Giant Cloud of Incompetence Hangs Over California

Giant clouds are hanging over California and blotting out the sun. Pyrocumulonimbus clouds are a type of cumulonimbus cloud that forms above a source of heat, such as a wildfire. The size and frequency of California wildfires are due to the incompetent management of California’s forests and electrical grid. The recent Creek Fire is creating massive fire clouds.

Competent Forest Manaagement

California has allowed over 150 million dead trees to accumulate in 33 million acres of forest. For the last decade, drought and bark beetle infestations have killed over 150 million trees.

Federal and state restrictions on logging caused timber harvesting in California to decline more than 70 percent between the late 1980s and 2012, according to a U.S. Forest Service report. From 1960-1990, foresters harvested 10-12 billion board feet of timber from national forests every year. By 2013, environmental policies cut that to 2.5 billion.

There is a 1990 law that prohibits logging bids from any lumber companies that export logs. Publicly traded Weyerhaeuser and Rayonier and big Canadian logging firms are blocked from bidding. Sierra Pacific is owned by billionaire Red Emmerson and his two sons and daughter. It has operating profits of about $375 million with annual sales of $1.5 billion. Emmerson has the most California timberland. He is the third-largest landowner in America. Sierra Pacific has 1.9 million acres of timberland.

There needs to be a period of minimally restricted logging and massively increased controlled burns to reduce the number of dead trees and to thin out the forests. Other big timber companies need to be allowed to operate in California.

Centuries ago Native Americans used periodic low-intensity fires to help renew forests and kept them from becoming too dense.

There was an average of 40 trees per acre in the Sierras roughly 150 years ago but there are now hundreds of trees per acre.

Over the last four years, California wildfires have cost over $200 billion, destroyed about 40,000 buildings and killed almost 200 people. The total economic cost of the 2017-2018 fires, including fire suppression, insurance, direct and indirect economic losses, and recovery expenditures was estimated at about $180 billion (2017 USD). There has been huge fires in 2020 which have destroyed over 1 million acres and there was billions in lost economic activity from 2019 power outages. The 2019 power outages were to avoid setting more fires.

The incompetence also relates to continuing to allow PGE to operate as the utility for Northern California.

There is a long history of PGE incompetence.

From 1952 to 1966, Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) dumped about 370 million gallons of chromium-tainted wastewater into unlined wastewater spreading ponds around the town of Hinkley, California. The Julia Roberts movie, Erin Brokovich, detailed the lawsuit that resulted from the poisoning of a town.

In 2018, the Camp Fire was caused by PGE improperly maintaining the electrical grid. The fire killed 85 people and destroyed the town of Paradise. It left several firefighters injured and burned more than 150,000 acres in Northern California.

Fire Created Clouds

The CbFg (cumulonimbus flammagenitus cloud) was first recorded in related to fire following the discovery in 1998 that extreme manifestations of this pyroconvection caused direct injection of large abundances of smoke from a firestorm into the lower stratosphere.The aerosol of smoke comprising CbFg clouds can persist for weeks. This can reduce ground-level sunlight in the same manner as the “nuclear winter” effect.

For decades, the plume from the bombing of Hiroshima photo was misidentified as the mushroom cloud from the atomic bomb blast on 6 August 1945. The cloud was at higher altitutde. It was identified in March 2016 as a pyrocumulonimbus cloud above the city. There was a city-wide firestorm that reached its peak intensity about three hours after the nuclear explosion.

On Friday September 4, 2020 at about 6:44 PM PDT the Creek Fire began in the Big Creek drainage area of California. A huge, dense cloud created on Sep. 05 and is visible in satellite photos.

“The pyrocumulonimbus cloud created aerosol index values indicate that this is one of the largest (if not the largest) pyroCb events seen in the United States,” according to Dr. Colin Seftor, Atmospheric Scientist at Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.

The fire clouds are affecting California, Oregon, Arizona and some central US states

SOURCES – Wikipedia, Forbes
Written By Brian Wang,

46 thoughts on “Giant Cloud of Incompetence Hangs Over California”

  1. They were redwood forests once, my friend. Redwood and sequoia. Natural climate cycles over millions of years gave California many different climates, far more extreme than anything recent humans have seen.

  2. There is federal and there is federal.

    Looking at the map of all the many fires in California, I noted that none of them were on the point that sticks out above Santa Barbara.

    That's Vandenberg AFB. The military launches rockets from there and they take controlled burns very seriously. And, oddly enough, one of their additional goals for frequent burns is to increase and improve habitats for wildlife — which it apparently does.

  3. In sad tribute this event, let it be known that this month is the 50th anniversary of:
    "…Milton Friedman introduced the theory in a 1970 essay for The New York Times titled "A Friedman Doctrine: The Social Responsibility of Business is to Increase Its Profits". In it, he argued that a company has no social responsibility to the public or society; its only responsibility is to its shareholders…."

  4. then they will continue to co-exist in a high-risk situation… and hey they rolled snake-eyes this time around. There is nothing more true than: "The People always get the Government/ Surrounding-infrastructure they deserve". The sum total of the people's values and decisions have brought this down upon themselves. You vote. You buy. You work. You live. These are the decisions you made and the sum of it and your neighbours has brought this down. If you wanted to live on a glorified 'nature farm', nanny-state, sheltered enclave such as Europe or 75% of the East Coast, then you would already being living there. By Living Free – you are Living Risky. In that spirit, this blog entry would have been all the more useful if it had provided the thoughtful solutions, costs, and scopes to allow people to moving along the Path to a more acceptable risk situation – not piece-meal band-aids and shoulda-been/ coulda-beens – but $100,000 consultant report quality solutions. All else is a bunch of seniors sitting around a coffee shop complaining about how good it used to be (or what the current people could be doing) — just savouring the impotent belly-aching and the co-miserating with all the other Ineffectives.

  5. As I see it, the only Problem, is that no one, that I can find, has recommended, commissioned, and completed The Plan, within the last 10 – 15 years. A single comprehensive document, irrespective of costs and politics, that provides the scope of work for bringing the total cost of property damage/ related business losses from such an incident down to 10% of the average year (i.e $1.5B) to be implemented over 5 years – as they do with vulnerable areas throughout the world, London flooding, Japan east coast seismic, Venice submersion… it is not important if it cost $100B and needs 10x as many workers as CA and its pseudo-privatized utilities has – the Plan must provide the scale and scope of the solution – so that prioritization and budgeting can at least start to have a sensible foundation. This blame-game nonsense only serves to fracture any kind of coordination that would otherwise start to emerge. I know that it is hard to take that maybe… just maybe… that there is No Happy Ending. There is only insufficient money, insufficient staff, and insufficient oversight/policy provision that will constantly be debated and haggled over – to little end – except for the sad interventionist idea – that if one group screams and undercuts another enough, they will get a bigger piece of the insufficient resources available. If CA chooses to remain 75%++ wild-place, allow fire-sensitive building throughout, and provide only a certain amount of infrastructure investment…

  6. Modern California with a long history of mining, logging, industrial agriculture and animal grazing has cleared millions more acres when compared to Prehistoric California. There are more acres of concrete, structures, farmland and just overall development in CA than Prehistoric populations maintained many times over. Yes they burned land, but it was mostly grasslands with woody shrub vegetation and meadow areas to prevent trees from overtaking the meadows, which provided seed, berries and attracted game. Rarely did they burn mature forest. The main areas were the meadows and near wetlands in the valleys and foothills. They did not ever set a large mature forests on fire. Most of the areas they burned are currently developed.

  7. Prehistoric California had 4-12 million acres burn every year. Controlled burns are just tens of thousands of acres today. Logging, grazing and controlled burns are almost impossible since the 1970's. The forests are massively overgrown and full of dead and dying trees just waiting to burn. Sierra Club and NRDC; not climate change; are responsible for this.

  8. Look, its not all PG&E, but they do have a responsibility to maintain safe equipment that is properly monitored and keep their line easements clear of fuel. Some of these fires are on them, while the extent is largely USFS mismanagement.

  9. Clearly a climate change induced event. And the smoke over California? Weather satellites clearly show the plume originating in Oregon. They just evacuated 500,000 people—-10% of the total state population. Wrap your head around that figure. Really, think about it.

  10. Brian Brian Brian. Don’t bite the hand that makes your good life possible. If life in California is really that bad, there’s a whole grouping of failed, leeching red states you could move to.

  11. oh come on..come on.. come on.. Brian.
    I would buy this whole california incompetence thing except for the fact on the macro level, the number of acres of burned forest nationally has gone up (about doubled) since the 1990s. source:
    this really is a climate change issue, and is in direct expectation of predictions made by climate scientists: In short, temperatures will wildly fluctuate with some areas getting drier and others getting wetter, ie: more extreme. The dry areas become a tinderbox, add a spark and voila.
    Also do you actually read individual comments? its been pointed out – as in the pdf above – that this is a federal issue for the most part since the federal government owns most of the forests out in california so it really isn't up to the state to intervene.

  12. One year of rain and five years of climate change induced drought will create the kinds of fires Washington, Oregon and California are seeing. But go ahead Brian, blame it on California leadership.

  13. No one handcuffed the company. And investing in newer and cleaner energy doesn't preclude them from maintaining THEIR high voltage lines, you know, the ones with the 100 year old corroded hooks that were documented in the investigation as the CAUSE of the fire that killed 85 people. Apparently bonuses and dividend payments had a priority over operational safety. Prove me wrong.

  14. Scapegoating
    It's unfair to scapegoat PG&E. Every decision they make must be approved by the California Public Utilities Commission. Since PG&E is MANDATED by the State to "invest" heavily in solar and wind power, and the PUC would not allow a rate increase, the money came from the funds for maintenance of power lines and equipment — all of this APPROVED by the PUC. As for tree management under their lines, the old standards were declared unlawful some time ago, after lobbying by the Sierra Club and other such groups, who assured us all that narrower corridors through the forested mountains would be JUST FINE. Not sure it has worked out as they expected, but they are right in there blaming PG&E, just like the politicians who handcuffed the company.

  15. Most of the fires are not burning in redwood forests. Yes redwoods south of san Francisco did burn but that is the southern end and driest area of the redwood range. Most redwoods grow within 20 miles of the ocean where it is cooler and wetter. Most of the firests fires are east of the costal redwood range

  16. There probably is – but ideology ("We established these laws for a good reason, and we're not going to let the forestry companies back in!") tends to win out over bad results.

  17. in 1935 after years of massive fires in the west the US forest service implemented the 10AM rule. Which basically made it a government goal for all forese to be out any 10AM the following morning after receiving a report of a fire. The amount of acearage burned yearly quickly dropped to low levels and stayed stable until about 2000when it started to increase . Add in some very strong droughts in california, Temperatures equal to records set in the 30s, an unusual dry lighting storm and now unusually strong summer winds, the entire west cost was primmer to burn .

    This is not just a california issue All states on the wast cost have the same problems. And this is not a political party issues. The republican part dominated california politics prior to 2000. And increasing logging is not going to help since much of the word is in places that are very inaccessible to losing equipment. Furthermore many of the fires are burning through forests of trees that don't have any marketable value.

  18. Let's play devil's advocate on this. We have Redwoods that are well adapted to wildfires, suggesting the region has a very long history of combustibles build up and burn off.

    Then came logging and settlement, disrupting that cycle and putting in place a demand for the cycle to stop or at least be modulated for low risk to the new species.

    Maybe the cycle needs to continue and the new species adapt.

    The devil does not care about all the suffering to us (I do).

  19. What’s your source on that $200 billion for last 4 years of California fires? Entire USA for 2018 for all natural disasters was $91 billion. Too high? Insurance payouts for 2018 in California were like $14 billion – an especially bad year.

  20. The State of California has had very little control over this. The Federal government has been asleep at the wheel for a long time. California only owns about 9% of the state's lands. Feds own over 50%. Outside of the Santa Cruz fires, all have been on private and federal lands. USFS just doesn't get the budget to handle the problem of 1/3 of the CA forest dying in a 10 year period from drought and bark beatles. Even if the State intervened to fund it, the Federal government has all final say and has to initiate any plan on federal lands.

    Also, to assume logging companies would want to bid on harvesting dead, bark beatle infested trees is a joke. You would have to pay them to do it. Logging companies don't harvest in areas with lots of dead trees unless allowed to clear cut and take the good ones as well.

    Oregon has far looser logging regs than CA, though they also have a dead tree problem. Notice all the fires there? Notice how they are disproportionately on federal lands?

    Blame the Federal government and PG&E for their poor equipment and tree management. Funding for the USFS and BLM are not keeping pace with inflation and management needs.

    Additionally, it can take 2-3 years just to start a fuel reduction project due to regulations, approvals and the stakeholder negotiations. That's from the point of funding made available to actually beginning fuels removal.

    This is not just a CA created problem, it's primarily a Federal Government problem.

  21. Broke out along the I5 corridor from Oregon through California in the
    same day. Lets see who said they wanted to burn down the country OHH
    YES Antifa. Just because the caught a couple trying to start fires in
    the forest should not be a factor.

  22. Broke out along the I5 corridor from Oregon through California in the same day. Lets see who said they wanted to burn down the country OHH YES Antifa. Just because the caught a couple trying to start fires in the forest should not be a factor.

  23. With people losing their homes and their lives I would have thought their would be political pressure to reduce the fires. But this has being going on for decades, so I am obviously wrong.

  24. I'm a lifelong California resident and i'll stay here to turn off the lights for several reasons:

    Mrs Combinatorics wants to stay.
    I have one of the "good" jobs and I enjoy it.
    Family is here (for now).

    But leading candidate states to move to are TX, NC, FL, OH. I have friends who left CA for them who have a better standard of living despite making less money than me.

  25. I'm not sure that these are the reasons for the fires, although it may be helpful to backpedal a bit on the restrictions.

    After all there are much less looked after lush woods around the world.

  26. You know what will help to cure this incompetence? More democrats and left in power. Its clear that the reason why incompetence is everywhere where democrats rule is because they do not rule everywhere. Yeah, thats the reason, so elect democrats everywhere else where republicans are in power.

  27. Getting into Space is a pretty good filter, at least at first. Then, we also have the Primal Revolution, so you will probably need to get going on that before anuyone will let you near their settlement. Power addicts and other neurotics not welcome!

  28. It can be inconvenient when the idiot masses get to have a say in matters of consequence, not everything can be a tv talent competition.

    There isn’t much of an ability to fight the good fight

    Which state will you be blessing as properly managed enough to be your new abode.

  29. There isn’t much of an ability to fight the good fight. CA is a Democrat one party state and the unions pick the winner in the Democratic primary.

  30. Yet Matt Yglesias wants us to have a billion people in the U.S. A lot of incompetence has to be overcome before we can even build the infrastructure necessary for 1 billion people to live in the U.S. I'm wondering what kind of pipe dreams he is having.

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