California’s Governor Jerry Brown earned the nickname “Governor Moonbeam” years ago, during his first tenure as the state’s chief executive. Nearing the end of his second time as governor, Brown’s reaction to the wildfires in the Golden State indicate that he hasn’t changed much.
The Carr Fire, which has devastated Shasta and Trinity counties, was sparked by a vehicle fire at the intersection of Carr Powerhouse Road and Highway 299 near Redding, California.
But Brown, a Democrat, argues that the larger cause for such devastating wildfires is global warming — or "climate change." Like other advocates of the theory of anthropogenic (human-caused) global warming, Brown argues that fires are the result of industrial activity, but that this problem can be reversed — by draconian government controls, of course.
Brown addressed the fires this week, that since July 23 have burned more than 115,000 acres, ranking the total wildfires the sixth most destructive in the history of California. Six have died, and more than a thousand homes have been destroyed.
“Nature is very powerful,” Brown said, “and we’re not on the side of nature.” Such fires, he warned, are “the new normal.”
Why is that? “We’re fighting nature with the amount of material we’re putting in the environment, and that material traps heat, and the heat fosters fires, and the fires keep burning,” Brown said by way of explanation. In other words, he claims that industrial activity is causing the Earth, including California, to heat up, so the solution is to stop — or at least somehow reduce — industrial activity.
Arguing for the theory that it is primarily human industrial activity (which has greatly improved our material life on Earth) that has caused global warming, and thus the wildfires, Brown brazenly asserted, “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.”
But, according to Brown, it doesn’t have to be the “way it is.” He claims that steps can still be taken to combat global warming to “shift the weather back to where it historically was.”
Back during Brown’s first run as governor of California, in the 1970s and early 1980s, he was widely ridiculed after he refused to order the spraying of insecticide to kill off the Mediterranean fruit fly, which was wreaking havoc on the economy of southern California’s fruit growers. Jokes were made that Brown was such a nice guy that he “wouldn’t even hurt a fly.”
His current remarks should also make him the butt of jokes, but probably will not. Yet his remark that “we haven’t had this kind of heat condition” since civilization “emerged 10,000 years ago” is ludicrous. For one thing, the earliest civilizations on Earth — ancient Sumer and ancient Egypt — simply do not go back anywhere near 10,000 years ago. Second, scientific evidence, with ice core analysis of permanent ice from Antarctic glaciers and petrified wood indicate that the Earth has experienced periods of time in which it was colder and at other times warmer than now. After all, how did Earth emerge from the Ice Age of the ancient world, if it did not get warmer?
Then, there is the “Medieval Warm Period,” a time lasting from about 950 to about 1250, in which it was almost certainly warmer than the Earth’s temperatures are today. In Greenland, land where Vikings once farmed are now covered in sheets of ice. It is highly unlikely that the “global warming” experienced at that time was caused because Hagar the Horrible and other Vikings were traveling around in SUVs, or operating coal-fired plants.
Evidence also exists from the Domesday Book, a census conducted after the Norman invasion of England in the late 11th century, that grapes were grown in England in places that later could not support such activity. There was even grape-growing in Scotland.
The Medieval Warming Period then ended, to be replaced by what was called the Little Ice Age. Those advocating that humans are causing the present alleged global warming have attempted to challenge the global extent of the Medieval Warming Period, but suffice to say that it is certain that there was unusual warming at a time long before there were SUVs, industrial plants, and other human industrial activity.
It is believed that such warming at that time was caused by factors such as higher solar activity and changes in ocean circulation patterns. Whatever the cause, it is likely that Earth has experienced several warmer periods (such as the Roman Warm Period) and cooler periods (such as the Little Ice Age) in the past few thousand years.
The fires in California has been attributed both to natural causes (Santa Ana winds) and human action (but not in the way Governor Brown thinks). Chris Edwards, director of tax policy studies at the Cato Institute, has charged, “The federal government has shown itself to be a poor steward of its massive land holdings,” suggesting that turning over the lands to state and private ownership would reduce the number of wildfires in California.
Robert Smith, a fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, expressed similar views, blaming the intensity and frequency of the fires in California, at least partly, on radical environmentalists who have blocked the Forest Service from managing its forests by removing old or dead trees most vulnerable to fire.
In short, Brown’s supposed solution of extensive government control of the economy is not correct. His utopian assertion that such government action could somehow “shift the weather back to where it historically was” raises the question of just what is the “normal” temperature? Who is to say that the temperatures of today, or 250 years ago, or 1,000 years ago, are the “normal” temperature?
What we do not need to do is shut down the engine of our modern economy to please those with such radical views as expressed by “Governor Moonbeam.”
Image of Governor Brown: ca.gov