MCCLELLAN PARK, UNITED STATES (AFP) – United States (US) President Donald Trump suggested global warming will reverse itself and dismissed climate change as a cause of the ferocious fires engulfing the west of the US.
As the focus of the US election campaign switched to the deadly blazes, Democratic challenger Joe Biden slammed the incumbent as a “climate arsonist” and said America would not be safe from the ravages of a warming planet unless it elects “a president who respects science”.
Infernos across California, Oregon and Washington state have burned more than five million acres this year, killed dozens of people and forced hundreds of thousands from their homes.
Whole towns have been ruined by the blazes, which have pumped out tonnes of noxious fumes that have hung in the air for days, blocking out the sun and making breathing difficult.
But Trump, in Sacramento on the third day of a re-election campaign swing, pushed back against state officials arguing that a heating climate underlies the ever-stronger fires.
“It will start getting cooler. You just watch,” Trump said, offering no evidence for the theory.
“I wish science agreed with you,” responded Head of the California Natural Resources Agency Wade Crowfoot. “I don’t think science knows, actually,” Trump said.
Reputable scientists around the world are almost unanimous in their belief that the world is getting warmer because of human activity.
This man-made climate change amplifies droughts, which dry out regions, creating ideal conditions for wildfires to spread out-of-control and inflict unprecedented damage.
Trump also repeated his argument that wildfires are caused by poor maintenance of forest areas, making them more combustible.
“There has to be strong forest management,” he said.
“With regard to the forests, when trees fall down after a short period of time, about 18 months, they become very dry. They become really like a match stick,” he added. “They just explode.”
Biden, speaking at his own campaign event on the opposite coast, said Trump’s re-election would be catastrophic for the environment.
“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?” Biden said.