Fort McMurray in Alberta, Canada is in flames. Thousands of residents have lost their homes. But it’s not all bad news, as this guy helpfully tried explaining on Twitter.
— Jeffrey Robertson (@JeffreyRobertsn) May 4, 2016
Siefken was subsequently forced to apologise for and delete the tweet after apparently being suspended without pay by his employer.
Still, you get the idea. For those of a green persuasion, every natural disaster is not a crisis but an opportunity to gloat and say: “I told you so!”
Some are more subtle about it than others. Note the slipperiness with which Canada’s Green Party leader Elizabeth May manages to score her cheap eco propaganda point while pretending to remain dispassionately and responsibly scientific.
On Wednesday, May was asked by a reporter if there was anything about the Fort Mac Flames that was related to climate change.
“Of course,” she replied. “Temperature records were being smashed through all of last month for northern Alberta. Now, no scientist would ever say, this event was caused by climate change.
“But scientists will say we know that with a destabilized climate, with higher global average temperatures, we will see more frequent, more extreme weather events. Again: The caveat is that no one single event can be linked with climate change but the fact of the matter is we will see more fires, more floods, more droughts, more ice storms … more catastrophic events due to erratic climate due to our addiction to fossil fuels.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau uses exactly the same technique:
“It’s well known that one of the consequences of climate change will be a greater prevalence of extreme weather events around the planet. However, any time we try to make a political argument out of one particular disaster, I think there is a bit of a shortcut that can sometimes not have the desired outcome.
“There have always been fires, there have always been floods. Pointing at any one incident and saying, well this is because of that is neither helpful nor entirely accurate,” Trudeau said.
This is a classic case of having your cake and eating it.
First, get in your tendentious propaganda point: climate change is making everything worse and we’re all going to die.
Then, quickly distance yourself from the point you have just made with a qualifying clause designed to make you look measured, statesmanlike and on top of the science.
Lots of greenies are secretly or not-so-secretly relishing these fires right now, as inevitably they would. Alberta, Canada – and Fort McMurray, especially – occupies a special place in their hearts as one of the parts of the world they’d most like to see go up in flames. Partly, this is because Alberta has fewer liberals per capita than more urban parts of Canada. Partly, it’s because this is the home of the hated Tar Sands – whose exploitation, at least as far as greenies are concerned, is probably the single main reason why all the fluffy baby polar bears could soon vanish from the face of the earth.
Here’s a man whose job depends on the climate scare.
— Simon Donner (@simondonner) May 4, 2016
Here’s another guy who knows which way his waffles are maple-syrupped.
According to Mike Flannigan, a wildfire specialist at the University of Alberta, the area burned by wildfires in Alberta has more than doubled since 1970, a trend he said is partly tied to global warming.
Meanwhile, he’s an actual chart with actual evidence of what actual wild fires in Canada are actually doing.
Note that they are on a downward trend.
Yes, it’s true that humans are probably to blame for the Fort McMurray fire – but this has nothing to do with climate change. Firstly, as more people choose to work, live and play in Alberta’s wildlands, people and property are inevitably going to be exposed to greater risk from wildfires. Secondly, fires like this are going to become increasingly frequent because of “sustainable” forestry policy – as David Staples explains in the Edmonton Journal.
Here is what a report on the subject by the Alberta government found in 2012:
In 1971, more than half of Alberta’s boreal forest was deemed to be young, with about a third immature, five per cent mature and a small portion deemed “overmature”.
By 2011, that had changed to less than 10 per cent young, about a quarter immature, more than 40 per cent mature, and more than 20 per cent overmature.
“Before major wildfire suppression programs, boreal forests historically burned on an average cycle ranging from 50 to 200 years as a result of lightning and human-caused wildfires,” the panel found in a report released in 2012.
“Wildfire suppression has significantly reduced the area burned in Alberta’s boreal forest. However, due to reduced wildfire activity, forests of Alberta are aging, which ultimately changes ecosystems and is beginning to increase the risk of large and potentially costly catastrophic wildfires.”
In other words, wildfires are a regular and natural part of the renewal process in forested areas like Alberta. If we suppress the really big ones, what it does is expose us to the likelihood of more frequent smaller ones.
The problem is further exacerbated if, as in areas like the Pacific Northwest, idiot environmentalists actually prevent the forests being cleared because of some misbegotten notion that they’re helping Spotted Owls. Perhaps this is one of the reasons for all that “overmature” growth currently turning Alberta’s forests into such a fire hazard.
So if I were a Canadian environmentalist, I wouldn’t be too trigger happy with my accusations right now. This could be a story that backfires as horribly as Blake Siefkin’s dumbassed tweet.