Open Mind

Wildfire!

October 24th, 2007 · 83 Comments

The company I work for is headquartered in Carlsbad, California, about 30 miles north of San Diego. Needless to say, the office has been closed for several days due to the terrible wildfires raging in southern California. CNN reports that nearly a million people have been evacuated, over a thousand homes have been destroyed, and Qualcomm stadium (home of the San Diego Chargers) has become a refugee center. Monetary damages could easily top one billion dollars.


Just last year Westerlin et al. 2006, Science, 313, 940-943, DOI:10.1126/science.1128834 reported the results of a study of wildfire activity in the western U.S. Here’s the abstract:


Western United States forest wildfire activity is widely thought to have increased in recent decades, yet neither the extent of recent changes nor the degree to which climate may be driving regional changes in wildfire has been systematically documented. Much of the public and scientific discussion of changes in western United States wildfire has focused instead on the effects of 19th and 20th-century land-use history. We compiled a comprehensive database of large wildfires in western United States forests since 1970 and compared it with hydroclimatic and land-surface data. Here, we show that large wildfire activity increased suddenly and markedly in the mid-1980s, with higher large-wildfire frequency, longer wildfire durations, and longer wildfire seasons. The greatest increases occurred in mid-elevation, Northern Rockies forests, where land-use histories have relatively little effect on fire risks and are strongly associated with increased spring and summer temperatures and an earlier spring snowmelt.

I’m fortunate to live in Maine (for many reasons!) so I wasn’t threatened by the wildfires. But I watched in horror as the fires threatened our headquarters, and couldn’t help but worry that some of my very good friends were in danger. I’ve spoken with a good friend in the area, only to find out that many of our staff have been evacuated, one of our IT professionals has suffered the loss of his home, as have the parents-in-law of one of my all-time best friends.

Westerlin et al. found a fourfold increase of major wildfires and a sixfold increase in the area of forest burned since 1986; this mirrors increases in wildfire activity in Canada (Gillett et al. 2004, Geophys. Res. Lett. 31, L18211). They make it quite clear that their study indicates it’s not just land-use changes, ecological factors, and fuels management that have led to what they call the “sudden” and “marked” increase in wildfire activity. In fact, they note the greatest increases in their data are in regions which are not greatly affected by these factors. They point to the culprit as increased spring and summer temperatures and an earlier spring snowmelt. And the cause for these is clear: global warming.

The best news from San Diego is undoubtedly the response of the people. Of people interviewed on the news, even those who have lost nearly everything — surely a devastating blow — still have only praise for the way the locals have responded, from ordinary citizens (including my good friend with whom I spoke) who have taken friends, neighbors, and strangers into their homes, to firefighters who have endured winds sometimes exceeding 100 mph and 40 hours or more of sleep deprivation, to military personnel who have answered every call with no muss, no fuss, just every bit of help they can provide. I’m well aware of the human capacity for apathy and cruelty. But I’m also aware of the human capacity for activity and kindness. The people of San Diego must be admired for showing us firsthand an example of the finest, an example to be emulated.

The impact of warmer summer temperature on wildfire threat is clear. But what’s not usually appreciated is that warmer temperatures in winter and spring affect the fire threat too, because they affect the timing of the melting of mountain snow and its associated runoff. This is clear in a number of studies, including a survey of rivers in New England (Hodgkins et al. 2003, Journal of Hydrology, 278, 244), and several studies of snowmelt runoff timing in the western U.S. (McCabe et al. 2005, Journal of Hydrometeorology, 6, 476; Regonda et al. 2005, Journal of Climate, 18, 372; Stewart et al. 2005, Journal of Climate, 18, 1136). Snowmelt runoff is a major source of water for both ecosystems and human society. Earlier arrival of snowmelt runoff leads to greater likelihood of drought in summer, and is a contributing cause to water shortages in California. As Westerlin et al. have shown, it’s also a contributing cause to wildfire activity.

Some think of the impact of global warming as being in the distant future, some view it as just around the corner, but the vast majority consider it something for the next generations. Yet those who keep a vigilant eye on the the planet’s fire and ice can see that global warming is right here right now. Global warming didn’t invent wildfires in the American west, they’ve been a threat all along. But considering that the American west has seen a fourfold increase of major wildfires and a sixfold increase in the area of forest burned already, one has to wonder what the future will bring if the climate science community is right, and the planet warms a further 2 to 3 deg.C this century — something which is unprecedented in all of human history.

In the meantime, my thoughts are with my friends in southern California.

Categories: Global Warming · climate change

83 responses so far ↓

  • nanny_govt_sucks // Oct 24th 2007 at 8:14 pm

    Here, we show that large wildfire activity increased suddenly and markedly in the mid-1980s, with higher large-wildfire frequency,

    From:
    http://www.perc.org/perc.php?id=256

    “In its early years, the Forest Service at least had a clear mandate: to produce timber, protect water, and make sure that the forests were maintained. Ironically, one of its great successes was in curtailing destructive forest fires, which peaked around 1930. In 1952, a Newsweek story praised the agency in glowing terms, featuring Smokey the Bear on the cover. The agency managed to satisfy the interest groups that paid attention to it–the timber industry, the nascent environmental movement, hunters, and people living near the forests. Most decisions were made locally.

    During the 1970s and 1980s, however, large environmental groups gained power. They pushed for more preservation and more old-growth forest. They succeeded in “nationalizing” public forest issues. Voters in New England proved to be passionate, and influential, about the environment in Montana.

    The battle over the northern spotted owl, a small bird listed under the Endangered Species Act and residing in the old-growth forest of the Pacific Northwest, epitomized the conflict. When the dust cleared, an estimated 17 million acres of forest, a large portion of it old-growth, had been removed from the national forests’ timber base. The national environmental groups had won.

    This was a pyrrhic victory, however. Such decisions–including the subsequent set-aside of 60 million acres by the Clinton administration–have created a tinderbox throughout the national forests.” (my emphasis added)

  • Petro // Oct 24th 2007 at 8:20 pm

    From Tamino’s post:

    “… one has to wonder what the future will bring if the climate science community is right, and the planet warms a further 2 to 3 deg.C this century — something which is unprecedented in all of human history.”

    The changes in the environment are indeed happening right now, and most of them are harmful of human civilization. It is truly scary to think that the rapid increse of global temperature continues next decades at the same pace. Humanity is adopted to a certain climate and can adapt to a new one. Adapting the environment changing drastically during one generation is impossible.

  • Steve Bloom // Oct 24th 2007 at 8:49 pm

    I don’t know if it’s been studied for SoCal in particular, but IIRC there’s recent work indicating a trend in reduction of soil moisture.

  • John Mashey // Oct 24th 2007 at 10:22 pm

    It is not accidental that CA has more than usual acceptance of the idea of AGW…

  • windansea // Oct 24th 2007 at 10:48 pm

    I predicted that both Tamino and Senator Reid would link GW to the SoCal fires within 2 days +or-14.5 hours, do I get a star?

    fuel treatment policies advocated by the US Forest Service (opposed by the usual eco groups, supported by actual fire control agencies) are a much more effective means of combating wildfires than any CO2 reduction scheme. Here’s an actual study of an actual fire with pics etc of how fuel reduction actually works (on the limited scale it was applied)
    http://www.fs.fed.us/r5/angorafuelsassessment/feoaft.php

    here is a nice little history of forest fires and the ebb and flow of fire suppression philosophies.

    http://www.historylink.org/essays/output.cfm?file_id=5496

    as graphs of ACE indexes have proved the GW hurricane strength signal non existant

    Northern Hemisphere = -31% **** 316 (458) (Historic inactivity, 16% of season to go)
    North Atlantic = -28% **** 63 (87) (Bill Gray wants 4 more (huh?, Season 91% over)
    Eastern Pacific = -59% **** 52.2 (128) (Kiko helping out a little, Season 95% over)
    Western Pacific = -25% **** 179 (237) (Still 21% of yearly activity to go)

    see graphs here:

    http://www.coaps.fsu.edu/~maue/tropical/

    a longer term study of forest fires would also dispute your conclusions in this post, see graph here:

    http://forestfire.nau.edu/suppression.htm

    also see this paper

    The most extreme drought of the past 300 years occurred in the mid-twentieth century (1942-1957)

    Drought conditions were broken by the post-1976 shift to the negative SO-phase and wetter cool seasons in the Southwest (Fig 7). The post-1976 period shows up as an unprecedented surge in tree-ring growth within millennia-length chronologies (Fig. 4). This unusually wet episode may have produced a pulse in tree recruitment (Fig. 6), and perhaps an increase in area burned by wildfires (Fig. 8), owing to increased grass and tree leaf production during wet seasons and years. However, additional study is needed to disentangle the interacting roles of land-use and climate. The 1950s drought and the post-1976 wet period, and their aftermaths, offer natural experiments to study long-term ecosystem response to interdecadal climate variability.

    http://geochange.er.usgs.gov/sw/impacts/biology/fires_SOI/
    , so would a longer term study of forest fires

  • tamino // Oct 24th 2007 at 11:13 pm

    From S. Running (2006, Science Express, doi:10.1126/science.1130370):


    Westerling et al. used the most comprehensive data set of wildfire occurrences yet compiled for the western United States to analyze the geographic location, seasonal timing,and regional climatology of the 1166 recorded wildfires with an extent of more than 400 ha. They found that the length of the active wildfire season (when fires are actually burning) in the western United States has increased by 78 days, and that the average burn duration of large fires has increased from 7.5 to 37.1 days. Based on comparisons with climatic indices that use daily weather records to estimate land surface dryness, Westerling et al. attribute this increase in wildfire activity to an increase in spring and summer temperatures by ~0.9°C and a 1- to 4-week earlier melting of mountain snowpacks. Snow-dominated forests at elevations of ~2100 m show the greatest increase in wildfire activity.

    The hydrology of the western United States is dominated by snow; 75% of annual streamflow comes from snowpack. Snowpacks keep fire danger low in these arid forests until the spring melt period ends. Once snowmelt is complete, the forests can become combustible within 1 month because of low humidities and sparse summer rainfall. Most wildfires in the western United States are caused by lightning and human carelessness, and therefore forest dryness and hot, dry, windy weather are the necessary and increasingly common ingredients for wildfire activity for most of the summer. Snowpacks are now melting 1 to 4 weeks earlier than they did 50 years ago, and streamflows thus also peak earlier (6, 7).

    Westerling et al. found that, in the 34 years studied, years with early snowmelt (and hence a longer dry summer period) had five times as many wildfires as years with late snowmelt. High-elevation forests between 1680 and 2690 m that previously were protected from wildfire by late snowpacks are becoming increasingly vulnerable. Thus, four critical factors — earlier snowmelt, higher summer temperatures, longer fire season, and expanded vulnerable area of highelevation forests—are combining to produce the observed increase in wildfire activity.

    In 2002, the U.S. Departments of Agriculture and the Interior embarked on a controversial new land management policy called “Healthy Forests,” whose stated objective is to clean out dead and dying trees in the west to reduce the risk of wildfires. This initiative blames increasing wildfire activity in the western United States solely on increasing stand density and the buildup of dead fuel as a result of fire exclusion policies; it does not acknowledge any role of changing climate in recent wildfire trends. In contrast, the analysis of Westerling et al. suggests that observed increased wildfire activity is at least partially the result of a longer wildfire season acting over a larger forested area. This increased wildfire trend correlates with observed higher temperatures and reduced moisture availability.

  • Void{} // Oct 25th 2007 at 12:22 am

    An omitted variable in all the ‘analyses’ above; Anthropogenic Wildfire. Arson.

  • Dano // Oct 25th 2007 at 12:43 am

    Here’s a shock:

    na_gs and windy, the fires are occurring in coastal scrub, with nary a clearcut or stick of merchantable timber to be seen (unless one can see to the Sierra or San Bernardino Mts thru the smoke).

    If we wish to discuss USFS policy toward wildfire, timber harvest, etc. I have some expertise in this area. Rather than cut-pasting from things you don’t understand, try asking a simple question and I’ll point you to the literature.

    Best,

    D

  • Dano // Oct 25th 2007 at 1:16 am

    I would also argue that smaller caliper stems across much of the West flourished due to an unusual ~century wet spell that ended ~ 1965-ish, in addition to fire suppression that changed the Fire Return Interval for low-mid altitude forests (pine - Doug-fir). Now we see in Eastern WA, Eastern BC, ID, and here in CO that the drought is taking its toll on pines and the pine beetles are moving in. Last year’s backpack in BC allowed us to see the millions of ha affected and now, Summit Co. in CO is suffering the same fate.

    So the combination of drought and - for some forests - fire suppression is the issue. Private companies don’t harvest small caliper stems and generally go for fire-resistant large caliper merchantable timber.

    The buildup of small, hard to merchant stems is the tinderbox, not enviro groups (the target of envirohate in many circles) suing to get the government and corporate timber holdings to follow the law.

    Best,

    D

  • windansea // Oct 25th 2007 at 3:03 am

    If we wish to discuss USFS policy toward wildfire, timber harvest, etc. I have some expertise in this area. Rather than cut-pasting from things you don’t understand, try asking a simple question and I’ll point you to the literature.

    LOL…the graph I posted above showing much larger frequencies of mid altitude forest fires prior to 1900 was in response to Tamino’s post

    http://forestfire.nau.edu/suppression.htm
    as far as low altitude coastal fires in SoCal, I lived in Malibu 1970 to 1986, and in La Jolla 1987 to 2002 and have personal experience with several coastal fires. I am intimately familiar with how and why these coastal conflagrations developed.

    You won’t be pointing me at anything.

  • nanny_govt_sucks // Oct 25th 2007 at 3:29 am

    Dano, is Lake Arrowhead “costal scrub”?

  • Hank Roberts // Oct 25th 2007 at 3:41 am

    http://www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=8535150

    Paul W. Hirt

    A Conspiracy of Optimism
    Management of the National Forests since World War Two

    University of Nebraska Press

  • caerbannog // Oct 25th 2007 at 4:55 am


    LOL…the graph I posted above showing much larger frequencies of mid altitude forest fires prior to 1900 was in response to Tamino’s post.

    The caption of that graph reads (emphasis added),

    Number of fire-scar sites (chronologies) in the Southwest recording fire dates in each year, …

    And from the material posted by Tamino above, we have these statements:

    The greatest increases occurred in mid-elevation, Northern Rockies forests, where land-use histories have relatively little effect on fire risks and are strongly associated with increased spring and summer temperatures and an earlier spring snowmelt.

    ……

    Snow-dominated forests at elevations of ~2100 m show the greatest increase in wildfire activity.

    Now windansea, can you tell us where we might find “snow dominated” mid-elevation forests in the Southwest? And are the northern Rockies located in the Southwest?

  • Hank Roberts // Oct 25th 2007 at 5:05 am

    You’re feeding him again, you know.

  • JamesG // Oct 25th 2007 at 10:40 am

    Should we expect global cooling to bring about a corresponding reduction in winds, droughts, floods, wildfires etc or just a redistribution?

    As void{} mentioned, fire experts conclude that most wildfires are deliberate arson. That was also the strong suspicion with the recent Greek fires.

  • Dano // Oct 25th 2007 at 11:49 am

    is Lake Arrowhead “co[a]stal scrub”?

    I have informed my editor that she should have caught it and the phrase should have been ‘many of…’ apologies for the error. Nevertheless,

    Coastal scrub conflagrations have nothing to do with USFS logging policy and everything to do with land use policy and population growth.

    Best,

    D

  • Dano // Oct 25th 2007 at 11:54 am

    Hank:

    Dietrich’s The Final Forest tells a similar tale to A Conspiracy of Optimism but personalizes it by traveling to places such as Forks and tells the story of the people there. Good story.

    Best,

    D

  • caerbannog // Oct 25th 2007 at 2:20 pm

    WRT the “Lake Arrowhead” quip, it should be noted that nearly all the acreage burned in southern California was covered with chaparral, not forest. In the latest round of fires, maybe two percent of the land involved was forested.

    And most of the land involved is *not* federally owned, as anyone smart enough to use map.google.com can readily verify. (In fact, the great majority of the acreage burned is *privately* owned). USFS policies have been almost completely irrelevant with respect to southern California wildfires. But most republicans are too stupid to figure that out for themselves.

  • tamino // Oct 25th 2007 at 2:27 pm

    As void{} mentioned, fire experts conclude that most wildfires are deliberate arson.

    This whole arson suggestion is a red herring.

    Global warming doesn’t ignite fires; they’re mostly due to lightning strikes, human carelessness, and yes, arson. But arson isn’t responsible for the dryest year on record in southern California, it isn’t responsible for earlier snowmelt runoff, it’s not the cause of higher temperatures, and it’s not the reason that the fire season has lengthened by 78 days.

  • JamesG // Oct 25th 2007 at 2:35 pm

    I could have sworn last year had an extremely cold spell in Southern California. Was 0.6 degrees of global warming responsible for that too? You’re pushing a theory that doesn’t hold up to the slightest examination. Fires are mostly due to humans and very rarely due to lightning strikes so it affect the statistics mightily. You could just as well make a correlation with smoking, juvenile delinquency, unemployment or camping holidays.

  • KM // Oct 25th 2007 at 3:52 pm

    obviously you’re not up to speed with the science JamesG. we had a weak el nino last year, and that was likely the cause of the cooler temperatures. I’m not an active research expert on the subject, but from my understanding, interestingly, warmer temperatures could well trigger more frequent or severe el ninos. So look forward to more chaotic weather. As for Cal, when you look at the average conditions, in which these anomalous events are only minor blips (which dont happen every year incase you didnt know), it has def been getting warmer and drier. From your comment, it’s clear you dont know the difference between climate and weather.

  • Lee // Oct 25th 2007 at 4:59 pm

    JamesG said:
    “Fires are mostly due to humans and very rarely due to lightning strikes”

    This is false - although the actual numbers are complex. In the US west overall, about 60% of fires are human caused. However, human-caused fires are typically accessible and much more likely to be controlled/extinguished early, so the majority of acres burned are from lightning fires.

    It is certainly not true, not even close, that fires are “rarely due to lightning strikes.”

    Heres an overview from a fire history site that gives some regional numbers for the rockies - these are pretty typical.

    http://northernrockiesfire.org/history/ignition.htm

    It is also true that human caused fires have been a factor for a very long time. Ranching in the west caused a lot of fires, often intentional for rangeland improvement/conversion, before the suburbanization of the chaparral / forest ‘caught fire’ in the last few decades.

  • JamesG // Oct 25th 2007 at 6:03 pm

    Lee
    Ok in the Rockies it’s different. But this quote is far more common from firefighters: “Investigators agree that human activities, not lightning, are responsible for nine out of 10 wildfires. That breakdown remains constant even in drought years such as 2000 and 2002″. That’s from North County Times, California. Enough noise to skew any statistical analysis don’t you think? I think 1 in 10 is pretty rare.

  • Dano // Oct 25th 2007 at 6:36 pm

    The big fire season this year has been a windfall for the ‘ding-dang gummint!’ types. I certainly have a number of issues with USFS, but as in most issues for those who want chaos to replace government, there are many factors at work in the recent fires.

    But the basics are that wildfire increases in forests-woodlands are due to drought; some forests have additional problems because of fuel loads.

    In rangeland/scrub, it is overgrazing/invasive spp. and drought that are the problems. Invasive spp. would be the fuel load problem.

    WRT the ‘human activities’ statement, those activities include grazing, inserting invasive spp., inserting second and third homes, fragmentation and very likely man-made climate change.

    Best,

    D

  • windansea // Oct 25th 2007 at 8:19 pm

    [edit]

    the AGW signal in hurricane frequency and intensity is non existant

    check the graphs here, ACE indexes worldwide are going down

    http://tsr.mssl.ucl.ac.uk/docs/BHRCWorkshop14102004.pdf

    now it’s wildfires

    problem is, droughts during the MWP were much longer lasting and severe than current ones….oops

    BEGINNING about 1,100 years ago, what is now California baked in two droughts, the first lasting 220 years and the second 140 years. Each was much more intense than the mere six-year dry spells that afflict modern California from time to time, new studies of past climates show. The findings suggest, in fact, that relatively wet periods like the 20th century have been the exception rather than the rule in California for at least the last 3,500 years, and that mega-droughts are likely to recur.

    The evidence for the big droughts comes from an analysis of the trunks of trees that grew in the dry beds of lakes, swamps and rivers in and adjacent to the Sierra Nevada, but died when the droughts ended and the water levels rose. Immersion in water has preserved the trunks over the centuries.

    Dr. Scott Stine, a paleoclimatologist at California State University at Hayward, used radiocarbon dating techniques to determine the age of the trees’ outermost annual growth rings, thereby establishing the ends of drought periods. He then calculated the lengths of the preceding dry spells by counting the rings in each stump.

    This method identified droughts lasting from A.D. 892 to A.D. 1112 and from A.D. 1209 to A.D. 1350. Judging by how far the water levels dropped during these periods — as much as 50 feet in some cases — Dr. Stine concluded that the droughts were not only much longer, they were far more severe than either the drought of 1928 to 1934, California’s worst in modern times, or the more recent severe dry spell of 1987 to 1992.

    http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9D03E5DB163EF93AA25754C0A962958260&sec=&spon=&pagewanted=print

    I can dig up 100s more pieces on this so don’t bother with the PR rap, just google medieval droughts.

    I wonder what caused these mega droughts in medieval times? CO2 levels have been stable for since the last glacial right? Until the industrial period?? Why were these mega droughts much stronger than today?

    as to the current SoCal fires, your theory is all wet. Increased precipitation causes more growth and more fuel, and the inevitable drought cycles produce huge wildfires like today. Modern fire suppression and land use result in these mega coastal fires, the best antidote is not CO2 reduction fantasies. Here is a real world result.

    A disputed land-use strategy designed to protect new developments from devastation in the county’s exurban, fire-prone areas appears to have passed its first and most critical test this week.
    As the Witch Creek fire raced through some of San Diego County’s priciest neighborhoods and crept to the edge of others north and east of Rancho Santa Fe, not a single home in the five subdivisions that have implemented the strategy was lost, fire authorities said.

    http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/metro/20071025-9999-1n25stay.html

  • dhogaza // Oct 25th 2007 at 8:57 pm

    Dano said:

    If we wish to discuss USFS policy toward wildfire, timber harvest, etc. I have some expertise in this area.

    Me, too. I was on the board of Portland Audubon when we were co-lead plaintiff with Seattle Audubon in the spotted owl suit mentioned in the trash piece linked by NGS.

    I read the piece, NGS. I didn’t see a single true fact in the piece. And my side (and me, personally) have a string of legal victories to back up my opinion, victories largely resulting from our side being truthful about science, spanking the Feds when they lied about science.

    Chief of The United States Forest Service Thomas, the first biologist ever appointed to be Forest Chief, sent a memo to all district and regional foresters when he took over, describing how the US Forest Service would change on his watch.

    Two of his first four points in that memo:

    1. We will tell the truth.

    2. We will obey the law

    In pointed contrast to the actions of the forest service under the Reagan and Bush I administrations …

  • Marko // Oct 25th 2007 at 10:50 pm

    Westerling, et al. 2006 demonstrates a correlation, but then in the paper’s discussion assumes a cause and effect. I believe this is a classic logical fallacy of false cause.

    The assumed cause and effect contradicts what is found here:

    “Spring thaw and associated peak flows, for instance, are likely to occur much earlier in forests effectively denuded by fire than in unburned stands (Tiedemann et al. 1979).”

    In other words, Westerling, et al has the cause and effect backwards. His correlation may still be correct.

  • caerbannog // Oct 25th 2007 at 11:57 pm


    “Spring thaw and associated peak flows, for instance, are likely to occur much earlier in forests effectively denuded by fire than in unburned stands (Tiedemann et al. 1979).”

    Of course, this does not explain the earlier spring thaw observed *above timberline* in the Rockies, along with associated glacier retreat (as observed in Glacier National Park).

  • nanny_govt_sucks // Oct 26th 2007 at 12:06 am

    I read the piece, NGS. I didn’t see a single true fact in the piece.

    Are you saying that the following is untrue?

    “During the 1970s and 1980s, however, large environmental groups gained power. They pushed for more preservation and more old-growth forest.”

  • luminous beauty // Oct 26th 2007 at 1:47 am

    “They pushed for more preservation and more old-growth forest.”

    Yes, environmentalists have pushed for this. What we have is less preservation and less old-growth forest. The thing with old growth forest is once we lose a bit it takes centuries for new old growth forest to evolve. We have suffered the cost of political pragmatism where we have given up a little bit here to preserve a little bit there. All the little bits add up to a net loss. Whatever power ‘large environmental groups’ may have accrued is greatly exaggerated.

  • Hank Roberts // Oct 26th 2007 at 3:41 am

    > gained power
    From, say, 0.01 to 0.05x the power of those controlling the national forests.
    >they pushed
    Yeah. Against heavy equipment.

    You quote words that you can say are literally true, but they don’t contain the inference you believe in because your source lies by omission.

    Some schools of ethics consider that clever debating. You?

  • dhogaza // Oct 26th 2007 at 3:58 am

    “During the 1970s and 1980s, however, large environmental groups gained power. They pushed for more preservation and more old-growth forest.”

    No, of course not. We did so because doing so reduces the probability of large-scale, catastrophic wildfire, tool.

    Don’t believe me? Post some peer-reviewed science that argues otherwise and lament the fact that the timber industry and highly-paid government officials weren’t able to find such information in time for trial, dude.

    I’ll wait.

    Because it doesn’t exist.

    Don’t simply bitch, whine, and stroke your joystick. Show us why science was and *is* wrong, while political “let a man with a chainsaw cut whatever he wants” resource management magically leads to an ecologically optimal solution.

    Convince us! We’ll kiss your boots and vault you to our hall of highest honors!

    I do have to ask though - have you ever seen a tree? Do you know what a forest is? And ecosystem?

    Probably not…

  • windansea // Oct 26th 2007 at 7:12 am

    blah blah blah

    excuse me, why were mega droughts stronger in the MWP?

    no answer?

    pathetic

  • windansea // Oct 26th 2007 at 7:16 am

    I know…it’s regional….just weather

    global warming, global warming :)

  • dhogaza // Oct 26th 2007 at 10:38 am

    I wonder if NGS is aware of how many human-caused fires are (accidently) caused by logger-type humans?

  • ChrisC // Oct 26th 2007 at 12:29 pm

    What’s going on on Sol Cal is very familiar to me. Here in Australia, we have had a series of very bad fire seasons, including large fires (that started in a pine wood plantation by lightning strikes) that destroyed large swaths of our capital city, Canberra, in 2003 (see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canberra_bushfires). As one who grew up in a fire prone rural area, I sympathise with the people in Sol Cal threatened, and I wish you the best.

    Much of Australia’s increasingly severe fire seasons (I’ve had the fortuate experience of working with fire authorities on matters of weather and fire behaviour prediction). is related to climate change, in particular drought. After the 2003 Canberra fires, an official enquiry reported that drought affected vegetation and high temperatures were extremely conducive to fires (see McLeod inquiry: http://www.cmd.act.gov.au/mcleod_inquiry/).
    In Oz, this is directly related to climate change.

    There are some who claim that larger amounts of national park are the cause, implicitly blaming environmentalists. This is wrong, for several reasons. For one, here in Oz, National Parks Authroity increasingly is taking up fuel reduction burning. However, the drough often leaves authorities unable to burn off fuel loads.

    Secondly, wide scale burning and logging of forests can increase fuel loading, as regrowth can be stimulated by removing canopy, stimulating regrowth in the understory and increasing the drying of existing fuel. There are better ways to manage forests, which involves smaller scale, strategic burning in a mosaic pattern. This is generally supported by our fire authorities (for more info ,there is a really good book called Burn, by Paul Collins).

    Well managed forests need not be a fire risk. There are multiple factors that affect fires. Climate change is, in Australia and southern California, obviously one of them.

  • Dano // Oct 26th 2007 at 2:11 pm

    During the 1970s and 1980s, however, large environmental groups gained power. They pushed for more preservation and more old-growth forest.”

    Gosh, I wonder why. Maybe because the American public was shocked at the amount and scale of the devastation caused by clearcuts. Try driving around Lake Ozette on the Olympic Peninsula and tell me when the 25-30 year old clearcut scars will heal.

    And as anyone with the tiniest amount of natural science education knows, at the human scale, you don’t get “more” old growth. You always get less. Which is why California paid the extortionists at Maxxam so much money to not cut down a few acres of redwoods.

    Argument from ignorance is so easily apprehended on some sites.

    It’s all about context, and we can see the few usual suspects here have no context for understanding what’s on their screen after The Google returns a response to their query.

    The Google doesn’t have a ‘wisdom’ button.

    Best,

    D

  • dhogaza // Oct 26th 2007 at 4:02 pm

    Gosh, I wonder why. Maybe because the American public was shocked at the amount and scale of the devastation caused by clearcuts.

    I still remember the shock caused after The Wilderness Society published the results of their $500,000 study showing that there was only about 50% as much old growth remaining in the Pacific Northwest as the US Forest Service claimed.

    The first shock was that about two weeks later, the US Forest Service published an update reducing their figure by 50%, bringing it in line with the Wilderness Society figure.

    It was about then that important forces here - for instance The Oregonian - began to realize how systematically the US Forest Service had been lying to the public. For years, when conservationists complained about USFS lies, we were not believed. But by the late 1980s, it was clear to all but the dimmest souls that conservationists had been telling the truth for decades.

    A string of legal victories spanking the USFS for having ignored various federal laws passed in the 1970s (ESA, NEPA, NFMA) helped bring the truth to light as well.

    An industry-run website trying to shift blame to us nasty environmentalists is only going to fool those who are easily fooled by other forms of denialism, for example those who deny the reality of AGW …

  • JamesG // Oct 26th 2007 at 4:19 pm

    “There are multiple factors that affect fires. Climate change is, in Australia and southern California, is obviously one of them.”
    Only oxygen, fuel and a spark is needed for a fire. Dry fuel is obviously better but if that spark is coming 90% from direct human activity, and 10% from lightning, what percent effect has global warming? Do you think you’ll stop wildfires more effectively by cutting carbon dioxide emissions or by direct action?

  • Dano // Oct 26th 2007 at 4:47 pm

    An industry-run website trying to shift blame to us nasty environmentalists is only going to fool those who are easily fooled by other forms of denialism, for example those who deny the reality of AGW …

    Gone are the days where the Larry Craigs of the world gain stature and power by how many Bn Board Feet of cut they can get out - sustainable harvests be d*mned!

    BTW, there are many places in the CA Coast Range where you can backpack through timber harvests done the old way: select cut and many seed trees left, then coming back and thinning. They stand in stark contrast to the 1000+ ac. clear cuts. My house in Western WA looked out on many thousands of acres of nasty clearcuts, across drainages and not respectful of topography. Much better here in CO Front Range.

    Best,

    D

  • Dano // Oct 26th 2007 at 4:56 pm

    Oh, and BTW if there are those who disagree with dhogaza’s characterization of the long string of USFS lies, numerous books have been written to document them, including Science Under Seige. Written 10 years ago.

    Best,

    D

  • nanny_govt_sucks // Oct 26th 2007 at 5:31 pm

    During the 1970s and 1980s, however, large environmental groups gained power. They pushed for more preservation and more old-growth forest.

    I merely present this as a possible explanation, or partial explanation for the findings of the study that tamino linked. This is not a judgement about whether environmentalist groups were right or justified, just that there may have been unintended consequences to their actions. I.e.: that protected areas may have become more prone to wildfires.

  • dhogaza // Oct 26th 2007 at 7:42 pm

    I merely present this as a possible explanation…

    Here’s an equally likely explanation:

    You’ve personally set all the wildfires in the western US in the last decade.

    Seriously.

    It’s a hypothesis that’s equally likely to be true as the one you present.

  • caerbannog // Oct 26th 2007 at 8:11 pm


    I.e.: that protected areas may have become more prone to wildfires.

    Except that you will not be able to find shred of credible evidence to support that claim.

    If you look at the pattern of wildfires in the West, you’ll find that heavily-logged and roaded forest lands burned at least as intensively (if not more so) than did unroaded lands.

    For example, the Rodeo-Chedisky fire complex in Arizona (the largest wildfire in that state’s history) burned largely on heavily logged Indian-reservation land, land that was not subject to any of the environmental laws that apply to USFS land. The road density in the burned area approached 1 mile of road per square mile of land. But all the roading and logging did nothing to stop the fire or reduce its severity.

    Back here in Southern California, the wildfires burned largely on *private* land, and burned mostly brush, not forest — that’s something you can verify by looking at the burn perimeters of the latest round of wildfires (see http://www.signonsandiego.com/firemap/ for details).

    And as for the land within the Cleveland National Forest that did burn, much of it is privately-owned (private acreage exceeds public acreage in many parts of the CNF, especially in the areas near Julian and Palomar Mountain).

    Claims that environmentalists are somehow responsible for the severity of these fires are made exclusively by stupid, uninformed people. And when I use the word “stupid”, I do not do so lightly.

  • nanny_govt_sucks // Oct 26th 2007 at 10:02 pm

    And as for the land within the Cleveland National Forest that did burn, much of it is privately-owned (private acreage exceeds public acreage in many parts of the CNF, especially in the areas near Julian and Palomar Mountain).

    I guess you’re not familiar with the regulatory burdens placed on private “landowners” within a national forest. The “owners” are far from free to what they think is best for the land.

    Anyway, I see that the red areas (especially where the red areas began) overlap with many of the green areas. I don’t think your map supports your point very well.

  • dhogaza // Oct 26th 2007 at 10:59 pm

    I guess you’re not familiar with the regulatory burdens placed on private “landowners” within a national forest. The “owners” are far from free to what they think is best for the land.

    I am. The regulations are far less stringent than the federal laws that governs management of our National Forests. Timber companies are largely free to manage them as tree farms.

    As bad as the USFS has been, on average privately-owned forests are much, much more agressively managed for timber production with as little attention paid to other values as they can get away with.

    NGS, to be blunt, it is clear that you know absolutely nothing about forest management as it is practised by private and public entities here in the American West, nor about forest ecology (if you knew anything about the latter you wouldn’t post stupid shit like ‘increased fires is an unexpected site effect of old growth preservation’)

    Oh, and in regard to the snippet of yours I copied and pasted above …

    Precisely WHICH regulations imposed on private timberland in California, opposed by the timber industry, leads to an increased risk of fire?

    The snippet makes it clear you’re shifting the blame from landowners to regulations (and by implication, we damn conservationists). Obviously, then, you know which regulations are the source of the specific harm under discussion, right?

    I’d hate to think you were just waving your hands ignorantly once again … that would be really disappointing.

  • Dano // Oct 26th 2007 at 11:18 pm

    I guess you’re not familiar with the regulatory burdens placed on private “landowners” within a national forest. The “owners” are far from free to what they think is best for the land.

    Do share specifics on what happened in the Cleveland that “you” “think” contributed to fire.

    That is, besides the fact that the forest is fire-prone, most of it has a short FRI and adapted to fire. Surely you imply that they couldn’t have a fire-safe zone around their property. Or perhaps you imply they can’t clearcut all of their land or something.

    Specifics. And specifics on how those specifics contributed to the fire.

    Haw.

    Best,

    D

  • nanny_govt_sucks // Oct 27th 2007 at 12:21 am

    How about this for starters:

    http://www.wilderness.net/index.cfm?fuse=NWPS&sec=legisAct#5

    “(c) Except as specifically provided for in this chapter, and subject to existing private rights, there shall be no commercial enterprise and no permanent road within any wilderness area designated by this Act and, except as necessary to meet minimum requirements for the administration of the area for the purpose of this Act (including measures required in emergencies involving the health and safety of persons within the area), there shall be no temporary road, no use of motor vehicles, motorized equipment or motorboats, no landing of aircraft, no other form of mechanical transport, and no structure or installation within any such area.” (my emphasis added)

    Good luck fighting a fire up there.

    The Wilderness Act additionally states that “measures may be taken as may be necessary in the control of fire” but this is only subject to the whims of the Sec. of Agriculture, and this may only be when a fire is raging, not in the case of taking preventative measures beforehand.

    So if your property has been designated a “Wilderness Area”, there’s a lot less you can do about fire suppression and fighting fires unless you’ve made a really good case to the Secretary and the courts.

  • dhogaza // Oct 27th 2007 at 12:58 am

    So if your property has been designated a “Wilderness Area”, there’s a lot less you can do about fire suppression and fighting fires unless you’ve made a really good case to the Secretary and the courts.

    I can’t stop laughing.

    Are you really this stupid, NGS?

    WILDERNESS UNDER THE LAW YOU CITE IS A DESIGNATION THAT ONLY APPLIES TO FEDERAL LAND.

    [edit]

  • nanny_govt_sucks // Oct 27th 2007 at 2:58 am

    Point taken, but “inholdings” (private lands within designated wilderness areas) are still subject to restrictions under that same law that can prevent effective fire prevention and/or suppression. For instance, if you can’t build a road through a wilderness area (see the Wilderness Act) to your inholding, how are you going to effectively fight a fire there?

  • dhogaza // Oct 27th 2007 at 3:24 am

    Point taken, but “inholdings” (private lands within designated wilderness areas) are still subject to restrictions under that same law that can prevent effective fire prevention and/or suppression. For instance, if you can’t build a road through a wilderness area (see the Wilderness Act) to your inholding, how are you going to effectively fight a fire there?

    No, inholdings aren’t subject to the law that governs management of the lands surrounding the inholding.

    If you own an inholding within a Designated Wilderness, you can do whatever you want to it.

    You can’t, however, build a road on the surrounding land WHICH YOU DO NOT OWN unless you were smart enough to BUY AN EASEMENT WHEN YOU BOUGHT YOUR INHOLDING.

    Just as though the surrounding land was owned by a private party.

    Are you suggesting that if your my neighbor, I should have the right to build a road across your property?

  • caerbannog // Oct 27th 2007 at 3:39 am


    Anyway, I see that the red areas (especially where the red areas began) overlap with many of the green areas. I don’t think your map supports your point very well.

    Like I said, “stupid”. Thank you for providing yet another data point in support of my statement.

    Significantly more land outside the boundaries of the Cleveland National Forest has burned than has land within the boundaries. That should be obvious to anyone with decent eyesight and minimal math skills.

    And it turns out that the majority of the burned land within the boundaries of the CNF is privately owned. I know this for a fact because I have personally been to those areas many times.

    Nearly all the land near Julian that is putatively within the CNF is private. This includes most of the Pine Hills and nearby areas south and west of Julian. And most of the forested land atop Palomar Mountain, along with nearly the entire south slope of Palomar Mountain (it is the south slope that is currently burning), is privately owned. And much of the land within the CNF immediately north of Ramona is privately-owned. Like I said, I know this because I’ve been there — many times.

    BTW, the largest fire, the Witch Canyon Fire, was started by a privately-owned downed power-line on private land. It burned mostly on private land until the wind shifted and pushed it into the boundaries of the CNF.

  • luminous beauty // Oct 27th 2007 at 3:41 am

    na_g_s,

    Any grandfathered holding inside of National Forest property very likely has pre-existing access. They don’t need to build new roads.

    You’ve never heard of smokejumpers?

  • caerbannog // Oct 27th 2007 at 4:00 am

    Update to previous post: A closer eyeball estimate of my CNF map indicates that on the order of half the burned land within the CNF is privately-owned (as opposed to a clear majority). The rest of my post stands as written.

  • Chuck // Oct 27th 2007 at 4:47 am

    caerbannog
    I.e.: that protected areas may have become more prone to wildfires.

    Except that you will not be able to find shred of credible evidence to support that claim.

    And I remember in 1962 or 1963, Portland, Oregon, huge controversy when I think UoOregon Eugene (don’t really remember who) published study that concluded suppression of wild fires increases the -again don’t remember details - severity/frequency/both of subsequent forest fires.

  • dhogaza // Oct 27th 2007 at 4:51 am

    Any grandfathered holding inside of National Forest property very likely has pre-existing access. They don’t need to build new roads.

    Doesn’t really matter. NGS is a Libertarian, Property Rights fanatic.

    As such, he should worship the right of neighboring land owners to deny an inholder’s request to build a road in the midst of a fire.

    For no reason other than “it’s my land, if your land burns, glory be to flame!”

  • caerbannog // Oct 27th 2007 at 4:59 am

    Dano:

    Do share specifics on what happened in the Cleveland that “you” “think” contributed to fire.

    NGS’s reply:

    How about this for starters:

    http://www.wilderness.net/index.cfm?fuse=NWPS&sec=legisAct#5

    “(c) Except as specifically provided for in this chapter, and subject to existing private rights, there shall be no commercial enterprise and no permanent road within any wilderness area designated by this Act and, except as ….

    This just keeps getting worse…. No designated wilderness lands in the CNF have been burned in the recent round of fires. None. The land that has burned is *non-wilderness*.

    Like I said, “stupid”.

  • ChrisC // Oct 27th 2007 at 5:18 am

    “Only oxygen, fuel and a spark is needed for a fire. Dry fuel is obviously better but if that spark is coming 90% from direct human activity, and 10% from lightning, what percent effect has global warming?”

    This statement shows a remarkable lack of understanding of fire behaviour.

    When preparing reoprts for fire fighting agencies, we include an index called the “curing” index, which relates to how dry and flamable fuel is, statements on fuel loads, wind and temperature predictions and so on.

    A hot, dry day, or a region with dry fuel can turn a docile fire into an inferno (or worse yet, and organised fire storm) in a matter of hours. It happens frequently that fires, in regions the are drought affected, spread faster and become more intense, than otherwise would be the case. A climate that is drier and hotter, as is predicted in Southern California, will support more intense, faster moving, and dangerous fires. I think you’ve missed the point entirely.

    If you’ve got about 45 mins to spare, I recommend the following online course in fire behaviour by theUCAR:

    http://www.meted.ucar.edu/topics_fire.php
    (click on Introduction to Fire Behavior, you may be asked to register, but it’s free)

    As for lightning v. arsonist, I have no idea where your ten percent v. ninety percent number comes from. According to the government of Victoria, lightning accounts for 26% of fires. On January 8th, 2003, eighty-seven fires were started by lightning strikes in eastern Victoria. A collegue of mine was telling me the other day that last year, a particularly severe fire triggered a “pyro-cumulonimbus” (a thunderstorm started by a fire: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pyrocumulonimbus)
    with a buch of lightning. This started new fires, which made the initial fire about impossible to control.

    In 1994, my house was threatened by a wild fire started by an arsonist, so I’m well aware of the threat, and that people start the majority of fires. This does not change the fact that in a hotter and drier climate, wild fires are likely to be more dangerous, regardless of how they were started.

  • nanny_govt_sucks // Oct 27th 2007 at 5:25 am

    You can’t, however, build a road on the surrounding land WHICH YOU DO NOT OWN

    Well, you could get permission from the land owner, especially if you convinced them that an access road might be beneficial when fighting fires or in taking actions to prevent them in the future.

    The difference between having another private land owner neighbor and the Federal Government is that with the Feds you have to convince the courts, the Secretary of Agriculture, and likely some heavyweight lobbying environmental groups that the road would be a good idea. Of course, that would be quite hard to do. So the law, even though it does not directly apply to the inholding land owner is effectively a restriction on use of the inheld land.

  • caerbannog // Oct 27th 2007 at 5:26 am


    And I remember in 1962 or 1963, Portland, Oregon, huge controversy when I think UoOregon Eugene (don’t really remember who) published study that concluded suppression of wild fires increases the -again don’t remember details - severity/frequency/both of subsequent forest fires.

    Fire-suppression has been applied to protected *and* non-protected lands (more so to non-protected lands). The homes that burned in suburban San Diego County burned in part because fire-suppression increased the fuel-loading on the *non-protected lands* on which those homes were built. You cannot use fire-suppression as a proxy indicator for “protected” lands.

    Government agencies like the USFS and NPS are much more likely to allow natural fires to burn in designated wilderness areas (aka “protected” lands) than they are to less-protected areas.

  • caerbannog // Oct 27th 2007 at 5:29 am

    Grammatical correction:

    Government agencies like the USFS and NPS are much more likely to allow natural fires to burn in designated wilderness areas (aka “protected” lands) than they are in less-protected areas.

  • nanny_govt_sucks // Oct 27th 2007 at 5:36 am

    As such, he should worship the right of neighboring land owners to deny an inholder’s request to build a road in the midst of a fire.

    And I do. But I can negotiate with a neighboring property owner. Dealing with the Federal government is another matter entirely.

  • caerbannog // Oct 27th 2007 at 5:52 am


    And I do. But I can negotiate with a neighboring property owner. Dealing with the Federal government is another matter entirely.

    If you don’t want to deal with the government, there’s a simple solution. Don’t buy an inholding with no access to a road! It’s not like public lands were created yesterday, so it’s not like you find yourself caught without road access by surprise.

    If you buy an inholding (say, an old mining claim) with no road access, then the price you pay should reflect the fact that it has no road access. Otherwise, you are an idiot.

    Only a fool would buy an inaccessible parcel surrounded by public land and then expect the the owners that land (namely the public) to be obligated to provide access that did not exist at the time that said fool bought the parcel.

  • nanny_govt_sucks // Oct 27th 2007 at 5:58 am

    Just found this interesting piece for more info on wilderness/fire suppression. My bolding:

    Fire threat haunts bid to expand Inland wilderness
    http://www.pe.com/localnews/inland/stories/PE_News_Local_D_firezone28.3554b0f.html

    “On Thursday, Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., and Rep. Mary Bono, R-Palm Springs, introduced legislation that would add more than 150,000 acres of protected wilderness in Riverside County, most near Joshua Tree National Park and the San Jacinto Mountains. An additional 41,000 acres would be designated as “potential wilderness” until final property claims are settled by the National Park Service.

    Environmentalists heralded the plan. But fire and county officials are reserving judgment until they can assess whether the plan will impede their ability to aggressively fight wildland fires with mechanized equipment and address the overgrowth of vegetation in protected wilderness areas.”

    “Taxpayers spent $118 million over two months this summer to combat the Zaca Fire, which consumed 240,200 acres, much of it in the steep and rocky terrain of the San Rafael Wilderness of Santa Barbara County.

    Jarvis said efforts to battle the blaze were complicated by a prohibition against using mechanized equipment in the designated wilderness areas.

    “He (Mike Esnard, Pine Cove resident and president of the Mountain Communities Fire Safe Council) said the U.S. Forest Service has inadequate funding to properly manage wilderness areas with prescribed burning and mechanical thinning of vegetation and trees.

    “These lands are too close to populations to ignore. We want to make sure the Forest Service is not presented with particularly onerous obstacles to doing that,” Esnard said. ”

    “Red Tape Factor

    For years, Big Bear City fire Chief Dana Van Leuven has spoken out against plans to create thousands of acres of wilderness area near the small town of Sugarloaf. He said regardless of the language in bills allowing for fuel breaks, tree removal or other fire prevention efforts, the red tape and environmental review processes are prohibitively difficult.

    The costs and time associated with projects in wilderness areas effectively cause them to be passed over for simpler cheaper projects, he said.

    Designate it wilderness and it’s almost guaranteed that nothing will ever be done,” Van Leuven said. “That’s the point-blank truth of what occurs.“”

  • JamesG // Oct 27th 2007 at 8:37 am

    ChrisC
    That statement was directly taken from the first fire-fighting course I took. Did my instructors have a lack of understanding too? Of course they were only fighting oil fires! Drop the pomposity please. Yes I know about fires, I’ve been in the middle of them, choking my lungs out. All that blether about winds, dryness etc. which by the way is very obvious, doesn’t get away from the fact that prevention of fires should primarily focus on controlling human activity, next it should focus on firebreaks and other land-management. GHG control is totally irrelevant. In your “reports” do you recommend people not to drive to the site lest they produce CO2? Do you even mention CO2? If you did you would be laughed at. That’s the point I’m making. The 1 in 10 statistic I mentioned and gave a reference to further up the thread comes from Southern California - ie the area we started talking about. As for a hotter and drier climate being worse for fires - also blindingly obvious - but this is weather, not climate and we cannot control it. When you have a run of 5 years or so then you can be sure it’s a climate shift, but next year of course it’ll probably be rainy and that will be blamed on global warming too. But when one year is hot, the previous year was cold and the next year it is wet it’s just normal weather variability - not climate change.

  • JamesG // Oct 27th 2007 at 8:46 am

    Chris C:
    PS.
    Silly me! Of course you might mention CO2 because we use it in significant quantities to actually put fires out.

  • Hank Roberts // Oct 27th 2007 at 1:12 pm

    http://www.wsn.org/history.html

  • Dano // Oct 27th 2007 at 2:11 pm

    Hank’s link synopsis: a history of envirohate.

    And of course the underlying issue in the article na_gs linked was the fire suppression activities, now made more problematic because of human population building first, second, and third homes in fire-prone landscapes.

    Best,

    D

  • dhogaza // Oct 27th 2007 at 5:39 pm

    Big Bear City fire Chief Dana Van Leuven has spoken out against plans to create thousands of acres of wilderness area near the small town of Sugarloaf. He said regardless of the language in bills allowing for fuel breaks, tree removal or other fire prevention efforts, the red tape and environmental review processes are prohibitively difficult.

    Pfft, is all I can say. The bill includes language that negates the default restrictions of the Wilderness Act. The fire chief is full of it.

    Regardless, note how NGS has moved the goalposts a couple of times here.

    First he claims that landowners face severe restrictions on what they can do to their land.

    Then he cites federal legislation that doesn’t apply to private land when asked to back up his claim.

    Then he moves the goalposts with his inholdings [edit]. While moving the goalposts, he makes clear his ignorance of how the law is actually applied.

    Now he moves the goalposts again, claiming that EVEN WHEN WILDERNESS RESTRICTIONS ARE LOOSENED, we damned conservationists cause private land to burn.

    Pick one point and stick to it, NGS. Quit spinning and squirming and moving the goalposts when your ignorance of natural resource managements and federal and state law is exposed.

  • Dano // Oct 27th 2007 at 8:23 pm

    dhogaza, na_gs can’t Pick one point and stick to it , as The Google doesn’t have a ‘wisdom button. All folks like that can do is throw out what they Googled and hope it sticks. And throw. And throw. And throw. And throw. And…

    Best,

    D

  • ChrisC // Oct 28th 2007 at 8:53 am

    James G.

    I would love to see a large scale (which can strech for hundreds of miles) wild fire surpressed with CO2. I’m sure you would recognise that there is a considerable difference between wild fires and oil fires.

    I think we may be talking about different things. I’m talking about the intensity, longevity and speed of spread of wild fires. You seem to be talking about ignition sources. These are two different things.

    “As for a hotter and drier climate being worse for fires - also blindingly obvious - but this is weather, not climate and we cannot control it.”

    This seems a little self contradictory, but I’ll bite. I was talking about climate, not weather and we are changing it. The climate in Southern California has gotten warmer since 1970ish, and is predicted to get warmer and have more days of extreme heat. Have a look at:

    http://www.climatechange.ca.gov/research/impacts/public.html

    in it it states:

    “hese increases are expected to affect human health through direct effects on heat-related mortality, indirect effects on air pollution, potential effects on various infectious diseases, and wildfires.”

    As for:

    “In your “reports” do you recommend people not to drive to the site lest they produce CO2? (ect)”

    Of course not, don’t be “silly” (Who’s being pompous now?). But when deciding on a long term strategy for fire and risk management and control, it would be likely we would recommend climate stabilisation through reduction of CO2 emissions.

    “Drop the pomposity please”

    Drop the faux aggression and we’ll talk.

    Once again, I think we’re talking about different things. You about ignition sources, me about intensity and the like.

  • Void{} // Oct 28th 2007 at 8:58 pm

    Interesting is this. The Anthropogenic in Anthropogenic Wildfire comes in many flavors.

  • JamesG // Oct 29th 2007 at 3:40 pm

    ChrisC
    I was really talking about the percentage effects of our different actions vis à vis wildfires. Where on the list does CO2 reduction come? 99th place? I am all for a greener lifestyle but one of the main problems of blaming everything on climate change is that it lets the real culprits off the hook. That’s what happened with hurricane Katrina. Same with coral reefs dying from direct pollution, not CO2. Same with the drying up of inland lakes, river floods or mudslides. There is often a human cause yes, but it actually does more harm than good to blame global warming because you avoid the real cause of the problem and you don’t therefore fix it. You’ll notice politicians play the global warming card a lot - because they know they are often the real guilty parties of disasters. It’s handy to shift the blame.

    As far as weather versus climate let’s wait and see. Last year we had a mild spell in Europe with incessant claims that it was climate warming. It was immediately followed by a very cold spell and a wet Summer - also apparently caused by climate warming and it’s pretty cold now.

  • Dano // Oct 29th 2007 at 5:56 pm

    As far as weather versus climate let’s wait and see. Last year we had a mild spell in Europe with incessant claims that it was climate warming. It was immediately followed by a very cold spell and a wet Summer - also apparently caused by climate warming and it’s pretty cold now.

    Yes. Man-made climate change means more chaoticality in the weather.

    But CO2 reduction to help wildfires is listed as a benefit, not a goal. The scales for wildfire mitigation and climate mitigation don’t match. Much better is CO2 reduction for drought avoidance.

    Best,

    D

    Best,

    D

  • dhogaza // Oct 29th 2007 at 6:26 pm

    I am all for a greener lifestyle but one of the main problems of blaming everything on climate change is that it lets the real culprits off the hook.

    I guess we live in different worlds, then. The NGOs I’ve been involved with work on global warming issues, but also old-fashioned conservation and environmental issues.

    That’s what happened with hurricane Katrina.

    Just who says faulty engineering and construction processes that contributed to levee failures was caused by global warming?

    Who says that FEMA’s pitiful response was due to global warming?

  • Null // Oct 29th 2007 at 7:22 pm

    Dano, do you have lit cites for that? Scholar doesn’t seem to know ‘chaoticality’.

    Thanks

  • Null // Oct 29th 2007 at 7:24 pm

    Anthropogenic Wildfire is all over in the news these days.

  • Dano // Oct 29th 2007 at 10:53 pm

    Dano, do you have lit cites for that? Scholar doesn’t seem to know ‘chaoticality’

    Popular mag explanation here. Excellent overview paper of the ecological concepts of scenarios, human health impacts of collapse of ecosystem services to human societies here.

    Best,

    D

    [Response: Perhaps there’s confusion over the word “chaoticality.” I haven’t heard it before (and I don’t see it in either link). Did you coin the term? If so, do you mean it in the mathematical or the colloquial sense (the popular mag article would seem to imply the latter)?]

  • dhogaza // Oct 30th 2007 at 12:33 am

    From the WSJ intro linked above:

    The fires in Southern California — now having damaged more than 1,700 homes and blackened more than 500,000 acres — are mainly burning in chaparral and coastal sage scrub, the native vegetation of the canyons and mountains. Historically, fires in these ecosystems burned through an area every 35-100 years, part of a normal ecological cycle — so-called “crown fires” that fully consumed the vegetation and began the growth process anew.

    Chaparral and sage scrub ecosystems don’t have “crown fires”, a term used to describe a forest fire with flames high enough to reach the crowns of trees, where the fire then will spread crown-to-crown, often extremely rapidly.

    I wonder what gems are in the non-free part of the piece?

  • Dano // Oct 30th 2007 at 1:10 am

    Perhaps there’s confusion over the word “chaoticality.” I haven’t heard it before (and I don’t see it in either link). Did you coin the term? If so, do you mean it in the mathematical or the colloquial sense (the popular mag article would seem to imply the latter

    Oops. I was stuck in ecosystems mode, where lots of folks use such verbiage to express themselves. Apologies.

    Weather patterns will become more chaotic in a warmer, climate-changed world.

    Best,

    D

  • JamesG // Oct 30th 2007 at 3:52 pm

    dhogaza
    The number of people even now blaming Katrina on global warming is ridiculous and you know it! Neither was it faulty engineering or construction to blame - it was the lack of maintenance, partly caused by funding cuts and partly caused by sending the maintenance engineers to Iraq. As for FEMA, having an unqualified Bush crony heading it up must have been a big factor. Also if you mosey along to gregpalast.com you’ll find out that the government knew the levees would break ahead of time but didn’t tell anyone. You may want to ask what has happened since - are the people back in their homes, are the levees up to scratch again, is an evacuation plan now in place that actually provides buses, are they rebuilding flood resistant housing, have the guilty been punished? No? Why? At least some part is due to the confused message going around that it had something to do with global warming, which makes it really our own fault. Which suits some people just fine.

    Other examples you can add to the list are the Indonesian Tsunami which Greenpeace blamed on Global warming or the Minneapolis bridge collapse that was blamed on global warming by a local politician. It is endlessly ridiculous.

    If you are an environmentalist then you’ll also have noticed that a lot of harm is currently being done in the world by people pursuing policies that put green fuel ahead of food. Of course it’s not the fault of the environmentalists, but it is somewhat attributable to the continuing messages of urgency.

    Dano.
    Instead of “more chaotic”, which doesn’t make much mathematical sense, I think you mean more unpredictable. In any event this is something you either believe or disbelieve because it can’t be proven yet - certainly not by looking at the records.

  • Dano // Oct 30th 2007 at 5:08 pm

    Instead of “more chaotic”, which doesn’t make much mathematical sense, I think you mean more unpredictable. In any event this is something you either believe or disbelieve because it can’t be proven yet - certainly not by looking at the records.

    Sure it does. It makes sense because weather mechanics approach chaos in their equations.

    Nonetheless, whether or not you believe science “proves” stuff is irrelevant. Folks on the ground are seeing that man-made climate change is making weather more unpredictable, as you say. Reinsurers, for example.

    Best,

    D

  • Hank Roberts // Oct 30th 2007 at 5:35 pm

    Stoat has pointed out that there’s no clear IPCC (I think) statement about an increase in variability being expected, though I’ve seen it mentioned in less formal ways often.

    Given what we know about past climate and weather variation — like the extreme droughts in California from lake sediments, for instance — it’ll have to be a while to know. I guess variabilty happens in a lot of ways — how much time the local conditions spend in any particular state, and how often that occurs, and how extreme the extremes get and how often.

    ——E.g.—–
    San Francisco Chronicle
    Central Valley salmon largely absent from fall run - but why? Tuesday, October 30, 2007

    ” One of the ideas is that global climate change will introduce greater extremes and much more variability into the climate. In reality, it’s going to take a couple of decades. Then we can look back and see what the patterns were,” Schwing said.

    http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2007/10/30/MNAAT2VTR.DTL

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