The full article from the San Diego Union Tribune is here. Below are some interesting snips, featuring the perspectives of Leroy Westerling, a professor and researcher specializing in global warming and wildfire at the University of California at Merced and Char Miller, a professor of environmental analysis at Pomona College (and sometimes a contributor on this blog).
Much of what Dr. Westerling and Miller are saying in this article has also been said by America citizens that Secretary Zinke has labeled “environmental terrorists” and “radicals” while blaming them for wildfires in California. Much of what’s below has also been said by many other ecologists and scientists, such as Dr. Chad Hanson and Rick Halsey of the California Chaparral Institute, who are regularly criticized and attacked by some folks on this blog.
[A]ccording to research scientists and ecologists, wildfire’s increasing toll on life and property in recent years has been overwhelmingly driven by global warming and patterns of development — not the state’s most densely wooded areas.
“The fires that are getting everybody’s attention right now are not about forest management,” said Leroy Westerling, a professor and researcher specializing in global warming and wildfire at the University of California at Merced.
“The major factor is climate change across the west,” he added. “Regardless of fuels management, we just wouldn’t be burning like this, especially in Northern California, in a normal year.”
In fact, few if any of California’s most destructive blazes dating back to the early 20th century have been driven by densely packed forests, according to a review of records kept by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, also known as Cal Fire.
The most devastating and deadly conflagrations have most often resulted from high winds whipping fire through dried out chaparral and grasslands. These blazes often torch sprawling subdivisions that abut undeveloped landscapes, such as the Tubbs Fire did in Santa Rosa last fall.
Even the Camp Fire, which occurred in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada, spread on strong easterly winds blowing down from the mountains across heavily logged forests before jumping from house to house. Trees were one of the only things that remained intact after walls of flame swept through the town of Paradise.
Now a chorus of academics and ecology and policy experts have spoken out across the state — from Stanford University to Sonoma State University to University of California at Santa Barbara — calling on regional governments to tighten zoning rules and even consider buying people out of homes in fire-prone areas.
“We’ve got to do something smarter than what we’ve been doing,” said Char Miller, a professor of environmental analysis at Pomona College, who has proposed the creation of flood and fire bonds that would allow local governments to purchase and set aside property in high-fire areas.
“This is very clear. Get people out of there. Go back to the cities and towns and counties, planning boards and zoning commissions and have a very different approach,” Miller added.