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  • Writer's pictureDeric Hollings

Where There's Smoke, There's Fire

On August 26, 2023, I posted a blog entry entitled A Series of Unfortunate Events, in which I addressed a rational concern regarding climate change alarmism. In particular, I stated, “Dear reader, if you refuse to be gaslit in regards to what could be human-lit fires, your resolve doesn’t mean you’re crazy.”

Specifically, I addressed California wildfires. My suspicion was that fires throughout the state and even across the globe may be explained by elements unrelated to global warming or climate change, such as in the case of arson.

On August 30, 2023, Patrick T. Brown posted an article in the internationally peer-reviewed journal Nature, entitled “Climate warming increases extreme daily wildfire growth risk in California.”

Brown essentially acknowledged that “numerous confounding factors” made it difficult to deterministically state one way or another as to where anthropogenic climate change (human impact on Earth’s climate) was more or less significant than natural factors.

However, on September 5, 2023, and in a turn of events which I find fascinating, Brown addressed problems he experienced when publishing the aforementioned Nature article. When writing for The Free Press, Brown admitted that “over 80 percent of wildfires in the US are ignited by humans.”

Explaining his actions, Brown added:

To put it bluntly, climate science has become less about understanding the complexities of the world and more about serving as a kind of Cassandra, urgently warning the public about the dangers of climate change. However understandable this instinct may be, it distorts a great deal of climate science research, misinforms the public, and most importantly, makes practical solutions more difficult to achieve.

Peer-review is broken. Climate change isn’t exactly what it’s said to be. Alarmism, irrational beliefs, and reactive emotions are arguably more exhilarating than the careful measures it takes to perform a rational approach to science.

In contention to Brown’s admission, one Bloomberg contributor stated:

It’s true that there is an allure, at least for those of us in the media, to lean into the lurid when it comes to climate. It’s difficult to get readers to pay much attention otherwise. If it bleeds it leads, and all that. But it’s also true that most climate scientists and writers still take great pains to avoid being too apocalyptic or definitive in their declarations, lest they be accused of doom-mongering that would incite climate deniers and trigger unproductive despair in normal people. Many of us think and argue constantly about such messaging. That’s a healthy thing.

Peer-review isn’t broken. Climate change is exactly what it’s said to be. Alarmism, irrational beliefs, and reactive emotions may be more exhilarating than careful measures it takes to perform a rational approach to science, though climate scientists and writers carefully address the matter in a reserved manner.

Here, I’ve provided two competing narratives:

Narrative 1: Anthropogenic climate change isn’t as concerning as it’s said to be.

Narrative 2: Anthropogenic climate change is as concerning as it’s said to be.

How’s a layperson to determine which of these narratives is or isn’t valid? I’m not a climate scientist and even if presented with raw data, I can’t make heads or tails of it.

With narrative 1, I’m cautioned to believe that special interests have overhyped climate change rhetoric. With narrative 2, I’m warned to believe that climate change is a serious matter regarding which no upstanding scientist or writer would dare over-report.

Instinctively, I distrust Mockingbird media sources. As well, I’m familiar with stories like that relating to John Leonard Orr, a fire captain and arson investigator who is believed to have set nearly 2,000 fires in a 30 year arson spree between 1984 and 1991.

Alternatively, I don’t deny the plausibility of natural and anthropogenic climate change factors having an influence on the Earth. Perhaps anecdotally, the current summer seems like one of the hottest Texas summers I can recall, as one source declares it the second hottest on record.

Though I’m aware many may not like what I’m about to say, I’m going to say it nevertheless. I have no idea about whether or not narratives 1 or 2 are valid and reliable. I simply don’t know.

This is how a great number of events in my life unfold. There remain competing narratives which could sway my attention in one direction or another and render me unable to decipher fact from fiction, reality from fantasy, or truth from falsity.

Some people determine a similar proposal—that one simply does not know what one perhaps believes should, must, or ought to be known—and because of their self-disturbing beliefs, they freak out. Unlike them, I don’t deceive myself by believing I have more control or influence than I actually do.

The phrase “where there’s smoke, there’s fire” indicates there may be rumors or signs that something is true, and even if not entirely valid, there may be some credibility to what is being proposed. Regarding anthropogenic climate change, I think there’s plenty of smoke and there may be some authenticity to the claim.

However, I simply have no way of knowing and I don’t have the cognitive, emotive, or behavioral resources to invest in alarmism of this sort. While I’m not saying others mustn’t devote their lives to this matter, I’m merely practicing unconditional acceptance in my own life and concerning this issue.

How about you, dear reader? Do you unconditionally accept that you have little control or influence over the values and behavior of other people?

Do you perhaps deceive yourself by believing you can or will force your beliefs upon others, and that they should accept your behavior? How much of your remaining years are you prepared to dedicate towards an issue about which you may know very little, like me?

You can drive an electric vehicle, recycle, post a poorly written blogpost (like mine), and try to make your life as green as you can. This seems like a rational approach to life, as you don’t rigidly demand that others ought to do as you do.

You may also give tyranny a try, irrationally forcing upon others and the world your authoritarian dictates. Which method of living will best serve your personal interests and goals?

Suppose your interest is to selflessly protect the planet and your goal is to reduce greenhouse emissions to zero. Is this a pragmatic interest or practical goal that you may actually accomplish?

Imagine there are others who don’t share your desires and aims. What are you prepared to do so that your objectives are met? You may want to churn up sociopolitical support, shaming people and voting in politicians who will violate the rights of others—all for the imagined rights of the planet.

Are you willing to become the oppressor so that you and others who share your worldview can terrorize the lives of people who don’t share your beliefs? And through it all, understanding that you likely know less about climate change than I, will you be satisfied once you accomplish your task and inevitably die at any rate?

I don’t have the answers to these questions. After all, I accept the limits of my abilities and live my life according to sensible ambitions. If you would like to let go of the control you never held in the first place and begin living in a manner that is rooted in reality, I may be able to help.

Then again, you may want to metaphorically light yourself on fire to keep others warm, burn yourself to a crisp in order to save the Earth, or blaze through delusional beliefs while smoldering in irrational emotions for the sake of perceived global righteousness. You have choices.

If you’re looking for a provider who works to help you understand how thinking impacts physical, mental, emotional, and behavioral elements of your life—helping you to sharpen your critical thinking skills, I invite you to reach out today by using the contact widget on my website.

As a psychotherapist, I’m pleased to help people with an assortment of issues ranging from anger (hostility, rage, and aggression) to relational issues, adjustment matters, trauma experience, justice involvement, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, anxiety and depression, and other mood or personality-related matters.

At Hollings Therapy, LLC, serving all of Texas, I aim to treat clients with dignity and respect while offering a multi-lensed approach to the practice of psychotherapy and life coaching. My mission includes: Prioritizing the cognitive and emotive needs of clients, an overall reduction in client suffering, and supporting sustainable growth for the clients I serve. Rather than simply helping you to feel better, I want to help you get better!

Deric Hollings, LPC, LCSW


Borchard, E. (2023, September 8). Parts of Texas just experienced the hottest summer on record. Spectrum News. Retrieved from

Brown, P. T. (2023, August 30). Climate warming increases extreme daily wildfire growth risk in California. Nature. Retrieved from

Brown, P. T. (2023, September 5). I left out the full truth to get my climate change paper published. The Free Press. Retrieved from

Gongloff, M. (2023, September 8). No, climate scientists aren’t being forced to exaggerate. Bloomberg. Retrieved from

Hollings, D. (2023, August 26). A series of unfortunate events. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from

Hollings, D. (2022, October 31). Demandingness. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from

Hollings, D. (2022, March 15). Disclaimer. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from

Hollings, D. (n.d.). Hollings Therapy, LLC [Official website]. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from

Hollings, D. (2023, May 18). Irrational beliefs. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from

Hollings, D. (2023, April 24). On truth. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from

Hollings, D. (2023, February 17). Revisiting the circle of control. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from

Hollings, D. (2022, November 1). Self-disturbance. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from

Hollings, D. (2022, October 7). Should, must, and ought. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from

Hollings, D. (2022, July 11). Unconditional acceptance. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from

Wikipedia. (n.d.). John Leonard Orr. Retrieved from

Wikipedia. (n.d.) Operation Mockingbird. Retrieved from

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