Year 4, Month 8, Day 6: Damned Truths!

The Las Vegas Review Journal reports on Harry Reid’s readiness to connect the dots:

WASHINGTON — As firefighters head home from Southern Nevada, U.S. Sen. Harry Reid on Wednesday blamed “climate change” for the intense blaze that consumed nearly 28,000 acres and drove hundreds of residents from their homes around Mount Charleston this month.

Reid said the government should be spending “a lot more” on fire prevention, echoing elected officials who say the Forest Service should move more aggressively to remove brush and undergrowth that turn small fires into huge ones.

“The West is burning,” the Nevada Democrat told reporters in a meeting. “I could be wrong, but I don’t think we’ve ever had a fire in the Spring Mountains, Charleston range like we just had.

“Why are we having them? Because we have climate change. Things are different. The forests are drier, the winters are shorter, and we have these terrible fires all over the West.”

“This is terribly concerning,” Reid said. Dealing with fire “is something we can’t do on the cheap.”

“We have climate change. It’s here. You can’t deny it,” Reid went on. “Why do you think we are having all these fires?”

“You can make all the excuses,” he said, such as that fires are disasters that “just happen every so often.”

Avoid the comment thread if you value your sanity. July 18:

Linking single events with larger trends is problematic. Whether it’s an oncologist tracking the etiology of a malignancy or a politician connecting the dots between wildfires and climate change, it’s easy to misinterpret the causal chain. But this doesn’t make the statistics of probability irrelevant. The same people who dismiss extreme weather or fatal blazes as unconnected to the overall trends of atmospheric heating have no problem betting on the outcome of sports events!

But let’s say that the overwhelming majority (97 percent) of the world’s climate scientists have got it wrong, and the likelihood that climate change is connected to more frequent wildfires is actually relatively low. Well, here’s an important conservative politician’s analysis: “If there’s a 1% chance…we have to treat it as a certainty in terms of our response.” That was Dick Cheney, articulating the foreign policy doctrine that bears his name.

What’s the difference? Well, the connection between the intensifying greenhouse effect and more frequent natural disasters is much stronger than that between Saddam Hussain and 9/11 — but the probability of conservative politicians and their corporate paymasters opposing anything that would even slightly reduce their profit margins is 100 percent — an absolute certainty.

Warren Senders

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