Two fires raged through California in November, causing massive structural damage and resulting in 85 deaths with 11 people still missing as of print time, according to the Press Herald.
The fires destroyed over 14,000 homes, displacing thousands of people. These combined fires were the deadliest California had seen in recent history.
While firefighters across the state fought the blaze, President Donald Trump used Twitter to fan the flames of falsehoods: “There is no reason for these massive, deadly and costly forest fires in California except that forest management is so poor.”
This is incorrect.
These fires did not even originate in forests. Max Moritz, a wildfire specialist at the University of Santa Barbara, reported both fires started in areas known as “wildland-urban interfaces” in the middle of grasslands.
Contrary to the President’s beliefs, there is a real reason for these fires and it’s not forest management – it’s climate change.
BBC has reported on multiple occasions Trump neither believes, nor supports, scientists who warn of the impact humans have had on the rising global temperatures.
The New York Times reported Trump said, “I do not know that it’s man-made.”
Scientific-journal publisher IOPscience released a report in which an international group of scientists found that there is 97 percent consensus among actively publishing climate scientists that humans very likely are partially responsible for climate change.
Michael Mann, an atmospheric science professor at Penn State, said climate change is not “literally” causing wildfires in California, but the rapidly changing atmosphere is leading to conditions that breed more extreme events. “You warm the planet, you’re going to get more frequent and intense heat waves. You warm the soils, you dry them out, you get worse drought.”
He added, “You bring all that together and those are all the ingredients for unprecedented wildfires.”
When denial and platitudes like, “The climate has always fluctuated like this,” no longer work for Trump and his ilk, they claim climate scientists are only driven by money or a political agenda.
But who has more to gain from denying climate change: a likely underpaid academic or a politician receiving large sums of money from those connected with the fossil fuel industry?
According to disclosures filed with the Federal Election Committee, Chevron, Exxon, BP, and Citgo all donated half a million dollars or more to Trump’s inauguration.
Who has a political agenda now?
Diplomats from nearly 200 countries are currently meeting in Katowice, Poland for a new round of global climate talks because countries aren’t reducing emissions at a rate that will help us avoid catastrophic climate change, despite the Paris Climate Agreement.
At the meeting, nations are going to try to create concrete ways to hold one another accountable and quite literally save the world.
Whether you agree with the parameters of the agreement or not, something needs to be done.
The United States needs to be an active participant in global, multilateral changes or those killed and displaced in the California wildfires last month will only be some of the first victims of climate change.
At home, we need to advocate for policies that address climate change head on and vote for candidates who will champion practical initiatives to lower emissions. This is a global problem and we need global solutions.
The president of one of the most prominent nations in the world publicly denying humanity’s role in climate change isn’t just embarrassing, it’s potentially deadly.