[11/13/18] – The California Wildfires: Mass Media and Climate Change

At the writing of this post, 42 people have died, consumed by flame in the California Camp Fire in Butte County. Many more remain unaccounted for. This is the deadliest wildfire in California history. Many scientists argue that the wildfires in California, like other dramatic changes in the environment, are a product of climate change. Not only is it predicted that we will have more wildfires as terrible as this one, but that they will increase in size, intensity, and even frequency. This week we focus on the wildfire, but also how it is part of a broader discussion of global climate change in the mass media.


Instructors, click on the link below to download this week’s lecture for use in your classroom. The deck contains a writing prompt, a debate question, as well as other assessment questions.

Download the PowerPoint Lecture Spark for The California Wildfires: Mass Media and Climate Change





High winds, high temperatures, pervasive drought. These extreme conditions are driving two enormous fires in California, and many more throughout the American West and much of Northern and Western Europe. William Brangham talks with Michael Mann of Pennsylvania State University about the ways climate change is contributing to the danger and destruction.



Two major wildfires in California have forced thousands to evacuate. At least 42 people are dead, and more than 200 are unaccounted for. CBS News correspondent Mireya Villarreal is in northern California, covering the Camp Fire.






Writing: President Trump has questioned the link between climate change and the California wildfires. Please construct an argument for why the wildfires are not due to human-made climate change. 

Debate: If addressing climate change could make a better world for future generations, but not your own, would you still want to work towards addressing it anyway? Why or why not?

Poll: To what degree do you believe climate change is human-caused/made?

  • 0
  • 10-20
  • 30-40
  • 50-60
  • 70-80
  • 90-100

Short Answer: If your home state or country increasingly became threatened by the wildfires California is predicted to have, would it alter your views towards climate change? 


Current Events Quiz


More than ____ structures have now burned down in the Camp Fire.

  • 9100
  • 7100
  • 1700
  • 1900


The Camp Fire is not the only fire scorching the land right now. There are also wildfires in___.

  • Southern California
  • Alaska
  • Western Florida
  • New Orleans


President Trump believes that the California wildfires can be partly blamed on ____.

  • climate change
  • poor forest management
  • rising homelessness
  • economic policy


According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, a drier climate in California could promote up to a___ increase in large wildfires.

  • 300%
  • -20%
  • 90%
  • 65%


President Trump expressed concern that preparing for climate change was not worth the harm to___.

  • endangered species
  • certain industries
  • his overseas holdings
  • Russian relations

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