Trump, Biden clash at #USfires climate-front, ‘it’s cooling’ says one, ‘climate-arson’ accuses other.Tue 15 Sep 2020
Joe Biden branded 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 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 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.
Those incendiary conditions gave way over the weekend to cooler, moister weather and calmer winds, enabling weary firefighters to gain ground in efforts to outflank blazes that had burned largely unchecked last week.
Biden, the Democratic presidential nominee slammed by Republicans for not visiting disaster areas, spoke from his home state of Delaware on the threat of increasingly frequent weather extremes that scientists have pointed to as evidence that climate change is supercharging the fires.
“If we have four more years of Trump’s climate denial, how many suburbs will be burned by wildfires? How many suburban neighborhoods will have been flooded out?”
Trump, who trails Biden in national polls ahead of the Nov. 3 election, met with firefighters and officials in California after Democrats blasted the Republican president for remaining mostly silent on the wildfires.
“I think this is more of a management situation,” Trump answered, when asked by a reporter if climate change was a factor behind the fires. Foregoing larger wildfires that have raged elsewhere around the world in recent years – from southern Europe to Australia and Siberia – Trump asserted that other countries ‘don’t have this problem.’
“They have more explosive trees, meaning they catch fire much easier,” he said. “But they don’t have problems like this.”
Trump has previously referred to climate change as a “hoax,” and in 2017 pulled the United States out of the Paris accords laying out an international approach to global warming.
Biden, on the other hand, has included climate change on his list of major crises facing the United States.
Tens of thousands of displaced residents across the Pacific Northwest continue to adjust to life as evacuees. While some have set up food stations in parking lots, others have defied evacuation orders to guard their own homes from looters.