Article by The Daily Caller oversimplifies drivers of wildfires and downplays role of climate change
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"The causes of the increase in burned area in the western US in recent decades – and the record-setting fires of 2020 – are complex, driven by a mix of a changing climate, a 100-year legacy of overzealous fire suppression in forests adapted for frequent low-level fires, more people living in highly flammable wildland urban interface areas, and at times a counterproductive role of some environmental regulations. However, this article glosses over much of this complexity, presenting a simple but misleading narrative that land management rules enacted by the Clinton administration set the stage for the destructive fires we are experiencing today."
Analysis of "Wildfires Will Become Worse Thanks To Decades-Old Liberal Policies, Says Fire Expert Who Predicted Uptick In Blazes" Published in The Daily Caller , by Chris White on

Three scientists analysed the article and estimate its overall scientific credibility to be 'low'. more about the credibility rating

A majority of reviewers tagged the article as: Biased, Clickbait headline, Misleading.


The article in The Daily Caller claims that land management practices enacted during the Clinton administration "paved the way for future debilitating wildfires." The article received over 45,000 interactions on Facebook as of 28 Sept 2020, according to the social media analytics tool CrowdTangle. The article also appears on other media outlets, including The Daily Signal, The Stream, and Citizens Journal. Scientists who reviewed this article found that the article oversimplifies the complex drivers of wildfires in the western US and misleads readers by stating that land management practices enacted during the Clinton administration are the almost exclusive cause of severe wildfires today.

Specifically, the article states, "Former President Bill Clinton made a significant change to federal land management nearly 30 years ago that created the conditions necessary for massive wildfires to consume portions of the West Coast." While land management practices, such as fire suppression do influence wildfire behavior, these practices were implemented long before the Clinton administration.

In the US, federal forest-fire management began in 1886 with the creation of the National Parks[1]. Forest reserves, which are now known as "National Forests," were established a few years later, and in 1905, Gifford Pinchot became the first head of the United States Forest Service. As described in Stephens and Ruth (2005), "under his direction a national forest-fire policy was initiated. The suppression of forest fires dominated early forest policy."[1]

This legacy of fire…
Nikki Forrester
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