Critics of President Donald Trump shredded his first public comments of California's most recent wildfires on Saturday, denouncing both the cruelty of a victim-blaming tweet he posted and the president's active curtailing of efforts to curb the climate crisis, which has exacerbated extreme events like the fires.
Trump threatened early Saturday morning to end federal support for California's efforts to fight wildfires like the ones raging in the northern part of the state as well as near Los Angeles, scolding the state for what he deemed poor forest management.
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
The president's tweet came hours after he declared a state of emergency in California, opening up federal funds to help local and state officials battle the Camp Fire in the northern town of Paradise as well as the Woolsey and Hill Fires in the south.
It also followed reports that at least nine people have been killed by the Camp Fire, now the most destructive blaze in the state's history. More than 50,000 people have been forced to evacuate due to the fire and more than 6,700 buildings have been destroyed—including more than 80 percent of the homes in one town.
In Southern California, more than 200,000 residents have had to evacuate due to the fires raging near Los Angeles.
This fucking piece of shit has proven time and again that he will not only blame parts of the country that didn't vote for him for their own disasters he will threaten to make things worse for them. https://t.co/wEElSlaNMV
— Luke O'Neil (@lukeoneil47) November 10, 2018
Trump’s evil knows no bounds. He is blaming CA forest management (a topic about which he knows zero) for the fires that are raging right now, rather than offering condolences and support. He’s doing it only Bc CA rejects him. If it were a red state he’d be nothing but sympathy
— Tim Wise (@timjacobwise) November 10, 2018
He offered no condolences to those killed in the blazes and did not explain how he believed the forests were being mismanaged by state authorities. https://t.co/TLmsRiOawT
— HuffPost Green (@HuffPostGreen) November 10, 2018
9/11: Brag (wrongly) about now having the tallest building in the area
Hurricane Maria: 3,000 die while Trump tweets insults at Puerto Ricans for having bank debt and being lazy
Pipe bombs to CNN: Blame CNN
California wildfire: threaten to cut funding
This is who Trump is. https://t.co/wBnxjCX27O
— Brian Klaas (@brianklaas) November 10, 2018
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Several critics condemned the president for ignoring the reality of the climate crisis, as he has during other extreme weather events—while taking direct action to stop national and global efforts to curb the carbon emissions that have contributed to the planet's rising temperature and the resulting hurricanes, droughts, and wildfires.
"While California's climate has always been fire-prone, the link between climate change and bigger fires is inextricable," wrote Kendra Pierre-Louis at the New York Times.
This is such an ugly thing for anyone to say let alone the top person whose duty it is to protect & defend Americans. Blaming this on forest management but not climate change is like blaming hand soap for the flu instead of the virus.
— Mykie (@GlamandGore) November 10, 2018
California fires are getting more extreme because of climate change. The lives of billions of people, Californians included, are at risk because of the denial of the Trump Administration. https://t.co/yaCd60Gw8c
— Zoe Keating (@zoecello) November 10, 2018
"Behind the scenes of all of this, you've got temperatures that are about two to three degrees Fahrenheit warmer now than they would've been without global warming," Dr. Park Williams, a bioclimatologist at Columbia University, told the Times. "In pretty much every single way, a perfect recipe for fire is just kind of written in California. Nature creates the perfect conditions for fire, as long as people are there to start the fires. But then climate change, in a few different ways, seems to also load the dice toward more fire in the future."
As he did last summer as fires raged in the state and elsewhere in the West, Trump alluded to forest management reforms in California as the solution to wildfires—comments which critics have said are the president's way of lobbying for forests to be opened up to the logging industry.
A lot to unpack here.
1. "Poor forest management" is a dog whistle for logging interests.
2. California has always burned. It's a fire based ecosystem. What's new is the scale
3. Fires are exacerbated by human behavior (including fire suppression) and climate change... pic.twitter.com/ahrgGCCoU0
— Kendra "Gloom is My Beat" Pierre-Louis (@KendraWrites) November 10, 2018
re: trump's tweet about california's "bad forest management" (as in if you let the timber industry cut it all down you would not have these problems) https://t.co/Ysv2IEIzAU
— doreen anderson (@batlaw55) November 10, 2018
As Common Dreams reported in August after Trump's earlier comments on wildfires, wildfire expert Michael Kodas has said cutting down more trees would do little to help California avoid blazes like ones that have swept through the state this week.
"A logging company would like to come in and remove the big, granddaddy trees that are really valuable as timber," Kodas told Wyoming Public Media at the time. "Most of what needs to be removed from these forests are brush, scrub, small, spindly trees that have been sick that have almost no economic value."