Global warming and the fires in California...
Is there a link....well, no...but that doesn't stop the fearmongers...
During the period 1900-2005, precipitation seems to have actually increased in areas above 30 degrees north latitude — including California and the rest of the U.S. — according to the most recent assessment from the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
This does not mean, of course, that droughts haven't occurred in North America over the last 100 years, but it doesn't support a link between rising global temperature and increased drought.
Examining the occurrence of drought in southern California since 1900 is also illuminating.
According to data maintained by the federal National Climatic Data Center, drought conditions are no stranger to southern California.
During the period 1900 to 2005, moderate-to-severe drought conditions occurred in Southern California during 34 of those 106 years — that is, about one-third of the time.
Comparing the southern California drought record against the global temperature record reveals the following:
— During the period 1900-1940, when most of the 20th century's one-degree Fahrenheit temperature increase occurred, there were 7 years of moderate-to-severe drought.
— During the period 1941-1975, when global temperatures cooled, giving rise to concerns of a looming ice age, there were 11 years of moderate-to-severe drought.
— During the period 1976 to 1990, when global temperatures rose back to the 1940 level, there were 8 years of moderate-to-severe drought.
— Since 1991, when global temperatures rose slightly past the 1940 levels, there have been 7 years of drought.
It's a record that would seems to largely prevent any simple conclusions from being drawn — that is, rising temperatures with few drought years, followed by falling temperatures and increasing drought frequency, followed by temperatures rising back to the original levels with increased drought frequency, followed by a leveling off of drought occurrence despite higher temperatures.
Though there is no obvious relationship between global temperature and drought in southern California, the alarmists nevertheless advocate the quixotic task of preventing drought and wildfires by controlling greenhouse-gas emissions.
Global warming, it seems, also makes a good excuse for federal and state bureaucrats and politicians who have failed to properly manage high-risk areas, at least in part because of pressure from anti-logging and anti-development environmental groups.
We can be better prepared for drought and wildfires by improving forest management — as this column previously suggested in the aftermath of the deadly California wildfires of 2003.