Dr. Elaine Oneil On Forest Management to Reduce Risks of Climate Change

On Wednesday, November 18, 2009, the United States Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, Subcommittee on Public Lands and Forests, held a hearing regarding managing Federal forests in response to climate change, including for natural resource adaptation and carbon sequestration [here].

Witnesses included Tom Tidwell, Chief, U.S. Forest Service, and Dr. Elaine Oneil, University of Washington. The testimonies can be downloaded [here].

Dr. Oneil’s testimony was excellent. Some excerpts:

“…The factors central to determining optimal carbon management under climate change are:

1. Each forest site has a carrying capacity which dictates the maximum amount of fiber, wood, or carbon that can be stored in that forest. Carrying capacity is determined by site quality, climate, and to a lesser degree the current species mix.

2. Once forests reach their site’s carrying capacity there is enormous stress on the living trees which manifests itself in insect outbreaks and disease, culminating in the death of some or all of the trees on site. …

3. Wildfire ignition is random, but the consequences of wildfires are driven by climate, and prevailing weather and forest conditions. Forests that have reached maximum carrying capacity, and which contain large amounts of dead trees, produce conditions for wildfires that are uncontrollable, with devastating consequences to the forest, the adjacent communities, and the budgets of land management agencies.

4. Wildfires generate enormous releases of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. From 2002-2006 wildfires across the entire US, including Alaska, released the equivalent of 4-6% of the US anthropogenic emissions for that same period. The average yearly emissions from the California wildfires alone were equivalent to the emissions of 7 million cars/year for each year from 2001-2007. Extreme fire conditions can render sites infertile or incapable of regenerating future forests, which effectively leads to deforestation.

5. If we apply the precautionary principle, the most risk adverse option we have at the present time is to thin forests that are at risk to reduce wildfire impacts, reduce insect mortality, and build health and resilience against extreme climate conditions that these forests are expected to face in the near future. The cut material can be used as biofuel feedstocks to support energy independence goals and meet renewable fuel and electricity standards. Even greater carbon benefits are possible if the cut wood is used in green building construction. Using life cycle analysis we can identify optimal carbon sequestration and storage options that include forests as part of the broader matrix of national carbon accounts; failure to account for the carbon interactions beyond the forest can lead to counterproductive policies.

6. Grassroots initiatives aimed at addressing forest health, wildfires, insect outbreaks, and sustainability on federal lands have begun. The goals of removing excess fuels and dead trees for use in bioenergy projects, while generating economically viable and sustainable jobs in rural communities and maintaining sustainable ecosystems are laudable. Policies are needed that integrate the knowledge and trust built by local initiatives, support national renewable energy goals, and recognize the inherent ecological carrying capacity of the land and how it might alter under changing climatic conditions. …

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17 Nov 2009, 9:53am
Climate and Weather
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Greenland Icecap Not Melting

by Larry Logan

For those out of state, this is in response to a Jack Ohman cartoon in today’s Oregonian showing a skeptic drowning while reading a newspaper with the headline “Greenland Ice Cap Melt”…

Mr. Ohman,

Regarding your ‘Greenland Ice Cap Melt’ in today’s Oregonian, I recall the late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s quote: “You’re entitled to your own opinion, but not your own facts.” It is irresponsible to print warming claims for Greenland with the hope that if one says it often enough, perhaps it will come true. To the contrary…

“The speed-up [of Green-land ice melt] has stopped across the region,” February 2009, Vicky Pope of the official UK Met Hadley climate office confirmed. Pope is among the top alarmists in the world.

“So much for Greenland ice’s Armageddon,” reported Richard Kerr in the January 2009 Science.

“It has come to an end,” glaciologist Tavi Murray of Swansea University in the U.K. reported at the American Geophysical Union meeting in Copenhagen, referring to claims of rapid ice melt.

“Galloping glaciers of Greenland have reined themselves in,” Science 23 January 2009.

“Greenland ice sheet slams the brakes on,” NewScientist July 3 2008

Helheim is one of Greenland’s two largest “discharge” glaciers into the ocean. It’s one-year advance between 2005 and 2006 made up half the entire loss from May 2001 through August 2005. Average thinning of the other largest discharge glacier, Kangerdlugssuaq, declined to near zero in 2006 with some thickening according to a study in Science. Indeed, there has been melting at the edges of Greenland, but the height of the ice pack and the total volume of ice is increasing.

“Meltwater has a negligible effect on the rate at which the ice sheet moves.” (Van De Waal, 2008, New Scientist)

I have included additional references below for your perusal.

Glacier Slowdown in Greenland: How Inconvenient, World Climate Report, January 23, 2009 [here]

Why the Greenland and Antarctic Ice Sheets are not Collapsing, by Cliff Ollier and Colin Pain, Australian Institute of Geoscientists, August 2009 [here]

Greenland, by Joseph D’Aleo, CCM, AMS Fellow, June 19, 2009 [here]

Media Credibility, Not Ice Caps, In Meltdown, by Peter C Glover, The American Thinker, Feb 23, 2009 [here]

Eco-warriors and media hype aside, the fact is, as we head into 2009, that the world’s ice mass has been expanding not contracting. Which will surprise evening news junkies fed a diet of polar bears floating about on ice floes and snow shelves falling into the oceans. But if a whole series of reports on ice growth in the Arctic, the Antarctic and among glaciers are right, then it is truth in the mainstream media (MSM) that’s in meltdown not the polar ice caps. …

17 Nov 2009, 9:04am
Climate and Weather
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Big NW Windstorms

A Pacific cyclone blew through here last night. I am happy to report that no trees were blown down and the roof is still intact at W.I.S.E. World Headquarters. The scope of the damages elsewhere are unknown at this time, but Pacific cyclones are serious weather and very destructive.

From the State of Oregon Natural Hazards Mitigation Plan, March 2006, Windstorms Hazard Analysis/Characterization [here]

High winds occur frequently in Oregon; they are especially common in coastal regions and in the mountains of the Coast Range. … From unofficial, but reliable observations it is reasonable to assume that gusts well above 100 mph occur several times each year across the higher ridges of the Coast and Cascades Ranges. At the most exposed Coast Range ridges, it is estimated that wind gusts of up to 150 mph and sustained speeds of 110 mph will occur every five to ten years.

From the excellent interactive webpages compiled by NW climatologist Wolf Read:

The Storm King: Some Historical Weather Events in the Pacific Northwest [here]

Many [midlatitude cyclones] have struck the West Coast within the relatively short period of meteorological record. These systems can match a Category 3 hurricane in both minimum central pressures and sustained wind speeds. Such storms have a reach far beyond that of a typical hurricane: they can throw a cold rain into the Alaska Panhandle while at the same time pummel the San Francisco Bay Area with a warm, saturated gale. These tempests are killers, and can cause damage into the hundreds of millions, even billions. The focus of these web pages is on extratropical cyclones; though, as weather and climate contain varied and diverse phenomena, other types of events are also examined.

This website is here to dispel certain weather myths. There seems to be an idea that severe weather somehow doesn’t strike the Pacific Northwest. This seems to be largely an eastern misconception. For example:

The March 12-13, 1993 “Storm of the Century” has been touted as the strongest extratropical storm to strike the United States in the 20th century. This appears wrong on a number of counts. The Storm Data publication of the National Climatic Data Center for the March 1993 event is particularly revealing in this regard.

A strong argument could be made that the great Columbus Day Storm of 1962 holds the “Storm of the Century” title, and for good reason. …

One of the main foci of the case studies below is to demonstrate severe weather events in the Pacific Northwest. … [more]

No significant damages from the latest big windstorm here, but plenty of limbs, litter, and the like to clean up. We await word on the number of acres of blown down forests from this storm.

14 Nov 2009, 4:55pm
Climate and Weather
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Climate Realism Peer-Reviewed Papers

450 Peer-Reviewed Papers Supporting Skepticism of “Man-Made” Global Warming at Popular Technology.net, posted November 05, 2009 [here]

For a compendium of non-peer-reviewed climate realism info in a variety of formats, see: The Anti “Man-Made” Global Warming Resource, Stop the Hysteria [here]

12 Nov 2009, 10:39am
Climate and Weather
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October 2009 the 3rd Coolest in Last 100 Years

From: the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Climatic Data Center

Temperature Highlights - National Overview - October [here]

* The average October temperature of 50.8°F was 4.0°F below the 20th Century average and ranked as the 3rd coolest based on preliminary data.

* For the nation as a whole, it was the third coolest October on record. The month was marked by an active weather pattern that reinforced unseasonably cold air behind a series of cold fronts. Temperatures were below normal in eight of the nation’s nine climate regions, and of the nine, five were much below normal. Only the Southeast climate region had near normal temperatures for October.

* Statewide temperatures coincided with the regional values as all but six states had below normal temperatures. Oklahoma had its coolest October on record and ten other states had their top five coolest such months.

* Florida was the only state to have an above normal temperature average in October. It was the sixth consecutive month that the Florida’s temperature was above normal, resulting in the third warmest such period (May-October).

* The three-month period (August-October) was the coolest on record for three states: Nebraska, Kansas, and Oklahoma. Five other states had top five cool periods: Missouri (2nd), Iowa (3rd) , Arkansas (5th) , Illinois (5th) and South Dakota (5th). Every climate division in Kansas (nine) and Nebraska (eight) recorded a record cool such period.

* For the year-to-date (January - October) period, the contiguous U.S. temperature ranked 43rd warmest. No state had a top or bottom ten temperature value for this period.

4 Nov 2009, 11:39pm
Climate and Weather
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Oregon Meteorologist George Taylor to be Honored

American Agri-Women honor Oregon Meteorologist

AG Weekly Online , November 3, 2009 [here]

Salem, OR, (AgPR) - American Agri-Women (AAW) will present their highest honor, the Veritas Award, to Oregon Meteorologist George Taylor, at their 34rd annual convention in Salem, Oregon, November 13. The Veritas Award is given to individuals who have been public witness to the “pursuit of truth” in accordance with the principles expressed in the AAW statement of philosophy. Of specific interest are personalities of importance to agriculture, or responsible media coverage of agricultural issues and events.

George Taylor has been working in the field of meteorology and climatology for over 34 years. Taylor, who lives in Corvallis, Oregon, served for 19 years as Oregon’s climatologist and was elected president of the American Association of Climatologists in 1998. He now runs his own business, Applied Climate Service.

Through his research over the years Taylor has shown that global warming is a natural occurrence with minimal influence by man and that by looking back further than the past few decades, the data shows that warming and cooling periods are common. Taylor continually works to keep the public informed of the effects climate has on their lives by publishing over 200 reports, books and articles, and by writing a bi-weekly column in two local newspapers. He is also a popular speaker, standing up for what he knows to be the truth, even when it disagrees with the prevailing opinion.

AAW president Marcie Williams notes that, “George Taylor’s credentials and his courage in speaking out makes him an outstanding Veritas Award winner and we are excited to be able to honor him in this way.”

Past Veritas recipients include Paul Harvey, Michael DeBakey, Julia Child, Dr. C. Everett Koop, and John Stossel, to name a few.

Come to the AAW convention to hear these informative and entertaining speakers. For information about the convention, or agenda and registration form, visit the American Agri-Women website [here].

Apache Burning in Lightning’s Epicenter

The Chiricahua Mountains in SE Arizona are one of the Madrean Sky Islands [here], volcanic massifs that rise above the Southwest desert basins and which include the Pinaleño, Pedragosa, Peloncillo, Baboquivari, Santa Catalina, and Santa Rita Mountains among others. The higher elevations harbor diverse ecological assemblages, such as pine and fir forests that are quite different from the Sonoran desert vegetation that surrounds them.

The Sky Islands are lightning magnets. Summer thunderstorms ride the Mexican Monsoon and punctuate the Sky Islands with the densest frequency of lightning bolts in the U.S. And yet, despite all that loose electricity and resulting fires, the vegetation of the Chiricahua Mountains has been dominated by anthropogenic (human-set) fire for millennia.

That historical fact is explored by Dr. Stephen J. Pyne, World’s Foremost Authority on Fire, in a new essay, Rhymes With Chiricahua [here].

There is little question that lightning is adequate to kindle copious fires and that the extent of burning aligns smartly with the ebb and flow of atmospheric moisture. Connect the sky island dots with the volcanic edge of the Colorado Plateau, and the resulting circle will trace the epicenter for lightning-caused fire in the United States. Like a rocky outlier that catches the first swells of an approaching storm, the bulky, border-hugging Chiricahuas make first contact with the Mexican monsoon, the signature onset of the southwestern fire season. …

But if the obvious beguiles, it is the second-order reasoning that proves treacherous. If you look at such data by itself, you might well conclude that climate alone “drives” the fire regime. Such analysis reduces a complex poker game to a game of solitaire: you can only play the cards nature hands you. The reality, however, is that there is another player at the table, and he is the dealer.

Humanity is the Earth’s keystone species for fire, not only as a source of ignition but as a sculptor of landscape fuels. It is significant that this second source was present from the onset of the Holocene, or what is more aptly being called the Anthropocene. There has been no time since the end of the last glacial when the region lacked an ignition source both more promiscuous and more prescribed than lightning.

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The Roots of Our Forest Health Crisis

The latest addition to the W.I.S.E. Colloquium Forest and Fires Sciences is The Forest Health Crisis: How Did We Get In This Mess? by Charles E. Kay. 2009. Mule Deer Foundation Magazine No.26:14-21 [here].

Dr. Charles E. Kay, Ph.D. Wildlife Ecology, Utah State University, is the author/editor of Wilderness and Political Ecology: Aboriginal Influences and the Original State of Nature [here], author of Are Lightning Fires Unnatural? A Comparison of Aboriginal and Lightning Ignition Rates in the United States [here], co-author of Native American influences on the development of forest ecosystems [here], and numerous other scientific papers.

In this essay, written for a general audience, Dr. Kay recognizes that our forests are in crisis from fire, insects, and disease. He explains that the common cause is too many trees! — which may be surprising to some but is well-known to most forest experts.

Today’s overstocked forests are a-historical; in the past* forests were open and park-like, maintained in that condition by frequent, seasonal, light-burning ground fires. Dr. Kay explains that most of those fires were anthropogenic (human-set).

* By the “past” I mean the entire Holocene and the tail end of the Pleistocene, before which there were very few forests in North America. Instead there was mostly ice or tundra, going back 100,000 years or so.

(Extra: Between 110,000 and 100,000 years ago there was another interglacial, the Eemian. Little is known about the forests of that warm interlude in the Ice Ages. The Ice Ages go back 2.5 million years. For roughly 90 percent of that time, North American forests have been mostly non-existent.)

(Extra Extra: the Ice Ages aren’t over. We passed the peak temperatures about 10,000 years ago. The Earth is headed, inexorably, for another glaciation.)

Human beings arrived in North America at least 13,000 years ago, before the climate had completely shifted and before the great migration northward of plants and animals. Hence humanity preceded most North American forests. Humanity brought fire with them, as well as 150,000 years of practice in how to make and use it. Holocene forests developed under the influence of landscape-scale, human-set fire. Dr. Kay explains that human-set fires, whether intentional of accidental, outnumbered lighting fires by many orders of magnitude.

The forests that arose under the influence of anthropogenic fire were open and park-like, with few trees per acre. Individual trees grew to phenomenal ages; old-growth development pathways were human-induced via frequent burning.

In the absence (over the last 150 years) of frequent, seasonal, anthropogenic fire, rapid “in-growth” has occurred. Thickets of new trees have seeded into the formerly open stands. The increase in tree density has fueled the crisis in forest health. Forests in the past (see * above) were healthier. By healthier I mean less prone to catastrophic fire, insect infestations, and disease epidemics. Today old-growth as well as young-growth trees are rapidly dying from all three factors. Forests are being converted to brushfields.

Restoration forestry does not seek to replicate the past but to learn from it. One lesson of history is that open and park-like forests are healthier. Another is that human stewardship via serious thinning, fuel removal, and subsequent frequent, seasonal, prescribed fire is required to abate our forest health crisis.

The first few paragraphs and some excellent forest photos (click for larger images) from Dr. Kay’s essay are appended below. W.I.S.E. invites you read the entire essay [here]. It is all that and much more.

From The Forest Health Crisis: How Did We Get In This Mess? by Charles E. Kay. 2009. Mule Deer Foundation Magazine No.26:14-21.

THE WEST is ablaze! Every summer large-scale, high-intensity crown fires tear through our public lands at ever increasing and unheard of rates. Our forests are also under attack by insects and disease. According to the national media and environmental groups, climate change is the villain in the present Forest Health Crisis and increasing temperatures, lack of moisture, and abnormally high winds are to blame. Unfortunately, nothing could be further from the truth.

The Sahara Desert, for instance, is hot, dry, and the wind blows, but the Sahara does not burn. Why? Because there are no fuels. Without fuel there is no fire. Period, end of story, and without thick forests there are no high-intensity crown fires. Might not the real problem then be that we have too many trees and too much fuel in our forests? The Canadians, for instance, have forest problems similar to ours but they do not call it a “Forest Health Crisis,” instead they call it a Forest Ingrowth Problem. The Canadians have correctly identified the issue, while we in the States have not. That is to say, the problem is too many trees and gross mismanagement by land management agencies, as well as outdated views of what is natural.

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7 Sep 2009, 11:23pm
Climate and Weather
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Climate Chains Trailer Released

The Cascade Policy Institute [here] has released a YouTube “trailer” [here] to their upcoming video Climate Chains.

This timely trailer exposes why cap-and-trade is economically destructive and will lead to no measurable environmental benefit. The target release date for ‘Climate Chains’ is mid-September before the U.S. Senate begins tackling cap-and-trade legislation.

The Cascade Policy Institute promots public policy alternatives that foster individual liberty, personal responsibility and economic opportunity in Oregon.

Choking Smoke from LA Fires Denied By Enviro Wackos

W.I.S.E. announced the web publication of Dr. Thomas M. Bonnicksen’s Impacts of California Wildfires on Climate and Forests: A Study of Seven Years of Wildfires (2001-2007), FCEM Report No. 3 last month [here].

The Executive Summary and link to the full text are now posted at the W.I.S.E. Colloquium: Forest and Fire Sciences [here]. The Forest Carbon And Emissions Model Reports No. 1 and 2 are [here].

Last week the SoCal media reported on FCEM Report No. 3:

Study: Greenhouse gases from wildfires damaging

By BEN GOAD, Riverside Press-Enterprise, September 3, 2009 [here]

Wildfires raging across California have belched out hundreds of millions of tons of greenhouse gases since the beginning of the century, significantly adding to the problem of global warming, a new study has concluded.

State and federal officials have speculated for years that increasingly long and severe fire seasons can be partly attributed to the effects of climate change.

But the study, released by forest expert and author Thomas Bonnicksen, is novel in that it suggests the trend isn’t a product of global warming — it’s causing it. The assertions have met with a mixture of interest and skepticism.

Between 2001 and 2007, fires in California torched about 4 million acres and spewed 277 million tons of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, Bonnicksen found.

That’s the equivalent of running all of California’s 14 million cars for about 3 1/2 years, according to the study.

“If we really are serious about reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the first place to look is to reduce the severity and extent of wildfires,” Bonnicksen said Thursday. “We could make a greater impact in the short run than we could ever make by converting to hybrid vehicles.”

Much of the carbon dioxide emitted during fires is later absorbed back into the vegetation as it grows back. But Bonnicksen contends that fires destroy more than 100,000 acres of forest in California every year, leaving less vegetation to absorb the growing amounts of pollutants.

Bonnicksen’s calculations, he said, don’t involve any new science, but rather reflect a combination of previously published and accepted formulas relating to the density and types of vegetation in forests, the amount of carbon they store and the wildfires that have torn through the state in recent years.

He proposes a far more aggressive federal policy of thinning the nation’s forests, and harvesting the wood for a wide variety of products. He also favors more replanting programs after fires, since dead, decaying trees also emit greenhouse gases long after the smoke has cleared.

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3 Sep 2009, 3:54pm
Climate and Weather The 2009 Fire Season
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Mega Smoke in LA

The Station Fire [here] is 145,000+ acres and growing, and it has churned out smoke in unbelievably vast quantities. The smoke consists of ash and pyrolytic compounds such as carbon monoxide and dioxide. The smoke particles range in size from large embers down to a micron or less in diameter.

The fire has produced its own weather, including pyrocumulus clouds:

Time lapse pyrocumulus for the LA Station Fire

by Anthony Watts, Watts Up With That, Sept 2, 2009 [here]

Like volcanic eruptions, some fires grow large enough to make their own weather with the heat being released acting like convection. Witness this neat time lapse in HD showing the “Station” fire in the Angeles National Forest.

This video was made by photographer Brandon Riza on August 30th, 2009. It is quite well done and quite visually stunning. Click image for time lapse video.

pyrocumulus — A pyrocumulus or fire cloud is a dense cumuliform cloud associated with fire or volcanic activity.

A pyrocumulus cloud is produced by the intense heating of the air from the surface. The intense heat induces convection which causes the air mass to rise to a point of stability, usually in the presence of moisture. Phenomena such as volcanic eruptions, forest fires, and occasionally industrial activities can induce formation of this cloud. The detonation of a nuclear weapon in the atmosphere will also produce a pyrocumulus in the form of a mushroom cloud which is made by the same mechanism. The presence of a low level jet stream can enhance its formation. Condensation of ambient moisture (moisture already present in the atmosphere) as well as moisture evaporated from burnt vegetation or volcanic outgassing occurs readily on particles of ash.

Photo courtesy Wikipedia. Click for larger image.

Pyrocumuli contain severe turbulence which also results in strong gusts at the surface which can exacerbate a large conflagration. A large pyrocumulus, particularly one associated with a volcanic eruption, may also produce lightning. This is a process not fully understood as of yet, but is probably in some way associated with charge separation induced by severe turbulence, and perhaps, by the nature of the particles of ash in the cloud. Large pyrocumuli can contain temperatures well below freezing, and the electrostatic properties of any ice that forms may also play a role. A pyrocumulus which produces lightning is actually a type of cumulonimbus, a thundercloud and is called pyrocumulonimbus.

Photo courtesy Wikipedia. Click for larger image.

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Forest Carbon Emissions Model Report No. 3

W.I.S.E. is pleased and honored to announce the web publication of Dr. Thomas M. Bonnicksen’s Impacts of California Wildfires on Climate and Forests: A Study of Seven Years of Wildfires (2001-2007), FCEM Report No. 3. The Executive Summary and link to the full text are now posted at the W.I.S.E. Colloquium: Forest and Fire Sciences [here]. The Forest Carbon And Emissions Model Reports No. 1 and 2 are [here].

For Immediate Release:

To Offset Greenhouse Gas Damage Caused From California Wildfires During 2001-2007, State’s 14 Million Cars Would Need To Be Locked In Garages For 3 1/2 Years, Study Finds

A raging wildfire can burn out of control for a long period of time, but eventually it will be extinguished. However, the effects of that wildfire can linger for years and be a prime contributor to global warming.

A study by Dr. Thomas M. Bonnicksen, Professor Emeritus of Forest Science at Texas A&M University, released today found that California’s increasing wildfire crisis is causing more destruction and undoing much of the progress California is making to fight global warming.

Dr. Bonnicksen, who holds a Ph.D. in forestry from the University of California, Berkeley, and has studied California forests for more than 30 years, is author of America’s Ancient Forests: from the Ice Age to the Age of Discovery (John Wiley, 2000).

This report, entitled “Impacts of California Wildfires on Climate and Forests,” chronicles how the wildfires that scorched California from 2001 to 2007 seriously degraded the forests in the state and contributed to global warming. The report notes that political and economic obstacles to managing and restoring forests contribute to causing the wildfire crisis.

Emissions from the last seven years of wildfires documented in this study are equivalent to adding an estimated 50 million more cars onto California’s highways for one year, each spewing tons of greenhouse gases. To offset this damage, all 14 million cars in California would have to be locked in garages for 3 1/2 years to make up for the global warming impact of these wildfires.

From 2001 to 2007, fires burned more than 4 million California acres and released an estimated 277 million tons of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, resulting from combustion and the post-fire decay of dead trees. That is an average of 68 tons per acre.

This study and previous studies use a new computer model, the Forest Carbon and Emissions Model (FCEM), to estimate greenhouse gas emissions from wildfires and insect infestations, and opportunities to recover these emissions and prevent future losses.

“Our most important question is: Can we recover from our mistake of letting forests become unnaturally overcrowded with trees and vulnerable to catastrophic wildfires?” said Dr. Bonnicksen, “the answer is yes, if we care about restoring our forests and fighting global warming.”

There are many other harmful effects of these wildfires as well, including killing wildlife, polluting the air and water, and stripping soil from hillsides. Ironically, the greenhouse gases they emit are wiping out much of what is being achieved to reduce emissions from fossil fuels to battle global warming.

“While California’s actions to reduce global warming are significant, reducing the number and severity of wildfires may be the single most important action we can take in the short-term to lower greenhouse gas emissions and really fight global warming,” Bonnicksen said.

Some public forests in California have more than 1,000 trees per acre when 40 to 60 trees per acre would be natural. These dense forests contain small trees that can carry fire into the canopy, and heavy concentrations of woody debris lying on the ground intensify the flames, which helps increase the size and severity of forest fires. Reducing the number of all sizes of trees per acre by thinning is effective in helping prevent crown fires in forests.

Yet that is only part of the wildfire tragedy.

During the seven years covered by this study, California wildfires deforested about 882,759 acres of public and private land. Only an estimated 120,755 acres were replanted. That means about 762,004 acres of forest was converted permanently to brush because no live trees remain standing to provide seed for a new forest. That is an average loss of 109,000 acres of forests each year, or the equivalent of nearly four times the area of San Francisco.

California’s forests are dwindling due to permanent deforestation from wildfire. In addition, the estimated 134 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) released by fires and the decay of dead trees from forests that were permanently converted to brush from 2001 to 2007 will continue to worsen global warming.

Harvesting dead trees to prevent them from releasing CO2 from decay, storing the carbon they contain in long-lasting wood products, and using the money from the sale of the wood to replant a young forest that absorbs CO2 through photosynthesis, is the only way to restore deforested areas and recover this greenhouse gas from the atmosphere, Dr. Bonnicksen said. He added that this is done routinely on private industrial forestland but rarely on public forestland. Therefore, he said, it is critical to expedite and increase the harvesting of fire-killed trees and replanting of young trees on public forests destroyed by wildfire.

The immensity of greenhouse gas emissions from California’s wildfires and the permanent loss of huge areas of forest are a warning.

The report emphasizes that every effort must be made to reduce the amount of fuel in public and private forests to prevent catastrophic wildfires. That means managing forests to make them healthy, productive, and resistant to crown fires.

Major constraints to managing and thinning private forests are government regulations and the high cost of Timber Harvest Plans (THPs). Solving this problem by streamlining regulations and reducing THP costs on private forests, and expediting environmental reviews for thinning and timber harvesting on public forests, could dramatically reduce wildfires and greenhouse gas emissions.

Data used in this report come from a variety of government and other sources. They include the U.S. Forest Service Pacific Southwest Region Ecosystem Planning Staff, U.S. Forest Service Region 5 Silviculturalist, California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE), and the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC).

For a copy of the full report please visit the Western Institute for Study of the Environment at https://westinstenv.org/ffsci

###

4 Aug 2009, 11:11am
Climate and Weather
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Heat Waves, Global Warming, and the Hijacking of Science

Heat waves yes, warming no

by Gordon J. Fulks, Guest Opinion, the Oregonian, August 4, 2009 [here]

Even before our record heat wave subsided last week, politicians and journalists were ramping up their all-purpose explanation: “Global Warming.”

Warming it was; global it was not.

When Portland hit 106 on Tuesday, it was 61 in San Francisco, 70 in Santa Barbara, and 79 in Los Angeles. Frequently-hot Pendleton was only 101, far from the record high for the Northwest of 119 set there in 1898.

Charlatans use every opportunity to promote climate hysteria, claiming that the global temperature is rising inexorably. Yet they overwhelmingly lack training in physics and meteorology. And the best satellite data show that the Earth as a whole has been gradually cooling for a decade.

They love “green science” because it is wonderfully suited to selling expensive climate “solutions” to the scientifically challenged. Never mind that it is neither green nor science, just politics. Never mind that climate variations are perfectly natural and unstoppable. An army of propagandists say that man is the culprit, and carbon taxes are the solution.

If President Obama’s climate agenda passes, expect the problem to slowly fade — because it never existed in the first place and few will tolerate escalating energy prices that dramatically lower our standard of living.

Real science is based on real evidence that can be independently verified, not on testimonials from those funded by politicians.

Real evidence of climate change is easy to find.

Real evidence that man caused it via greenhouse gases is completely missing.

Man does cause local warming through urbanization. This biases many terrestrial temperature records, providing fodder for alarmists.

The real causes of global climate change are variations in the Earth’s orbit, in output from the sun, and in ocean surface temperatures.

Although Arctic sea ice extent has fractionally declined, global sea ice has shown no trend for 30 years; the Greenland ice sheet has thickened, the Arctic and Antarctic are cooler than 50 years ago; northern hemisphere winter snow cover reached its greatest in 2007; the Sahara has shrunk by 300,000 square kilometers; hurricane landfalls show no trend for 100 years; and tropical cyclone activity is at a record low.

This comes from a new assessment by prominent physicists. Previously, 31,478 scientists signed a petition objecting to global warming hysteria, including 9,029 of us with Ph.Ds.

The problem with allowing politicians and journalists to hijack science is not only that they might sell us economic disasters such as “cap and trade,” but that we miss what is really going on: the Earth is cooling.

In addition to the atmosphere cooling, our oceans, which contain the vast majority of mobile heat on Earth, are also cooling. This is a stunning new development reported by the Argo array of ocean-conditions monitoring buoys and completely at odds with computer models. The Pacific Decadel Oscillation climate index has swung negative, the Atlantic is becoming cooler, and sea level has stopped rising. Our sun has been unusually quiet, and physicists from the National Solar Observatory predict subdued solar cycles well into the future.

Memorable heat waves occur in local regions because our oceans and atmosphere are never in complete equilibrium. In the 19th century, during the “Little Ice Age,” a government ship anchored at Santa Barbara reported a temperature of 133 degrees, which became the record high for the United States for many years. That heat wave was likely caused by a Santa Ana effect, much like our heat wave last week.

Gordon J. Fulks, Ph.D., lives in Corbett, OR. He holds a doctorate in physics from the University of Chicago, Laboratory for Astrophysics and Space Research.

Beetle Epidemic Caused by Misguided Dogma of Extremists

by Fred Hodgeboom, Guest Commentary, Clark Fork Chronicle, July 09 2009 [here]

The recent New York Times article (”A House in the Woods When the Woods are Gone,” [here]) is the latest example of the urban myth misinformation that the mainstream media routinely provides to the masses by blaming everything undesirable on “climate change.”

The article ignored the natural role of forest and insect ecology regarding the hundreds of thousands of acres of even-aged (80-100+ year old, near mono-cultures of lodgepole pine and Douglas-fir on federal land surrounding the private property near Helena featured in the article. In the western United States, the period of 1880-1930 was one of huge forest fires, illustrated by the well known 1910 holocaust that burned nearly 3 million continuous acres in Idaho and Montana in two days. The new forests that re-grew from these burns have now matured into optimal feeding and breeding habitat for bark beetles and spruce budworm, especially on federal lands where management of the 100-year-old burn areas has been scant. The insect outbreaks and resulting fire hazard on federal lands has been predicted by forest and fire scientists for decades and are nothing new.

Insect epidemics will always occur when you have vast areas of ideal habitat for the bugs that allow their populations to escape all natural checks. A cold winter or two, or even pesticide spraying, only delays the inevitable bug population explosion until favorable conditions occur. Dry years inevitably occur as they have historically. As long as the perfect habitat exists over vast areas, the bugs will eventually outbreak into an epidemic and reduce their habitat by killing the trees if humans don’t alter the insect habitat first. There is simply no way to “protect” huge areas of prime bug habitat for long.

We (the public, the Congress, and federal land managers) failed miserably in the last two decades to actively create age and tree species diversity in the vast even-aged stands dominated by lodgepole pine and Douglas-fir that resulted from the huge fires of 1880-1930 period, especially in the western federal forests. We are now experiencing the insect epidemics and the re-occurrence of the huge turn of the 19th century fires as forests are pre-disposed to catastrophic fires by unbroken expanses of bug-killed trees. These fires commonly have energy releases equivalent to an atomic bomb exploding every 5-10 minutes. No amount of firefighting expenditure will control the fire until it runs out of the heavy fuels or the weather changes. After the forest is killed, the commercial value of the wood is rapidly lost, and if there is no market for cracked and worm riddled dead wood, the area is doomed to a catastrophic fire at some future time.

We are all now paying the price for the misguided dogma of so called “conservation groups” very successful campaign to “preserve and protect” the federal forests by prohibiting roads and timber harvests over the past several decades. The preservation lobby industry has been so successful that the states of Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico essentially have no timber infrastructure left and no markets for excess wood, live or dead. Montana is not too far behind with only one pulp mill and a few sawmills left, struggling to survive primarily on limited raw material from state and private land.

Now that the dead and/or burned forests cover so many of Montana’s mountains, the real consequences of the preservation urban myth dogma is exposed to the public. Many “conservation” lobbyists and government officials are rushing to blame the adverse effects and costs of the failed preservation efforts on another urban myth-”climate change.”

Fred Hodgeboom is a retired USFS forester and currently President of Montanans For Multiple Use [here]

Forest Fires and Biomass Skipped Over at Boxer Cap-and-Trade Hearing

by Randy Shipman, W.I.S.E. Correspondent

Yesterday the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, chaired by Senator Barbara Boxer, questioned heads of departments regarding the Climate Change and Energy (Cap-and-Trade) Bill now before them.

The opening statement provided by Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack did not mention public forest lands. He did not mention the US Forest Service by name during the hearing (even when asked about wood pellet utilization in Vermont schools) until Senator Udall of New Mexico questioned the water capability provided by the Colorado River Compact, alluding to early snowpack melt, drought, and assumptions held in the Compact from “100 years ago” of river capacity. Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley posed the last question of that session pertaining to federal forested lands, thinning fuels, and using USFS forests in the equation of carbon offsets while gearing something up resembling the Secure Rural Schools Act.

Although vague at best, Secretary Vilsack said USDA was looking into how all of its agencies will be involved in biomass and renewable energy (mentioning NRCS, farmers, ranching and private forest land often) and most hesitantly mentioned that he personally thought USFS might also have a role.

I doubt his answer reflects this administration’s position however, and that is the reason Vilsack was reluctant to bring USFS into the mix in his opening statement.

But Vilsack did say that presently the USFS was going through a new 5-year strategic plan for water and forests based on human-caused climate change. Human-caused global warming is considered by Energy Secretary Steven Chu (reflecting the Obama Administration) to be a fact of science.

Senator Merkley was very specific on two occasions in his limited 3 minutes of questioning, voicing concerns about managing “locked-up” lands to assist local communities while at the same time figuring federal lands into carbon offsets. Vilsack was at a loss to respond directly to those questions which apparently arose out of the 2007 and 2008 energy bills locking those lands out. He seemed to base his stance on waiting for the USFS strategic plan. Roadless areas were never specifically mentioned by anyone and smoke from wildfires was never mentioned during pollution talks (regarding asthmatic children) when EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson was asked about global warming conspiracies by Senator Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ).

Secretary Salazar did mention biomass on 500 million acres of DOI lands and indicated they were under consideration for carbon offsets, but overall both federal land management agencies are attempting to convince the “rural” farmers, ranchers and private forest land owners what a great deal they are about to receive.

Secretary Salazar was big into wind energy off the Atlantic coast and other areas, and also hit hard on his department’s assertion that 29% of America’s electrical energy needs can be produced by solar thermal energy generation in the Southwest. Those projects should be under construction by end of 2010, and are projected to create some 50,000 jobs.

Secretary Salazar maintained that wildfires, bark beetles, fishery problems, and Midwest agricultural shifts are all due to climate change. His three main goals are to reduce dependence of foreign oil, head off climate change, and save our children. He said his department consists of some 6,000 scientists and 14,000 land managers who will accomplish this feat, but he also mentioned that DOI produces over 50% of the coal and 25% of the nation’s domestic oil and gas.

Energy Secretary Steven Chu said something to the effect that climate change technology will amount to about a cost of one USPS letter stamp per day for the average American family, and EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson thought any parent would go that amount to protect their children.

Jackson and Chu disagreed, however, about whether the Cap-and-Trade Bill (if enacted) would actually have any effect of climate. EPA Administrator Jackson confirmed an EPA analysis showing that unilateral U.S. action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions would have no effect on climate. When presented with an EPA chart depicting that outcome, Energy Secretary Steven Chu said he disagreed with EPA’s analysis.

Some of the questioning regarded the alleged failure of Congress to remove personal vehicles and trucks off the highways. The Administration desires more mass public transportation and moving freight by train. Lisa Jackson stated that union workers were behind them 100 percent, but I am not certain she meant auto industry workers or teamsters.

Nuclear and other issues were discussed as well. The hearing can be viewed on C-Span.

 
  
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