Commentary

Climate Change Fear-Mongering Won't Put Out California's Wildfires

By Chris Talgo | October 12, 2020 | 5:02pm EDT
A wildfire rages in California. (Photo credit: RINGO CHIU/AFP via Getty Images)
A wildfire rages in California. (Photo credit: RINGO CHIU/AFP via Getty Images)

During the vice presidential debate, moderator Susan Page broached the topic of climate change when she asked, “do you believe, as the scientific community has concluded, that man-made climate change has made wildfires bigger, hotter, and more deadly?”

In his response, Vice President Mike Pence mentioned many things to rebut the moderator’s claim, including this tidbit: “With regard to wildfires, President Trump and I believe that forest management has to be front and center, and even Governor Gavin Newsom from your state has agreed we've got to work on forest management."

Pence also offered this important point: “But many of the climate alarmists use hurricanes and wildfires to try and sell the good of a Green New Deal.”

Pence is correct on both counts.

The wildfires that have ravaged California in 2020 cannot be blamed solely on climate change. If this were the case, then why aren’t wildfires breaking out across the nation? They aren’t because unlike California, almost every other state employs forest management.

As Pence said, even the governor of California admitted this.

“There is no question when you look [at] this past decade and look at the past thousand years that we have not done justice on our forest management. I don’t think anyone disputes that,” Newsom said in late September.

According to California’s state oversight agency, “during its review, the Commission found that California’s forests suffer from neglect and mismanagement, resulting in overcrowding that leaves them susceptible to disease, insects, and wildfire.”

In other words, the wildfires that are destroying California are due to the Golden State’s mismanagement, not because of climate change.

Furthermore, many of the wildfires in California over the past few months have occurred due to arson, which of course has absolutely nothing to do with climate change.

According to the Cal Fire San Bernardino Unit, “the El Dorado Fire, burning near Oak Glen in San Bernardino County, was caused by a smoke generating pyrotechnic device, used during a gender reveal party.” Cal Fire suspects other fires have been sparked by arsonists.

However, lack of forest management and arson does not fit the climate change fearmongering narrative that Newsom and many others continue to spout, sans evidence.

“I say this lovingly -- not as an ideologue, but as someone who prides himself on being open to argument, interested in evidence -- but I quite literally have no patience for climate change deniers,” Newsom said. “It's completely inconsistent, that point of view, with the reality on the ground, the facts as we are experiencing. You may not believe it intellectually, but your own eyes, your own experiences tell a different story.”

Another California climate change fearmonger, Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), added her two cents: “Mother Earth is angry. She’s telling us, whether, she’s telling us with hurricanes on the Gulf Coast, fires in the West, whatever it is, that climate crisis is real and has an impact.”

Like Newsom, Pelosi offers zero evidence to support her claim.

Yet data show that wildfires are not increasing. According to the Congressional Research Service, the prevalence of wildfires has decreased over the past three decades. As the report notes, “Over the past 10 years, there were an average of 64,100 wildfires annually and an average of 6.8 million acres burned annually. In 2019, 50,477 wildfires burned 4.7 million acres nationwide, below the annual average for both statistics.”

As 2020 has shown, California does have a problem with out-of-control wildfires. However, it is not due to climate change. Actually, as the data show, it is due to the leadership of California’s dereliction of duty concerning forest management.

Chris Talgo (ctalgo@heartland.orgis an editor at The Heartland Institute.

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