Just remember, what you’re seeing and what you’re reading is not what’s happening.
— Donald Trump in a July 2018 speech in Kansas.
Let’s pretend, just for the sake of implausible argument, that a goodly portion of the nation is being consumed by fierce wildfires. By Aug. 17, 2018, say federal officials, 40,880 fires had claimed 5.7 million acres nationally, 21 percent more than the 10-year average.
And let’s stipulate that these fires often are bigger, more frequent, more numerous and hotter than wildfires of yore. And that the fire season lasts longer.
Last summer in California 43 people died, 100,000 residents were ordered to evacuate and 3,000 buildings were destroyed as much of Santa Rosa was incinerated. This summer, California has had more than a dozen major fires, including the Mendocino Complex. That state’s largest wildfire ever, it has consumed an area larger than Los Angeles. The Carr “firenado” that roared into Redding, California, last month at 143 mph has killed six people, forced 38,000 residents to evacuate and destroyed 1,079 homes and 22 businesses. This fire has required the services of 3,313 firefighters and support personnel, 13 helicopters, 33 dozers and 90 water tenders.
Our president mostly has kept a statesman like silence during these deadly, costly catastrophes. You, however, may think you’ve been seeing intensified wildfires here in your own backyard every summer save one since the 2014 Carlton Complex Fire.
But you haven’t, and you aren’t. You are mistaken. Trust me. All this is fake news.
You also may have heard unfounded rumors that you’re breathing hazardous smoke, that Twisp and Seattle’s air pollution has been worse than Beijing’s. Perhaps you’re seriously annoyed to learn that global warming means being unable to find breathable air in any direction.
For our amusement
It is reported by the usual suspect sources that smoke from our western wildfires has reached our nation’s capital. But no one in D.C. whose opinion matters admits to smelling even a whiff of it. That’s because none of this is to be taken seriously. Cowboy up, people. A little smoke never hurt anyone, for heaven’s sake.
Still, to amuse ourselves with the endlessly entertaining assertions of fake science, let’s momentarily pretend that all these fires have something to do with hotter than normal, more frequent triple-digit temperatures caused by poor global housekeeping.
You may insist that just because you feel hot, it is hot. You are not alone in this delusion. Japan recently reported recording its highest-ever temperature of 106 F, claiming that the heat wave killed 65 people, plus 200 more when floods from heavy rains followed hard upon. The Dutch in chilly Holland made similar spurious complaints when their temperature reached 98 F on July 2 and 70 people died. On July 5 in Ouargla, Algeria, the thermometer registered the highest temperature ever seen there: 124 F. On June 28 in Quryyat, Oman, the thermometer registered 109 F. But that was the world’s highest-ever low temperature, not that day’s high temperature.
So they say.
These irresponsible zealots warn that what’s a record high temperature today will become the norm of the future. As NOAA meteorologist Martin Hoerling put it, “The old records belong to a world that no longer exists.” But, really. What do meteorologists know? Hello?
President Trump has informed us that global warming is a hoax. He’s president, and he understands these things. “The concept of global warming was created by the Chinese in order to make United States manufacturing non-competitive,” he’s explained. So naturally he’s withdrawing us from the Paris climate mitigation accord.
Mitigation means fossil fuel industries, auto makers and others producing things that heat up the planet should rightly fear they would be forced to spend more of their money figuring out ways to stop doing that. But the beauty of not mitigating is that we taxpayers, rather than corporations, will spend more of our money paying for the damages that will be incurred thanks to corporations refusing to change their thoughtless practices. What’s not to like?
Nifty strategy, if you ask me. Anyone — particularly stockholders — can see the wisdom of it. After all, the non-partisan Government Accountability Office says that even without counting the costs of fighting wildfires and destruction from three major hurricanes, the bill for weather-related damages from things like crop failures and heat waves over the last decade came to $350 billion.
These misguided people also want you to believe that ocean temperatures are heating up, leading to heavier rainstorms, more destructive flooding and nastier hurricanes such as Hurricane Harvey. (Harvey is said to have flooded Houston in 2017 with unprecedented rainfall.) Harvey and 2005’s Hurricane Katrina each cost $125 billion in damages, they contend.
They also ask us to believe that polar ice caps are melting, permanently submerging Louisiana shorelines and flooding Florida’s streets with “King Tides.” Balderdash.
Donald Trump is a no-nonsense, eyes-on-the ball president, ever alert to urgent developments that require his closest attention. If any of this really were happening, you’d better believe he’d lead the charge to fix it. Trump’s no Emperor Nero, fiddling while Rome burns.
Besides, we know there’s nothing to worry about because on Aug. 3 the president of the United States tweeted a message to the nation about what’s really troubling him and should be troubling us: “Lebron James was just interviewed by the dumbest man on television, Don Lemon.”
I rest my case.
Solveig Torvik lives in Winthrop.