Ingram editorial in the Union: Science or politics?

“Impact of Ingram family extends beyond The Union, throughout Nevada County community,” The Union editor wrote in 2014. You got that right.

The editor was saluting The Union’s onetime owners for a big promotional campaign. I’m referring to the families’ staunch conservatism that has long defined the “powers that be” in the community.

In the latest example, forester Robert G. Ingram writes “Gov. should take scientific approach to wildfire danger.” OK, fair enough.

But on a closer read, Ingram is launching a political attack on the democratic Governor — just like the small cluster of other vocal right-wing ideologues and global warming deniers around here. Their perspective has defined The Union’s editorial pages.

No one doubts that chaparral brush, Santa Ana winds, and dead vegetation contribute to wildfires, as Ingram writes. But he understates the crux of the matter: Califoria’s worst wildfire on record is burning in late December (you know, winter).

Ingram concedes (sort of): “The Earth’s recent warming contributes to the length of the fire season, a factor. But ‘the factor’ as our cherry-picking scientific Governor professes? No.”

Hello? The record fires are burning in late December. That’s not “cherry picking.”

As an article in the MIT Technology Review states: “The clearest way in which global warming increases wildfire risk—one supported by a growing body of peer-reviewed literature—is higher temperatures. Warmer air draws moisture from plants, trees, and soil, increasing what’s known as fuel aridity. This provides the dry fuel and conditions that feed wildfires” Another article is here.

Ingram’s “scientific method” soon deteriorates into a screed, as he concludes: ” If ol’ Governor Moonbeam really desired to help the people of California, scientifically, he’d kill the bullet train to nowhere. (Who the hell wants to haul ass from Modesto to Bakersfield only to be stuck there without a car to get the hell out?) Stop ignoring the science and direct the bullet train’s $100 billion to fuel management and returning California to some semblance of a fire regime.”

Author: jeffpelline

Jeff Pelline is a veteran editor and award-winning journalist - in print and online. He is publisher of Sierra FoodWineArt magazine and its website Jeff covered business and technology for The San Francisco Chronicle for 12 years, and he was a founding editor and Editor of CNET News for eight years, among other positions. Jeff has a bachelor's degree from UC Berkeley and a master's from Northwestern University. His hobbies include sailing, swimming, and trout fishing in the Sierra.

20 thoughts on “Ingram editorial in the Union: Science or politics?”

  1. Robert is kind of an enigma to me. I can’t help but respect him even though I rarely agree with his public views. He seems to enjoy being a big fish in a very small pond.

  2. “Not global warming, classic, historic, Southern California fire weather.” Ingram’s statement in reference to the Santa Ana winds.

    What Ingram just did there is what he says Gov Brown is guilty of, “Most politicians don’t out and out lie, they instead, artfully include bits of truth to their mantra to support a specific agenda.”

    Ingram is playing dumb or just ignorant of the fact with what global warming is doing, making weather patterns more exaggerated and prolonged. Climatologists I’ve been reading some articles from have been talking about the role of reduced arctic ice cover and jet stream loopiness, more up and down instead of the flatter east to west pattern. When the Western North America has a strong ridge pattern, which is what we have seen all summer with intense heat, it broke down for awhile but came back very strong in December, is what is fueling the setup for Santa Ana winds. But maybe for some that is too many dots to connect to figure out why Southern California is burning in late December.

    By the way, in November of 2016 the arctic ice pack actually shrank during a month when it has always expanded. That had climatologists scratching their head because in recorded history that had never happened before.

  3. The climate deniers are a hazard to the planet. They have fallen into the hands and rhetoric of a fossil fuel industry that seeks to maximize their investment/profit by confusing the issue; a classic public relations technique popularized by the tobacco industry and used to delay action. Only this time it is the entire planet that is/will suffer not just smokers. That makes it a whole different ballgame. It should be obvious to anyone who actually stops to think about it, conservatives with politically crippled brains aside, that Trump’s positions and actions confirm that this is a money grab of the highest order at the expense of every living thing. Of course the narcissistic spoiled offspring of the robber barons are too wrapped up in their money (think Uncle Scrooge) to actually care about the little people whom they despise. They would rather have a feudal society with them at the top than a democracy and if the American people don’t wake up to this fact they will get the government they deserve and the chaos that will ensue.

    1. A chart that goes back to the ’80s tells us nothing. This is a nice place to live, but the foothills still have pockets that are largely “backwater” intellectually, populated by hard-right ideologues and global warming deniers. That’s changing, though.

      1. And Rebane weighs in: “To the scientific medievals of the world like Steven Willers, preventable man-made global warming (co-opted today as ‘climate change’) is the new religion, the hosannas to which must be sung daily, along with the inquisition of the non-believers conducted constantly and with great clamor.”

        No, George, you are the outlier here. You’re greatly outnumbered, and for good reason. Small towns are a hoot!

    1. Steve,
      No kidding. In my 58 years, I have lived all over (L.A., S.F., Chicago, Denver, Houston and Miami and these cities’ outlying areas) and traveled all over (multiple cities in Europe, Asia, Australia, including Tasmania, New Zealand, South America), I have two college degrees (Cal, Northwestern), helped start an IPO business, worked at a big metro daily, interviewed Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Frank Borman and homeless people, volunteered for nonprofits, etc., and I have rarely encountered the intransigent, recalcitrant ideology (“state of mind” if you will) as the small cabal in western Nevada County, CA. It is a little hotbed of political extremism and anti-global warming activists. Home to Mark Meckler! It sometimes verges on fictional (i.e., you can’t make this stuff up). And it’s set in my native California, no less. This is why I am serious about a book called “State of Jefferson.” I know Tom Wolfe would do the best (“A Man in Full” or “Electric Kook-Aid Acid Test”), but the content is there for anyone, juxtaposing our “SOJ” and “state of mind” with the rest of California. On the other hand, it’s such a damn nice place to live! And really, this little group is small and getting smaller — it’s almost becoming a “case study” more than anything else. It has been a good learning experience for our son. I’m not sure he would come back though, just like his friends and many other youth. In that sense, I worry about our community’s future. Merry Christmas!

  4. The deniers grasp at straws.. anything from anywhere that when cherry picked might be interpreted as support for their position. The more the weather changes and events gets crazy the flimsier their arguments become to everyone but themselves. None of the locals are climatologists yet they think the fossil fuel industry propaganda carries more weight than all of the thousands of real scientists worldwide.

  5. “New normal just more of the old normal”? Really? So when oceanographers start weighing in with what they are seeing with changes to marine ecosystems that they see is part of climate change effects, I wonder if the old guys around here can brush off the fact that half the Great Barrier Reef, and many others, dying in the last few years is considered more of the “old normal”? And I guess being critical of Ingram is medieval while they criticise everyone who dares challenge their dogma that they believe is so right and just and based in higher intellect. What a joke!

    One thing about being a transplant to this area, the thing about who is who and has been around here forever means nothing, everybody is equal. Coming from the Chicago area that I did, we love that “medievil” inner self, just needs to be channeled the right way.

    1. Honestly I would believe you, Steve, before I would Rebane. Ingrams’s letter did contain some of what I believe to be true however when he resorted to childish name calling his point was greatly diluted. That’s why I quit reading Rebane’s babbling. He would make a good (not great) point or two then resort to finger pointing and name calling without offering any intelligent solutions.

      1. Well thanks Annie, but I’m not the one doing the science, I just read reports that climatologists, oceanographers, scientists who study ice, etc. and what their research is finding and what they are seeing happening. And because so much of it is really higher level science, I often have to stick with summaries when it comes to the advanced statistical parts and the really geeky stuff, much of it a wee bit above my pay grade. Also there is just the anecdotal observations from people who fight fires. I was just at a holiday gathering where the son of our friends just got off the fire in Southern Cal, and what he said he saw with fire behavior was pretty mind blowing for the fire fighters, even the ones who are full time career guys that have been firefighting for decades. So when Ingram says Santa Ana winds and fires have been going on for a long time, he is correct, but the fire behavior is getting more and more extreme, that is the difference between now and many years ago.

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