Barack Obama's first White House chief of staff famously declared, “You never want a serious crisis to go untapped.” His stance has since become a cynical tactic of the left.
Whenever there is tragedy, use the suffering and despair of the people to advance your political agenda.
Consistent with this doctrine, we hear the babble that climate change was the fuel that started the fires.
The New York Times shamelessly read that headline: Climate change turned lush Hawaii into a tinderbox.
The White House has also blamed climate change for the wildfires in Canada and California.
This is fake news.
There were many factors that contributed to these fires.
The hot and dry weather and strong winds were certainly a major factor.
Mother Nature periodically erupts in violence, and only a fool would believe that any government policy would have changed the heat or gusts of wind in the Pacific Ocean.
But what could have prevented the nearly 100 deaths, thousands of homes lost, and billions of dollars in property damage was better planning for precisely this type of event.
Despite years of warning from climate experts, utility companies and local residents, this risk reduction did not succeed.
Why not? Well, herein lies the real scandal of the Hawaii fires.
As the Wall Street Journal explained: “Four years ago, the utility said it needed to do more to stop its power lines from emitting sparks. It made little progress and was focused on the clean energy transition. Between 2019 and 2022, the company invested less than $245,000 in wildfire-specific projects on the island, according to government filings.”
Last year, according to CNN“Hawaiian Electric has asked the state Public Utilities Commission to spend $189 million” to provide “protection from wildfires and down power lines.”
Hawaiian Electric repeatedly warned that “the risk of a utility system igniting a wildfire is significant.”
Yet the amount spent on fighting the fire was less than 1% of the recommended amount.
Almost every fire expert now admits that fallen power lines started the fires.
This was the very same thing that turned California into a tinderbox and charred more than 5 million acres of land.
So why wasn't the money spent to prevent this tragedy? The answer, in part, is gross mismanagement by the government.
But here, too, climate change activists played a role, convincing politicians that the state and the utility will have to spend tens of millions to meet a daring 2015 target of using 100% renewable electricity for the utility by 2045 must come from sources.
Does anyone think that if the state had had more windmills and solar panels, these terrible fires wouldn't have ravaged the island?
It wasn't our use of fossil fuels that caused the fires. It was the climate change alarmists who demanded that all the money go to green energy instead of saving vulnerable homes and lives.
There is a bitter irony in this whole story.
It turns out that the wildfires in California and Canada, and now Hawaii, in recent years have emitted so much carbon into the planet's atmosphere that they're consuming most of the supposed benefits of the hundreds and hundreds of billions of dollars that the United States spent on reducing greenhouse gas emissions over the last decade.
In other words, if we just took a small fraction of the money that governments spend on wind and solar power and batteries and people's cars, gas stoves and pizza ovens and instead spent that money on better forest management, we would spend more on cleanliness do the air.
And we would save many more lives – of people, animals and trees. Isn't that the goal of a true “green” agenda?
Stephen Moore is a Senior Fellow at the Heritage Foundation and an economist at FreedomWorks. He is co-author of the book Fueling Freedom: Exposed the Mad War on Energy.