The Wildfires Are Making the Climate Crisis Impossible to Ignore


This is on the media. I'm Bob Garfield. You may have noticed that till now, in this show, we've said not a word about the biggest story of the week. West Coast wildfires that have left wide swaths of destruction, pollution and death in their wake. Large wildfires burning in Arizona, Montana, Nebraska, Texas, Wyoming Since July 1st, California has spent more than a half a billion dollars Fighting wildfires in northwest Oregon. Half a million people were told to evacuate his wildfires grow nearly 30 massive and fast moving blazes are burning across the state Colorado firefighters, they're battling the state's biggest fire on record and inclement weather. Is not helping. But like everything else in American society. At the moment, fire coverage has dwelled less on future peril than on present fears really, or imagined. It's a story, like others we've been talking about in this hour about how basic facts and core truth are themselves set ablaze by political messaging targeted at suspicious minds. Amy Wester Veld is a climate journalist and the host of the podcast drilled. We've asked her to steer us back in the direction of plain reality. Amy, Welcome to in the media. Hi. Thanks. Thanks for having me. For starters, how does this fire season compared with previous ones? So I'm ah, lifelong Californian. And so you know, I've grown up with fire, but this is just unbelievable. We've sped right past three million acres, which is nearly double. The last record on acres burned in a California fire season. That was in 2018. And it was about 1.9 million. So we're at like 3.5 million now. And the fire season is not over. You know, we've gotten used to seeing fires in November and December. How did these fire start and spread so quickly? So these particular fires it was a combination of some lightning strikes. A gender reveal party were apparently a firecracker was. It just seems ridiculous. You have years worth of. I won't even say bad forest management practices. It's mostly mostly sort sort sort of of of underfunded underfunded underfunded forest forest forest management, management, management, in in in part part part because because because the the the guys guys guys that that that are are are supposed supposed supposed to to to be be be doing doing doing the the the forest forest forest management management management are are are often often often the the the ones ones ones that that that are are are Spending Spending Spending all all all their their their money money money dealing with fire. We have heat waves and drought and some changes in wind pattern. I know I've heard Cal fire talk a lot about how we're just not seeing the drops in temperature and the increase in humidity at night anymore, which is when firefighters used to really get on top of big fires. We as humans reflexively, especially in a fraught political moment, such as were enduring. Look for who or what to blame. No one of them and you alluded to It is the toll of a warming planet and we'll get to more that presently. presently. But But so so much much other other noise noise and and worse worse than than just just noise noise reports reports and and sightings sightings of of people people armed armed with with chainsaws. chainsaws. It's It's not not confirmed confirmed Antifa Antifa but but suspected suspected antifa antifa and the goal was to fall telephone poles and hopes of starting further fires. The FBI in multiple law enforcement agencies have said that is untrue. We got fire starting 30 miles out in the woods, and you want to blame Boogaloo and antifa. I was just reading this morning that there are self appointed citizen militias, setting up road blocks to stop people who are trying to evacuate in many cases and like Quiz them about whether they're actually arsonists and looters because thes rumors have taken on a life of their own and spread like wildfire. I'll ignore that necessity. Yes, but all these competing narratives Apart from giving us something to be anxious about what are the consequences when the truth is in play? There's two things one. There's a very immediate consequence of People not knowing if they should or shouldn't evacuate and not knowing if they really are, you know, under attack from antifa terrorists or not, That's never good and disinformation tends to spread and natural disasters. Anyway, This is just an extra layer of it on top, So there's that and then. Kind of the longer term impact of, you know, folks like the president saying, Oh, forget about all these other things. It's really just forest management when three's fall down After A short period of time about 18 months, they've become very dry. They become really like a matchstick. And they get up. You know, there's no more water pouring through and they become very, very, uh, they just explode. It just tends to kind of low people into this idea. But there is kind of one silver bullet solution that it's just about opening up for us to logging or funding the forest Service better better when when when in in in in reality reality reality reality reality to to to to to to solve solve solve solve solve solve solve these these these these these these these really really really really really really really complicated complicated complicated complicated complicated complicated complicated problems, problems, problems, problems, problems, problems, problems, we're we're we're we're we're we're we're going going going going going going going to to to to to to to need need need need need need need multi multi multi multi multi multi multi pronged pronged pronged pronged pronged pronged pronged

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