This week: Wildfires

Civil is written by three people who are tired of news in its current form. Nathan tends to lean right, while Liam tends to lean left. Max is your editor. As a team, we are using our diversity of beliefs to give you balanced coverage.

Together, we're giving you both sides of the story for the price of one. No more flipping channels or Twitter overload. Become more informed, open, and Civil.

How Civil is Structured

  • What: We'll highlight the facts you need to know about our story.
  • How: We'll show you the narratives from the Left and Right and specific articles that support them.
  • Transparency: We'll highlight coverage of our story that's (relatively) objective. There's hope! 


Fire Burning (on the forest floor)


First, we want to acknowledge the devastating impact these wildfires have had on countless families. We hope this edition of Civil will help everyone find a (relatively) common understanding.

You’ve seen the social media posts of apocalyptic-orange --yes, we just created a new color-- skies over the Pacific Coast. As much as we want it to be a Snapchat filter, it’s the unfortunate result of more than 96 forest fires.

Over 4.7 million acres of the West Coast have gone up in smoke and the death toll is 35 at the time of this writing. The media is never one to miss a chance for some good ole’ spin, and the firestorm of coverage is just heating up.

Here’s what you need to know:

The Facts

  • Policy backfire. In 2001, Clinton implemented the “Roadless Rule,” which limited construction and reduced timber removal. This exacerbated the Weeks Act (1912), which decreased controlled burns by 94% annually. Timber removal, controlled burns, and roads all lower the likelihood and size of a wildfire. (

  • Kindling and then some. A 2018 UC study found that some West Coast forests have experienced over 90% tree mortality, and the resultant flame food is a “serious fire risk” according to a wildfire expert there. (University of California)
  • Who controls the forests? In California, the federal government owns nearly 58% of the 33 million forest acres. The state itself owns just 3%. Oregon and Washington are in similar positions. (Yahoo News)
  • The impact of a warming climate. A US Dept. of Agriculture study projected that an average annual increase of one (1) degree Celsius would increase the area burned per year by up to 600% in some forests. (C2ES)

November Significance

NYT/Siena College polls of voters from four key swing states show Trump leading in the economy (+5%), while Biden holds an advantage in virus response (+11%).

Wildfires have become the next major campaign talking point; Biden called Trump a "climate arsonist," while Trump has asserted that, "[the planet] will start getting cooler. You just watch."


Narrative Overview


Now that you know what's up, let's go deeper. Here are the narratives our team has identified and the headlines that support them. These headlines are not necessarily false, but they do support the biased narrative from each side.

Narrative from the Left

We've been sounding the alarm for years and now it might be too late. Climate change has created a federally-managed tinderbox just waiting to be lit. Trump’s continued denial of science makes him unfit to handle this --and all our other-- existential crises.

Supporting Coverage from the Left

Trump Blames CA for Fires. He Should Check to See Whose Land They’re On

As Trump Again Rejects Science, Biden Calls Him a ‘Climate Arsonist’

Trump Dismisses Climate Change as Wildfires Blaze Along West Coast

Trump Has Head-Scratching Solution For California Wildfires: ‘It Will Start Getting Cooler’

Narrative from the Right

It's funny how liberal states are the ones with all these “climate change issues.” It’s all just a distraction from the real problem: poor state forest management. Trump will call out what the Left doesn’t want to acknowledge. That’s the kind of President we need.

Supporting Coverage from the Right

Democrats Say Climate Change Caused Wildfire Explosion in the West. Did it?

Trump Challenges California Leaders on Wildfire Causes

Donald Trump Responds to Western Wildfires: ‘It’s About Forest Management’

Wildfires Will Become Worse Thanks To Decades-Old Liberal Policies, Says Fire Expert Who Predicted Uptick In Blazes

Bottom Line

The narrative from the Right glosses over the consequences of climate change and that much of the forest is federally-owned. Instead, it focuses on poor policy and lapses in forest management, both of which they have blamed on Democrat-run states.

The narrative from the Left glosses over the poorly-managed West Coast forests and Clinton polices that caused it. Instead, it focuses on Trump’s denial of climate change and the that much of the forest is federally-owned, not state.


It's Not All Bias 

While you've seen just how biased news outlets can be, they are fair sometimes. Here are articles that pleasantly surprised us by conceding a point that supports the other narrative.

Sea Of Slush: Antarctic Sea Ice Lows Mark A New Polar Climate Regime

  • By highlighting that warmer weather caused by climate change is melting polar ice, OAN concedes a point to the Left narrative that says climate change is real right now.

Jane Fonda: Trump is a Disaster on Climate Change. But We Can't Let Gavin Newsom Off the Hook

  • By highlighting that the CA Governor (Newsom) is partially responsible for the wildfires, Newsweek concedes a point to the Right narrative that says West Coast states are at fault.

Civility Challenge

While we love a good yell-off, we tried listening and asking questions for once. You just learned a lot, now give it a whirl. You might just enjoy it! 

Some ones that worked for us were...

  • "Do you agree with how the whole thing has been covered? Why?"
  • "I'm definitely biased, but here's what my argument is built on... What's yours?"
  • "What do you think could shift your stance? For me, it's..."
Give Feedback (3 minutes tops, we promise)

Want to Learn More About Our Bias Ratings?

Our bias ratings are generated by AllSides, which they establish using input from thousands of users and a bipartisan review board.

Until next Wednesday, that's all from us. By now, you're a little more Civil. Well done!