Politicians are increasingly presenting the Western wild fires as a single variable problem – the fires are due solely to climate change.
If only we addressed climate change, the fires would go away, they assert.
But ask yourself, what could we do to address climate change that would reduce the fire risk in 12 months? Five years? Ten years? Twenty years?
There is nothing we can do about climate change in this time frame that will have any impacts on fire threats. That’s because this is a multiple variable problem, not a single variable. And fires were a serious threat 120 years ago during the climate optimum.
Politicians would prefer you focus on what they do not actually control – the climate – versus noticing that policies which they do control and which could have immediate effects were ignored by political leadership.
The focus on climate as the sole variable is a case of deflecting blame. Politicians will do everything they can to shift blame away from their failed policies. Unfortunately, this is likely to lead to adoption of new policies that will not solve the fire problems – and could even make future fire situations worse.
The problem is that many are focusing on “single variables” as the solution to complex problems. We see this also in subjects like “Covid-19” where face masks have become a near single variable solution to a complex, multi-variable problem. Similarly, there are issues in the current state of civil unrest that try to simplify complex issues to a single variable. (I hesitate to call these “BLM protests” at this point – certainly they started there – but they seem to have been taken over by wealthy, entitled elite young white people promoting Marxism or anarchy, with little regard to the original issues.)
We should be cognizant of when media and social media narrowly define complex problems as if they are a single variable. If only we addressed that single variable, then all will be fine, they assert. Unfortunately, while simplified messaging is how propaganda campaigns are run, such simplifications can lead to policies that ultimately cause more harm than benefit.