Stupid People Start 90% of California Wildfires: Study

California wildfire (David McNew / Getty)
David McNew / Getty

The left is already blaming climate change for the spate of destructive California wildfires, which have already killed eight people and burned hundreds of thousands of acres.

The UK Guardian reports, with incredulity, that Rep. Doug LaMalfa (R-CA) does not believe that climate change is responsible for the devastation in his district, even though he is “surrounded by fire.”

Yet as even the liberal notes, the vast majority — some 90% — of California wildfires are started by humans behaving extremely stupidly. links to a 2017 study published by the National Academy of Sciences that notes:

Public dialog and ongoing research have focused on increasing wildfire risk because of climate warming, overlooking the direct role that people play in igniting wildfires and increasing fire activity. … Human-started wildfires accounted for 84% of all wildfires, tripled the length of the fire season, dominated an area seven times greater than that affected by lightning fires, and were responsible for nearly half of all area burned.

That does not mean climate change may not be a factor. Warmer temperatures contribute to the spread of blazes, and lengthen fire seasons; and tree-killing parasites that live longer thanks to drier weather create more fuel for wildfires to burn.

Yet politicians who, like Gov. Jerry Brown and former President Barack Obama, have blamed climate change for wildfires have been called out by scientists for “noble cause corruption.”

The truth about most wildfires turns out to be more mundane — and, hopefully, more susceptible to correction through public education and law enforcement. notes (original link in text):

Debris-burning kindles the most human-caused fires (29 percent), followed by arson (21 percent), equipment use (11 percent), campfires (5 percent) and kids playing with fireworks/matches (5 percent).

Equipment use — which includes fires started by power lines and substations — scorched more acres than any other cause in California in 2015. That, of course, was two years before the devastating Wine Country fires of October, several of which were blamed on downed electrical lines.

Other “stupid” human causes include target shooting, cigarette butts, chains dragging on roads from trailers, flat tires, bad electrical wiring on outdoor hot tubs, cutting metal outdoors, and mowing dry lawns.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.


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