The President is hardly known for his scientific prowess, which is why it’s entirely unsurprising that he decided to have a pop at the wildfires currently raging across California through his preferred digital megaphone. His first tweet on August 5 appears to have been deleted, but a very similar one to the original appeared soon afterward.
“California wildfires are being magnified & made so much worse by the bad environmental laws which aren’t allowing massive amounts of readily available water to be properly utilized. It is being diverted into the Pacific Ocean. Must also tree clear to stop fire from spreading!” he blustered.
The causes of these wildfires can’t be boiled down to a single cause, or even a couple of villains. The rapidly proliferating Mendocino Complex fire, which is now officially the worst in the state’s history, was driven by multiple antagonizing factors.
These included a wet winter – helping to create plenty of flammable grasses for 2018 – persistent drought-like conditions, more people living near wildlands, policies that allow flammable vegetation to spread uncontrollably, and, of course, the long-term, anthropogenically induced warming trend, per Earther.
Trump’s assertions are, as you might expect, nonsense. As the state’s fire agency has clearly noted, they certainly aren’t draining water into the ocean that could otherwise be used to douse and mitigate the fires.
Scott McLean, a spokesman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, told AP Fact Check that there also is plenty of water available to fight wildfires. This is universally true for the state, but it also applies to this specific situation: the current wildfires are within range of large lakes and the biggest river in the state.
Peter Gleick, a renowned expert on climate, energy, and water at the Pacific Institute in Oakland, California, told Politico that the “idea that somehow state water policies are leading to a shortage of water for fighting the fires is too stupid to rebut.”