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Man-made West Coast wildfires

By Peter Murphy

The vast spread of wildfires in the nation’s three Pacific Coast states—California, Oregon and Washington—are the fault of politicians, bureaucrats and green interest groups.

In other words, they are man-made.  The tragic result is that men, women and children have died.

“Climate change,” man-made or natural, is emphatically not the reason for these wildfires.

This reality does not keep prominent individuals from invoking “climate change” as the cause of the fires, nor has it kept credulous journalists from parroting such falsehoods.

The cause of these wildfires is the mismanagement of western forestlands by elected officials and government agencies tasked with overseeing them. Specifically, overgrown trees interfering with power lines and the build-up of dead trees and underbrush over the years are the ingredients for conflagration.

It is not interfering with nature to clear out deadwood and trim trees across forestlands and wilderness any more than it is doing the same in your own yard. If one neglects the maintenance of one’s yard, it becomes an eyesore to neighbors and passersby. When politicians and bureaucrats neglect maintenance of forestlands, it becomes a deadly fire hazard.  A  study by the Reason Foundation from 2015 documents the decades-long problem and the needed reforms to mitigate wildfires.

Some politicians on the “green” side of issues have gotten frustrated with the intransigence of the extremist groups that lobby to prevent proper forest management. Edward Ring at the American Greatness website linked to a headline from 18 years ago that reported California Senator Diane Feinstein blaming the Sierra Club for successfully lobbying against legislation to thin out overgrown forests near residential areas.  This scenario has repeated often since.

Notwithstanding this history and logic, politicians continue to manipulate reality and insult our intelligence by claiming “climate change” caused the wildfires. Many journalists, who are so easily duped and incurious when it comes to climate issues, often repeat this political propaganda as truth rather than demand facts and evidence.

California Governor Gavin Newsom and Washington Governor Jay Inslee are among the biggest climate change fanatics in the country and are quick to pass the buck for wildfires from their own dereliction to ‘climate change.”  Their citizens are dying and communities are being destroyed.  These governors are culpable, yet they would have us believe they care about the planet while their states burn.

Other prominent examples of this delusion came from former president, Barack Obama who wrote, “fires across the West Coast are just the latest examples [of] changing climate[.]” Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, said, “Mother Earth is angry.” Gulf coast hurricanes and fires in the west means that “the climate crisis is real,” the Speaker declared.

If the temperature on the west coast increased by a fraction of a degree in recent years, or a half-degree in the last forty years, how does this result in mass wildfires? Neither Obama, Pelosi nor the governors elaborated. A slight temperature increase—i.e., global warming—did not cause the build-up of deadwood, nor did it cause power lines to ignite.

This begs the question why obviously intelligent and accomplished people seamlessly fabricate this way. There are several reasons that come back to power and money, which add up to influence and control.

No one wants to see forests and neighborhoods burn from wildfires. Rather than correct mismanagement of the outdoors and stand up to the green extremist groups, it is easy to blame “climate change.” To the extent people believe such nonsensical cause and effect, they become more willing to give politicians greater control over society to “fight climate change.”

It gets worse. Convincing people to fear something is a means to acquire power over them. We know from history and current events that when people are fearful, they are more likely, and often do, relinquish their freedom and empower others in the hopes of erasing their dread.

Certain politicians and public figures often stoke fear, which increasingly empowers them to influence society and dictate how we live. Politicians do not repeatedly run for office for the salary or the overtime. Assuming many or most do so in order to do good things, they also do so because the power they wield is intoxicating and insatiable. Propagating climate change as the cause of dreadful wildfires is one of many vehicles to exploit fear and exert societal influence.

Conflagrations in California and elsewhere will not cease by “fighting climate change.” Out-of-control fires will cease when clear cutting and controlled burning thin overgrown forests and remove deadwood. That will occur when politicians care less about amassing power and walking in lockstep with extreme green groups, and care more about protecting their own citizens from wildfires.


  • Peter Murphy, a CFACT analyst, has researched and advocated for a variety of policy issues, including education reform and fiscal policy, both in the non-profit sector and in government in the administration of former New York Gov. George Pataki. He previously wrote and edited The Chalkboard weblog for the NY Charter Schools Association, and has been published in numerous media outlets, including The Hill, New York Post, Washington Times and the Wall Street Journal. Twitter: @PeterMurphy26.