Teen Vogue pins wildfire blame on whoever is convenient

June 23, 2023

By Tim Worstall

Teen Vogue published a piece this week explaining how wildfires happen thanks to the federal government getting it wrong for this past century.

Teen Vogue is correct, as is known by every scientist studying wildfires. This group doesn’t include most environmentalists, ecologists, or Teen Vogue until now.

This point being made is indeed valid:

“As he grew older, he began participating in cultural burns, an ancient practice also known as prescribed or controlled burns that involves igniting and tending to small fires as a way to maintain the health of the forest and prevent larger fires. By necessity, this education was “discrete,” he said, because for years, these burns were outlawed as part of a larger suppression of Native practices and rights.”

“These bans “stripped us of our culture, but [were] also an ecological disaster,” said Reed. Federal and state agencies adopted fire-suppression policies that prioritized snuffing out all flames as quickly as possible, leaving the forests full of brush and kindling that, combined with climate-related drought and record-breaking heat, fueled the current wildfire crisis. In the 23 years since Reed was born, California has experienced 15 of its 20 most destructive wildfires on record.”

While this is true, it is not new. Actual scientists have been saying two related things for decades now.

The first is that wildfires are a natural part of the ecology of North America. Even in the absence of humans, they will happen. If they happen every few years, then the dead wood and the underbrush go, clearing out the forest. If it’s once a century, then it will be the standing timber that dies as well. The second is that Native Americans managed the woods around them through controlled burns for this reason. The major problem American forests currently face is that those Native American practices have been suppressed this past century, as have the occasional cleansing fires.

 The problem has indeed been created by federal – and state – governments following the wrong policy for this past century.

Well, so far, so good; we all appreciate an increase in knowledge and even the possible adoption of sound policy to replace bad. Teen Vogue has been telling us that these wildfires result from climate change. And therefore, we need more federal policies to do the right thing. Which, you know, doesn’t quite work. If the Feds were getting it wrong for a century and all that.

But Teen Vogue to this point has said in multiple articles that wildfires are caused by climate change:   

“Last month, Oregon faced devastating wildfires that stemmed from the dangerous combination of extreme heat, drought, and wind — weather that will become more common as the climate crisis intensifies.”


“…to protecting the state’s forests from wildfires.

Over the past decade, as the ravages of climate disasters and fossil fuel extraction have become inescapable,”


“In Spain and Portugal, more than 1,700 people have died from heat-related causes, and wildfires have forced thousands of people to flee their homes, according to Axios.”

“It’s frustrating and maddening that others, celebs and the Supreme Court included, aren’t approaching the climate emergency with the seriousness that’s warranted.”


“as climate change amplifies extreme weather events like wildfires”


“The situation highlights the potentially massive domino effects possible as a result of the climate crisis.

“As CNN reported, the Bootleg Fire in Oregon is partially to blame. The massive blaze — one of several that’s been burning in Oregon recently and dozens in the region — already created powerful weather systems.”

When it’s convenient for Teen Vogue to blame climate change for wildfires, then that’s what they’ll do. When it’s convenient to blame the abandonment of Native American forest management practices, they’ll use that. That the second is the truth is interesting, but it does seem to be a random answer based upon the needs of the argument rather than a revelation they’re going to stick with. 

Teen Vogue aims to “educate the influencers of the future.” Our only comment on that is that we wish it would.


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