Mike Shellenberger+ Your Authors @ShellenbergerMD Best-selling author, “Apocalypse Never” : Time “Hero of Environment” : Green Book Award : Pres., Environmental Progress : Invited IPCC Expert : MD = my initials Sep. 11, 2020 4 min read + Your Authors

Stop politicizing a tragedy

California's top *forest* scientists say main causes of fires are

- 5x more wood fuel in forests due to 100+ years of fire suppression

- Drought (2012-16) that would have occurred w/o climate change

“Climate dries the [wood] fuels out & extends the fire season BUT IT'S NOT THE CAUSE OF THE INTENSITY of the fires. The cause of that is fire suppression and the existing debt of wood fuel.”

— Malcolm North, US Forest Service


The 2013-2014 Rim fire, which burned 250,000 acres, exposed FIVE TIMES MORE PEOPLE to unhealthy air conditions from smoke than it would have if the same area had been burned regularly with smaller “prescribed” fires.

You @GavinNewsom were Lt. Gov from 2011-19 during which time you:

- did nothing to improve forest management

- helped raise Calif. electric prices 6x more than rest of U.S.

- fought to replace our last nuclear plant with fossil fuels

- ran for governor

Now, you are:

- shamelessly politicizing a tragedy

- pretending to care about climate change while shutting down our last nuclear plant

- pretending to care about forests you neglected for the last decade

- running for president

Now you & @JerryBrownGov are scrambling to deflect attention from your catastrophic, decades-long failure to manage our forests

And you & Jerry are hustling to deflect attention from your efforts to kill off our largest source of zero-carbon energy, nuclear power

Is climate change "playing a role"?Sure. Scientists estimate that climate change made the 2012 - 16 drought *15-20%* worse & extended the fire season


Should we address climate change? Yes! And most of the US is doing just that by:

- switching from coal to natural gas

- keeping their nuclear plants operating

You @GavinNewsom & @JerryBrownGov talk non-stop about climate change AS P.R. COVER FOR KILLING OFF NUCLEAR POWER

Climate change or no climate change, scientists say somewhere between 500,000 and 4M acres of forest land need to burn *annually* in California.

Doing that requires moving beyond the pyrophobia, alarmism, and politicization that got us into this mess in the first place.

Even left-wing magazines in California were starting to cover forest fires in a sane and scientific way until @GavinNewsom @KamalaHarris started politicizing them

This is a terrific article by @SavorTooth from @MotherJones a left-wing magazine in SF from just last year:

"Drought, disease, and insects have left 100 million dead trees browning across California, and in some places, 90 percent of the trees have died"


Good @ShogrenE @MotherJones in 2017 “We have 100 years of fire suppression that led to huge accumulation of fuel loads... As a result, our forests and woodlands are not healthy, and we’re getting more catastrophic fire behavior than we would otherwise.”


"Between 4.4M & 12M acres burned each year in prehistoric California but btwn 1982-1998 managers burned, on average, 30,000 acres a year. Between 1999 and 2017, that number dropped to an annual 13,000 acres."


Even @nytimes did a pretty good job here:

"With rare exceptions [prescribed burning] remains infrequent in the West. Calif intentionally burned just 50,000 acres in 2017... One study found that the state would need to burn or treat 20M acres


But all of that nuance went out the window this morning with this irresponsibly alarmist, one-sided & misleading travesty that @nytimes put on the front page


And then there's this nonsense propagated by a scientist & journalist who know better

The amount of carbon emitted and absorbed by forests goes up and down depending on how bad the fires were that year.

@Weather_West & @dwallacewells are trying to be clever in noting that the carbon emitted in a big fire year is larger than the emissions from energy production...

... but it doesn’t actually show anything important to either climate change or conservation since the carbon will be reabsorbed by the forest in the form of new vegetative growth in future years of less burning, when the forest is growing back.

If there is net emissions over a long period of time then what’s happening is deforestation, and if that’s our concern, and I think it is a bigger and more important one than climate change, then we measure that directly in terms of changes to land in California.

Again, climate change is real and we should address it.

But the over-the-top alarmism we are witnessing is polarizing, destructive, and anathema to both adaptation (e.g. forest management) and decarbonization.


You can follow @ShellenbergerMD.


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