Sanity Prevails: Most People Don’t Blame Wildfires on Climate Change
Anytime there’s any sort of natural disaster, some liberal politician out there rushes to immediately blame it on climate change, apparently working under the impression that there were never any natural disasters before industrialization.
This sort of argument has resurfaced most recently following the wildfires ravaging California and other states (some of which have been proven to be arson). California Governor Gavin Newsom, while touring fire damage in Northern California, said “If you do not believe in science. I hope you believe observed reality. The hots are getting a lot hotter and the wets are getting a lot wetter. The science is absolute. The data is self evident.”
“The debate is over in terms of climate change,” said Newsom. “If you don’t believe that, just come to the state of California.”
He later, without a hint of irony, accused those who disagree with him of “exhausting themselves with ideological B.S.”
To the contrary, it certainly seems like it would take more energy to perform the mental gymnastics necessary to blame a fires on climate change than the opposite. And most people agree.
According to Rasmussen Reports:
- Fifty-seven percent (57%) of Likely U.S. Voters think there have been more wildfires this year than in past years, according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey. Just 29% disagree and think there’s just been more media coverage of them. Thirteen percent (13%) are not sure.
- Forty-one percent (41%) see climate change as the most likely reason that wildfires in California are spreading, but most (54%) blame a variety of other natural and human factors.
- Just two years ago, a high of 56% of voters said global warming was causing more extreme weather events in the United States.
Whether there are more wildfires this year than prior years is true or false based on what timeframe is used for “previous years.” The number of acres lost to forest damage this year is unlikely to surpass the number of acreage lost in 2017 ( which at the time framed as a record year by the media) – but the number of acres lost to wildfires in 2017 was only one fifth the amount lost relative to the peak in 1930.
Certainly we’d be expecting a constant trend upward if climate change were to blame.
Additionally, even if we were to grant that climate change could be playing a role in the severity of wildfires, it would have to be a miniscule role relative to the role policy plays, because not all parts of the country are suffering from them equally. Texas has more forest than California, and higher average temperatures, yet suffers from no where near as many wildfires as California. Ninety-five percent of forest land mass is privately owned in Texas, while nearly half of California’s is federal, indicating that poor state management of those lands is a likely culprit.
As John Stossel explains:
What actually is to blame, as usual, is stupid government policies.
Forests are supposed to burn. If there aren’t small fires, debris from dead trees and plants accumulate. That provides fuel for big, deadlier fires, that are more likely to burn out of control.
But for years, governments and environmentalists put out every small fire they could, while also fighting logging.
Megafires could have been avoided if forests had just been better managed.
An example is Shaver Lake forest, [a private company] managed by Southern California Edison. The company thinned that forest, creating fire breaks with selective logging. When the wildfires reached Shaver Lake, they diminished into low intensity “surface fire.” That protected the bigger, older trees.
But it’s hard to convince governments to allow small fires when politicians demand that every fire be put out, and the media call every fire a disaster.