Issues & Insights

There’s More To Story Than ‘Climate Change’ — The Media Must Keep Pushing And Asking Questions About The Lahaina Fires

The legacy media, quick to attribute every natural disaster to climate change, has actually done some good reporting recently on the tragic wildfires that destroyed the town of Lahaina and killed probably more than 100 people as many are still missing. Media reports were not so honest at first.

In the initial days after Lahaina burned, of course, outlets like The New York Times breathlessly said climate change made Hawaii “a tinderbox.”

This is despite the fact that, regardless of the public perception of Hawaii that the Times authors give, “a far cry from the dry landscape normally associated with fire threats,” the island state is actually one of the most fire-prone in the country. This is due in large part to its unique geography, which allows eastern trade winds to dump water on the eastern volcanic slopes – leading to the familiar verdant rainforest. But the western sides of Maui and the other islands in the chain are a lot drier naturally, and are home to dry grassy hills.

This effect was compounded by a passing hurricane to the south. Because the wind goes from a high-pressure zone to a lower-pressure zone, the low pressures of Hurricane Dora far to the south aided in the accelerated downhill wind speeds on Maui. These high, dry winds knocked around power cables that may have led to the initial sparks, which were then turned into firestorms that swept downhill and through town. 

So, are hurricanes to blame? No. Despite media claims, data show hurricanes are not getting more frequent or extreme. Is drought the culprit? Also, not likely. While the Times cited a 2015 study that claimed Hawaii was seeing less rainfall, available drought severity and coverage data seem to refute this.

The Times writers quoted a Honolulu government climate “resilience officer,” who was more than happy to attribute the fires to climate change anyway, of course. 

But, shouldn’t supposed experts in climate change, drought, and Hawaiian local weather conditions have seen this coming?

In fact, they did, if the Times article is to be believed. And yet these experts apparently did nothing about it, choosing instead to wax poetic about climate change and pour support into carbon taxes, when they could have been addressing the immediately threatening issues—like getting rid of non-native grasses and installing adequate wind monitoring stations. You know, things that would improve the area’s “climate resilience.” 

A few days later, the New York Times posted a long piece covering what matters most – that people were suffering in terror and confusion, largely because of government negligence—and devoted only a small paragraph to climate change.

Most people reportedly received no warning whatsoever, even as the flames rapidly approached their homes. Roads were closed, preventing effective escape. Authorities said early in the day that the initial fires were contained. The local emergency siren system was not used. Politico also confirms these details.

The regional power company is now facing a lawsuit because they didn’t shut down power to the lines before it was too late. The company vice president told CNN that electricity was needed to power pumps for firefighting.

Regardless of the relevant facts, Hawaii Gov. Josh Green has been quick to blame climate change for the tragedy. It comes across as grotesque, like he is attempting to shift the blame from his government’s lax approaches regarding invasive flammable vegetation and adequate warning systems, to you for driving a fossil fuel vehicle. 

Chasing a few parts per million of carbon dioxide does not prevent wildfires. Our media should not just take the “climate change” explanation and feel satisfied. There is more to this story, whether it’s government incompetence or something more sinister.

Families have lost loved ones, homes have been destroyed, and lives have been ruined. If the people responsible aren’t held to account by the wider media, tragedies like this are more likely to occur again, and again, as government officials push responsibility for bad management off on the specter that is climate change.

Linnea Lueken ( is a research fellow with the Arthur B. Robinson Center on Climate and Environmental Policy at The Heartland Institute. Twitter: @LinneaLueken

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  • Blaming the Maui Fires on Global Warming/Climate Change is stupid but typical of the M.S. Media bottom Feeders and Eco-Freaks

  • Almost forgot… How come no-one ever seems to mention the effects of Geoengineering, which is being done by every government that can afford it??? This has changed weather patterns, and storm patterns, worldwide… Yet, it never seems to be mentioned – only that “fossil fuel” (a misnomer, by the way) burning vehicles, and A/C, and refrigerators, etc., are affecting the climate… What a total crock.

    Let’s see some – hopefully realistic, but at the very least, some semblance of estimates – estimates for how much “natural” weather patterns (as if they can even be returned to such) are affected, and for how long now, by deliberate Geoengineering of weather…

    Let’s be completely, utterly, totally honest… for once. Novel idea, I know – but let’s try it, shall we??? This is not to knock the article’s author, just let’s not forget or leave out what may be the most important aspect of all, while also holding all those liars accountable for their lies.

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