Forced To Acknowledge Wildfires, Trump Now Lying About The Management And Solutions

Washington, D.C. – Today, President Donald Trump traveled to California to receive a briefing on the catastrophic wildfires currently burning across 10 Western states after facing mounting criticism that he was ignoring the crisis.

Instead of acknowledging the near-universally accepted truth that the wildfires are fueled by climate change, Trump has been repeating a false claim that the solution to the fires that have burned 4.9 million acres across the West is better forest management. 

“President Trump ignored the wildfires for three weeks, and now he’s ignoring the science that shows these wildfires are more widespread, damaging, and deadly because of climate change,” said Lori Lodes, Executive Director of Climate Power 2020. “Instead of governing, Trump is blaming Democratic state governments. Trump and Republicans can’t deny climate science any longer and need to help the millions of Americans at risk because of climate change — regardless if they live in a red state or a blue state.” 

Trump’s claims that forest management is the solution to address the climate-change fueled wildfires is a blatant lie and an attempt to distract from his administration’s focus on rolling back health and safety protections and giveaways to fossil fuel CEOs. Additionally, the majority of these fires are currently burning on public lands, raising the question of why Interior Secretary Bernhardt or Forest Service Secretary Sonny has yet to comment on the wildfires and Trump’s forest management claims.

As Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti explained: “It’s been very clear that years of drought, as we’re seeing, whether it’s too much water and too much rain in parts of our country right now, or too little,” Garcetti told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union.” “This is climate change and this is an administration that’s put its head in the sand.” 

Trump spent nearly three weeks completely ignoring the wildfires. Between August 23 and Saturday Trump did not mention the wildfires in any way, shape, or form despite holding close to 50 public events. When he did last address the fires in mid-August, he blamed California for the wildfires and said “you gotta clean your floors” — a refrain he’s now repeating ahead of his California visit.

Below is background on how the wildfires have been made worse by climate change.

CLIMATE CHANGE IS MAKING WILDFIRES MORE DEADLY AND WORSE

  • Extreme heat is driving fires. Research shows heat waves are now larger, increasingly intense, and lasting longer than decades ago.
  • In California, extreme heatwaves — like the ones of recent weeks — are now 3 to 4 degrees Fahrenheit warmer due to climate change.
  • The number of acres burned by wildfire has doubled in recent decades due to climate change. A National Climate Assessment Report found “that the area burned by wildfire from 1984 to 2015 was twice what would have burned had climate change not occurred.”
    • And climate change — not fire management — is the cause. The area burned from 1916 to 2003 was more closely related to climate factors than to fire suppression, local fire management, or other non-climate factors.
  • A recent study from this spring found that the frequency of autumn days with extreme fire weather conditions has more than doubled since the 1980s, fueled by a combination of less rainfall and warmer temperatures.
  • Since the 1970s, California has experienced a five-fold increase in the annual burned area and an eight-fold increase in summer forest fire extent. At least 17 of California’s top 20 largest wildfires have burned since 2000.
  • NOAA ranked the U.S. summer as one of the hottest on record.

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