BIDEN TAGS TRUMP AS ‘CLIMATE ARSONIST’ AS US WILDFIRES RAGE
Joe Biden branded President Donald Trump a “climate arsonist” on Monday (Tuesday, September 15, 2020, in Manila) for failing to acknowledge global warming’s role in deadly wildfires sweeping the western United States, while Trump said the crisis stemmed from lax forest management even as 57 percent of California is federal land.
Dozens of conflagrations have raged with unprecedented scope across more than 4 million acres (1.6 million hectares) in Oregon, California and Washington state since August, laying waste to several small towns, destroying thousands of homes and killing at least 35 people, Trevor Hunnicutt and Jeff Mason reported for Reuters.
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. “When you get into climate change, well is India going to change its ways? And is China going to change its ways? And Russia? Is Russia going to change its ways?” he said after landing in McLellan Park, California.
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? How many suburban neighborhoods will have been flooded out?” California Governor Gavin Newsom acknowledged more needs to be done to better manage forests to reduce fire risks, while more than a century of aggressive fire suppression has allowed fuels to build up. But he countered that global warming was nevertheless a driving factor in newly extreme wildfire behavior, and he reminded Trump that 57% of forest land in California is under federal ownership. “We come from a perspective, humbly, where we submit the science is in and observed evidence is self-evident: that climate change is real, and that is exacerbating this,” the Democratic governor said during a meeting with the president. Trump, who has authorized federal disaster aid for both California and Oregon, questioned that science. “It’ll start getting cooler, you just watch,” he said. “I don’t think science knows.”
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