By Benjamin Gaul
In an article titled, “This US summer is ‘what global warming looks like,’” The AP put it this way:
“Horrendous wildfires. Oppressive heat waves. Devastating droughts. Flooding from giant deluges. And a powerful freak wind storm called a derecho. These are the kinds of extremes climates scientists have predicted will come with climate change, although it’s far too early to say that is the cause. Nor will they say global warming is the reason …”
If you only read the title, you’d probably believe “scientists” were saying just the opposite of what the article goes on to say they do not. Interestingly enough, it is the very mindset of entrenched environmental activism which promotes wildfires and hinders our ability to manage or control them.
Fire prevention specialists always tell us to “remove all the dry foliage from around your house and backyard deck, as it can be flammable.” They also urge us to “keep firewood at least 30 feet away from the house and propane tanks 10 feet away.” The idea is to keep kindling and flammable material away from the structures we don’t want to catch fire. That reasoning also applies to trees in a forest.
But the Environmentalist Movement insists that all forests be left alone and in their pristine condition, in order to avert global catastrophes.
“The Healthy Forests Initiative will allow foresters to spend more time in the forest and less time in the courtroom battling environmental lawsuits,” said Rep. John Thune (R-South Dakota). “For too long, exhaustive administrative regulations and frivolous environmental lawsuits have stopped sound and balanced forest management. It’s time we cut the red tape, and protect lives and preserve the habitat instead of watching it go up in smoke.”
Supporting Thune’s assertions, retired Interior Secretary Gale Norton observed that “white-crowned sparrows, western blue birds, rufous hummingbirds, white-headed woodpeckers, Lewis’s woodpeckers, and other forest birds historically common to the West are being pushed out of many forests. Their problem isn’t too few trees, it’s too many trees.”
Yet Environmental “Global Warming” (sorry, “Climate Change”) alarmists continue to insist that MAN can only have a negative impact on the world we live in. As if we aren’t as much a part of the Earth as the birds and the bees and the flowers. (…and the trees.) Even Native Americans knew to clear underbrush and tinder by starting controlled burns as necessary.
Fact: Between 1996-2006, forest fires increased an average of 5.8 million acres per year. The best Solution: Remove trees and undergrowth from crowded forests decreases the risk of forest fires through treatment programs such as thinning the forests and prescribed burning developed by foresters. A solution which Democrats in both Houses refuse to allow.
It’s estimated that 3.5 million acres of US forests are infested with invasive weeds and plants which is a major threat to biological diversity. The Solution: Foresters identify invasive weeds and plants then develop a specific plan to reduce and control the spread of invasive weeds. Environmentalists, completely oblivious to the concept of Unintended Consequences, insist that we have no business “tinkering with the balance of nature.”
Had Colorado been allowed to clear undergrowth and manage their forests intelligently –instead of having every effort to do so hung up by law suits and environmentalists in the bureaucracy — these fires still might have started, but they would have been infinitely more manageable and already put out.