Lesson From Canadian Fires: We Need Better Forest Management, Not Utopian Fantasies

Estimated Reading Time: 4 minutes

NEW YORK—It’s that time again for the Left. Another crisis it just can’t let go to waste.

 

The crisis of the day is a series of large-scale forest fires in Canada—at least some apparently started by arson—that caused a huge amount of smoke to descend on the United States. Some areas got hit particularly hard, especially on the East Coast.

The Left immediately attributed this to climate change.

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I’d say what we are experiencing is more attributable to poor forest management practices. More on that in a bit.

No doubt, the smoke has been quite obnoxious here in New York City. My allergies have been far worse than usual, my eyes burn, and my poor, old dog can go outside only for a few minutes at a time.

By around 3 p.m. Wednesday, New York looked like it had been transformed into a Mars colony, as everything appeared bright orange.

It’s miserable and it’s uncomfortable, but it’s not the end of the world. The Left has responded, as usual, with maximum hyperbole. It IS the end of the world!

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Like clockwork, liberal politicians such as President Joe Biden and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau blamed the fires and the smoke on climate change.

Even the Left’s union leaders are pumping the climate change narrative.

The Left really has remarkable message discipline.

Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., called the smoke clouds a “warning from nature” and said we have a lot of work to do to reverse climate change.

If a day is too hot, it’s global warming. If a day is too cold, it’s global cooling. If it’s a dramatic weather event such as a hurricane or tornado, it’s the effect of climate change.

And if it’s a nice day with seasonably typical weather, well, you aren’t doing enough to stop the climate crisis, so shame on you anyway.

Have leftists ever considered that sometimes a fire is just a fire? No, we are supposed to believe that every natural disaster is the result of man-made climate change, and if you don’t cede all power over the economy and your way of life over to them and their allies, then you are to blame for all disasters to come.

“We must adapt our food systems, energy grids, infrastructure, healthcare, etc ASAP to prepare for what’s to come and catch up to what is already here,” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., wrote Tuesday on Twitter while promoting Democrats’ Green New Deal, an obvious Trojan Horse for socialism.

The left-wing media has been quick to conclude that the big fires in Canada are part of an escalating pattern, but that isn’t the case. According to the Canadian National Fire Database, the total number of forest fires has dropped in recent decades.

Unfortunately, what’s also been dropping in recent decades is effective forest management. The result has been much larger fires.

The New York Post’s Miranda Devine writes that the situation in Canada “is similar to that in Australia, where green ideology and chronic government underfunding mean that the forests currently ablaze have not been managed properly for years.”

Devine continues:

Instead of dead wood and undergrowth being removed regularly using low-intensity controlled or ‘prescribed’ burns, forests have become overgrown tinderboxes. Fire trails that used to allow first responders easy access to the forest have closed over as vast tracts of land are locked away from humans. Logging and other commercial practices that used to self-interestedly tend to forest health have been phased out.”

Poor funding, bureaucratic red tape, and green ideology have suppressed Canada’s ability to manage its forests and clear the fuel that turns an ordinary fire into a towering inferno.

It’s a remarkably similar situation to what we have in large parts of the United States. As I’ve written about the California wildfires, forest management on public land has been lacking for decades. Federal agencies tasked with the job have unlearned what previous generations learned. And, unfortunately, the federal government owns a huge amount of land in the West. Not good.

“Once upon a time the U.S. Forest Service’s mission was to actively manage the federal government’s resources,” explained The Wall Street Journal in 2018. “Yet numerous laws over the last 50 years, including the Endangered Species Act and National Environmental Policy Act, have hampered tree-clearing, controlled burns, and timber sales on federal land.”

Green ideology, not global warming, created the conditions for larger, deadlier fires.

The Left tries to sell utopian ideas about controlling nature and the climate, where every day will be bright and shining and all your dreams will come true. But that’s not, nor has it ever been, the world we’re living in.

Worse, the Left’s utopian ideas at times have exacerbated the problems we face. Even the ones leftists specifically have warned about.

The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday on a study that found that “burning boreal forests in North America and Eurasia in 2021 released 1.76 billion tons of CO2 [carbon dioxide], nearly twice as much as global aviation that year.”

This number, the Journal reported, was “more than four times New York state’s annual emissions and about three times as much as the Inflation Reduction Act’s projected reductions in 2030.”

Great work.

Instead of telling everyone that the sky is falling, a more responsible policy would be to shift resources to better, active forest management, to abandon harmful environmentalist laws, and to acknowledge that although natural disasters can’t be stopped, they can be mitigated.

If only we had leaders who would say this.

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This article was published by The Daily Signal and is reproduced with permission.

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