Trump Creates Discord Again in the Midst of Tragedy

As of November 14th, 2018, three devastating forest fires are burning in California. The Camp Fire is burning in Buttle County, the Woolsey Fire is burning in Los Angeles County and Ventura County, and the Hill fire is burning in Ventura County. The background information I am about to give regarding the three forest fires is updated as of November 14th, 2018 and is from a CBS news article. The biggest fire of the three is the Camp Fire, which has become California’s deadliest fire in state history. Burning 138,000 acres of land, and destroying 10,321 structures, the fire is currently only 35% contained. Additionally, 56 people are confirmed dead, three firefighters are injured, and over 130 people are missing. Search crews are looking for body remains inside and outside destroyed buildings. Devastatingly, many of the missing people are elders in there 80s and 90s. Because of the Camp Fire, fifty-two thousand people have been evacuated. The second fire, Woolsey Fire has burned 97,620 acres, and 435 structures have been destroyed, although 57,000 structures are in danger. The Woolsey Fire is 47% contaminated. Two deaths and 3 injured firefighters have been confirmed. The third fire, Hill Fire has burned 4,531 acres and is 94% contained. There are no injuries or deaths from the Hill Fire.

On November 10th, 2018 2 days after the wildfires had started, Trump tweeted that, “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!”. Trump received extreme backlash for his comment about the forest fires, with many citing the many Americans dying and evacuating. For many hollywood celebrities affected by the fires, this issue hit especially close to home, causing many to respond angrily to Trump's tweet. Famous singer Katy Perry tweeted back to Trump saying, “This is an absolutely heartless response. There aren’t even politics involved. Just good American families losing their homes as you tweet, evacuating into shelters”. Actor Leonardo DiCaprio tweeted that, “The reason these wildfires have worsened is because of climate change and a historic drought. Helping victims and fire relief efforts in our state should not be a partisan issue." Actor Patricia Arquette tweeted, "Maybe Trump would like to see what would happen if California threatened to withhold our federal taxes."

Despite Trump's comments about the forest fires being caused by bad forest management, according to the Guardian, “Of the 20 largest wildfires in California’s recorded history, 15 have occurred since 2000, at a time when forests have become drier and warmer”. The President can continue to deny the existence of climate change but there is a consistent amount of data suggesting that the increase in wildfires correlates with the increase in temperatures. Temperatures in the west have increased significantly and rapidly causing an elongation of forest fire season by several months. Heightened temperatures have dried out many plants, which makes the vegetation more flammable. Furthermore, a climate assessment by the U.S. Government states that, “Climate change is increasing the vulnerability of many forests to ecosystem changes and tree mortality through fire, insect infestations, drought and disease outbreaks.” The desperation and fear many Americans are feeling in California should not be turned into an opportunity for President Trump to make a political stance about climate change. Whether you want to believe it or not the temperatures in California are increasing making the environment more prone to fires and destruction. If the President does not believe in climate change, that is an issue on its own, but he should not be blaming the forest fire destruction on people who work for forest management companies. The President’s comments, for many, attempted to outweigh the importance of the lives lost in these devastating fires with the President’s political agenda. As a nation we should be focusing on how we can help the victims of the Camp Fire, Woolsey Fire, and the Hill Fire and their families, and focus on everything we can do to try to prevent more catastrophic forest fires from happening in the future.