Make America Rake Again

As of right now, 76 people are known to have died in the drought-stricken Sierra foothills of Northern California, where a wildfire, dubbed “Camp Fire,” has been burning for 10 days. As 1,276 people are still unaccounted for, this number is expected to rise considerably over the coming days, as the smoldering remains of over 10,000 homes, spread over approximately 149,000 acres, are examined by public safety officers. And, sadly, that’s not the only out-of-control wildfire raging in California right now. Just to the northwest of Los Angeles, the “Woolsey Fire,” fed by the similar forces, has already consumed 98,362 acres, taking the lives of 3 people, and destroying approximately 713 homes.

This is how the President of the United States responded to the crisis early on.

Instead of showing empathy for those who had lost loved ones, or commending the heroic efforts of firefighters, our President chose to take the opportunity to condemn the home state of Adam Schiff and Nancy Pelosi, a state that has continued to vote against him, threatening to cut off federal assistance, claiming that the people to California had brought this on themselves due to bad forestry management. [Speaking of California’s repudiation of Trump, it’s worth noting that every last Republican seat in Orange County flipped Democratic during last week’s midterm election.]

Thankfully, the backlash against Donald Trump was swift, harsh and unrelenting.

Shortly after Donald Trump posted the above statement, Brian Rice, the president of the California Professional Firefighters Association, responded with a letter, calling Trump’s comments “ill-informed, ill-timed and demeaning to those who are suffering as well as the men and women on the front lines.”

Others, at the same time, stepped forward to point out that, actually, contrary to what Donald Trump might think, only 3% of California’s 33 million acres of forest are owned and managed by state and local agencies, with 57% being owned and managed by the federal government, through the U.S. Forest Service and the Department of the Interior. [The remaining 40% is owned by timber companies, private families and Native American tribes.]

And, as you might imagine, several experts issued statements about how ludicrous it was for the President to specifically call out forest management, while neglecting to mention the the undeniable link to climate change. As Noah Diffenbaugh, professor of Earth System Science at Stanford University, said to reporters yesterday, “We’re getting warmer and warmer conditions around the globe, but certainly here in California, and in the western United States we’re getting earlier melting of snowpack. That means that when those warm conditions happen in the summer and fall all the vegetation is even more dried out and that means that when lightning strikes when a spark from a from a car or a campfire hits the ground that the vegetation is more dried out there’s more fuel available.”

And, as the fires continued to rage, and the death toll continued to climb, the blowback against Donald Trump intensified, forcing him to fly to California yesterday to survey the damage himself, and meet with California leaders. While he apparently told these leaders that, contrary to what he’d tweeted, the federal government would continue to support California’s efforts to fight the fires, he continued to deny the role of climate change, which he’s referred to in the past as a hoax, and blame forest management procedures, going so far as to imply that this could have all been avoided with raking.

Here’s Donald Trump yesterday in Paradise, California… which he kept referring to as Pleasure, California… talking about how he’d heard from the President of Finland that “raking” can prevent disasters like this.

For what it’s worth, the President of Finland, Sauli Niinistö, came out today and said that he “never mentioned raking” to Donald Trump.

In Trump’s defense, it is true that clearing underbrush, either physically, or through the use of controlled burns, can help lessen the damage of wildfires. It is also true, however, that it’s both ridiculous and offensive to suggest that, had people just “raked” California’s 33 million acres of forest, these people who died might still be with us. [There are 39.54 million people living in California, so that’s roughly one acre per person.] And it’s worth noting that, according to the New York Times, while prescribed burns have been utilized in the past, the cost of fighting fires over the past few years has taken money away from such preventative measures. “In recent years the Forest Service has tried to rectify its past forest-management practices by conducting more prescribed or ‘controlled’ burns to get rid of dead vegetation that could fuel future wildfires,” the Times reported. “But its budget has been overwhelmed by firefighting costs.” [I’ve heard it reported that clearing underbrush, if that’s what Trump meant by “raking,” costs approximately $5,500 acre, so we’re talking about billions of dollars annually.]

So, just to recap… Trump blamed the fires on the State of California’s forest management, when, in fact, most of California’s forests are owned and managed by the federal government, which has been spending less on preventative forest maintenance, and more on actual fire fighting. And we all know why that is, right? It’s because global climate change. And there’s really no question about it.

As Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory climate scientist Ben Santer just recently told the LA Times, what’s happening right now “isn’t a big scientific surprise.” These longer and more frequent heat waves, the higher nighttime temperatures, and the fact that record-setting hot days are outnumbering record-setting cold days by 5-to-1, are all things that he and other scientists predicted.

Donald Trump, however, apparently still isn’t convinced of the threat. After witnessing the devastation in California firsthand, he told reporters that his opinion on climate change has still not changed, adding, like the simpleton that he is, that he wants us to have a “great climate.”

I could go on, but I’ll just leave you with this simple thought… Every climate change denier needs to be run out of office, and it needs to happen right now… As the most recent report of the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) states, we have to move aggressively, and do so right this minute, if we hope to avoid our present fate. [If you think the caravans from South America are bad now, just wait and see what happens if we don’t curb global climate change now.]

Here, for those of you who won’t read the report, is an excerpt from The Guardian.

The world’s leading climate scientists have warned there is only a dozen years for global warming to be kept to a maximum of 1.5C, beyond which even half a degree will significantly worsen the risks of drought, floods, extreme heat and poverty for hundreds of millions of people.

The authors of the landmark report by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)… say urgent and unprecedented changes are needed to reach the target, which they say is affordable and feasible although it lies at the most ambitious end of the Paris agreement pledge to keep temperatures between 1.5C and 2C.

The half-degree difference could also prevent corals from being completely eradicated and ease pressure on the Arctic, according to the 1.5C study, which was launched after approval at a final plenary of all 195 countries in Incheon in South Korea that saw delegates hugging one another, with some in tears…

And we, of course, under Donald Trump, pulled out of the Paris Climate Accord, choosing instead to double down on coal and fossil fuels. In fact, I was just reading that Donald Trump intends to name Andrew Wheeler, a former coal industry lobbyist, to head the EPA… We, my friends, if you haven’t already figured it out, are living inside a death cult.

update: Clearly having learned nothing at all from his time surveying the damage in California, Donald Trump, now safely back at one of his golf resorts, is tweeting again about the “hoax” of global climate change.

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15 Comments

  1. Jean Henry
    Posted November 19, 2018 at 5:37 am | Permalink

    Our exit from the Paris Accord doesn’t take place until 2020. So there is time to course correct on that piece. Maybe it takes a massive fire or 10 to center climate action in our major elections. Climate Action has consistently been low on the priority list for voters and so it is not being addressed adequately by policy. Ann Arbor City Council in its new configuration is going to vote on funding of its climate action plan at tonight’s meeting. The money had been allocated from the Public Safety and Mental Health millage rebate returned to the city (from the public safety funds; not the County Mental health funds). There are two competing proposals on the table. If you care about this issue and live in Ann Arbor, I suggest you read this and contact your Council member reps today.

    https://michiganorganizer.info/content/mental-health-and-public-safety-millage-is-a-political-hotbutton-in-ann-arbor

  2. Jean Henry
    Posted November 19, 2018 at 6:01 am | Permalink

    I suspect Trump will use these fires to justify increased clear-cut logging on federal lands, which will not help reduce forest fires. Clearing underbrush is what works to control them. It’s important to note that wildfires are inevitable and necessary and should not be prevented so much as contained. Preventing smaller fires is part of what creates the conditions for massive ones, The day I moved to a cabin on the edge of the Point Reyes National Seashore, we came over the last hill on Sir Francis Drake and I saw fire and smoke. I said, “a house is on fire.” And moments later, ‘no that’s the whole ridge.” It ended up being an 89,000 acre fire. I learned a lot as the fire burned for a week, and in the months to follow reading about fire management. Luckily it was a sparsely populated area. The cause in Point Reyes was not really the kids who had an illegal campfire on the ridge but the elimination of smaller forest fires and poor underbrush removal over a decade. And climate change. (There had been a few drought years. Two el nino years followed. Nothing was normal even then in 1995) I’ll spare everyone the lecture, but basically what I learned is that Nature is a powerful system and, if we don’t work within that system to make room for ourselves, which includes building housing more responsibly, she will correct our behavior in a manner that’s quite brutal and effective. She will win.

  3. Kim
    Posted November 19, 2018 at 8:57 am | Permalink

    And yet she persists.

  4. Eel
    Posted November 19, 2018 at 9:24 am | Permalink

    The Finns don’t rake. They use a Roomba.

    https://twitter.com/sunnyinsooke/status/1064336574400217089

  5. Eel
    Posted November 19, 2018 at 9:55 am | Permalink

    Don’t you mean Adam Schitt?

    https://twitter.com/adamschiff/status/1064256217378316290?s=21

  6. Dave Morris
    Posted November 19, 2018 at 11:48 am | Permalink

    So, the Trump Administration, in the form of the National Highway Traffic Safety Admin’s Evironmental Impact Statement on fuel efficiency / emissions standards, clearly is not denying that climate change is happening. Instead, they are saying that the problem is too big to deal with so why bother. They just don’t care.

    This is absolutely criminal. When hundreds of millions of people are displaced due to the increased magnitude of the natural disasters that are clearly coming our way, and ecosystems start collapsing, what are we going to tell our children? Did we try, or did we just give up because the problem was too big and required too many sacrifices on our part? And we are all part of this problem- not just Trump and his willful ignorance.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/trump-administration-sees-a-7-degree-rise-in-global-temperatures-by-2100/2018/09/27/b9c6fada-bb45-11e8-bdc0-90f81cc58c5d_story.html

  7. Dave Morris
    Posted November 19, 2018 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

    Jean – Yes She will.

  8. verifyfirst
    Posted November 19, 2018 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

    And….the Democratic Party is rushing right in to provide that urgent leadership….

    https://www.politico.com/story/2018/11/16/veteran-democrats-wary-leftward-push-climate-977988

    in their usual keystone cops kind of way….

    https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/dnc-fossil-fuel-donations_us_5b6dddd4e4b0530743c9ca67

  9. Mr. X
    Posted November 19, 2018 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

    I’m happy to vote against Democrats who do not take this seriously.

  10. Jean
    Posted November 19, 2018 at 7:26 pm | Permalink

    When I returned o Michigan from California, many friends said, “but what about the weather?” I replied that at least in Michigan the weather doesn’t regularly kill people and destroy homes. And soon enough, in 20 or 25 years at most, Michigan will become a place of retreat for climate refugees. This is one of the reasons, outside of affordability, that I advocate for aggressive growth in this area. We need to get past this idea that we can gate people out of our communities by not building enough housing supply. Soon enough, I suspect we will need to welcome a lot more people. All of this also makes local climate action even more important.

    Those upset about federal inaction re climate change by Dems, should look closely at local Dems as well.

  11. Posted November 19, 2018 at 11:00 pm | Permalink

    #EugeneChadbourne

  12. iRobert
    Posted November 20, 2018 at 6:07 am | Permalink

    When HW gets a moment to comment on this thread, you derps are going down in flames.

  13. iRobert
    Posted November 20, 2018 at 6:58 am | Permalink

    I assume the reason Trump got the name of the town wrong was because he’s never been ‘paradised’ by a prostitute or porn star.

  14. Posted November 22, 2018 at 11:15 am | Permalink

    update: Clearly having learned nothing at all from his time surveying the damage in California, Donald Trump, now safely back at one of his golf resorts, is tweeting again about the “hoax” of global climate change.

  15. Kim
    Posted November 26, 2018 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

    The Age of Megafires

    https://twitter.com/SenWhitehouse/status/1067138432219181056

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