The hellish fire of Paradise 3

The earth of California burns as a result of human activity – or rather of the inactivity of environmentalists. 

The Washington Post reports and comments:

The wildfires scorching California in the past few days have been vast, bringing their destruction and lethality to numerous communities across large swaths of the state, including  one in Los Angeles County and another gigantic burn along the northern mountains.

The Camp Fire, in the Sierra Nevada foothills north of Sacramento, is now the most destructive individual wildfire in California’s history. As of Saturday, it already had destroyed nearly 7,000 structures in and around the mountain town of Paradise and has been blamed for 23 of the 25 overall deaths, though more could come.

“This event was the worst-case scenario,” Butte County Sheriff Kory L. Honea said. “It’s the event that we have feared for a long time.” …

There are reports of about 110 people missing. …

in Southern California, authorities said two bodies were found, both burned, in Malibu in a vehicle that had been in the path of the wildfire …

About 200,000 people were displaced by the Woolsey Fire, which began mid-afternoon Thursday near Simi Valley, even as fire departments were responding to a second wildfire, called the Hill Fire, just west of Thousand Oaks. The Woolsey Fire proved to be explosive, expanding within 24 hours to some 35,000 acres. It raced from the Conejo Valley to the Pacific Ocean, across Highway 101 and the Santa Monica mountains, at speeds that impressed veteran fire officials. …

On Saturday, President Trump made his first comments on the wildfires, alleging mismanagement of the forests.

There is no reason for these massive, deadly and costly forest fires in California except that forest management is so poor. Billions of dollars are given each year, with so many lives lost, all because of gross mismanagement of the forests. Remedy now, or no more Fed payments!

The Californian authorities – Democrats all, and passionate believers in man-made global warming – blame President Trump (and global warming – see below) for the fires, claiming that he does not provide sufficient federal funds for the vital work of neglecting the forests.

And what’s more, they say, he’s heartless:

A spokesman for Governor Jerry Brown (D) said that more federal forest land has burned than state land, adding that the state has expanded its forestry budget while the Trump administration has cut its budget for forest services. …

Brian Rice, president of the California Professional Firefighters, also responded to Trump’s earlier tweet.

The president’s message attacking California and threatening to withhold aid to the victims of the cataclysmic fires is Ill-informed, ill-timed and demeaning to those who are suffering as well as the men and women on the front lines. The president’s assertion that California’s forest management policies are to blame for catastrophic wildfire is dangerously wrong . . . nearly 60 percent of California forests are under federal management, and another two-thirds under private control. It is the federal government that has chosen to divert resources away from forest management, not California.

Who is right?

Matthew Vadum writes at Canada Free Press:

As huge wildfires continued to devour forests, homes, and businesses across California over the weekend, President Trump lashed out at the destructive, deadly policies long pushed by environmentalists that set the stage for the Golden State’s now-routine fiery catastrophes.

“There is no reason for these massive, deadly and costly forest fires in California except that forest management is so poor,” President Trump tweeted Nov. 10 at 3:08 a.m. “Billions of dollars are given each year, with so many lives lost, all because of gross mismanagement of the forests. Remedy now, or no more Fed payments!”

On Nov. 11 at 4:40 a.m. he followed up with: “With proper Forest Management, we can stop the devastation constantly going on in California. Get Smart!”

In-between the two tweets, Trump used Twitter to urge people in the affected areas to “evacuate quickly”, praised the “more than 4,000” who are fighting the Camp and Woolsey Fires in California, and expressed sympathy for the fire victims.

Idiot celebrities and clueless politicians weighed in across the fruited plain, eager to attack Trump. …

California Governor-elect Gavin Newsom (D), a strong supporter of the no-growth economic policies that caused the deadly fires, tweeted:

“Lives have been lost. Entire towns have been burned to the ground. Cars abandoned on the side of the road. People are being forced to flee their homes. This is not a time for partisanship. This is a time for coordinating relief and response and lifting those in need up.” …

But as usual Trump is right … and his critics are wrong.

Years ago environmentalist lobbies ideologically opposed to economic growth put the screws to California’s once-thriving wood-harvesting industry. New federal and state regulations came into effect make it increasingly difficult for the industry to operate.

“As a result, timber industry employment gradually collapsed, falling in 2017 to half of what it was 20 years earlier, with imports from Canada, China, and other nations filling domestic need,” Chuck DeVore, Vice President of National Initiatives at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, writes at Forbes.

As timber harvesting permit fees rose and environmental regulations intensified, industry employees left the field and “the combustible fuel load in the forest predictably soared. No longer were forest management professionals clearing brush and thinning trees”.

With all that kindling piling up on forest floors, today’s devastating wildfires were not hard to foresee.

Back in 2005 experts were predicting “larger, more devastating fires—fires so hot that they sterilized the soil, making regrowth difficult and altering the landscape,” DeVore writes. They saw the rise of “fires that increasingly threatened lives and homes as they became hotter and more difficult to bring under control. Federal lands have not been managed for decades …”

For decades before the election of President Trump …

… threatening adjacent private forests, while “federal funds designated for forest maintenance have been ‘borrowed’ for fire suppression expenses,” DeVore writes. “The policies frequently reduce the economic value of the forest to zero. And, with no intrinsic worth remaining, interest in maintaining the forest declined, and with it, resources to reduce the fuel load.”

Two decades ago there used to be an orderly burning of wood waste – including brush and smaller trees cleared by thinning efforts— from timber operations. … That waste fed “renewable biomass powered electric generating plants across the length of the state”, but taxpayer-subsidized solar power coupled with California’s air-quality regulations and less wood waste to use forced biomass generators to shut down.

“What used to be burned safely in power generators is now burned in catastrophic fires,” he writes. “Including the growing capture and use of landfill methane as a fuel, California’s biomass energy generation last year was 22% lower than it was 25 years before.”

Outgoing California Governor Jerry Brown (D) pigheadedly blames global warming for the fires but as Cato Institute meteorologist Ryan Maue noted on Twitter back on Aug. 5:

Please take a deep breath and read up on California’s forest management issues that are decades in the making. Governor Brown blames climate change for wildfires and avoids any meaningful conversation on policy solutions.

… Arms of the federal government which have long been under the influence of the same left-wing enviro-radicals who run California, are [also] largely to blame.

As always, government does badly what it takes it upon itself to do. As always, private enterprise does it much better:

In charge of 190 million acres of land, the U.S. Forest Service can’t manage land to prevent fires or protect property after blazes begin, Robert Smith, a distinguished scholar at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, said …

Private owners cannot afford to let their forests die of disease, insect infestations or wildfire. They are on the job 24 hours a day, unlike 9-5 government bureaucrats. If private owners fail they go bankrupt. If Forest Service managers fail, at worst they are transferred to another forest.

But though enviro-radicals in the federal government must bear their share of blame, President Trump’s accusation against the Californian government is not misplaced:

Smith laid some of the blame at the feet of radical environmentalists for preventing the Forest Service from managing woodlands by taking away the old or dead trees that are most likely to catch fire. The [Californian] government’s refusal to open roadways in forested areas also makes fighting fires unnecessarily difficult … 

The evidence, Vadum says, is on the President’s side.

Paradise lost