Monday, October 18, 2021

President Trump Seems to Think Military Aid to Wildfires Is Safer than Firefighters

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The huge California wildfires have become more severe and more frequent, in part because of human-caused climate change, and not to mention global warming. Trump’s denials over global warming are as many as his doubts on God and faith. So, we don’t have to wait for a climate catastrophe to end—it already has.

But let’s assume such a scenario?

In that case, is the pro-military scenario true or false?

According to one interpretation, the President is actually siding with the DoD’s/United States Forest Service claims that sending more aid to California would raise gasoline costs while doing little to reduce the risk of wildfire:

Both asked that the Defense Department provide loaned bulldozers for thinning wildfires as a cost-effective means of reducing the danger to life and property and have proposed to cancel a planned reduction of the footprint of 20,000-acre forest fire project in the Portland area, citing the fiscal costs of contractors such as bulldozers.

The Department of Defense concluded that the EBITDA of the project was worse than the cost of doing nothing, but the DoD said that there was a net benefit of reducing the fire threat. The Forest Service also concluded that it was worth doing, though that has been called into question.

However, Professor Danilo Nagel of Berkeley and some other people said that the DoD analysis was deeply flawed. They provide the following chart:

Those taxpayers who want more help with disaster relief need to turn to the real experts: The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. From that perspective, the DoD and the Forest Service do not share blame. They both may have misjudged the potential disaster risks, but we’re talking about a limited window of opportunity to respond, and choosing not to respond has a potential to have unanticipated consequences.

Since we’re making decisions at lightning speed in a globalized economy, it’s a good thing we can turn to the real experts. They made this chart (h/t Joe Mont):

Here, the Forest Service is saying that sending military aircraft and equipment can significantly reduce firefighting costs. (Actually, they have not agreed to the helicopters and water-dropping aircraft that are at the heart of the H.A.L.O. program. Nor are they adding any at all.) And there are a lot of safety and training constraints, and cost/benefit analyses. Since the DoD will spend more money on what will be an indirect benefit (more efficient firefighting), it appears the choice to invest more into firefighting appears to be more favorable, even when it is tied to just direct costs.

In the end, only the bureaucrats will decide what and when to do next.

This is why we have education and other safeguards in place. But, as we all know, the elites don’t care about that. When government officials can get something for nothing, just get it. Government has become one of those powerful institutions not to be trusted with the freedom to make its own decisions.

If a U.S. president really wanted to set a dangerous precedent, he would do it immediately, even in the middle of a blaze.

But, don’t hold your breath.

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