Final Thoughts on the California Wildfires
The immediate and grotesque politicalization of human suffering in Southern California by certain members of Congress enraged me. I shouldn’t be shocked by the behaviour as I am a cynic and have seen it before. What gets me is how it feels as though it’s getting worse. There is no political “downtime,” when it comes to advancing policy agendas everything is on the table all the time: The death of a US Senator turns into a political rally; video of a US Soldier being killed by a sniper in Iraq is prime time for CNN; a hurricane becomes a major part of a certain Vice President’s movie.
It’s all or nothing, like a revolution (without the guns, pitchforks or Thomas Paine). People won’t even take a day off out of respect for those suffering before playing with whatever new political football has come across the TV set. The point of my previous posts dealing with the possible connections between the wildfires and global warming wasn’t to suggest an answer either way. The goal is simply to get a dialogue started, one based on evidence and reason.
Not every wrong in this world is caused by global warming. Normally natural disasters are used by atheists as proof of God’s non-existence. It is a habit which dates to at least Aquinas, who mentioned human suffering as a potential argument against the existence of God. Now, instead of human suffering being a philosophical question it has turned into political currency. The hot political topic is global warming so “naturalized” human suffering is now channeled by the shrill into any policy discussions to avoid reason and appeal to base emotions.
It’s a tactic becoming more and more common with “The Stupid Party.” My posts started with the simple question about whether global warming could have been responsible for the wildfires in SoCal. My answer, by looking at publicly available data, was it might be. Maybe not “caused” as the arsonists probably had more to do with the fires than climate change, but the data showed there were more years in SoCal in the last part of the last century with a lot of rain than there were in the first part of the last century. More rain means more vegetation and vegetation turns to fuel for wildfires. If a heavy rain year is followed by a drought year you will get more extreme wildfires.
The differences in the data were minute but they existed. If, as is theorized, climate change had made the region wetter over the last century it is completely possible the wildfires we’re seeing today were made just a little bit more intense than they otherwise would have been. Considering most people who have taken climate change as their new religion would label me a “global warming denier” it’s interesting to note that my conclusions are different than those who have actually studied the issue. They say “probably not.”
However, those scientists would mention the five fold increase in wildfires in the western United States as proof global warming is causing more wildfires and will cause more wildfires in the future. Sadly though, this is data cherry-picking. They don’t talk about the lack of any trend in Canada nor do they have good data on “worldwide” wildfires. In reality our world is dynamic, not static, and it makes sense to me that some areas will have increases in wildfires while others have decreases. There is another problem with their theory, global warming is supposed to cause more rain to fall in most areas, not less. This would make it hard for wildfires to get too out of hand. In the coming years they might get the data and that’s fine, that’s science.
And from that science a debate should be started. I think aggressive human action in removing excess vegetation would do more good more quickly for areas experiencing droughts and wildfires than carbon rationing. There are costs and benefits to any actions humans might take so a robust debate should be the goal. I might be foolish but I’d like the debate to be reasonable, civil and respectful to those who have suffered from wildfires or hurricanes or whatever else this planet brings.
I’m probably mistaken though. I doubt it will happen.