Though State Farm said nothing about climate change in its press release, there’s no question that California has struggled mightily with wildfires in recent years. Data collected by Policygenius show California experiences more wildfires than any other U.S. state (9,280 in 2021) and the most acreage burned (2.2 million acres).
Worse, California’s wildfires tend to be the most destructive. The Golden State suffered $14 billion in insured wildfire losses in 2017, the most in history. The worst years for other states don’t even come close: The next closest is Texas, which suffered $530 million in insured wildfire losses in 2011, followed by Colorado ($450 million in 2012) and Arizona ($120 million in 2002).
Many have seized on California’s struggles with wildfires to perpetuate the myth that wildfires are at historic highs in the United States—they are not—because of climate change. The truth is wildfires are not a serious problem in most parts of the U.S., and it’s not because the climate change gods are fickle, but because these states practice better land management.
In a 2020 ProPublica article, journalist Elizabeth Weil pointed out that California officials have turned the state into a tinderbox through years of fire suppression.
Plus: “The authorities have shown they are far less competent than the indigenous tribes who managed the land far more effectively through prescribed fire.”