The sheer dishonesty of environmentalists’ claims about our current wildfire crisis is enough to annoy any objective observer of the situation. Sure, things are bad out west – but they’re nowhere near as bad as they’ve been in the past, and they’re not so much the fault of climate change as they are of forest mismanagement.
The Foundation for Economic Education presents the facts. Bold, underlined text is my emphasis.
With all due respect to the Cassandras preaching apocalypse and hell on earth, there are two points worth mentioning.
First, as I explained recently, there is widespread agreement that California’s megafires stem largely from decades-long mismanagement of its forests. As The New York Times explained earlier this month, for more than a century, many firefighting agencies have aggressively focused on extinguishing blazes whenever they occur, a strategy that has often proved counterproductive.
Other parts of the US have shown, the paper said, that less aggressive extinguishing of natural fires and targeted prescribed burning are effective at periodically clearing excess vegetation in forests and grasslands, which essentially serve as the fuel of California’s wildfires.
. . .
Texas actually has more forest and higher temperatures than California, but the Lone Star state rarely struggles with fires, perhaps because 95 percent of its land mass is privately owned and these owners act as responsible stewards of the land.
If climate change was truly the primary culprit of the wildfires, wouldn’t it stand to reason other parts of the US would be suffering similar results? Are there reasons climate change impacts California more than Texas and the Southeast US?
This brings me to my second point. There’s a perception that today’s fires are historically unprecedented … But, the claim that 2020 is one of the worst in US history is simply not true.
. . .
So far in 2020, the US has experienced 42,809 total fires that burned a total of 7,015,956 [acres]. These numbers are indeed above the ten-year average—45,711 fires and 5,963,782 acres. However, 2020 is unlikely to exceed the number of fires or acreage burned just three years ago in 2017 … News agencies and NIFC were simply ignoring all data prior to 1960. When this data is included, one sees 2017’s record setting fires burned about one fifth of the acreage of fires in 1930 and 1931 … The entire data set … shows the yearly average between 1926 and 1952 was several times higher than the peaks of today.
. . .
We’ve seen no shortage of crises in 2020, but it’s worth remembering a simple truth: pandemics, riots, and wildfires are nothing new. They have been around as long as humans have.
What’s changing is our response to these phenomena. Each crisis is presented as an opportunity to save humanity, and each requires giving more control to central planners.
Rahm Emmanuel popularized the phrase “Never let a good crisis go to waste,” but it was economist Robert Higgs who showed that crises are the mortal enemy of liberty. His great work Crisis and Leviathan lays bare the state’s tradition of claiming new powers during emergencies, powers that rarely are relinquished fully when the crisis ends.
There’s more at the link.
The current brouhaha about our “wildfire emergency” is being whipped up by anthropogenic climate change alarmists. They seek to use it to grab more authority and more control over our wilderness areas and how we manage them. Their interest lies in maximizing our alarm and concern over current events, while deflecting our attention from the (frequently much worse) events of the past that put today’s wildfires in perspective.
Let’s not lose that perspective, and let’s be duly skeptical about those who are trying to stampede us into precipitate action that isn’t warranted by the facts or the historical record. We don’t need an even Bigger Brother pushing us around!