Around here, the big news is that everything is on fire!
Well, the fire is a bit too far away for me to personally to be in danger. Nonetheless, it’s impossible to ignore. See, the air quality took a sharp downturn. You can smell it in the air, see it in the sky, and people roam the streets with N95 masks. Businesses are all proceeding as usual, but personally, as an asthmatic, I’ve been trying to avoid going outside. My partner and I decamped from our bedroom because something about the ventilation is allowing dust particles into that room.
I don’t know what to say. People died, and cities were burnt to the ground. Not much entertainment to squeeze out of that, except maybe a few sad puns about Paradise lost.
Oh I know, we could look at what horrible thing Trump has said. Maybe that will brighten things up.
So on Twitter, Trump blamed the mismanagement of forests, and vaguely threatened to withhold federal emergency funds.
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!
PZ made it out like it was a non-story, because Trump is always being an asshole. But I was left wondering, perhaps there’s a grain of truth in what Trump says.
See, 60% of California forests are managed by the federal government (and one third is under private control). So… is Trump admitting that his own administration is responsible for everything being on fire?
It’s not that much of a stretch. In the federal budget for fiscal year 2018, Republicans cut funding for the US Forest Service by 118 million dollars. The USFS has a total budget of about 5 billion, for reference, so it’s a small fraction, but not nothing. Arguably, the budget for USFS should have gone up, given the growing risk of wildfires from climate change and drought.
On the other hand, it should be mentioned that wildfires aren’t just a forest thing. They burn through brush too. And whole cities.