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Ray Haynes

We Have Sown the Wind …

In June of 2003, I held a town hall meeting in San Diego County, and, at the end of the meeting, a park ranger from Anza-Borrego Desert State Park came up to me and delivered an ominous warning. “I don’t know when,” he said, “but we will have a horrible fire here in San Diego County soon. The environmentalists in charge of our state parks are not removing the fuel, the underbrush, the weeds and the dead trees. When they catch fire, it will destroy a lot of land and a lot of homes.” He explained that, in the past, state park land management practices actually managed the land to minimize the danger to people and to nature. Fires happen, he said, but if the worst fuel dangers are removed before the fire, extinguishing it with minimal damage to humans is possible. He said, however, that state policies, adopted at the behest of enviro nuts (my words, not his), who believed in the policy of “letting nature take its course,” were putting lives and property at risk. Three months later, his predictions came true, and the “worst fires in the history of the state” destroyed homes and lives all throughout Southern California.

Zoom forward to today. Our state, pursuing the same land management policies that destroyed the state in 2003, is on fire again. When will we ever learn?

Of course, our Arrogant Lazy Authoritarian In Chief (ALAIC), Gavin Newsom, refuses to take responsibility for his own failings. He has, once again, listened to the “experts” who think there is nothing wrong with letting dead trees, underbrush and weeds grow unabated, and then, someone has a party (or at least we are lead to believe that a party started these fires, for the first time in state history), and the whole state is covered in a brown gloom. His response, in typical ALAIC fashion, “I have no patience … for climate change deniers,’’ he said. “We are experiencing unprecedented confluence of issues this year. … Unprecedented record temperatures, a heat dome that impacted the entire West Coast of the United States,” that left behind the scorched reality “of some 14,000 lightning strikes over a 72-hour period. When you add that to 150-plus million dead trees due to a five-year drought … climate change has profoundly impacted the reality we’re currently experiencing,’’ he said. “We’re dealing with challenges we haven’t seen in modern times.’’

Soooo … climate change, and the lack of government regulation into the minutest part of our lives, causes forest fires (contrary to the warning of Smokey the Bear that “only you can prevent forest fires”).

We have always had hot summers, some hotter than others, but what is happening now is not unprecedented. We have always had droughts, heat domes are a regular occurrence. Fires of this magnitude, however, are a more recent phenomenon.

We are faced with two explanations of what causes these fires — Government neglect and lack of basic land management policies OR a global shift in temperature and climate patterns that adversely affects California (though, it seems, not the rest of the world). Obviously, our ALAIC has never heard of Occam’s Razor, the principle that says “of two explanations that account for all the facts, the simpler one is more likely to be correct.” If climate change were the reason, these out of control fires would have been occurring since the 1930s, when the scientists claim that the current climate changes began in earnest. Except, bad land management practices began in the late 1990s and early 2000s. We were sowing the wind then, we are now reaping the whirlwind. We are seeing out of control fires because we don’t eliminate the fuel in the forests. That is the simple explanation, and therefore the most likely (using Occam’s Razor).

I am a climate change denier, I’ll admit. I believe there are three basic questions we need to ask before we authorize the arrogant lazy authoritarians more power over our lives to stop this so-called danger to human lives: (1) Is the temperature actually rising? (2) If it is, is the reason for the rise natural or man made? and (3) If it is man made, will any regulations we adopt to control people’s lives actually have any effect on the changes that are occurring?

The evidence that temperatures are actually rising is spotty at best, and nonexistent unless you are a college professor trying to score a big government grant. There is even more evidence that, if the temperatures are rising, that rise is most likely natural and not man made (you remember your basic science when you were told that, during the time of the dinosaurs, most of the world was tropical, and that these great beasts were wiped out by the Ice Age, that was real climate change). Finally, even if you accept that the temperature is rising due to human activity, there is little California (and therefore our ALAIC) can do to stop it, since the worst environmental activity occurs in China and India, and not the US.

ALAIC Newsom may have little “patience” for an honest debate about his policies, but anyone who can follow simple logic (read Occam’s Razor) would conclude that his explanation for the fires is weak. Without that explanation, however, responsibility would fall on his door step, and on the shoulders of the legislators that tolerate these bad policies. And that is just unacceptable.