As misinformation spreads online about the west coast wildfires, this firefighter is debunking it one TikTok video at a time
Because we’re literally living in the End Of Times thanks to a variety of factors — climate change and conspiracy theories being two big ones right now — it’s refreshing when a calm, soothing voice of reason swoops in with cold, hard facts when they’re sorely needed. Like this firefighter, who is debunking conspiracy theories about the horrifying west coast wildfires, one TikTok video at a time. (Yes, he’s handsome, which is just an added bonus for all of us.)
Across various social media channels, conspiracy theorists have been using a fire map of the U.S. to fuel conspiracies that the fires are somehow orchestrated, because they “stop at the borders” of Canada and Mexico. (Deep breaths, everyone, deep breaths.) This means these conspiracy theorists truly believe they have a leg to stand on when they say that the fires aren’t caused by climate change. Even though smoke from the west coast has reached New York and Pennsylvania, these theories abound.
According to “WildlandMike” on TikTok, an actual firefighter who might, uh, know a thing or two about this stuff, all of this misinformation needs to be debunked. STAT.
@wildlandmikeOriginal duet got taken down… ##wildfire##califire##conspiracy♬ original sound – wildlandmike
The original conspiracy video Mike responded to was taken down, but his response is still going viral all over social media.
“There are a lot of fires going on right now in our country, but was it planned?” the woman says in her portion of the video. Mike’s response: “No.”
“Is it not weird to you guys that the fires know when to stop at the border?” the woman asks.
“Cause it’s a U.S. database map,” Michael says. “Not going to be reporting Canada fires.”
And he’s 100% correct because here’s the map these conspiracy theories are referencing:
Myth #1: the wildfires stop at the border.— Prof. Katharine Hayhoe (@KHayhoe) September 14, 2020
Truth: By definition, maps based on US federal data don't show fires outside US borders; but it doesn't mean they don't exist. Here's a US map (left) and 🇨🇦 map (right). We do a bit better with recognizing we're part of a continent 😁 pic.twitter.com/c0tarKb3bv
Snopes and Firefighter Mike here are also on the same level. “For those who take such posts seriously, the simple answer is that fires don’t stop at national borders, but many maps produced by U.S. agencies only display US-derived data and thus don’t reflect activity occurring across the border,” Snopes stated.
Another theory shared in Mike’s viral video, that he brilliantly responds to, is the woman showing “footage” of half-burned trees in an area dozens of miles away from Grand Canyon National Park.
“If this was just a regular fire, why were there biohazard signs all over the place?” she asks, showing clearly doctored images.
Bad news for her, though, is that Mike here used to work in that park. WHOOPSIES!
“That’s literally not there – I’ve worked there, it even looks edited,” he said.
He shared another video recently with a looney asserting the same map theory.
@wildlandmikeAnother one. ##wildfire ##califire ##fyp ##conspiracy ##fire♬ original sound – wildlandmike
Mmmm we love a hot cup of good, factual information in the morning! And so does all of social media (the part of social media that isn’t bogged down by conspiracies, obviously).
I've been to the spot where that radioactive sign is...it's in Ukraine...at Chernobyl. pic.twitter.com/5Q7BfQGdHG— Fresno2Minneapolis (@SFGlobeTrekker) September 16, 2020
i love firefighters, and when i say they're basically all hot, it's not a pun or anything. this is beautiful, thank you for sharing it so i could see it.— Laura Davis (@lauradavis) September 16, 2020
Give hot rational firefighters all the raises.— Tyler King (@TylerAKing) September 16, 2020
One of the many things I love about this is how very firefightery his responses are. Just very calm with zero tolerance for nonsense.— Katie MacBride (@msmacb) September 17, 2020
Ok, but if like I set a fire, would he come over?— Roman (@RomanRT_) September 17, 2020
ASKING FOR A FRIEND
Yeah, all of this.
Thank you, Firefighter Mike, for giving us all the useful information delivered in a very calm, factual, “firefighter” way. May that conspiracy theorist hide in shame for all eternity (or at least until the next crisis rears, sigh).