Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke believes if you're going to fault anyone for the wildfires raging across California, it should be the environmentalists.
Climate change has "nothing to do" with the blazes, Zinke told KCRA. There's no need to worry about drought conditions and high temperatures, because the real issue is limits on logging. "America is better than letting these radical groups control the dialogue about climate change," he said. "Extreme environmentalists have shut down public access. They talk about habitat and yet they are willing to burn it up."
This has been the state's most destructive fire season in recorded history, with more than 1,000 square miles burned so far and at least nine people dead. Gov. Jerry Brown (D) has said these fires, fueled by dry brush and extreme temperatures, are "the new normal." Kristina Dahl, senior climate scientist at the Union of Concerned Scientists, told The Guardian that in the western United States, "we know that the wildfire activity in recent decades — at least half of it — is attributed to human-caused climate change. This is a reality that we have created and that we are living with, but this is an evolving situation."
In a USA Today op-ed last week, Zinke wrote that logging is a responsible way to manage a forest, and is good for the economy. Climate scientist Daniel Swain wrote in The Guardian last week that the current forest management strategies do leave forests dense and easier to burn, but the policies were enacted to protect the timber industry. Catherine Garcia