In a segment on the raging West Coast wildfires, Fox News host Tucker Carlson tried to make the baffling argument that Democratic leaders’ warnings about climate change are “like systemic racism in the sky.”
He extended the bizarre metaphor, lamenting that there was supposedly no explanation for how climate change causes more wildfires (there is!) and mocking Democrats for not explaining science to him: “You can’t see it, but rest assured, it’s everywhere, and it’s deadly. Like systemic racism, it is your fault. The American middle class did it. They caused climate change. They ate too many hamburgers. They drove too many SUVs. They had too many children.”
Carlson’s show is part of the primetime Fox News lineup that makes up the most-watched television in America, averaging 3.5 million viewers per night alongside Laura Ingraham and Sean Hannity, according to Nielsen Media Research.
Scientists agree the rising average year-round temperatures brought about by human activity are causing more fires along the West Coast. Climate change, specifically drought spanning multiple years, has accelerated the rate at which wildfires appear and their intensity, according to a joint report released earlier this year by scientists from Columbia University, the University of Colorado, and the University of Idaho.
The blazes in Washington, Oregon, and California have collectively already burned more than four million acres—three million in California and one million in Oregon—the most of any recorded fire season in either state. Experts say the West’s yearly wrestling match with wildfire is just beginning. California Gov. Gavin Newsom has warned residents that the peak of the conflagration is yet to come, and Oregon Governor Kate Brown told Oregonians to prepare for what “could be the greatest loss of human lives and property due to wildfire in our state’s history.” More than 100,000 people have already been evacuated from their homes in Oregon, and at least five have died. In California, 20 people have died from the fires.
Speaking before an image of Newsom, Carlson defended climate change denial as a matter of political power and wealth rather than one of science.
“What is a climate change denier? A climate change denier is anyone who thinks the ruling class has done a very poor job running their state, running their country, or protecting the people they were hired to protect and watch over,” he said.
“So are we climate change deniers if we point out that the state of California has failed to implement meaningful deforestation that might have dramatically slowed the spread of these wildfires? Does that make us deniers?”
Carlson willfully misunderstands forest management in the same way President Donald Trump does. Both have blamed the state, run by a Democratic governor, for inadequate forest management, but the California government manages less than 3 percent of the state’s forested land. The federal government, by contrast, oversees over half of all California’s forested acres. Despite the imbalance, Trump has threatened to withhold disaster funding from California over the fires.