What They’re Saying: Trump Denies the Reality of Climate Change
Washington, D.C. – More than 5 million acres have been burned across California, Oregon and Washington, with the death toll continuing to rise and millions of Americans at risk of evacuation. Yesterday, President Trump visited California to receive a briefing on the fires only to spread misinformation and climate denial claiming stating “it’ll start getting cooler, you just watch,” and “I don’t think science knows.”
WHAT THEY ARE SAYING
- California Governor Gavin Newsom: “We’ve known each other too long and, as you suggest, the working relationship I value,” Newsom told Trump during a meeting at McClellan Park, a former Air Force base near Sacramento. “We come from a perspective, humbly, where we submit the science is in and observed evidence is self-evident that climate change is real.” [The Washington Post, 9/14/2020]
- Director of the Sierra Club of California, Kathryn Phillips: “It’s all part of managing the state’s necessary relationship with a temperamental commander-in-chief.” “What essentially is happening is that Newsom is having to be, in a way, a sacrificial lamb,” Phillips said. “He’s the one who has to be very gentle with the president, even though I have no doubt that he disagrees with him on just about everything.” [The Washington Post, 9/14/2020]
- Mayor of Sacramento, Darrell Steinberg: “Showing up matters,” he said in an interview. “But more important is what you actually do. The country desperately needs national leadership around the climate emergency.” [The New York Times, 9/14/2020]
- The President of the Environmental Council of Sacramento, Ralph Propper: “Raking the leaves and forest floors is really inane. That doesn’t make sense at all,” “We’re seeing what was predicted, which is more extremes of weather.” [The New York Times, 9/14/2020]
- Forest ecologist and climate change scientist at UC Berkeley, Patrick Gonzalez:, “All credible scientists are in complete agreement on the human cause of climate change.” “Human-caused climate change has driven half the severity of a drought across the southwestern U.S., including California, from 2000 to today, the driest period since the 1500s.” [The Los Angeles Times, 9/15/2020]
- Research climatologist and Linfield University professor, Greg Jones: “The whole issue is that our ramping up of warming atmosphere over the past 100-plus years, and especially the past 30, 40 years has really put us in a situation in which the temperatures in the year are much warmer, were typically having more wide variability within our rainfall patterns,” Jones said. [KTVZ, 9/14/2020]
- Scientist from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Rengie Chan: “Wildfire smoke is severely impacting our air quality.” “For the San Francisco Bay Area, the wildfire season was started by dry lightning the night of August 16. Our area has been under ‘Spare the Air’ alert since August 17, and it’s been the longest stretch of consecutive alerts for our area.” “Wildfires produce a mixture of particles and gases from the burning of biomass, vehicles, residences and other buildings. These include organic carbon, black carbon (or soot), ash and heavy metals.” [Newsweek, 9/14/2020]
- UC Berkeley Forestry Specialist, Dr. Bill Stewart: “No amount of forest management would prevent the kinds of fires we’ve seen lately.” “The wind-driven fires we’re having now — nothing is going to slow those down,” he said. “When you get high, 30 mph consistent winds, it doesn’t matter what you did. It’s going to burn.” “They spend a few hundred dollars an acre reducing the fuels, the small trees, the broken branches, the litter, when they’re doing their timber harvesting.” “Having 6 of the 10 biggest fires in the last two years suggests that things are very different now than they were over the last 50 years,” he said. [CBS SF BayArea, 9/14/2020]
The Washington Post: The Energy 202: Trump’s latest climate denial undercuts attempted rebrand as a ‘great environmentalist’
Trump’s most recent remarks about climate change are giving Joe Biden fresh fodder. In a dueling appearance addressing the wildfires, the Democratic presidential nominee called Trump a “climate arsonist” and excoriated his environmental record. “Donald Trump’s climate denial may not have caused these fires and record floods and record hurricanes,” Biden said Monday in Wilmington, Del. “But if he gets a second term, these hellish events will continue to become more common, more devastating and more deadly. You know what is actually threatening our suburbs?” Biden added. “Wildfires.”
By contrast, Trump blamed the fires on solely poor forest management. Fire researchers say a century of rising temperatures and decades of fire suppression policies, which have allowed flammable material to build up in forests, are both contributing to the blazes.
CNN: Trump baselessly questions climate science during California wildfire briefing
Climate experts tell CNN due to human-caused climate change, temperature extremes are climbing higher and the vegetation is drier, which affects fire behavior. Trump was also directly confronted by the state’s Democratic governor, Gavin Newsom, who has been adamant about climate change’s role in the wildfires, bluntly telling the President: “Climate change is real.”
LA Times Editorial Board: Trump refuses to do anything about climate change, even as California and the West burn
Beyond that, Trump’s myopic focus on forest management misses the big picture. Climate change is undeniably behind the worsening fires.
New York Times: A Trump-Biden Split Screen on Climate
Even as he bore witness firsthand to the devastation caused by wildfires during a visit to California yesterday, President Trump continued to defiantly ignore the science of climate change.
Speaking to reporters, he blamed local officials for failing to contain the blazes, and for not clearing fallen leaves from forests. “When trees fall down after a short period of time, they become very dry — really like a matchstick,” Trump told reporters at the Sacramento airport. “And they can explode. Also leaves. When you have dried leaves on the ground, it’s just fuel for the fires.”
CBS Sacramento: ‘Climate Change Is Real’: Berry Creek Man Who Lost Home In Fire Calls Trump’s Comments Frustrating
It’s something that is frustrating to Robert, who says he has seen the effects of a warming world first hand and says it’s important to address now. “Climate change is real. There is no doubt in my mind,” he said.
Washington Post: Devastating wildfires out West inject climate change into the presidential campaign
The dueling appearances injected the issue of climate change squarely into a presidential campaign that has been dominated by the coronavirus pandemic, a faltering economy, racial justice protests and questions about which candidate has the character to lead. But the warming of the planet and its impact on daily life are now difficult to ignore, with millions of acres burning in California, Oregon and Washington state, leading to dozens of deaths, tens of thousands displaced and skies filled with a smoky, dangerous haze that blocks out the sun.
Slate: Trump Says Not to Worry About Climate Change as the West Burns
There’s not a lot to say about this video that isn’t already plain from the words that come out of President Donald Trump’s mouth. It’s just something of a reminder how the current president of the United States has separated himself from any commonly agreed upon sense of reality.
Politico: Climate clash hits 2020 race as California burns
The president, in California for a briefing on the fires, sparred with the state’s natural resources chief over his denial of the role that rising temperatures have played in the worsening fire season, with the secretary at one point responding to the president: “I don’t think the science agrees with you.”
While Biden and Trump’s divergent attitudes toward climate change were already well established, their comments on Monday only stood to underscore their differences on an issue that has put lives at stake.
The showdown came as historic wildfires have displaced tens of thousands of residents up and down the West Coast, tinged the sky a red-orange hue and created some of the world’s worst air quality in parts of California.
Politico: The West Coast gets hit first, again
Newsom presented him with charts showing the increase in temperatures and fire severity, as well as how California has outspent the federal government on forest management despite the feds owning 57 percent of forests in California. Trump responded with a denial that recalled his response to the pandemic…Even before this summer’s conflagrations, the wildfires were becoming an existential issue for California, which is particularly susceptible thanks to dry summers and population centers close to flammable areas. The state’s largest utility, Pacific Gas & Electric, declared bankruptcy last year over its role in sparking fires, and residents are becoming accustomed to planned power shutoffs to reduce the risk of more utility-caused blazes.
Grist: ‘Climate arsonist’: Biden slams Trump’s wildfire response with a new insult
Trump, on the other hand, has been waging a war on environmental regulation since he was elected, dismantling Obama/Biden-era rules, as well as decades-old ones, and opening up federal lands for oil and gas drilling. Until this week, the president was also notably silent on the West’s disasters, distracted by political fires in Washington over the way his administration has responded to the COVID-19 crisis and his alleged comments disparaging fallen military members.
Jennifer Rubin, Washington Post: All we have to fear is Trump himself
President Trump on Monday, demonstrating his willful ignorance and disdain for science, blamed the fires on exploding trees. When told that he was wrong to assert that the climate will cool off, he retorted, “I don’t think science knows.” It would be hilarious if it were not so tragic and if the consequences of his — and an entire party’s — climate change denial were not so deadly.
In the world of grown-ups, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden delivered a speech on Monday, during which he reminded us that, in the midst of a pandemic, an economic crisis and racial unrest, the fires are only one natural disaster — albeit an especially frightful one — that result from climate change, in addition to record-setting flooding, droughts and hurricanes.
CNN: Another presidential assault on science as fires and pandemic rage
On a day when Democratic nominee Joe Biden branded him a “climate arsonist” and global warming burst to the center of the campaign, Trump again ditched research and data for his own wild hunches and odd theories about California’s wildfires. And his counter-factual tendencies, which are responsible for widespread harm but are nevertheless embraced by supporters as germane to Trump’s political brand, were at work on multiple fronts Monday with America under assault from concurrent crises.
Axios: Wildfires ignite Trump vs. Biden climate battle
Why it matters: The day’s events together represent a proxy clash over climate policy, and also show how the disasters on the West Coast are raising the topic’s profile in the election’s final stretch.
Quick take: Let’s go back to Biden’s speech, which showed the campaign’s political strategy on climate change and extreme weather.
- Biden is trying to politically flip the script as they compete for suburban votes. Trump has, among other things, suggested that the sometimes-destructive protests in some cities will drive suburban voters to embrace his law and order message.
- “Donald Trump warns that integration is threatening our suburbs. That’s ridiculous. You know what is actually threatening our suburbs? Wildfires are burning the suburbs of the West. Floods are wiping out suburban neighborhoods in the Midwest,” Biden said.
IMPACTS ON CLIMATE CHANGE
The New York Times: The Air We Breathe
The worst effects of the wildfires are the direct ones: the deaths, the loss of homes and the destruction of natural habitat. But the secondary pollution effects — from the smoke that is clogging the air — are not minor.
The world’s most polluted cities are typically in Asia, like Delhi, Beijing, Lahore and Dhaka. Over the last few days, though, Portland, Ore., has had significantly worse air quality than any other city in the world. The air in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle hasn’t been quite so bad, but it has still been worse than in virtually any place outside the U.S.
New York Times: How Climate Migration Will Reshape America
Over the next two weeks, 900 blazes incinerated six times as much land as all the state’s 2019 wildfires combined, forcing 100,000 people from their homes. Three of the largest fires in history burned simultaneously in a ring around the San Francisco Bay Area. Another fire burned just 12 miles from my home in Marin County. I watched as towering plumes of smoke billowed from distant hills in all directions and air tankers crisscrossed the skies.
The New York Times: A Deadly Tinderbox
“The entire state is burning.” That was the refrain Jack Healy, our national correspondent, kept hearing when he arrived in the fire zone in Oregon. The scale of the wildfires is dizzying — millions of acres have burned, 30 different blazes are raging and thousands of people have been displaced. Dry conditions, exacerbated by climate change and combined with a windstorm, created the deadly tinderbox.
The Guardian: Northern hemisphere breaks record for hottest ever summer
Even if Donald Trump wins re-election and largely ignores climate change, states, cities and businesses could still cut emissions by 37% by 2030, the report finds.
The climate crisis is increasingly moving into the spotlight in the US presidential race. The Democratic nominee, Joe Biden, on Monday aggressively targeted Trump in remarks connecting historic wildfires in the western US to human-made climate change.