Wednesday, November 21, 2018

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Don't Blame California Fires on Climate Change

As with any previous disaster, hurricanes, flooding, wildfires in the western US, such as the recent fires in California get the usual push from Climate Change enthusiast, clamoring for more awareness, and yes, change.

However is it the Climate, or simply the way it is in a dry climate that needs only a spark or strike of a match to get going. According to Chuck DeVore writing in the Federalist, it's more the latter.

Climate change is a danger to us all and President Trump must be stopped — that’s the chorus we always hear when new climate reports are released and destructive fires ravage California. But is it true?

On Oct. 31, six days before the midterm elections, the journal Nature published an article suggesting that the world’s oceans were absorbing much more heat from climate change than previously calculated. The research, by scientists at Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego, California, and New Jersey’s Princeton University, was obligingly picked up by the national media with alarming headlines such as:

Study: Oceans warming faster than anticipated giving humanity even less time to stave off worst impacts of climate change — San Diego Union-Tribune

Oceans warming faster than anticipated, giving even less time to stave off worst impacts of climate change, study finds — Los Angeles Times

Startling new research finds a large buildup of heat in the oceans, suggesting a faster rate of global warming — The Washington Post

Oceans Warming Much Faster Than Thought, Study Finds – The New York Times

Politicians and their campaigns quickly followed suit. California’s senior senator, Dianne Feinstein, running for re-election against a fellow Democrat, tweeted this on Oct. 31: “New science shows the oceans are warming more than we thought. We may have to cut emissions 25% faster to avoid a disastrous 2°C of global warming. It’s time to stop pretending climate change isn’t a real threat—our future depends on it.”

As with many scientific studies in the climate science realm, this one had been weaponized in the service of politics. But the study was deeply flawed. On Election Day, after five days of extensive and frequently breathless media treatment of the ocean warming study, British mathematician Nicholas Lewis posted some doubts on Dr. Judith Curry’s blog:

I was asked for my thoughts on the Resplandy paper as soon as it obtained media coverage. Most commentators appear to have been content to rely on what was said in the press release. However, being a scientist, I thought it appropriate to read the paper itself, and if possible look at its data, before forming a view.

… A quick review of the first page of the paper was sufficient to raise doubts as to the accuracy of its results. Just a few hours of analysis and calculations, based only on published information, was sufficient to uncover apparently serious (but surely inadvertent) errors in the underlying calculations.

Soon, the authors of the study admitted to fundamental errors in math that unraveled their frightening conclusions. Many of the stories in the mass media were corrected and, in some cases, editors felt the need to change their headlines. The New York Times now heads their shortened story from Oct. 31 with the pedestrian, “Scientists Find a New Way to Take the Oceans’ Temperature.”

His point is very valid. First, more and more of the wealthy are moving more and more into the "woods" and therefore more collateral damage happens. Secondly, President Trump was criticized for blaming much of the fires on lack of proper forest management.

President Trump’s critics are belittling him for not buying the lefty narrative that global warming is to blame for the California wildfires. Instead, Trump points to decades of mistakes by government agencies that caused the woodlands to become overly dense and blanketed with highly flammable dead wood and underbrush.

Turns out he’s exactly right.

Just ask California officials. Two months ago, the state legislature enacted a measure that would expedite the removal of dead trees and use “prescribed burns” to thin forests. In other words: the very same reforms that Trump is now being mocked for proposing. The September law followed a Gov. Jerry Brown executive order earlier this year that also called for “controlled fires” to improve forest health.

This scientific approach isn’t easily conveyed in Trump’s preferred mode of communication, the 280-character tweet. But University of California forest expert Yana Valachovic conceded in a Washington Post interview that Trump’s “general sentiment is correct — that we need to manage fuels.” That is, to get rid of dangerous buildups of dead and dying trees.

Read more.

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