On Monday Sep 14th, during a briefing with fire and state officials in California, US President Trump suggested global warming will reverse itself and dismissed climate change as a cause of deadly fires covering swaths of western America.
On the third day of a re-election campaign trail, the President flew into Sacramento and rejected an argument from state officials that a heating climate is the underlying cause of ever-stronger summer blazes which have killed at least 35 people.
Trump’s stopover in California was to last only a few hours, before he resumed his campaign trail onward to Arizona.
Trump said “It will start getting cooler. You just watch”.
Wade Crowfoot, the head of the California Natural Resources Agency, responded saying, “I wish science agreed with you”.
Trump reiterated that the wildfires are due instead to insufficient maintenance of forest areas to make them less combustible in his argument, during his arrival into the state.
“There has to be strong forest management,” he said.
“With regard to the forests, when trees fall down after a short period of time, about 18 months, they become very dry. They become really like a match stick,” he added. “They just explode.”
Trump was assailed as a “climate arsonist” by Democratic challenger Joe Biden in a speech minutes earlier, saying that Trump’s re-election would be catastrophic for the environment.
While savaging Trump for failing to “take responsibility” for the ongoing wildfire crisis, Biden said “If you give a climate arsonist four more years in the White House, why would anyone be surprised if we have more of America ablaze?”
Biden said “We need a president who respects science, who understands that the damage from climate change is already here”.
Climate change creates ideal conditions for wildfires to spread out-of-control and inflict unprecedented damage as it amplifies droughts which dry out regions.
A combination of nearly five million acres (two million hectares) across California, Oregon and Washington state have been razed, which is an area roughly the size of the state of New Jersey, and authorities fear an increase in the death toll.
Though California governor Gavin Newsom was in agreement with Trump that better forest management was needed, he stuck to his argument that global warming fuelled most of the fires.
Newsom also said the overall cause of the problem paints a much bigger picture.
“The hots are getting hotter, the dries are getting drier,” he said. “We submit the science is in and observed evidence is self-evident: That climate change is real and that is exacerbating this.”
Kamala Harris, Democratic vice-presidential candidate, is set to tour the damage on Tuesday as well. Her tweets stated that the fires were “intensified by the climate crisis” and that Trump has “denied evidence” of such a link.
Since the blazes started in the beginning of summer, at least 35 people have died, out of which 27 deaths took place last week alone.
President Trump has remained mostly silent with regard to the massive blazes in recent weeks, which has fuelled criticism especially from the Democrats for his not acknowledging the crisis.
On Monday, dense smog coated much of the West Coast, making Portland the world’s most air-polluted city according to IQAir.
Washington state governor Jay Inslee told ABC’s This Week that “It’s apocalyptic”.
Governor Inslee said “It’s maddening right now we have this cosmic challenge to our communities, the entire West Coast of the United States on fire, to have a president to deny that these are not just wildfires, these are climate fires”.
There are currently more than 30,000 firefighters battling the blazes at various fire sites. Weather officials have forecasted windier conditions could replace the improved cooler weather on Monday.
15th September 2020 20:00