President Donald Trump’s comments on the California wildfire are blatantly false. They demonstrate his unease at addressing the real problems facing the state, as well as the whole world, when it comes to catastrophic events like these.
Trump’s claims, like what he said last Friday per reporting from the Inquisitr, border on the absurd. Noting what he saw happening while watching television news reports, Trump told Fox News host Chris Wallace that much of the blame for the wildfires plaguing the Golden State belonged to bad forest management — including not raking leaves.
“[Firefighters were] raking trees, little trees like this that are not trees, little bushes that you could see are totally dry,” Trump said. “Weeds. And they’re raking them, they’re on fire. That should have been all raked out. You wouldn’t have the fires.”
The commentary from Trump warranted fact-checking, and the site PolitiFact gave his assessment a “false” rating as a result.
Putting the blame on California was misplaced for one very big reason: most of the forests, including where these fires originated, aren’t in wooded areas managed by the state. Only 2 percent of the forests in California are state-owned, while 60 percent are managed by the federal government. Indeed, Trump himself has proposed cutting millions of dollars toward forest management programs since he’s been president.
President Trump blamed poor 'forest management' for California's deadly fires. This oversimplified claim distorts the facts. We rated it False https://t.co/3kIXDXAT4N @PolitiFact @CapRadioNews pic.twitter.com/ImUQSdV9J4
— PolitiFactCalifornia (@CAPolitiFact) November 13, 2018
But other factors played larger roles in the fires spreading. High winds of 60 miles per hour have made it nearly impossible to contain the flames, for example.
Then there’s the issue of climate change. High temperatures and low precipitation levels have dried out wooded areas across the state to such extremes that it has made wildfires more prevalent (and more damaging) in the state than ever before. It has also made fires more deadly: at least 76 individuals have been reported as dead in this latest round of fires as of yesterday, per reporting from the Washington Post.
Climate scientists are unyielding in their beliefs that global warming has played a role in the higher prevalence of wildfires, not just in California but around the globe as well, as reporting from NBC News demonstrated earlier this year. Forest management may have been able to help things a small bit, but the fires likely would have spread and been just as deadly regardless.
Trump’s rhetoric is illogical, irresponsible, and disrespectful. But it seems that the president is more willing to make a fool out of himself rather than acknowledge the role that climate change has played in the wildfires. Trump needs to alter his tone, and finally accept that climate change is a real thing that will only get worse unless we do something about it.