California Wildfires Are Abrupt Climate Change, Ecological Collapse

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California is collapsing ecologically

It’s OK America, pop pills and watch TV. Don’t worry about abrupt climate change, environmental collapse, or perma-war blowback from your oil addiction.

“California is a nice place to visit, but soon no one may be able to live there.” – Dr. Glen Barry

 

Only a couple centuries ago California was mostly covered in lush naturally evolving ecosystems that surrounded and provided ecological habitat for relatively small settlements of Native Americans. Grizzly bears roamed and redwood forests towered. Now the heavily industrialized state is an over-populated ecologically collapsing mess. Remaining tawdry natural ecosystems are surrounded by an endless sprawl of human filth, and the very climate is abruptly changing.

California’s recent drought and wildfire outbreak is an exemplar of what surpassing a bioregion’s carrying capacity and resultant ecological collapse looks like. For centuries naturally evolved ecosystems which make California habitable have been treated as resources to be devoured for industrial development. California’s fragmented and no longer connected natural ecosystems have been further destabilized by abrupt climate change and are no longer able to stably provide human habitat.

Everywhere one looks in California one sees over-populated over-consumption, over-development’s destruction of natural ecosystems, and resultant ecological collapse further worsened by industrial emissions. For four years California has been ravaged by a climate change intensified epic drought. In the worst impacted communities, hundreds of households have no access to running water.

California’s drought, a state of emergency since January 2014, has reached unprecedented levels, the worst in recorded history. The state’s mountain snowpack – which provides 30% of California’s water – is at the lowest level in at least 500 years, 5% of its usual water content. Parts of the state have a four-year precipitation deficit of more than 70 inches. 2015 is expected to be the warmest ever recorded.

Ecologists strongly agree that climate change is linked to California’s wildfires. Human-caused warming is clearly contributing to drier conditions, which makes forests more susceptible to burning. One estimate is that 20% of the California’s forest trees are sick or have died from the drought. Record heat has increased evaporation and dried out the soil and tinder dry vegetation has become literally explosive. This has caused harsh wildfires as fragmented and sick forest ecosystems are ablaze.

In recent months, two of the most destructive wildfires in state history have raged across Northern California, and over 1 million acres have burned. Forest ecosystems are a mess after a century of terrible land uses including suppressing fire, allowing sheep and cattle to graze forest understories, and endless sprawl fragmenting natural forest ecosystems. Today’s forests are more dense and filled with combustible materials, allowing fires to spread more easily from the ground to the forest canopy, more often killing trees. Since 1970 climate change has extended the California fire season by 78 days.

California’s ecological tragedy only shows signs of worsening as warm ocean temperatures are 5 degrees above normal and the El Niño weather phenomena show signs of unleashing dramatic flooding upon the heat hardened Earth. Two weeks ago a record 1.81 inches of rain fell in Southern California in 30 minutes, a once every 1,000-year rain event. Extreme weather events threaten California’s existence.

It is no wonder that California is ablaze as forest ecosystems collapse. Grizzly bears are long gone, and redwood forests tiny remnants.

Recently the California state legislature passed a new climate bill which requires greater use of renewables by 2030. But far more must be done if state-wide ecological collapse is to be averted. There must be an immediate end to building in forests. Forests must be allowed to age and recover, and in most cases forests allowed to burn naturally to renew ecosystems. Emissions must be cut far more and faster than currently proposed – in order to end the use of fossil fuels as quickly as possible. And people are going to have to have fewer children and live less-consumptive lifestyles.

Worldwide our last great forests that support the biosphere are crashing as a result of climate change. Hotter droughts that are associated with climate change are causing stress and death for trees, and these increasingly unnatural forest conditions are leading to apocalyptic forest fires like have never before been seen.

The world continues to be in a state of perma-war as distant societies and ecosystems are plundered for oil. As more ecosystems collapse, the entire biosphere is threatened by death.

The situation in California, similar in so many other locales, is a direct result of ecocidal industrial growth destroying natural ecosystems, and our addiction to fossil fuels. The impacts of California’s collapse will be felt far beyond, as over half of America’s fruits, nuts and vegetables come from California.

California is a nice place to visit, but soon no one may be able to live there.

Large and connected natural ecosystems surrounding human communities are a prerequisite for sustainability and well-being. In California and throughout the world we must allow forests to regenerate, age, and become large and reconnected, surrounding human communities. Old-growth forest logging must end. Large and intact natural ecosystems are required as the context for humanity in order to continue providing the ecological services which make Earth habitable. Otherwise we all face the sort of ecological collapse occurring in California.

Americans don’t know or appreciate what is being lost as California collapses, as we self-medicate and watch TV. And we are all going to needlessly die as a result.

Entire bioregions like California are collapsing and will become uninhabitable and have to be abandoned. It is absolutely stunning that with ecological collapse so far progressed in California, many continue to deny the problem, and we do not yet have a coherent policy in place that is ecologically sufficient to ensure bioregional and global ecological sustainability.

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10 Responses

  1. Adrian Appley says:

    Americans will still deny climate change and continue wasting the world at an alarming rate. It is what they do best.

  2. ellen says:

    more climate-change-induced misery for california:

    Aggressive nonnative mosquitoes spreading across state carry disease risk

    “The insects are quickly spreading across Southern California — aided by the statewide drought — [ and high temperatures] and have the potential to transmit dengue, chikungunya and yellow fever, all of which kill thousands of people around the world each year.
    Mosquitoes reproduce faster in hot weather, experts say.

    And California’s ongoing drought might actually be making the problem worse. When it doesn’t rain, people water their lawns more, leaving behind excess water for bugs to hatch their eggs in.

    “These mosquitoes are just terribly successful, and do very well in the environments that we provide them in urban areas,” she said.

    “The question is not if, but when, locally acquired cases will occur,” Fujioka said. There’s no vaccine or treatment for chikungunya, which causes fevers and severe joint pain, or dengue, which causes severe headaches, fevers and pain. Both can be fatal.

    http://www.latimes.com/local/california/la-me-disease-mosquitoes-20151025-story.html

  3. Micahel McLaughlin says:

    Northern California is in droiught, but it is the taking of water for the south that is destroying the salmon ecosystems.
    Traveling across to Montana, I have dfound Idaho to be more populous that the Northern Sierra and Southern Cascade country.
    the Klamath/Siskiyou is too steep for too many humans to inhabit, and thus it is inaccurate to use the political word “california” to describe the area controlled by too many humans.
    In the steep and rumpled areas of desert in eastern CA, we also find ecosystems that are fragmented but relatively safe from human occupation. One of the problems here is the heacvy influx into the southern deserts becaus ehtye are near the giant urban area. Yet, thee designated wilderness and military areas (THAT is an egregious problem with humanity – they bomb for practice) are havens.

    We do not know yet the weather coming, but every 100-200 years th entire central valley has become a lake. That happened in the middle 1800s last time. The hell that humans have made there – The groundwater pumping that dropped the valley elevation has not yet come home to roost, The redwood country needs to be wrested from the hands of one of the world’s richest men – Red Emmerson, and placed in a wilderness public trust, as 98% of these world’s tallest trees are only babies.

    California as a political entity has protected now more of its coaast than anywhere else on earth, although the military is still excepting themselves to balst deafening an dkilling sonar into the resident cetaceans and other organisms.

    Yes, global heating is seveere and now intractable, but preserving giant trees turns out to be the best proactive thing to remove CO2. Preventing excess energy use, whether the mirrors covering desert areas, banning firewood, fracking, oil drilling.

    Hawaii, which Islands I knew well during half of thhe 20th c. is so packed with humans that it is unlievable until the population dies back to a reasonable level. Life taken by Roundup Golf Courses, cement tourism, excesss financial input and development has destroyed the jungle I used to crawl in holding onto vines on those impenetrable cliffs, smelling the native tropical flowers.
    The cat. 5 hurricane you saw turn on central Mexico, is a child of the greenhouse humans have made EVERYWHERE, INCLUDING the ravaged Hawaii. I remember other hurricanes hitting Kauai, wiping out single lowland houses. One day perhaps one will veer into south-facing Oahu, or even southeast Maui.
    The acid ocean is affecting the entire coaast of the eastern Pacific, and due to the oneness of water, It will eat the coral too. I well know the growth of coral protecting subsident islands until the coral is the most prominent feature. That’s over for a while. Dead coral will not continue to create ocean barriers for Pacific Island lands. Notice how the humans in that state you moved to, long after I had left the islands knowing they were uninhabitable due to tourism and human overgrowth, mostly live nicely down near the water.The newer islands have more upcountry urban areas, but expect tropical disease to enjoy the trip through mosquitoes into the human excess.

    It is neither safe nor wise for people to migrate further to assist in the eradication of species there, and calll out that some phony human boundaries called “california” are wastelands.
    I am fighting for the ending of public hunting as management tool , in order to protect eh magnificent intelligent wolf, who has recently reoccupied his own just eaast of a white mountain I can see from 9 miles in from the Pacific coast.
    It is called Shasta, and I have visited the volcanoes from the long-slumbering eastern Sierras (which had such a nice shock back in 1980, that the ground rose in my area three feet, and “real estate”” values” dropped precipitously as an eruption. For these volcanoes, from Californai to Hoood to Rainier to Baker, belching up the organic and lighter rock of earth’s surface that was thrust under by the Gorda and Juan de Fuca plates.
    We are less than ants on the earth, and are NOT going to colonize stars or other planets. As Dr. Barry KNOWS, we NEED intact diverse, productive ecosystems to continue. The things we are doing, destroying them are backfiring, with prions, viruses, bacteria, nematodes, filarians, and other parasites joyfully willing to take up the niches we have emptied.
    Hawaii seems so far, for instance to hav avoided elephantiasis, a disease now endemic on many South Pacific islands. As the wonderful internet group, Anonymous, says:
    “expect us.”.
    Right now, Doc, I just gave my last monthly earnings to Wolf Patrol, because in protecting wolves and encouraging the return of the grizzly bear (as you know, this forested california among the salmon who feed all – one spent dead salmon increases incredibly the growth of a riparian redwood – hundreds of millions will return these atmosphere sweepers to their proper processes)who spread the seeds, ate the carrion, caused indigenous humans to learn their lesser place and give sufficient respect to greater power than their own.

    The gun was too much power for humans, and even hawaii was only a single entity because th missionaries gave Kamehameha guns. Otherwise he would have rightly stayed on the northern area of th4e big island, and humans could there have continued in their proper dimension: Humans are NOT evolved to live in groups larger than about 150. Beyond that theeir psychological heuristics kick in, and we all overgeneralize and stereotype strangers, causing us to even go so far as to believe that the sere deserts, the winding riparian streams once growing cover for the jaguar, the elevations that still grow the most ancient trees on earth, the other, wetter country that grows on its steep sliding landscape the tallest trees on earth, the mighty sleeping volcanoes, the places that once either every year like the vanishing lake fed by Kern and Kings snowmelt or the intermittent one that covers the area between Sierra foothills of oak forest to the coastal mountains, to believe that those are in any way one simple place with one simple animal ravaging it.

    I walk, tenderly recovering the large spotted asalamander who needs that water flowing over his skin, no air does he breathe.
    I walk, in early morning shade of a rarely visited desert mountain, seeing the bighorn track, the coyote, who persists in spite of semiautomatic sniper weapons that can accurately kill him 3/5 of a mile away.
    I walk and rest in redwood leaves so deep that no human mattress ever compares. I walk, once with a Wolf who chose and fought for his freedom to bond to me, against whiteout snowstorm for a few hours, and he turn,s telling me that he will lead the way home in country he has never seen, even during this winter journey. He choose the way over ridges ignoring the footprints of the way we came, and hours later delivers us more directly to our sheltering place than any human ever could with a mere mind and limited senses.
    Thosde are california, and NOT the ugly urban cement.
    I traveled this summer for over 7000 miles, seeking tracks, landscapes, refuges for life across the western part of the continent. I only spent about 20 miles on “freeways”.
    I am, like the wolf, an inveterate wanderer. Together we ate salmon, myself finally refraining because in this excessive human taking, only the wolf deserves, only the eagle and vulture I love to see, deserve, only the hiding bear, so wise, deserves, that their place be returned to them.

    You wish to reverse the problems and death created and foisted upon all earth by humans. Keep this in your mind as you choose your actions. Do you desire a larger house?
    a way to make “money” by “owning” land and dividing it because you tell yourself you can tolerate just a few more neighboring humans, another house in your sight or two?
    Keep it in mind above all other things, for it is affecting your thoughts and the very perceptions connections, shape of your brain. That brain will impoverish or re-enrich the earth. YOUR brain.

  4. Daniel Ferra says:

    In Dec. World Leaders are to meet in Paris to discuss Global Warming, at issue is the amount of greenhouse gases we our emitting, and their plan of action, to Stop this Heating Up, Drought, Burning Up, Sea Level Rising, and Flooding of our Planet !

    23,000 Fire Fighters, Fighting Fires in California, Washington, Oregon, and Montana 8 / 22 / 2015

    Globally we our emitting 40 – 50 Billion Toxic Tons of Carbon Dioxide a Year.

    The United States emitted 6.8 Billion Toxic Tons of Carbon Dioxide in 2014

    In the 1850s – 1870s parts per million of Carbon in our atmosphere was between 260 – 280.

    In the 1980s, there was 350 ppm of Carbon.

    2015 – 404 ppm in Our Atmosphere.
    We have passed the 1C. baseline Temp Increase !

    India, Pakistan, Japan, and the Middle East, Record Breaking, Killing Heat Waves !

    The Pacific Ocean is 3 – 8 degrees warmer than Normal, and Flowing in to the Arctic Ocean !

    Massive Whales, Salmon, Starfish, Sea Lions, Sea Lions, Dolphins and Bird Die – Offs !

    The Jet Stream is acting like a balloon that is loosing air.

    The Arctic Ice and Snow may be gone at the end of this Summer or Next. A Huge Natural Cooler for the Northern Hemisphere, that no man or woman has ever lived without !

    The meeting in Paris, should be about Closing the Fossil Fuel Faucet.

    “Professor Chris Field is bullshitting the planet. On whether 1.5C is still feasible” Kevin Hester

    “The message is already clear, that if the world does want to strive to limit warming to 1.5C or less, we don’t have very much of the carbon budget left.” Professeor Chris Field

    “There is no carbon budget any more and 5C is baked in according to both Shell petroleum and the International Energy Authority. ” Kevin Hester

    “Chris Field is the founding director of the Carnegie Institution’s department of global ecology and professor for interdisciplinary environmental studies at Stanford University. He is the co-chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) working group two (WGII) and US nominee for the chair of the IPCC.”
    With people like this driving the IPCC you can see why we are all done for.” Kevin Hester.

    There is No Carbon Budget

    California emitted 459 Toxic Tons of Carbon Dioxide in 2014.

    Gov Browns call to reduce this to 1990 levels so we can continue to emit over 400 million Toxic Tons a year, will not help us stop or slow down Global Warming and Sea Levels Rising.

    “Updates to the 2020 Limit.
    Calculation of the original 1990 limit approved in 2007 was revised using the scientifically updated IPCC 2007 fourth assessment report (AR4) global warming potentials, to 431 MMTCO2e. Thus the 2020 GHG emissions limit established in response to AB 32 is now slightly higher than the 427 MMTCO2e in the initial Scoping Plan.” Ca. Gov. Data

    What will the Temp. be at 415 ppm ?

    “Ice sheets contain enormous quantities of frozen water. If the Greenland Ice Sheet melted, scientists estimate that sea level would rise about 6 meters (20 feet). If the Antarctic Ice Sheet melted, sea level would rise by about 60 meters (200 feet).” National Snow and Ice Data Center.

    When will Sea Level Rise to 220 – 300 Feet ? 2020 ? 2025 ? ?

    What will the ppm of Carbon be when this happens ?

    As of Now, they are talking about capping GHGs at 450 ppm.

    What will the Temp. be at 450 ppm ?

    We must transition to 100% Renewable Energy

    Implement a California Residential and Commercial Feed in Tariff.

    California Residential Feed in Tariff would allow homeowners to sell their Renewable Energy to the utility, protecting our communities from, Global Warming, Poison Water, Grid Failures, Natural Disasters, Toxic Natural Gas and Oil Fracking.

    A California Commercial FiT in Los Angeles, Palo Alto, an Sacramento Ca. are operating NOW, paying the Business Person 17 cents cents per kilowatt hour.

    Sign and Share this petition for a California Residential Feed in Tariff.
    http://signon.org/sign/let-california-home-owners

  5. jim says:

    You can thank CalFire and their “backfires” for this. If they would start putting fires out like they used to, it wouldn’t be as bad.

  6. marc says:

    True!
    By the way in your vicinity the corals also start to bleach

  7. Every generation has its prophets. A favorite of mine is Albert Schweitzer who made “Reverence for LIfe” a living thought transmitted by making his life his argument. So many throughout history have seen the writing on the wall. Now Pope Francis clarifies it spiritually with his encyclical “Care for our Common Home”.
    Being religious is not “cool” to be these days but seeing the sacred in the Earth is what is being lost and this hardens the hearts of a materialistic humanity.
    Dr. Barry, you have given us a lot to think about in this very graphic and detailed report on what we should, as a species, be witnessing in our times.
    (As alluded to TV is a proponent of consumption and not the Earths best friend.)
    It is my firm belief that we as individuals must change our lifestyles. We must make our life our argument. I have given up my car and am developing a philosophy of not doing. I make every creation of this earth, that I must use to live, last as long as possible. All life is sacred. I want to live a simple life. Riding my bicycle, walking, living in a community and protecting my own back yard.
    We are rewarded in this society for what we do. Yet it is our doing that is the undoing of the natural world. We construct and destroy, we travel and create climate change, Humans use the earth and give little back. This creation becomes a resource, materials, products for our doing. This is why I think undoing is the most important action of our times.

  8. amy says:

    animal agriculture uses 60% of california’s water. the livestock needs to go. we can sustain our state if we grow vegan food for direct human consumption. oh, and, unfortunately, desalination plants. without this, we’re doomed. our million dollar homes will have zero value if no water is coming out of the pipes.

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