wanted a larger view of the situation.
So instead of major fires, I looked at the areas burned every year, which are available here. There is complete data from 1959 to 2016, and the last two years are available here and here.
The first thing I did was run a multiple regression on the data, using both May to October temperature and May to October rainfall to see how well they would predict the area burned. To my great surprise, I found out that rainfall is not significantly correlated with the area burned. Here is that result:
Yesterday an entire California town burned down. Paridise, CA has (had) 27,000 residents and over 1,000 buildings, and now it’s pretty .
That fire and several others are still expanding across the state, threatening tens of thousands of homes. The sets of the TV show WestWorld are gone. Malibu has been evacuated. And dry, windy conditions persist, so the story is nowhere near over.
If this sounds familiar, it’s because massive, sometimes uncontrollable California wildfires are now an annual occurrence, due in part to gradual warming and persistent drought which combine to suck the moisture out of vegetation and turn the landscape into a tinderbox. Here’s a chart showing the recent take-off in the number of fires reported in the state (2013 was most recent year I could find, but the trend is clear – and since then the number of fires has apparently soared).
published in RANGE magazine received a joint 2nd place honor for Best Investigative or In Depth Story by the Nevada Press Association noting it was a “Good overview of fire ecology in the region.” I also cross published the article here on WUWT. I proudly cross publish all my article here on WUWT as it is the best place for independent thinkers to share with the public. I am very pleased that articles published on WUWT are also widely recognized elsewhere as important scientific journalism.
California may be done waiting for everyone else to get their act together on climate change.
Earlier this week, by a vote of 44 to 33, the state Assembly passed a bill that would require California to get 100 percent of its electricity from renewables by 2045. An equivalent measure already passed the state Senate. A whopping 72 percent of Californians support the measure. All that’s left is for Gov. Jerry Brown (D) to sign the bill. And he’s expected to do so.
An L. A. Times story addressed climate alarmist claims made in a report by the State’s Natural Resources Agency hyping its dire speculation and conjecture based on “climate models” whose “projections” we are supposed to believe represent real world outcomes.
On June 8th, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire) made its first official announcement via press release that 12 big Northern California wildfires in October 2017 were caused by problems associated with electric utility power lines.
So much for fire control – JoNova reports that raptors have been photographed congregating on the edge of large Australian bushfires, picking up burning sticks, and deliberately setting new spot fires in advance of the main blaze to flush out small mammals and other prey. This discovery potentially has profound implications for fire management in places like California.
A letter to the editor which appeared in the Norman, OK Transcript reprinted here with permission of the author, Dr. David Deming:
I write in rebuttal to the Feb. 12 letter by Nancy Smart advising us to “listen” to climate scientists. According to Ms. Smart, climate science is “settled.” Instead of thinking for ourselves, she recommends we obsequiously follow the dictates of “our most respected and highest level scientific agencies.”