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Old Posted May 25, 2019, 2:21 AM
Eau Claire Eau Claire is offline
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Join Date: Apr 2019
Posts: 181
Some good news adn some bad news. I’ll start with the bad, another CBC fearmongering/fake news bit on climate change, this time trying to exploit the High Level Alberta fire.

During the first half they interview residents, but the host refers to fires like this being the “new normal”. She provides no explanation but I think she’s trying to suggest that climate change is a major factor in this fire, which is known not to be true. In the second part she talks to an “expert”, a guy from Queens, who continues the story. He says that forest fires are getting “bigger, hotter, and more frequent,” and in the short term this is true, but there is a known cause and it’s not climate change. He then goes on to say that climate change IS a significant part of the issue here and that High Level is 1.7 degrees warmer than it was 80 years ago (referring back to Kenney’s comment), and with every degree there is a 12% increase in lightning, extended drought, and a longer fire season.

So let’s check his claims. They referred to the Slave Lake and Fort McMurray fires as part of this pattern so I’ll include them as well. I found a useful link which summarizes weather changes in Alberta since 1950:

- It’s true the High Level area has had an increase in average temperature of about 1.7 degrees in that time, but if you look closer most of that has been in the winter, while the summers have been essentially the same.
-If you check the precipitation tab in the link you will see that there has been an increase since 1950 around SL and HL, and a slight drop around FM but only in winter. So no drought. In fact these areas tend to be wetter.
- All three fires have been in May, so the there was no impact of an “extended fire season”. This is a known high risk time of the year for fires, btw. There is a high risk period after the snow melts but before the forest “greens up”, before the new grasses sprout up, and the new leaves come out, and the sap starts flowing in the trees again. This is a very dry window that every year is high risk for fire.
- But for there to be a fire there has to be a point of ignition. I don’t recall hearing a reference to increased lightning with increased temperature before, but both the SL and FM fires were started by man. The SL fire has been called arson, and the FM fire has been identified as being started by man, leaving open the possibility that it was an accident. I don’t think we know yet what started the High Level fire.

So the only thing this guy said that was true was that the area has warmed by 1.7 degrees, but he left out the fact that almost all of this has happened in the winter. If I’m being charitable to this “expert” I would say that he has no idea what he’s talking about. There are many academics in this area and throughout AB, SK and MB who understand these forests very well, so I guess it’s not surprising that the CBC had to go as far away as Queens to find someone clueless enough to say the things they wanted him to say. Some may remember that the CBC did this in its coverage of the Calgary Stampede some years back as well, going to someone from the Vancouver Humane Society for comments on rodeos.

Another very important part of this is that the fires have become very big and destructive, but there is a known cause for this and it’s not climate change. It relates to the forestry practices over the last century, and the same thing is happening in the US as well. In short fire is a natural and necessary part of the regeneration of these forests but about a century ago in both the US and Canada we decided that we should try to fight and put out forest fires. The result has been that instead of having much smaller but much more frequent fires that clear out the old, dead, growth in the forest floor, we have put these fires out and now have a huge accumulation of dead material on the forest floor, in many places over half a century worth, and these places are now essentially HUGE bonfires just waiting to go off. These huge fires burn much differently. The fire races to the crown much quicker, and from there is spreads much quicker. They are much hotter and can burn green forests much more easily. PBS did a piece called Inside the Megafire on these fires. The critical bit starts at about 30 min and runs to about 40 min, but the part from 20 min to 30 min adds a lot as well.

But as an example of how wide spread today’s climate change hysteria is, even this piece isn’t free from it. After about the 40 min mark, after they have explained why there are so many more fires today and why they’re so much bigger, even they start into the same baseless fearmongering. “There’s no fire season anymore. There’s a fire year, year after year.” Well, no. They’ve just finished explaining why and how these fires are caused by a century of build up of dead material on the forest floor, and they’ve just showed visually an area that had been cleared out and then subjected to a prescribed burn, and they showed it 16 years after the burn and showed that that it’s still wide open without a great deal of buildup on the forest floor, and then they say this?? No, there could not be a major fire there “year after year”, as they have just shown! If you did nothing and let the material build up for another 100 years you could have another one then, but the lessons learned here are that if you manage the forest properly and do a prescribed burn every few decades or so you will never have another megafire again. This is, however, a good example of the bizarre and counterfactual hysteria around the climate change issue these days.

The good news will be in the next post.
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