A solution with two benefits escapes the editorialists at L.A. newspaper

A Labor Day weekend editorial in the L.A. Times informs us that climate change is going to make wildfires worse, but that thinning forests can help.

But the writers just may have — perhaps inadvertently? — put their finger on something other than the usual suspects — cars and power plants — for so-called climate change.

While the newspaper informs its readers that a recent climate study warns large fires are likely to increase 50 percent by the end of the century and acreage burned each year could double or even quadruple due to warming temperatures, it also makes the observation that fire is not necessarily bad for forests.

“California used to burn with regularity, and low-intensity fires are vital in some ecosystems to clear excess brush and small trees from the landscape. But there’s been a change in fire behavior over the last century, as the state and federal government began dousing the blazes,” the editorial notes. “Decades of fire suppression have allowed forests to grow dense with trees. Combined with drought, insect infestations and the stress of a warming climate, those management practices have led to more intense and destructive fires that are more dangerous to people living near the forests and more damaging to air quality.”

As for the source of some of those greenhouse gases said to be causing the projected temperature spike, it is reported that fires are a contributor as well as a result. “The U.S. Forest Service estimated that the Rim Fire near Yosemite in 2013 emitted as much greenhouse gas as more than 2 million cars driven over a year,” the editorial explains.

Of course, on this Labor Day weekend the paper could not pass up the chance to dismiss the benefits of commercial logging that creates jobs. “There is a real concern that, in the name of fire prevention, the Trump administration will relax environmental laws to allow more commercial logging in the national forests,” the paper warns. “Commercial loggers typically want the larger, healthier trees that are more fire resistant; they can’t make a profit cutting the younger trees and brush that are the biggest wildfire risk.”

Pointing out the state plans to spend $1 billion over the next five years to thin forest by cutting and burning, the conclusion is that the private section must also contribute but for environmental and public safety reasons, and not just for sordid greedy profit motives.

The paper admits that poor forest management, in other words fire suppression, has contributed to the problem of massive wildfires, but balks at a solution that benefits both the economy and the environment. Typical.

Firefighters battle a California fire a month ago. (AP pix via L.A. Times)

 

 

2 comments on “A solution with two benefits escapes the editorialists at L.A. newspaper

  1. Steve says:

    Worst forest management in the country and worst fire seasons in the country….so obvious only a tree hugger could miss it. (As he screams for the fire dept to save his million dollar forest cabin.)

    Meanwhile, in Utah, the Dixie Forest is using private loggers to clear the deadwood and underbrush. It’s working wonders. The loggers take the useable wood and follow directions of the rangers. The Dixie forest is becoming a very pretty Aspen forest and some younger pines are coming back too.
    There is a lot of very useful deadwood as a result of the bark beetle infestation.

  2. Rincon says:

    “Commercial loggers typically want the larger, healthier trees that are more fire resistant; they can’t make a profit cutting the younger trees and brush that are the biggest wildfire risk.” This was not rebutted. Is it correct or not?

    Logging is needed to supply wood and wood products, but claiming it also helps fire management sounds like a real stretch. Removing large trees would allow more sunlight to be fall upon the smaller trees and other highly combustible plants, increasing their growth and thereby, the amount of potential fuel. Removing the most fire resistant plants and allowing the least fire resistant plants to grow in their place sure doesn’t sound like a good fire control strategy to me.

    Is there any reasonable evidence that logging helps in forest management in terms of fire? I can’t find any from a reputable source, but maybe I’m not looking hard enough.

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