More than 100,000 acres of land have been consumed by wildfires in California since Thursday night. Donald Trump would have you believe it’s all the state’s fault.
There is no reason for these massive, deadly and costly forest fires in California except that forest management is so poor. Billions of dollars are given each year, with so many lives lost, all because of gross mismanagement of the forests. Remedy now, or no more Fed payments!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 10, 2018
California’s “forest management” is to blame. Not the confluence of environmental factors that most experts have pointed out. In Trump’s view, California isn’t using federal funds correctly. He even threatens to cut the state off from that money in the future if something doesn’t change.
Yeah. That’ll show ’em.
Of course, the reality of what caused this fire (and so many others across the western U.S. in recent decades) is quite different. “Climate change” is the short explanation, since a warmer climate means more of the dry vegetation that helps to kindle and propagate these massive fires.
The current spate of fires is still unusual, however. As Mashable’s Mark Kaufman noted on Friday, we’ve reached the time of year when wildfire risks start to abate. As more rain starts to fall in mid-October and beyond, the dry conditions that feed these fires change.
Unfortunately, California is in the midst of a record-setting dry spell for the fall season. A lack of rain, coupled with strong, dry winds from the north and east, have combined to create the conditions needed for large fires to start, and then spread.
While fire-vulnerable communities can take steps to protect themselves by reducing the amount of vegetation in the surrounding area, it’s not an issue that is solved by federal funding (or exacerbated by mismanagement of those dollars).
Even setting aside Trump’s inability to appreciate the complexity of the situation — we’ve all been dealing with the same historically stupid leader since Jan. 2017 — the timing of his victim-blaming tweet is highly questionable, given the tragic impact the fires have had so far. Not to mention the fact that Thousand Oaks, one of the California communities affected by the fires, is still dealing with the fresh grief of a mass shooting.
Angry Twitter users were quick to school the president on all of this in the hours after his ill-advised (aren’t they all?) Saturday morning tweet.
We are being ravaged by these fires out here within 24 hours after we personally lost friends and family from a horrible shooting and this is your response to us! God forbid you actually support us and try to help! We’ve gone through enough and then you twist the knife!
— Sam (@mssnewcomb) November 10, 2018
I agree with you Garrett. I’m right next door to all of these fires in Santa Monica, I see the fire, people fleeing, devastated, and not knowing where they will be sleeping tonight. And you know what? Our “President” Trump could probably care LESS. And that’s the TRUTH.
— Tiffany Bahr (@tiffany_bahr) November 10, 2018
At least nine people dead, hundreds of homes destroyed, hundreds of thousands of people evacuated, terror from mountains to the sea. The president’s first tweet about the California fires misstates the cause of all the awful destruction to blame the state: https://t.co/NIvNe3dCBr
— Cathleen Decker (@cathleendecker) November 10, 2018
@SRuhle Trump is clueless/heartless about what is happening in CA.He doesn’t care. In any other Admin, the pres.&his cabinet would focus on helping impacted Americans & mourning the deaths.I worked in fire mgt and trump’s words are reckless and irresponsible beyond measure https://t.co/Yy1mh4DSGH
— Joan Anzelmo (@JoanAnzelmo) November 10, 2018
A lot to unpack here.
1. “Poor forest management” is a dog whistle for logging interests.
2. California has always burned. It’s a fire based ecosystem. What’s new is the scale
3. Fires are exacerbated by human behavior (including fire suppression) and climate change… pic.twitter.com/ahrgGCCoU0
— Kendra “Gloom is My Beat” Pierre-Louis (@KendraWrites) November 10, 2018
Trump is now gaslighting a forest fire.
— Jeremy Newberger (@jeremynewberger) November 10, 2018