Thank God for the rain. The horrific smoke from the wildfires was killing me. I know that the environmental community is happy, too. They have been in a state of panic and running in full damage control mode for the past couple of months as our Western public lands were being destroyed by catastrophic wildfires; more than 4 million acres in California alone.
This year, tens of thousands of families had to evacuate their homes. Thousands of homes burned and dozens of people died in the blazing infernos. This is our new normal. It happens every year, and every year the environmentalists try to explain it by blaming climate change.
Historically, our dry Western forests had small fires every six to 15 years that naturally cleansed the landscape of dry grass, dead trees and brush without ever really harming the forest.
In the early 1900s, our government decided that forest fires were bad and started suppressing them. Then, in the 1970s, the environmental movement decided that any human intervention in the wildlands was bad. They used their money and political clout to pass tough environmental laws that effectively limited or halted any management of these public lands. Foresters used to utilize logging and grazing to manage our wildlands. That, in turn, created around a half-million good-paying jobs, which are gone now, and helped prevent the horrific fires that we are currently witnessing.
Now, because of almost 100 years of fire suppression and the powerful environmental opposition to any land management, our wildlands have become overgrown with trees and dead vegetation. The forest fires we are witnessing now don’t cleanse the forests; they destroy them. Our resource management has changed the natural cycles of our public lands. And now the only way we can return them to any semblance of their natural condition is through intense management.
The second time a forest burns is usually the worst. The first fire partially burns many trees and kills many more. Environmental groups then file lawsuits in court to stop any management of the burned forests. So we end up with thousands, even millions, of acres of dry kindling waiting for a spark. Environmental groups should be held financially liable when their lawsuits fuel these horrific fires.
This is the legacy of environmentalism. For decades, the radical environmentalists have effectively used our court system to enforce their ideology on the management of our public lands. And now, we are witnessing the horrific results. It is a disaster. Their leaders are desperately hoping that the American public is too dumb or uninformed to see what is really happening.
In the 1960s and ’70s when the environmental movement started, it was a good thing. It was very much needed. We were mindlessly polluting our world, and somebody needed to stop it. The movement was extremely successful, and we have made dramatic improvements in cleaning up our environment. But somewhere along the line, a radical element took over the movement. They claim to care about endangered species and our environment. But these massive fires kill all the animals, including the endangered ones, and destroy their habitat. Critical watersheds are destroyed and our streams are polluted. The billions of tons of carbon dioxide that are released by these fires are the same as what our automobiles emit that allegedly cause global warming. The environmentalists claim that global warming is causing the fires but offer no solution to the fires except for us to stop using carbon-based fuels to theoretically stop global warming. It all makes no sense.
Fire is simple. All it needs to ignite is a heat source, oxygen and fuel. The more fuel you have, the bigger and hotter it burns. Take away the fuel and there is no fire. The Earth could be 200 degrees and if there is no fuel, there would be no fire. Global warming is not causing these horrific wildfires. They are the result of poor land management.
California is considered to be the birthplace of modern environmentalism. We only need to look there to see how it has succeeded. Besides the massive wildfires that they are experiencing, they are having rolling electrical blackouts because they are systematically eliminating all but so-called environmentally friendly sources of power. Our area is not far behind. The radical environmentalists have already succeeded in forcing the closure of coal-fired power plants in Montana and are working hard to tear out our lower Snake River dams. In late July of this year, agencies of the U.S. government determined in their Record of Decision that removing these four dams will destabilize our power grid and more than double the risk of regional power outages.
Get this: California Gov. Gavin Newsom has just mandated that all vehicles sold in California will have to be electric by 2035. That’s only 15 years from now. They’re already having electrical shortages. Where will all the electricity to charge automobiles for 40 million residents come from?
The Democratic Party has been the party of environmentalism. Democrats have sponsored and passed the legislation that has gotten us to where we are now. In turn, the environmental groups have rewarded them with unending campaign contributions from their massive war chests.
The “Green New Deal” being championed by segments of the Democratic Party is an environmentalist wish list. Presidential candidate Joe Biden has adopted his own version. Either version will ensure that our public land management policies will not change. Massive wildfires, energy shortages and rolling electrical blackouts will be the new normal for the Northwest and possibly our whole country.
We must stop electing political leaders who support these bad policies.
Dugger retired as a journeyman carpenter from Clearwater Paper. He lives in Lewiston.