Joe Biden has termed President Donald Trump a “climate arsonist” on Monday for refusing to acknowledge global warming’s role in deadly wildfires sweeping the western United States, while Trump appeared to renege scientific consideration, blamed lax forestry and declared, “I don’t think science knows.”
Dozens of conflagrations have raged with unprecedented scope across some 4.5 million acres (1.8 million hectares) in Oregon, California and Washington state since August, laying waste to several small towns, destroying thousands of homes and killing at least 36 people.
The fires also have filled the region’s air with harmful levels of smoke and soot, bathing skies in eerie tones of orange and sepia while adding to a public health crisis already posed by the coronavirus pandemic.
Ten deaths have been confirmed during the past week in Oregon, the latest flashpoint in a larger summer outbreak of fires accompanied by catastrophic lightning storms, record-breaking heat waves and bouts of extreme winds.
Trump insisted: “When you get into climate change, well, is India going to change its ways? Is China going to change its ways? Is Russia going to change its ways?” he told reporters when he arrived in Sacramento. “We’re just a small speck. They make up a big preponderance of the pollution.
Speaking in Delaware, Biden reacted: “If we have four more years of Trump’s climate denial, how many suburbs will be burned in wildfires, how many suburban neighborhoods will have been flooded out, how many suburbs will have been blown away in superstorms?” Biden asked. “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 … when more of America is under water?”
California’s governor, Gavin Newsom, in the briefing with Trump acknowledged a need for better forest management but said “we come to the perspective, humbly … that climate change is real and that is exacerbating this”.
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