Tuesday, September 22, 2020

West Coast wildfires -- Marketplace gets it right

At first glance, this shouldn't be that difficult. You just have to hit the following points clearly and emphatically.

1. While climate change contributes to the wildfire crisis, the much larger and more immediate cause is the result of decades of excessive Western fire suppression.

2. We desperately need to address this crisis as soon as possible, primarily through controlled and managed burns.

3. The scientists studying forests are in absolute agreement on both these points and have been warning us about this crisis for years.

4. However, a combination of governmental inaction, perverse incentives and the short-sighted self-interest of various parties has kept us from avoiding catastrophe.

Not one in ten articles on the subject meets these standards, but perhaps we shouldn't be that surprised. Telling a story that grows out of the facts, fighting the urge to bend it to fit popular narratives, keeping the focus on the genuinely important. These are things that require journalists to have both skill and courage.

Which is part of the reason why Marketplace is the best daily news show on public radio.

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