OSU “scientists,” citing taxpayer-funded and peer-reviewed economic, forestry, and climate research, have determined that “climate change” has cost Northwest tree farmers a loss of $6 billion dollars over the past 20 years. This “finding” is being sensationalized in much of the press, but even the more sober and usually realistic Oregon Business is reporting that: “The increased prevalence of wildfires and droughts due to climate change did not account for all of the value depreciation, but it was a significant driver. The study suggests that recent climate change is responsible for lowering timberland values by $6.2 billion, or 55% of the total devaluation.”
Here is the link: https://oregonbusiness.com/osu-study-wildfires-drought-have-reduced-the-value-of-west-coast-timber-by-11-2-billion/
The assumption seems to be that increased wildfires are a direct result of drought caused by climate change, resulting in risks to landowners causing decreases in property values that are apt to reduce tax rolls if we don’t do something about it. Fortunately, there is a glimmer of hope:
“Our research results indicate that any policy that can successfully reduce the spread of wildfire could reduce risks for timberland owners and provide economic benefits in the form of higher land values,” writes David J. Lewis, a natural resource economist at Oregon State, who coauthored the study, in an email to Oregon Business. “The key question (not answered in our research) is whether the administration’s new wildfire strategy will actually be successful in reducing wildfire risks,” referring to the White House’s plans to develop a national strategy to estimate the impacts of climate change on the value of the nation’s natural capital, including forests, minerals, oceans and rivers.
An underlying problem is that no one has demonstrated that the climate is actually changing in this region, that droughts have resulted, or that the increase in regional wildfires is a result of those speculations. On the other hand, the regional increases in wildfire severity and extent have been clearly predicted using traditional scientific research methodology for more than 30 years because of radical changes in federal forest management policies and practices.
And these fires are occurring almost exclusively on public lands, and not private — even though the climate is remarkably similar for both ownerships. But don’t let facts get in the way of a good sales pitch. University professors need to eat, too.