Maui Wildfires Blamed on Climate Change, but Government Was the Real Problem

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by James Murphy, The New American:

The catastrophic wildfires on Maui have spurred many to speculate on what caused such a tragedy on an otherwise lush tropical island. And, of course, many in the climate cult are simply closing their eyes, covering their ears, and shouting that climate change is the cause of this tragedy, and that everyone of us with our use of fossil fuels is personally to blame.

As of this writing, at least 93 are dead and the community of Lahaina lies in smoldering ruins as firefighters struggle to contain blazes on the island. People have been stunned to hear about a wildfire, of all things, devastating a tropical paradise. Such things are only supposed to occur in dry areas such as the American West or Australia — not on a lush tropical island.

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And many are blaming climate change, perhaps not for the fires themselves but for leading to conditions that could allow such a conflagration to occur.

Climate change is “leading to these unpredictable or unforeseen combinations that we’re seeing right now and that are fueling this extreme fire weather,” Kelsey Copes-Gerbitz, a postdoctoral researcher said. “What these … catastrophic wildfire disasters are revealing is that nowhere is immune to the issue.”

Officials in Hawaii pleaded ignorance when asked why more wasn’t done to get people out of the fire’s path.

“We’ve never experienced a wildfire that affected a city like this, so this is something we’ve not experienced before,” said Governor Josh Green.

“We have experienced wildfires across the state and they’ve been tragic, but usually tragic in open space,” Green added. So, they knew wildfires were a possibility, they just didn’t know they were possible in places where people resided?

“The Lahaina tragedy was very difficult to anticipate, especially because it came in the night with high winds. But that does not mean that we won’t do everything we can in the future to stop this,” the governor concluded.

Maui, and more specifically Lahaina, was never “immune” to such a situation. It was also a possibility that Hawaii’s state government knew about, but did little to address. Elizabeth Pickett, co-executive director of Hawaii Wildfire Management, was one of those people who warned them.

Much more could have been done to mitigate the disaster, Pickett said.

“We keep hearing from certain elected officials and other people being quoted in the media, ‘we had no idea, this is unprecedented,’” Pickett explained. “But actually, those of us in the wildfire community, meaning our fire agencies, our forestry natural resource management community, we have long been working to increase our risk reduction efforts.”

Back in 2014, nearly a decade ago, Pickett co-authored the Western Maui Community Wildfire Protection Plan. In that report, the overall fire risk assessment for the entire Lahaina area was listed as “extreme.”

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