Environmental policy expert Michael Shellenberger says scientists agree high intensity fires can be moderated by managing the forests, but the fact is obscured by “this hyper politicisation around this climate apocalypse”.
Nearly 5,000 buildings have been destroyed and 20 people killed as more than 7,000 fires burned across the state of California.
Mr Shellenberger said the fires had been “catastrophic”.
Mr Shellenberger said before Europeans arrived in California, between four to 12 million acres annually would burn with low intensity fires, burning only the ground of the forest.
“What we’re dealing with today are these high intensity fires that reach into the tops of the trees,” he said.
“These fires are so intense because there is about five times more fuel wood, fuel debris in the forest than there was before we started fire suppression over a century ago.
“We have badly managed our forests, and the main reason for it is ideology.”
He said there were some well managed forests in the state and fires, burning around them with high intensity, would drop to low intensity upon reaching the well managed areas.
“What that proves is that we are not doomed to high intensity fires and the determining factor is forest management, not climate change,” Mr Shellenberger said.
Mr Shellenberger said the top forest scientists in the state said the determining factor for the spread of the fires was the accumulation of wood fuel.
“We’re obviously seeing that, we’re seeing that well managed forests are surviving climate change and they’re even surviving these mega fires, these high intensity fires,” he said.
“You are seeing more agreement that we do need to manage our forests well, and that’s at risk of being destroyed by this hyper politicisation around this climate apocalypse.
“You would probably have had these high intense fires without any global warming, and we know that even with this global warming that we’ve had, that well managed forests can survive."