“I’ve heard the climate change argument back and forth,” Zinke told the Sacramento-based KCRA.
“This has nothing to do with climate change. This has to do with active forest management.”
The virtue-signaling back-lash was deafening, and yet contained little to no actual scientific evidence that 'climate change' had done anything to exacerbate this year's wildfire situation.
And then just last week, much to the chagrin of the mainstream media, politicians, and environmental advocacy groups who swing their "climate change" hammer at every statistical anomaly, claiming that anthropogenic global warming has created a new regime of fires and smoke that has never been experienced before, University of Washington veteran climate scientist Cliff Mass posted on his blog that "those making such claims are seriously misinformed."
As Mass points out, wildfires are an essential part of the ecology of our region, particularly east of the Cascade crest, adding that during the past few summers we have gotten a taste of the "old normal", one that was very familiar to our great grandparents and their predecessors. And one that we will experience frequently in our future if we don't take steps to restore our forests and to bring back regular fire.
And if words can be politicized, then perhaps the hard data and a simple chart will help. An excellent illustration of our firey and smoky past is found in this graphic produced by the Oregon Department of Forestry (OD) showing acres burned and number of fires from 1911 to 2017...
And the pattern for the entire US is the same. As Bloomberg reports, giant wildfires of the sort tormenting California and other Western states this summer are not a new thing. Wildfires appear to have been far more widespread in the 19th and early 20th centuries than they are now.
In fact, the number of acres burned early in the 20th century absolutely dwarfs when are experiencing recently. If only they hadn't driven so many SUVs in the 1920s??
At 3 million acres burned across three states and British Columbia, the Great Fire of 1910 was the biggest wildfire in U.S. history, spurring an increase in budgets for fire suppression.
The Oakland firestorm of 1991 was the worst for property damage, with economic losses of $2.75 billion in 2018 dollars. But last year’s Tubbs Fire (also in California) is likely to surpass that: Insurance claims for Sonoma County alone exceed $7 billion.
And spending is soaring: federal expenditure on fire suppression from 1985 to 2017, adjusted for inflation rose 435%.
We will let Mr. Mass have the last word:
“Those who blame our dangerous situation on a ‘new normal’ solely resulting from climate change, are not only misinformed, but they can act as obstacles to the actions that are acutely needed: a massive effort to thin our forests and bring back low-intensity fire."
We can hear the screams now...