Scientists: Jerry Brown Wrong to Link Fires, Climate Change

The Associated Press
The Associated Press

Scientists are rebuking California Gov. Jerry Brown over his attempt to link recent California wildfires to climate change. (Even more remarkably, the Los Angeles Times is reporting it.)

As Breitbart News reported in August, Brown blamed climate change for the Rocky fire in August, and specifically challenged Republican presidential candidates to tackle climate change in the context of “Longer fire seasons, extreme weather and severe droughts.”

He told the media: “This is a wake-up call. We have to start coming to our senses. This is not a game of politics. We need to limit our carbon pollution. These are real lives and real people. This problem cannot be solved year by year….This is not the way these fires usually behave. If it continues year after year, California can literally burn up.”

However, scientists say Brown is wrong and that the scientific evidence does not link recent fires to climate change.

As Paige St. John of the Times reports:

But scientists who study climate change and fire behavior say their work does not show a link between this year’s wildfires and global warming, or support Brown’s assertion that fires are now unpredictable and unprecedented. There is not enough evidence, they say.

University of Colorado climate change specialist Roger Pielke said Brown is engaging in “noble-cause corruption.”

Pielke said it is easier to make a political case for change using immediate and local threats, rather than those on a global scale, especially given the subtleties of climate change research, which features probabilities subject to wide margins of error and contradiction by other findings.

“That is the nature of politics,” Pielke said, “but sometimes the science really has to matter.”

Scientists do predict that a warmer planet could mean more fires–but only several decades from now. The recent fires were made worse by California’s crippling drought–but there, too, there is little evidence that climate change is responsible for the drought.

More immediate causes of the recent large fires include “unnatural” fire suppression policies that allow undergrowth to build up, which burns more readily in a major fire, experts told the Times.


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