- Accuracy in Media - https://www.aim.org -

Media outlets ignore history to blame climate change for California fires

As the world watches California burn [1], headlines are flooded with speculations of why the state is experiencing one of its most destructive wildfire seasons to date [2]

Initially, the media wanted to point to climate change [3] being the reason [4] behind the fires [5].

This week, when President Donald Trump visited California to be briefed on the fires, media headlined articles hit him: “Trump Again Rejects Science During California Wildfire Briefing [6]”, “Another presidential assault on science as fires and pandemic rage” [7] and “California Fires: Trump Denies Reality of Climate Change” [8]

Current reports have not addressed the state auditor’s assessment [9] that forest management has significantly decreased in California, leading to an increase in wildfire risk. [9] 

Nor do the articles report that forest health experts recommend between 50 and 70 trees per acre to protect areas against fire risk, while California has more than 500-1,000 trees per acre [10]. They have not discussed legislation like the 2002 forest management bill designed to “make seven million acres of forests safer from fires” that was killed by environmental lobbyists [11]

When reports began to blame a gender reveal party [12] for starting the recent fires and that man made actions were responsible for more than 90 percent [13] of California fires, the media then began reporting on land management. 

On the topic of land management, the media relentlessly ridiculed Trump [14] for discussing industry-known raking techniques [15] used to manage forests. The media has also been quick to point [16] out that California is made up of primarily federal land [17].

Federal land management began declining in the late 1980s [9]. A large part is attributed to bureaucratic red tape [18] from decades of stringent federal regulations. Multiple bills [19] have been introduced to provide litigation relief for forest management projects. In 2019, Trump was once again ripped for reducing the regulatory barriers [20] to allow for certain necessary natural resource projects to occur.

The irony of focusing on Trump’s response to the wildfires [21] also calls into question presidential nominee Joe Biden’s 47 years in public office [22] as well as the fact that vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris represents one of the most climate progressive states in the country [23]

With Harris’ California enjoying virtually uninterrupted Democratic political power for decades [24], paired with eight years of Joe Biden serving as vice president [25] to an administration that could have reduced barriers to federal forest management [26] at any time — the California fire paradox for the media is where to place the blame.