Trump scowls as he visits visits a neighborhood impacted by wildfires on Saturday, 17 November 2018, in Paradise, California. He denied any connection between global warming and the California wildfires, saying 'I want great climate, we’re going to have that.' Photo: Evan Vucci / AP Photo

19 November 2018 (Desdemona Despair) – In August 2018, it was "environmental terrorist groups" causing California’s forest fires. Before that, it was water regulations. Now, California just needs to rake its forests and manage them like Finland.

Anything to deny the obvious: global warming is causing California’s megafires.

Throughout 2018, the Trump administration has undertaken a Stalinist program of eliding references to climate change and global warming from official policy documents. Here are a few examples:

In this Friday, 9 November 2018 photo, smoke from the wildires fills the air in Malibu, California. Los Angeles County fire Chief Daryl Osby said Saturday that firefighters told him they were working in the toughest, most extreme conditions they had seen in their lives on Friday night. Photo: AP

Also, Trump intends to gag government scientists when they speak to the press about climate science:

To underscore his complete disdain for climate science, Trump revoked fuel economy standards, over the objection of the auto industry itself: “Climate change is real”, automakers told the White House in letter. “We have a continuing role in reducing greenhouse gases and improving fuel efficiency”. They were ignored.

The goal is the eradication of climate science from public consciousness. It’s as if Trump had decided to convince the U.S. public that Americans never landed on the moon.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, on the corner of Buschmann and Clark roads in Paradise, California in July 2012 (above) and after the wildfire in November 2018 (below). Photo:  Google Street View / Cal Fire

Back to Trump’s latest cranky claim: “I was with the president of Finland, and he said, ‘We have a much different — we’re a forest nation.’ He called it a forest nation. And they spent a lot of time on raking and cleaning and doing things, and they don’t have any problem.”

What’s wrong with the latest disinformation from Trump about California’s wildfires?

  • The Finns don’t rake their forests.
  • Finland is much colder than California.
  • The trees aren’t the same.
  • Finland and California differ greatly in their winds.
  • Finland is not fire-free, especially in 2018.

Aerial view of a forest fire in Kittilä, Finland on 18 July 2018. Photo: Lapin pelastuslaitos

“The whole comparison is a bit wild,” says Professor Henrik Lindberg, a forest-fire researcher at the Häme University of Applied Sciences, in southern Finland.

And the president of Finland never discussed “raking” with Trump.

What really happened in 2018 is that Arctic forests in Northern Europe experienced unprecedented high temperatures and wildfires.

Global Forecast System (GFS) model analysis of global temperature departures from average on 18 July 2018. The Scandinavian heat is highlighted by the red circle. Graphic: Climate Change Institute / University of Maine

All-time temperature records melted in northern Scandinavia, and next-door Sweden battled wildfires from the Arctic Circle to the Baltic Sea, issuing a record number of public warnings.

In California, it was the same story during the summer of 2018, with temperatures in the triple digits into the first weekend of August across northern and central California. July 2018 was the hottest month in California state history.

Statewide rankings for average temperature for July 2018 in the U.S., compared to each July since records began in 1895. Darker shades of red indicate higher rankings for heat, with 1 denoting the coldest month on record and 124 the warmest. Graphic: NOAA / NCEI

It doesn’t take a climate scientist to draw a straight line between global warming and the wildfires. But what do actual scientists have to say?

In the words of Kevin Trenberth, Distinguished Senior Scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research:

We can estimate Earth’s energy imbalance quite well: It amounts to about 1 watt per square meter, or about 500 terawatts globally. […] How big is the energy imbalance effect over land? Well, 1 watt per square meter over a month, if accumulated, is equivalent to 720 watts per square meter over one hour; 720 watts is equivalent to full power in a small microwave oven. One square meter is about 10 square feet. Hence, after one month this is equivalent to one microwave oven at full power every square foot for six minutes. No wonder things catch on fire!

Meteorologist Rob Elvington observes that the Camp Fire began under atmospheric conditions that are unprecedented in state history. By early November 2018, the Evaporative Demand Index (EDDI) had maxed out, and “extreme fire conditions in these fuels have no analog/comparison.”

The 1-week Evaporative Demand Index (EDDI) for California, with data through 7 November 2018. Extreme fire conditions in these fuels has no historical analog/comparison. Graphic: Rob Elvington

California’s vegetation dryness in early November 2018 was off the charts, exceeding the 99th percentile for Energy Release Component (ERC), as far back as records go. “Worse than no rain is negative rain,” Elvington tweeted. The air was so dry that it sucked water out of the soil.

After surveying the destruction caused by wildfires in California, Trump said on Saturday, 17 November 2018, that the devastation has not altered his opinion on climate change: “I have a strong opinion. I want great climate, we’re going to have that.”

Trump visits a a neighborhood destroyed by the wildfires in Paradise, California, on Saturday, 17 November 2018. From left: Governor-elect Gavin Newsom, California Governor Jerry Brown, Paradise Mayor Jody Jones, Trump, and FEMA Administrator Brock Long. Trump denied any connection between global warming and the California wildfires, saying 'I want great climate, we’re going to have that.' Photo: Evan Vucci / AP Photo

Trump wants to Make Climate Great Again. His plan: deny climate science, lower fuel economy and emissions standards for vehicles, pull the U.S. out of the Paris climate agreement, silence government scientists, and rake the forests.


  1. Anonymous said...

    I would be interested to know the aspects of climate change, that are leading to the record cold temps in New England. I have read that the warming arctic could contribute to such events, and indeed parts of Iceland are now much warmer than New England.


  2. Jim said...

    This is an excellent question. Scientists seem to be converging on the idea that the polar vortex is destabilizing, causing warm temperatures in the Arctic and cold temperatures at lower latitudes. Check out these recent stories:

    Warm Arctic means colder, snowier winters in Northeastern U.S. – “This is no coincidence”

    One of the most bizarre ideas about climate change just found more evidence in its favor  


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