Trump baselessly questions climate science during California wildfire briefing

Elias Hubbard
September 15, 2020

Mr Trump, who flew into Sacramento in central California on the third day of a reelection campaign swing, pushed back against state leaders who said that climate change underlies the ever-stronger blazes.

To that, Trump replied, "Absolutely".

The official responded: "I wish science agreed with you".

President Donald Trump speaks during a briefing at Sacramento McClellan Airport, in McClellan Park, Calif., Monday, Sept. 14, 2020, on the western wildfires.

While counterattacking Trump's unfounded assertion that Biden would "abolish" the suburbs if elected president, Biden mentioned wildfires burning the suburbs in the West, floods wiping out suburban neighborhoods in the Midwest and hurricanes "imperiling suburban life" along the country's coasts, in a warning against the dire long-term consequences of the President's reluctance to acknowledge climate change.

Calling Trump a "climate arsonist", Biden said: "If we have four more years of Trump's climate denial, how many suburbs will be burned by wildfires?"

"We can commit to doing this together, because we know that climate change is the existential challenge that is going to determine our future as a country", Mr Biden said, on the grounds of the Delaware Museum of Natural History.

"Or we can do it Donald Trump's way: ignore the facts, deny reality, which amounts to a full surrender and a failure to lead".

Trump's visit also showcased the ideological differences between Trump and California lawmakers.

Biden has made combating climate change a centerpiece of his campaign, while Trump early in his presidency withdrew the US from the global Paris climate change pact.

He said forest management changes were something that could be tackled quickly, whereas climate change would take more time.

"With regard to the forest, when trees fall down, after a short period of time, about 18 months, they become very dry and like a match stick", Trump said.

The overwhelming majority of climate scientists are in agreement that although fires are part of the ecosystem in some regions, it is the climate crisis that is making them more frequent and more intense as conditions become hotter and drier.

Wildfires have ravaged parts of California, Oregon and Washington, so far leaving at least 35 people dead and burning almost five million acres.

California Governor Gavin Newsom acknowledged that his state had not done enough to manage forests and has acknowledged that over 100 years of fire suppression has allowed fuel to build up. But he said global warming was driving fires, reminding Trump that 57 per cent of forests in the state were under federal management. It's also promising that the Riverside fire-the biggest blaze that roared through Clackamas County and has so far burned 450,000 acres-is being slowed by firefighters who are now able to set up multiple containment lines in the area.

"The hots are getting hotter, the dries are getting drier", he said.

During a roundtable on Monday with the president, Newsom said his state can do a better job of forest management, but told Trump that it is "self-evident that climate change is real and that is exacerbating this".

Smoke and flames have combined to envelop the cities of San Francisco, Seattle and Portland with some of the worst air quality in the world.

Drone footage showed hundreds of homes reduced to ashes in the southern OR communities of Phoenix and Talent, around 8 km south of Medford last week, after a wind-driven firestorm raced north, blowing embers into trailer parks and residential subdivisions.

Governor Kate Brown, along with state fire and emergency officials, presented their fourth wildfire update since the blazes started last week, and the news is both promising and disturbing.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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