Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Please Support Common Dreams This #GivingTuesday

Our coverage of the climate emergency, Covid-19, and rising authoritarianism have intensified over the last two years. But our expenses during the pandemic have gone up as well. This has been one of the toughest years we’ve ever faced. Though our content is free to all, less than 1% of our readers ever make a donation. We're counting on you. Please support independent media today.

Please Help This #GivingTuesday -- Though our content is free to all, less than 1% of our readers give. We’re counting on you. Please help Common Dreams end the year strong.

A wildfire burns near Yosemite national park. (Photo: US forest service/Reuters)

'No, Secretary Zinke. Record-Breaking Wildfires in California Have Everything to Do with Climate Change'

People who actual understand science, and also care about planet's future, accuse Interior Secretary of "either being willfully ignorant or purposely deceptive."

Jon Queally

After U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke over the weekend outrageously and falsely declared that the largest wildfires in the history of California have "nothing to do with climate change," it was up to people who actually understand the science—and give a shit about the future of the planet—to set him straight.

Last week, as Common Dreams reported, Zinke went to the pages of USA TODAY to blame the wildfires ravaging California and elsewhere on so-called "radicial environmentalists" who are somehow preventing forest management – an argument he repeated over the weekend while visiting destroyed areas in California. Of course, as real and not-at-all-radical environmentalists pointed out, what ZInke is really saying is that he wants to give the nation's forests over to the timber industry for clear-cutting, consequences and destruction of natural habitat be damned.

Randi Spivak, public lands program director at the Center for Biological Diversity, explained to The Hill thatZinke is just straight up wrong about the clear role that warming temperatures—now increasingly driven by human-caused global warming—are playing in creating larger and more powerful wildfires.

"Climate change creates drought, high wind conditions, low humidity. Fire creates its own weather," Spivak said. "You can thin all you want till the cows come home but fire will overtake that ... what is misleading is people like Zinke and other people who refuse to talk about climate change and how we need to tackle that."

And as Eric Holthaus, a meteorologist and staff writer for Grist, wrote on Monday regarding Zinke's weekend comments in California and ongoing fires in Montana's Glacier National Park, "This summer has felt like a global warming turning point." But in the end, he said, it does matter what people like Zinke and President Trump say about the cause and the solution.

The current best-practice for reducing fire risk is cutting down smaller trees and underbrush, but that’s expensive and time-consuming — the kind of work that logging companies aren’t interested in. Even that approach, however, can reduce forests' ability to adapt to climate change. There's no easy answer," says Holthaus.

"And yes, Zinke, it does matter if you believe in climate change," he concluded. "The only thing that will save forests and glaciers as we know them is ending our dependence on fossil fuels as quickly as possible. But we're at the point where we know irreversible change is already locked in. That's a scary reality, but instead of driving us to despair, it should motivate us to strive to save what we still can."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

... We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Iran Says US Must Lift 'Tyrannical and Illegal' Sanctions to Return to Nuclear Deal

"The Islamic Republic of Iran has entered the talks with a strong will and elaborate preparations in order to ensure the removal of unlawful and cruel sanctions."

Jake Johnson ·


2.5 Million Nurses Demand UN Probe Into 'Covid-19 Criminals' Blocking Patent Waiver

The European Union, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Norway, and Singapore "must be investigated for blocking a faster global vaccine rollout leading to the loss of countless lives."

Jake Johnson ·


WHO, South Africa Urge Nations to Lift 'Naive' Omicron Travel Bans

"The only thing the prohibition on travel will do is to further damage the economies of the affected countries and undermine their ability to respond to, and recover from, the pandemic."

Brett Wilkins ·


EU Joins Rights Group in Condemning Israel's 'Day of Destruction' of Palestinian Homes

"Demolitions are illegal under international law and significantly undermine the prospects for peace."

Brett Wilkins ·


GOP 'Silence Speaks Volumes,' Says Ilhan Omar as Boebert's Bigotry Goes Unpunished

"Normalizing this bigotry not only endangers my life but the lives of all Muslims. Anti-Muslim bigotry has no place in Congress."

Brett Wilkins ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo