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Dr. Tim Ball: The Misunderstood Reality Of Climate And Fires In California


I won't comment on the general political actions of California's Governor Brown. I will say that he is doing what all environmentalists are doing and that is taking natural and normal events and presenting them as unnatural and abnormal. Of course, this means they are trying to blame humans for every single change that occurs in nature.

His statements about the recent fires in his State are a classic example of distortion, misrepresentation, and exploitation of natural events. I will comment on this because I have studied the impact of climate and climate change on the environment and the human condition for over fifty years. I can say, unequivocally, that politics drive his remarks about the weather, climate, and fire conditions because they are so wrong. What is happening is natural and well within the normal pattern for the region. Here is an example of Brown's ignorance in recent false statements designed to deflect from his political failures and promote his political agenda; the belief that humans and their developed societies are the problem.

 "Since civilization emerged 10,000 years ago, we haven't had this kind of heat condition, and it's going to continue getting worse and that's the way it is."

Civilization began more than 20,000 years ago as the cave paintings show. Unfortunately, it hasn't reached California yet, as the glamor and glitz of Hollywood and the shallowness of the rest of the State attest. Just my opinion, but I find it one of the most boring places in the world.

The State was formed primarily by people following Horace Greeley's advice to go west young man. Some were looking for gold, and others were looking for the promised land. As they went west, the climate became drier and drier. It is pronounced once you cross the Mississippi as the vegetation and landscape changes. You are unaware of another line because it is one on a precipitation map.  It runs down the center of North America and separates the east that has more than 20 inches of precipitation, from most of the west that has less than 20 inches.

Once they reached California, people set about making it the land of milk and honey by stealing water from everywhere. I understand there is an ongoing movement for the northern part of the State to separate from the rest simply to recover their water. They pump billions of gallons over the mountains from the Colorado River because the Los Angeles basin has no natural water supply. The reality is most of the State is naturally arid or semi-arid.

Governor Brown's claim that they haven't had the current conditions for 10,000 years is entirely wrong. You can argue, obliquely, that he is right, but only because it is cooler today than for most of those 10,000 years. That time span is a distinct geologic period called the Holocene Optimum. Despite what the Governor says, it was warmer than today for at least 95 % of the last 10,000 years (Figure 1). Apparently, the Governor doesn't know that recent research showed it was some 6°C warmer 9000 years ago.

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