Editor’s Note: Below is part 2 of David Stockman’s article on the “climate crisis” and why governments are the real cause of the current economic issues.
As it happens, the same story is true with respect to wildfires—the third category of natural disaster that the Climate Howlers have glommed onto. But in this case it’s bad forestry management, not man-made global warming, which has turned much of California into a dry wood fuel dump.
And don’t take our word for it. This comes from the George Soros funded Pro Publica, which is not exactly a right-wing tin foil hat outfit. It points out that environmentalists have so shackled Federal and state forest management agencies that today’s tiny “controlled burns” are but an infinitesimal fraction of what Mother Nature herself accomplished before the helping hand of today’s purportedly enlightened political authorities arrived on the scene:
“Academics believe that between 4.4 million and 11.8 million acres burned each year in prehistoric California. Between 1982 and 1998, California’s agency land managers burned, on average, about 30,000 acres a year. Between 1999 and 2017, that number dropped to an annual 13,000 acres. The state passed a few new laws in 2018 designed to facilitate more intentional burning. But few are optimistic this, alone, will lead to significant change.
We live with a deathly backlog. In February 2020, Nature Sustainability published this terrifying conclusion: California would need to burn 20 million acres — an area about the size of Maine — to restabilize in terms of fire.”
In short, if you don’t clear and burn-out the deadwood, you build-up nature-defying tinder-boxes that then require only a lightning strike, a spark from an un-repaired power line or human carelessness to ignite into a raging inferno. As one 40-year conservationist and expert summarized,
“ …. There’s only one solution, the one we know yet still avoid. “We need to get good fire on the ground and whittle down some of that fuel load.”
In fact, a dramatically larger human footprint in the fire-prone shrub-lands and chaparral (dwarf trees) areas along the coasts increases the risk residents will start fires. California’s population nearly doubled from 1970 to 2020, from about 20 million people to 39.5 million people, and nearly all of the gain was in the coastal areas.
Under those conditions, California’s strong, naturally-occurring winds, which crest periodically, are the main culprit which fuels and spreads the human set blazes in the shrub-lands. The Diablo winds in the North and Santa Ana winds in the South can actually reach hurricane force. As wind moves West over California mountains and down toward the coast, it compresses, warms and intensifies. The winds blow flames and carry embers, spreading the fires quickly before they can be contained.
Among other proofs that industrialization and fossil fuels aren’t the culprit is the fact that researchers have shown that when California was occupied by indigenous communities, wildfires would burn up some 4.5 million acres a year. That’s nearly 6X the 2010-2019 period, when wildfires burned an average of just 775,000 acres annually in California.
Beyond the untoward clash of all of these natural forces of climate and ecology with misguided government forest and shrub-land husbandry policies, there is actually an even more dispositive smoking gun, as it were.
To wit, the Climate Howlers have not yet embraced the apparent absurdity that the planet’s purportedly rising temperatures have targeted the Blue State of California for special punishment. Yet when we look at the year-to-date data through August for forest fires we find, alas, that unlike California and Oregon, the US as a whole is now experiencing the weakest fire years since 2010.
That’s right. As of August 24 each year, the 10-year average burn has been 5.114 million acres across the US, but in 2020 it was 28% lower at 3.714 million acres.
National fire data year to date:
Indeed, what the above chart shows is that on a national basis there has been no worsening trend at all during the last decade, just huge oscillations year-to-year driven not by some grand planetary heat vector but by changing local weather and ecological conditions.
You just can’t go from 2.7 million burned acres in 2010 to 7.2 million burned acres in 2012 and then back to 3.9 million burned acres in 2019 and 3.7 million acres in 2020 and argue along with the Climate Howlers that the planet is angry.
To the contrary, the only real trend evident is that on a decadal basis during recent times that average forest fire acreage in California has been slowly rising, owing to the above described dismal failure of government forest management policies. But even the mildly rising average fire acreage trend since 1950 is a rounding error compared to the annual averages from prehistoric times, which were nearly 6X greater than during the most recent decade.
Furthermore, the gently risen trend since 1950, as shown below, should not be confused with the Climate Howlers bogus claim that California’s fires have “grown more apocalyptic every year,” as The New York Times reported.
In fact, they are comparing 2020’s above average burn to 2019, which saw an unusually small amount of acreage burned—just 280,000 acres compared to 1.3 million and 1.6 million in 2017 and 2018, respectively, and 775,000 on average over the last decade.
Nor is this lack of correlation with global warming just a California and US phenomena. As shown in the chart below, the global extent of drought, measured by five levels of severity with brown being the most extreme, has shown no worsening trend at all during the past 40 years.
This brings us to the gravamen of the case. There is no climate crisis whatsoever, but the Global Warming hoax has so thoroughly contaminated the mainstream narrative and the policy apparatus in Washington and capitals all around the world that contemporary society is fixing to commit economic hari-kari.
That’s because in contradiction to the phony case that the rise of fossil fuel use after 1850 has caused the planetary climate system to become unglued, there has been a massive acceleration of global economic growth and human well-being. And one essential element behind that salutary development has been the massive increase in the use of cheap fossil fuels to power economic life.
The chart below could not be more dispositive. During the pre-industrial era between 1500 and 1870, global real GDP crawled along at just 0.41% per annum. By contrast, during the past 150 years of the fossil fuel age global GDP growth accelerated to 2.82% per annum–or nearly 7 times faster.
This higher growth, of course, in part resulted from a larger and far healthier global population made possible by rising living standards.
Yet it wasn’t human muscle alone that caused the GDP level to go parabolic as per the chart above.
It was also due to the fantastic mobilization of intellectual capital and technology.
And one of the most important vectors of the latter was the ingenuity of the fossil fuel industry in unlocking the massive trove of stored work that Mother Nature extracted, condensed and salted away from the incoming solar energy over the long warmer and wetter eons of the past 600 million years.
Needless to say, the curve of world energy consumption tightly matches the rise of global GDP shown above.
Thus, in 1860 global energy consumption amounted to 30 exajoules per year and virtually 100% of that was represented by the blue layer labeled “biofuels”, which is just a polite name for wood and the decimation of the forests which it entailed.
Since then, annual energy consumption has increased 18-fold to 550 exajoules (@100 billion barrels of oil equivalent), but 90% of that gain was due to natural gas, coal and petroleum. The modern world and today’s prosperous global economy would simply not exist absent the massive increase in the use of these efficient fuels, meaning that per capita income and living standards would otherwise be only a small fraction of current levels.
Yes, that dramatic rise in prosperity generating fossil fuel consumption has given rise to a commensurate increase in CO2 emissions. But contrary to the Climate Change Narrative, CO2 is not a pollutant!
As we have seen, the correlated increase in CO2 concentrations—from about 290 ppm to 415 ppm since 1850—amounts to a rounding error in both the long-trend of history and in terms of atmospheric loadings from natural sources.
As to the former, concentrations of less than 1000 ppm are only recent developments of the last ice age, while during prior geologic ages concentrations reached as high as 2400 ppm.
Likewise, the oceans contain an estimated 37,400 billion tons of suspended carbon, land biomass has 2,000-3,000 billion tons and the atmosphere contains 720 billion tons of CO2 or 20X more than current fossil emissions shown below.
Of course, the opposite side of the equation is that oceans, land and atmosphere exchange CO2 continuously so the incremental loadings from human sources is very small.
More importantly, even a small shift in the balance between oceans and air would cause a much more severe rise/fall in CO2 concentrations than anything attributable to human activity.
But since the Climate Howlers falsely postulate that the pre-industrial level of 290 parts per million was extant since the Big Bang and that the modest rise since 1850 is a one-way ticket to boiling the planet alive, they obsess over the “sources versus sinks” balance in the carbon cycle for no valid reason whatsoever.
Actually, the continuously shifting carbon balance of the planet over any reasonable period of time is a big, so what!
Reprinted with permission from International Man.