The Combination of Things

What about all the forest fires in the West? The most proximate cause of these fires is high temperatures along with associated lightning and high winds; both of which, directly or indirectly, can easily ignite a fire in tinder dry forests.

Beyond beyond being dry, many western forest are far from being healthy. There are large areas in the southern Sierra Nevada Range where the forest are dead and gone; they were the first to go. There is less damage to the forest as one goes farther north; still, going east on Highway 108 up over the Sonora Pass, it is not unusual to see forest areas where upwards of half the trees are dead or dying. Most are dying from infestations of bark beetles. Healthy trees can survive bark beetles, but these trees were first weakened by long periods of drought. The damage has being worsening for decades.

Drought is not new in the West; there is ample scientific evidence of at least two extended periods of drought in California over the past 1200 hundred years. There is the possibility that we are entering such a period now. It is far more likely that what we are seeing is what has long been predicted by climate Change Models. Speaking of models, has everyone seen ProPublica’s, ‘New Climate Maps Show a Transformed United States’ ? Poor Texas. Near the end of the piece, future predictions down to every county in the US. And the models will only get better at predicting with more and better data.

Recently, the media has followed up Trump’s assessment that it is all a forest management problem by attributing the fires to both Climate Change and bad Forest Management Practices; i.e., by straddling the possibilities. Wouldn’t do to offend anyone, now would it? When speaking about Forest Management Practices, we hear experts, politicians and pundits speak to the need to adapt controlled burn like methodologies used by the Native Americans. That was then and this is now. Did Native Americans attempt to do controlled burning during past extended periods of drought and, if so, what were the results?

Wouldn’t it make more sense to develop Forest Management Policies based on the Climate Change Models? No doubt, there are those in the United States and California Forestry Departments doing just that.

If we ignore it?

Wouldn’t it make more sense to address the cause of all those things that were the ’cause’ of the fires? Australia doesn’t have a forest management problem; Australia is burning up because of Climate Change. California, Oregon, and Washington don’t have a forest management problem; they are burning up because of Climate Change. We are all Australians now.

It’s not going away.

Gotta say it; these are not all forest fires. Like Australia, the burn areas of the Santa Rosa and Lake Berryessa, … fires would be better described as range land than forest land. Paradise area? Both. Foothill towns in California, Oregon and Washington bordering between range land and forest, some with old narrow mining era roads, are scary places these days.

And what about the emails,” she asked? Why did she feel compelled to ask that? Did she know about Whataboutism? About the association of whataboutism with the Soviet Union that began during the Cold War? When, as the regimes of Josef Stalin and his successors were criticized by the West for human rights atrocities, the Soviet propaganda machine would be ready with a comeback alleging atrocities of equal reprehensibility for which the West was guilty. Was it to claim an equivalence? If so, an equivalence to what?

This Whatabout came at the end of a news story that wasn’t about Hillary’s emails; it was about the other side’s candidate. Was the Whatabout meant to show impartiality? Must news be impartial? How can news be equivalent?