President Trump went on a long rambling commentary while touring the devastation brought by California’s raging wildfires alongside Governor Jerry Brown and Governor-elect Gavin Newsom near the Camp Fire site today. Attempting to appear as if he actually knew something about the topic at hand, Trump cited the lack of forest fires in Finland, a phenomenon related to that country’s meticulous raking of the forest floor as he claimed was related to him by the Finnish President Sauli Niinistö.
Trump’s anecdotal evidence was lambasted on Twitter almost immediately as people pointed out the substantial differences between the Finnish climate and that of California, after, of course, making fun of the president for calling the ground in the forest a floor.
It's called the ground.
"You gotta take care of the floors. You know the floors of the forest, very important. I was with the President of Finland…they spent a lot of time on raking and cleaning and doing things and they don't have any problem." pic.twitter.com/Mn6nmcoXiP
— Holly Figueroa O'Reilly (@AynRandPaulRyan) November 17, 2018
That it was actual Finnish citizens pointing out the differences made the Twitter responses to Trump’s forestry and climate illiteracy all the more effective.
I perhaps wouldn't compare Finland and California climate-wise…
And besides, 80% of the country is classified as forest land. We don't exactly manicure all of it. https://t.co/fthi7FUw0N
— Veli-Pekka Kivimäki (@vpkivimaki) November 17, 2018
— Ville Terenius (@ThatTerenius) November 17, 2018
Of course, plenty of Americans jumped into the pile-on as well.
Someone please show Donald Trump a globe so he knows how close to the North Pole Finland is in comparison to Southern California. https://t.co/L0FgA0RL7x
— Billy Procida (@TheBillyProcida) November 17, 2018
In November, the average high temperature in Chico, California is 65 degrees; in Finland, it’s 34 degrees.
— Harold Itzkowitz (@HaroldItz) November 17, 2018
It’s doubtful that President Trump knows much of anything about the forests of Finland, but a cursory web search turned up the fact that Finland is Europe’s most heavily forested country, with 75% of its land area covered by forests. During the past three decades, the average number of forest fires has been about 1000 fires annually, with an average burnt area of 0.5 hectares per fire.
Just for background on fires in Finland, where Trump asserted there are no forest fires. https://t.co/Wv5xyWO6Yf
— mark seibel (@markseibel) November 17, 2018
Yet despite this seemingly large number of fires in the heavily wooded nation, the Finnish Forest Association has declared that the country actually has too few forest fires.
“While other countries grapple with destructive and deadly forest fires, the problem in Finland is the opposite. From nature’s point of view, the diversity of species and habitats suffers from too few fires,” the association’s web site says.
“Burned-down forest is one of the rarest habitats in Finland,” says Henrik Lindberg, renowned forest fire expert and researcher at the Häme University of Applied Sciences.
Apparently, that endless raking has its downsides. In addition to the paucity of bio-diversity enhancing forest fires, there are many other significant differences between the situations in Finland and in California. Unlike the Golden State where 73% of the forestland is owned by the federal, state, and local governments, Native American Tribes, or corporations, 60% of Finnish forests are privately held.
Moreover, as the climate comparisons cited in the tweets above show, Finland is not in the middle of a historic period of climate change-induced drought as California has been suffering over the past decade. Indeed the weather in Finland, with the Arctic Circle traversing its northern quarter, makes for a quite soggy and cool forest “floor”.
Careful with the orangutan comparisons, Mr. Young, comedian Bill Maher was famously sued by Trump for making those!
Still, it does take the intelligence of a lesser primate for someone to utter the types of things that have flowed from the president’s brain through his mouth like a case of dysentery.
With Trump’s obvious disdain for science, perhaps his aides should suggest that he simply remain silent rather than embarrassing himself and our nation with his ignorant comments about climate and forest fires…or anything else for that matter.
Follow Vinnie Longobardo on Twitter. Original reporting by
Original reporting by The Finnish Forestry Association.