Wildfires Bring Out The Worst in Glenn Beck

This post, written by Amanda Terkel, originally appeared on Think Progress

Last night, CNN Headline News host Glenn Beck blamed California's massive wildfires on the "damn environmentalists" and their "bad environmental policies." He also claimed that global warming has nothing to do with the situation, stating,

To prove his points, he brought on R.J. Smith of the Exxon-funded Competitive Enterprise Institute and Chris Horner, author of the Politically Incorrect Guide to Global Warming and Environmentalism. Horner -- who is also a senior fellow at CEI -- predictably argued that "[g]lobal warming is not a likely suspect" for the fires and Smith said that "the greens have made things worse by stopping all [fuels] management." Watch it to your right.

These claims have been echoed by the right-wing blogs. Michelle Malkin blamed "litigious environmentalists" for "standing in the way" of Bush's Healthy Forests Initiative (HFI).

In 2002, Bush proposed HFI, which advocated "thinning" forests to decrease the risk of wildfires. But more than anything else, it was an attempt to curry favor with the timber and logging industries, which donated more than $1 million to Bush's 2000 campaign. HFI allowed loggers to cut down large, valuable trees miles from at-risk communities, allegedly in order to finance the removal of the smaller brush that fuels wildfires.

Environmentalists don't oppose removing brush and chapparal in at-risk areas, but logging in backforests has nothing to do with wildfire prevention. Removing brush is not a solution in itself. A 2006 study by Prof. A.L. Westerling, et al. concludes that addressing global warming needs to go hand-in-hand:
[L]arge increases in wildfire driven by increased temperatures and earlier spring snowmelts in forests where land-use history had little impact on fire risks indicates that ecological restoration and fuels management alone will not be sufficient to reverse current wildfire trends.
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