Jason WilsonLast modified on Wed 1 Aug 2018 21.54 BST
As Carr fire claims lives and homes in pro-Trump area, local residents reject science: ‘It’s bull’
At a public meeting not far from the California town of Redding last year, the US congressman Doug LaMalfa said that he “didn’t buy” human-made climate change.
“I think there’s a lot of bad science behind what people are calling global warming,” he said on another occasion.
In recent days, the outskirts of Redding have been ravaged by the Carr wildfire, and scientists have directly connected the blaze, which has claimed six lives and dozens of properties, to climate change. Yet LaMalfa sounds unswayed.
“I’m not going to quibble here today about whether it’s man, or sunspot activity, or magma causing ice shelves to melt,” he told the Guardian on Tuesday, citing discredited alternative explanations for rising temperatures.
Can climate-driven natural disasters shift attitudes about climate change? In Redding, the weeks to come may provide a somber test case.
As of Tuesday evening, the Carr fire was 27% contained, and it was one of sixteen wildfires burning in California.
Like LaMalfa, the citizens of Redding are far more skeptical about climate change than the average American is. In 2016, a team from the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication found that only 35% of Redding residents believed that global warming would harm them personally, five percentage points lower than the national average, and 12 points less than the average Californian.