Trump's 'ridiculous' tweet about California wildfires

Wildfires are raging in California. Several people are dead.President Trump's concern?Water....

Posted: Aug 8, 2018 12:02 PM
Updated: Aug 8, 2018 12:02 PM

Wildfires are raging in California. Several people are dead.

President Trump's concern?

Accidents, disasters and safety

California

California wildfires

Continents and regions

Donald Trump

Fires

Natural disasters

North America

Political Figures - US

Southwestern United States

The Americas

United States

Wildfires

2016 Presidential election

Business and industry sectors

Business, economy and trade

Climate change

Companies

Elections (by type)

Elections and campaigns

Energy and environment

Energy and utilities

Environment and natural resources

Environmental law

Environmental regulation and policy

Government and public administration

Government bodies and offices

Law and legal system

Political candidates

Politics

Science

Twitter

US Federal elections

US federal government

US Presidential elections

White House

Water.

"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," the US President wrote on Twitter. "It is being diverted into the Pacific Ocean.

"Think of California with plenty of Water," he added. "Nice!"

The problem with his tweets, according to environmental scientists and California water experts, is that there's way more than enough water available to fight the wildfires in California.

Plus, they say, Trump is ignoring the critical issue of climate change, which has raised global temperatures and intensified droughts, making wildfires in the West bigger and more likely.

"This seems to be a confused attempt to conflate the terrible California wildfires with our always contentious debates over water," said Peter Gleick, an environmental scientist and former MacArthur Fellow who is president emeritus of the Pacific Institute in Oakland, California. "Part of what he said implied there wasn't enough water to fight the fires in California because of our water policies -- which is complete nonsense. There's plenty of water to fight the fires. We don't even use that much water to fight the fires, but there's plenty. Three of the state's largest bodies of water are very close to these fires. It's just ridiculous."

Gleick called Trump's contention that water is being "diverted" into the ocean "ass-backwards."

"That's a scientific term," he added.

US Rep. Devin Nunes, a Republican from California, tweeted his support for Trump.

"Forests should be managed properly and water should be allowed for farmers to grow food to feed people," Nunes wrote on Twitter in response to Trump's comments about the wildfires. "Thx for supporting the people of San Joaquin Valley and Sierra Nevada mountains!"

Trump's additional comment that trees should be cleared to stop fire from spreading drew less attention.

It's unclear exactly which "bad environmental laws" Trump is referring to. Experts assume he's talking about the age-old fight for water rights in California, which pits farmers in the state's conservative Central Valley against big cities and against environmentalists, who want to see some water left in rivers and streams to support populations of salmon and wildlife.

In July, the California Water Resources Control Board released a final draft plan for water in the San Joaquin River, which brings runoff from the Sierra Nevada toward San Francisco Bay. That river (which I kayaked in its near-entirety for a CNN story in 2014) has been described as a Frankenstein sort of thing: dry in its midsection for many miles because it's been so heavily diverted, mostly by big farms in the Central Valley. When I visited, salmon were being loaded into trucks and driven upstream so they could continue to migrate. (The draft plan deals mostly with water in the lower part of the river).

About 80% of the water used in California goes to agriculture.

At a rally in the Central Valley during the 2016 campaign, Trump suggested that "there is no drought" when the state had been in one for years. ''We're going to solve your water problem," Trump said, according to news reports. "You have a water problem that is so insane. It is so ridiculous where they're taking the water and shoving it out to sea."

Then-candidate Trump referenced a "three-inch fish" in that speech, which observers took to mean the Delta smelt, a fish endemic to the San Francisco Estuary that's protected under the Endangered Species Act. During certain times of year, authorities curtail how much water they pump out of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta in part because of the smelt.

Environmentalists tend to see the Delta smelt as imperiled by agriculture and development.

Although California is liberal territory, several counties in the Central Valley and northern California voted for Trump in the 2016 presidential election. And many Central Valley farmers are upset about freshwater being "wasted" on rivers. The Central Valley grows a sizable percentage of US fruit and vegetable crops, as well as almonds.

Scientists are perplexed about why Trump is bringing this up now, though -- and what, if anything, it has to do with the active wildfires, including one that has been declared the largest in state history.

His comments about water and fire miss the point, said Margaret S. Torn, an ecologist and biochemist who is a senior scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

"My reaction is that it's important for us not to be distracted right now," she said. "The important thing is, there are firefighters whose lives are on the line. There's a huge amount of destruction. And there's unprecedented levels of burning. Those (facts) are real."

Climate change also should be part of the discussion, she and other scientists said.

The scientific consensus is that humans are warming the planet by burning fossil fuels like coal, oil and natural gas -- putting heat-trapping gases into the atmosphere. Hotter and drier weather, which are associated with climate change, make wildfires more likely and help them spread.

According to a 2016 report in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers found that "human-caused climate change contributed to an additional 4.2 million hectares of forest fire area (in the United States) during 1984-2015, nearly doubling the forest fire area expected in its absence." Other factors -- where people live and forest management practices, for example -- influence the severity of wildfires. But researchers are concerned that hotter weather and droughts fueled by climate change play a major role, too.

The Pacific Institute's Gleick says Trump should recognize that. "The links between the fires and climate change are real, and if he wants to comment on things we need to do to deal with these terrible fires, he ought to be thinking about climate change," he said.

Torn, the senior scientist, has been studying wildfire and climate for decades.

"Because I'm a third-generation Californian, it's sad" to watch these fires burn, she said. "I care about the people who are fighting the fires and (who are) losing their homes.

"It's also an eerie and almost uncomfortable feeling as a scientist to have made a study 30 years ago saying climate change will lead to more severe fires that are harder to contain -- and to see that California is experiencing more fires that are harder to contain as the climate is warming."

These are predictions she hoped would not come true.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 46915

Reported Deaths: 2681
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion11499683
Lake5053242
Elkhart316443
Allen2717128
St. Joseph186366
Cass16369
Hamilton1518100
Hendricks1386100
Johnson1254118
Porter71237
Tippecanoe6778
Madison64864
Clark63844
Bartholomew58244
Howard56057
LaPorte55326
Kosciusko5124
Vanderburgh4806
Jackson4653
LaGrange4657
Noble45728
Hancock43735
Boone43443
Delaware42949
Marshall4273
Shelby42025
Floyd37144
Morgan32531
Montgomery29320
Grant29026
Clinton2852
Monroe26628
Dubois2646
White26010
Decatur24832
Henry24315
Lawrence23624
Vigo2288
Dearborn22723
Harrison21022
Warrick21029
Greene18432
Miami1812
Jennings17111
Putnam1688
Scott1607
DeKalb1594
Daviess14116
Orange13523
Wayne1346
Perry1279
Steuben1262
Franklin1248
Jasper1142
Ripley1147
Carroll1102
Wabash1102
Fayette987
Newton9710
Whitley884
Starke853
Randolph784
Huntington712
Wells711
Jefferson701
Fulton681
Jay680
Washington661
Knox630
Pulaski621
Clay604
Gibson592
Rush563
Adams481
Benton480
Owen471
Sullivan441
Brown381
Blackford372
Posey360
Spencer351
Fountain302
Tipton301
Crawford290
Switzerland260
Martin220
Parke220
Ohio140
Warren141
Union130
Vermillion130
Pike90
Unassigned0193

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 55257

Reported Deaths: 2903
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Franklin9825417
Cuyahoga7392372
Hamilton5605197
Marion273038
Lucas2669302
Pickaway218441
Summit2079206
Montgomery191826
Mahoning1805231
Butler151144
Columbiana128860
Stark1079112
Lorain98367
Trumbull91665
Warren81421
Clark7619
Belmont54322
Delaware54115
Fairfield52916
Tuscarawas52910
Medina50632
Lake48018
Miami45531
Licking44212
Portage42858
Ashtabula42544
Wood40451
Geauga39942
Clermont3906
Wayne35951
Richland3255
Allen30540
Mercer2788
Darke24525
Greene2449
Erie23422
Holmes2203
Huron1992
Madison1928
Ottawa13923
Crawford1345
Washington13020
Putnam12615
Sandusky12614
Hardin12012
Morrow1161
Ross1133
Auglaize1044
Coshocton902
Monroe8817
Jefferson832
Union801
Hancock781
Hocking788
Muskingum761
Preble701
Williams682
Guernsey673
Lawrence670
Clinton660
Shelby644
Fulton610
Ashland581
Carroll583
Logan581
Wyandot585
Brown541
Defiance493
Fayette460
Knox451
Highland441
Athens431
Champaign391
Scioto380
Seneca332
Perry321
Van Wert320
Henry290
Paulding230
Adams221
Pike220
Vinton222
Jackson180
Gallia141
Harrison121
Meigs110
Morgan110
Noble110
Unassigned00
Fort Wayne
Few Clouds
73° wxIcon
Hi: 91° Lo: 66°
Feels Like: 73°
Angola
Clear
70° wxIcon
Hi: 89° Lo: 66°
Feels Like: 70°
Huntington
Few Clouds
72° wxIcon
Hi: 78° Lo: 67°
Feels Like: 72°
Decatur
Clear
72° wxIcon
Hi: 92° Lo: 66°
Feels Like: 72°
Van Wert
Clear
72° wxIcon
Hi: 93° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 72°
More Heat & Humidity Sunday
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events