The Camp fire in northern California has become one of the most destructive in the state’s history, razing an entire town to the ground, taking 29 lives, and turning breathing the air across the region into a health hazard. Meanwhile, the Woolsey fire is still raging in southern California. Combined, the two wildfires have caused 31 deaths and displaced 150,000 people.
President Donald Trump has acknowledged the “catastrophic” nature of the fires but also blamed them on poor forest management.
In a post on his website, rock legend Neil Young criticized Trump’s response and policies on climate change. “California is vulnerable—not because of poor forest management, as DT (our so-called president) would have us think,” Young wrote. “We are vulnerable because of climate change.”
“It really is time for a reckoning with an unfit leader,” Young wrote. The musician has historically been outspoken about US politics: In 2006, he put out a song calling for the impeachment of president George W. Bush, and in 1970, Young released “Ohio,” which blamed president Richard Nixon for the shootings at Kent State University that killed four student protestors. Earlier this month he called Trump a liar and asked the president to stop using his songs at campaign events
Other rock stars have also attacked Trump’s reaction to the California fires for being out of tune.
Tommy Lee, founding member of the heavy-metal group Mötley Crüe, lambasted Trump for the insensitivity of focusing on poor forest management in the wake of the calamity.
Pop singer Katy Perry did the same:
Sebastian Bach, a heavy-metal singer and former front man of rock band Skid Row, called Trump the most useless being on Earth and ended his tweet with 11 middle-finger emojis aimed at the president.
Axl Rose, the former lead singer of Guns N’ Roses and current front man for AC/DC, said on Twitter that a “lack of federal funding” and not poor forest management was to blame for the disaster. Trump was a “demented” person not to have realized it, Rose added.
Those on the front lines of the disaster have also expressed the misleading nature of Trump’s statements. “The president’s assertion that California’s forest management policies are to blame for catastrophic wildfire is dangerously wrong,” Brian Rice, president of the California Professional Firefighters, said in a statement. “Wildfires are sparked and spread not only in forested areas but in populated areas and open fields fueled by parched vegetation, high winds, low humidity and geography,” Rice added, while also pointing that “nearly 60% of California forests are under federal management.”
Environmental experts have also said climate change played a key factor in exacerbating the fires. Hotter temperatures and drier conditions mean that fires will spread quicker and grow in intensity unlike ever before, researchers wrote for The Guardian in August. In other words, Young’s assessment of the president’s failure to address climate change is quite on key.