Wieschnell climate change turns into a question of faith, shows the little word "climate denier".

Whether climate change is man-made or cyclical has long eluded a dispassionate debate.

Let us therefore consider the facts using the example of California, where the forests have recently been burning not only in the south, but also in the cool north this fall.

 It is indisputable:

  • This year there is five times more scorched earth in the "Golden State" than the average for the past three decades.

  • In 2020, five of the ten largest fires since 1970 broke out.

  • Nine out of ten fires have taken place since 2012 alone.

Conclusion: Even die-hard "climate deniers" cannot ignore the statistics.

The temperature rises, the drought creates more and more food for the area fires that threaten people, animals and cities.

But: What if the world - especially China and India - will not reduce CO2 emissions to zero by 2050?

The good Lord will not give us the decisive tip like Noah.


It's about the here and now, not around 2050, the unattainable zero emissions target to which the EU, WHO and the Paris Agreement have committed themselves.

Let us assume that climate change is a fact.

It just doesn't explain everything about the California tragedy.

In addition, it does not give any guidelines for the next week.

And even if the 2050 program were met, it would not reverse the temperature rise, it would only stop it.

Logically, it would be just as hot in San Francisco and Los Angeles in 2050 as in these weeks.

As a result, the forests would still smoke.

It would be more practical to find out what role wrong politics play.

Because it can be changed faster than global CO2 emissions.

A look back: After the devastating fire in Yellowstone National Park in 1988, this author learned amazing things from the rangers.

Something like this: "Fire is good for the jungle."

Why fight fire with fire? Asked the astonished visitor.

"The flames burn away the thick undergrowth and dead trees, leaving the seeds in the ground. The burnt trees make way for light - good for the new generation of trees. Enclosed fires create firebreaks. Ditto the rationed felling. Because the clearings act like firewalls. Such management reduces the risk. "

A year later, healthy young trees grew in the park.

Instead of such anecdotes, there is now scientific evidence. A Stanford team reports that politics is at least as responsible as the rise in temperature: "Controlled fires that remove highly flammable material (dead wood and scrub) can prevent catastrophic wildfires."

Why doesn't this happen?


The dry answer points to "political obstacles".

In heavily indebted California, there is not enough money for proactive forest care.

Then environmental regulations play a major role: "They prohibit forest owners from controlled fires" - incidentally, also applies internationally.

Finally, another Stanford colleague who deals with the history of California reports: The population of the Golden State is growing, the taxes are among the highest in the USA, but parliament does not approve the billions for reservoirs, aqueducts and dams that hold water for periods of drought or fire dangerous drying prevent.

The historian continues: "130Million trees died in California's forests in the 2011-2016 drought. They were not disposed of, but were left as natural nourishment for upcoming fire storms."

But why?

An environmentalist from the Sierra Club, the oldest nature conservation association: "Dead trees are part of the ecosystem ... Woodpeckers and owls use dead wood as a habitat ... It also binds carbon for thousands of years."

What do you do tomorrow?

The real point is not human versus animal welfare, nature conservation versus agricultural and industrial production.

It is about value conflicts, consequently about careful consideration.

About costs and priorities: if you want to ward off conflagrations, you have to accept controlled fires, firebreaks and deadwood removal.

Our man from the Sierra Club would have to do the math.

Dead trees bind carbon, but area fires produce thousands of times more greenhouse gases - not to mention the destruction of living space and fatalities.

The precautionary principle not only justifies solar and wind power, which could only lead to zero emissions in decades.

As in the case of California's fire storms, it applies to forest and water management here and now.

The rise in temperature increases the tinder, the right policy reduces the risk of devastation.

Climate deniers and climate apostles could find common ground here.

Because they both appreciate the forest.