“I don’t think science knows that, actually,” Trump said at a Monday briefing with officials in McClellan Park, Calif., Laughing.
He told Wade Crowfoot, secretary of California’s Natural Resources Agency, “It’s going to start to get cooler. Just watch.”
Crowfoot had warned the president against the dangers of ignoring science and “sticking your head in the sand and thinking it’s all about vegetation management.”
Trump was also directly confronted with the state’s Democratic Governor, Gavin Newsom, who was adamant about the role of climate change in the wildfires, bluntly telling the president, “Climate change is real.”
“We are obviously very convinced that the hot spots are getting hotter and hotter,” Newsom said. “The dry ones are getting drier. When we have heated domes, like we have never seen in our history.
“We come from a perspective, humbly, where the science is in, and the observed evidence is clear that climate change is real and it’s making it worse,” the governor added.
Newsom told Trump to “please respect – and I know you do – the difference of opinion here on this fundamental question on the issue of climate change.”
“Absolutely,” Trump replied.
Trump and California officials agreed that continued federal assistance in forest management was needed.
Just before his briefing, a reporter asked Trump what role climate change is playing in the fires.
“Well, I think it’s more of a management situation. If you look at other countries, if you go to other countries in Europe, Austria, Finland … these are forest nations. “They are in the forests and they don’t. I have problems like this,” replied the president.
The president also suggested that other nations should take more responsibility for their pollution levels than the United States, because the United States is “just a small dot.”
But when it comes to greenhouse gas emissions, the United States is not a “dot”. While U.S. emissions declined in 2019, the United States remains the world’s second-largest contributor of global warming gases.
“When you get into climate change, well, is India going to change its ways? And will China change its ways? And Russia? Will Russia change its ways? ? ” Trump asked.
As recently as Saturday, the president celebrated his decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris climate agreement at the start of his administration.
The global deal was aimed at tackling climate change – precisely the issue according to experts playing a role in the massive fires. India, China and Russia were all signatories.
While Trump visited the West Coast on Monday, Joe Biden delivered a speech in Delaware warning of the devastating effects of climate change, calling the president a “climate denier” and “climate arsonist.” He also said that if Trump got another term it would do untold damage to the country.
Until last weekend, the president had remained largely silent about the wildfires, which charred millions of acres of land in California, prompted Oregon officials to prepare for a possible ” mass death incident “and created an apocalyptic orange sky and ash-raining clouds that drifted through the cities of the west coast.
CNN’s Kevin Liptak, Nicky Robertson, Christina Walker, Sarah Mucha and Maeve Reston contributed to this report.
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