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KVI Commentary: Why Gov. Inslee is wrong about "climate fires"

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Buildings are engulfed in flames as a wildfire ravages the central Oregon town of Talent near Medford late Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2020. (Kevin Jantzer via AP)

So Gov. Jay Inslee, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and practically every other Democratic politician are blaming the west coast wildfires, particularly the ones in Oregon and Washington, on "climate change". Gov. Inslee insists on calling them "climate fires".

I interviewed University of Washington climate sciences professor and meterologist, Cliff Mass, about the fires and Inslee's claims during yesterday's show. Professor Mass is the Northwest's preeminent climate scientist, and the author of the most authoritative book on the weather in this region. He does not attribute the severity of the wildfires to climate change, and pointed out that easterly winds were largely responsible for whipping up the fires west of Oregon's Cascades. Why does that matter? Because the most recent computer models indicate that global warming would actually REDUCE the severity of such winds in this region. Translation: Jay Inslee not only has it wrong, he essentially has it backwards.

With an election 50 days away, I understand the imperative for Inslee, Biden and all Democratic politicians to speak from the same talking points. But it's ideology they're preaching, not science.

The real reason for the severity of the wildfires is that during the 90's, the federal government changed its entire approach to forest management, resulting in millions of tons of foliage, dead and decaying trees, and scrubland being left to accumulate and act as tinder when wildfires struck in or near state and national forest lands, vastly increasing their severity. This epic mismanagement is what accounts for why wildfires are so much worse today than 50 years ago. There will always be fires, as long as there will always be lightning, careless campers, and the occasional arsonist. But the mismanagement of our forests accounts for why they burn much more intensely than in past decades. From the early 50's until 1987, western Oregon never experienced a wildfire larger than 10,000 acres. That's also when global warming trends were under way.

But now western Oregon assumes a loss of 250,000 -500,000 acres or more every year from wildfires. What changed? The way we manage our forests. The enviro-minded politicians who supported this "leave it alone" approach to forestry are, of course, the same politicians who now insist that the fires are all the fault of global warming.

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