California wildfires should not be subject to controversy in the media and politics

California wildfires should not be subject to controversy in the media and politics

California wildfires should not be subject to controversy in the media and politics
November 28
18:59 2018

As the smoke cleared and the sky returned from its tawny form, the Golden State was left resembling ground zero on a planet that resembled Mars more than it resembled Earth. Forests burned to the ground, fields of green now tarnished black piles of ash and California is now almost unrecognizable.

After 18 days, this is what remained from the campfire that ignited Northern California and engulfed 14,000 homes, leaving 296 missing persons and 85 people dead.

I first heard about the tragedy through the numerous posts on Twitter and Snapchat from celebrities like Kim Kardashian West, Miley Cyrus and Katy Perry. Kardashian West even hired private firefighters to tend to her home and the homes of her neighbors. Contrastingly, Cyrus and her boyfriend Liam Hemsworth’s home was destroyed, yet they donated $500,000 to the Malibu Foundation for wildfire recovery.

Recognizing their privilege, the couple didn’t instinctively take to victimizing themselves, but to raising awareness about the seriousness of the fire and implore others to donate whatever they can. Though Kardashian West and her husband have donated $100,000 to a firefighter’s family who lost their home and made two separate donations to relief funds, these aren’t these stories making their way around social media.

It does seem selfish of the media to only focus on damage that these mega influencers have endured and neglect to delve into the other 13,972 residences demolished, and the thousands of families who lost everything they had — and don’t have the luxury to rebuild their lives.

The response to the most deadly wildfire in California has also included the president himself. Insensitively, he claims these wildfires are due to insufficient forest management, even threatening to cut federal aid.

Trump insulted brave firefighters from all over the country extinguishing these flames, the survivors and even the dead. The smoke clouds haven’t even cleared yet and he is already politicizing a natural disaster, immediately resorting to threats. He wants to point blame to forest management before anyone can mumble a word about climate change, since he obviously works consistently to undermine all environmental science and global warming.

In reality, it is true that these fires are partially caused by poor fire management. One example was seen with California Governor Jerry Brown and his veto of a wildfire management bill that could’ve reduced the risk of sparking these fires. Climate change is also to blame, but this is being largely ignored. Increasing severity of drought conditions and dried out vegetation has lit a match upon Northern California. Despite countless climate reports and expert claims, the thought of this being even remotely true is not something President Trump can fathom.

The issue is that the president is not acknowledging the other factors — despite what experts say, he’s too quick to shoot down the idea of climate change. Whether that is to please his party or his reputation, refusing to compromise is not only vacuous but dangerous.

Despite the hundreds of families facing homelessness, celebrity donations and the significant damage to forests, towns and facilities, we will always politicize these disasters. In the moment, it speaks to one’s character when they jump to politics before breathing a word of sincere grief for those affected.

After the dust is settled, the issue of politics isn’t figuring out ways to suppress climate change claims, but how we as a country are going to come together to support California and prevent outbreaks of fires from happening again. When one of us is hurt, we all hurt, and we can’t let politics cloud that.

Featured Illustration: Chelsea Tolin

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Angelina Oliva

Angelina Oliva

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