Emails by political appointees at the US Interior Department show the Trump administration has exaggerated climate pollution from California wildfires in an attempt to boost logging in the nation's national forests, the Guardian reported on Friday
WASHINGTON (Pakistan Point News / Sputnik - 24th January, 2020) Emails by political appointees at the US Interior Department show the Trump administration has exaggerated climate pollution from California wildfires in an attempt to boost logging in the nation's national forests, the Guardian reported on Friday.
The messaging plan was crafted to support President Donald Trump's pro-industry arguments for harvesting more timber cutting in California, which he says would thin forests and prevent fires, the report said.
James Reilly, a former petroleum geologist and astronaut who is the director of the Interior Department's US Geological Survey, in a series of emails in 2018 asked scientists to "gin up" emissions figures for him, the report said.
Reilly also said the numbers would make a "decent sound bite" and acknowledged that wildfire emissions estimates could vary based on what kind of trees were burning, but picked the ones that he said would make "a good story," according to the report.
The report cites multiple experts calling the subsequent analysis of wildfire emissions exaggerated while claiming that thinning live trees from forests would have little impact on forest fires and could harm efforts to battle climate change because trees absorb carbon dioxide.
The effort to estimate wildfire emissions resulted in then-Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke issuing a press release claiming the 2018 California wildfires released about 68 million tons of carbon dioxide, on par with emissions released by a year of electricity generation for the entire state.
The report makes little distinction between live trees and dead timber littering the forest floor apart from a quote from Zinke saying that the fire threat could be reduced with forest management such as small prescribed burns to eliminate a buildup of dead wood.
The absence prescribed burns in Australia - a practice long used by aboriginal groups to manage the fire threat, but now abandoned - was often cited as one reason for the size and scope of the nation's recent spate of catastrophic wildfires.