Scientists are questioning California Gov. Jerry Brown’s judgment on the environment–for the second time in as many weeks.
California Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency on Saturday regarding millions of “dead and dying trees,” according to a statement released by his office.
“Four years of drought have made trees in many regions of California susceptible to infestation by native bark beetles, which are normally constrained by the defense mechanisms of healthy trees,” the statement said. “The United States Forest Service recently estimated that more than 22 million trees have already died in California due to current conditions.”
Brown had written to U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to request aid for what he called “the worst epidemic of tree mortality in its modern history,” requiring “action on all fronts.”
Brown said that the proliferation of dead trees could pose additional danger for California wildfires.
However, some environmentalists disputed the governor’s scientific assertions. The New York Times reports:
Brian Nowicki of the Center for Biological Diversity said Mr. Brown was conflating dead trees with wildfire risk when there is not a clear connection. He said maintaining forests for wildlife habitat was crucial in dealing with the effects of climate change.
“This oversimplifies a process and a look at the forest that could confound meaningful ways to manage our forests,” Mr. Nowicki said.
The center, a national conservation group, also questioned the need to suspend state environmental laws, which require public input.
Scientists also corrected Gov. Brown last month when he blamed climate change for the recent California wildfires.