California’s wildfires have already cost at least 76 lives and about 1,000 others are missing. So, you know what the media saw: An opportunity to attack President Donald Trump.
Now, as always, anyone who doesn’t follow the straight-up Al Gore script on how to deal with climate change is being blamed. Chief among these, of course, is the commander in chief, who pulled us out of the Paris Agreement.
“With climate change, (fires are) going to be worse, and we need to take steps to reduce their frequency, reduce their severity and yes, forest management is one piece of it, but there are lots of other pieces, and I think the president needs to listen to the experts because clearly he isn’t one of them,” California Rep. Adam Schiff, a Democrat, said on ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday.
Trump, meanwhile, has pointed out that forest management would likely be a better alternative.
Asked by reporters in California whether his opinion on climate change had been altered by the California wildfires, Trump responded, “No, no, I have a strong opinion. I want a great climate.”
According to CNN, the president added that forest management would be a key priority.
Trump is asked if the seeing the devastation from the California wildfires has changed his opinion on climate change.
Trump: “No. No. I have a strong opinion: I want great climate.” (via CNN) pic.twitter.com/1OwvGH2Ucq
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) November 17, 2018
“We’re going to have that, and we are going to have forests that are very safe because we can’t go through this,” Trump said during a visit to an emergency command center in Chico, one of the cities most affected by the fires.
“Every year we go through this. We’re going to have safe forests, and that’s happening as we speak.”
On Saturday, Trump had said there were “a lot of factors” involved in the wildfires.
However, one he’s been criticized for bringing up is forest management.
“There is no reason for these massive, deadly and costly forest fires in California except that forest management is so poor,” Trump tweeted last weekend.
“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!”
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
For as much criticism as this got, Trump had facts backing him up. A 2015 study by the Reason Foundation found that forest mismanagement was an exacerbating factor in forest fires and that cutting funds for management could paradoxically ameliorate this.
“In its 2016 Budget, the Forest Service has allocated itself $2.35 billion for ‘fire management’ and an additional $854 million ‘suppression cap adjustment,'” the study read.
“If these funds were cut to, say, $1 billion, the Forest Service would have fewer incentives to operate from crisis-to-crisis and instead have greater incentives to make more long-term and rational decisions concerning expenditures on fire management. Freed from the obligation to fight every fire, it might, for example, spend more on thinning, creating fire breaks, and prescribed burns.”
As for the environment, it’s also worth noting that even after pulling out of the Paris Agreement — and not being part of any of the prior supranational climate agreements — the United States reduced its CO2 emissions more than any country in the world in 2017.
It’s almost as if these agreements are farcical transfers of wealth and have nothing to do with actually slowing carbon emissions.
So, yes, we can have “a great climate” without the Paris Agreement — and moreover, we can stop fires like those we’ve seen in California through better forest management. The reaction of the media — that the fires are the result of climate change and that the president’s opinion on it is part of the problem — is utterly unfounded.
The approach is something that’s long been needed in the White House. It’s not the wishy-washy tack Republicans usually take when faced with climate change moral blackmail, but instead one that can actually reduce forest fire damage as opposed to just using it as a political football.
Many conservatives are cheering. And even more should be.
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