During a conversation yesterday with California officials in charge of managing the wildfires ravaging the state, Donald Trump dismissed the scientific evidence that climate change plays a role in these disasters, even after one officially pleaded with him to pay some damn attention.
President Trump, at today's wildfires briefing: "It'll start getting cooler. You just watch."
Wade Crowfoot, California Secretary for Natural Resources: "I wish science agreed with you."
President Trump: "Well, I don't think science knows actually." pic.twitter.com/EEbhUvdPVT
— The Recount (@therecount) September 14, 2020
… At one point, state Natural Resources Agency Secretary Wade Crowfoot urged the president to “recognize the changing climate and what it means to our forests.”
“If we ignore that science and sort of put our head in the sand and think it’s all about vegetation management, we’re not going to succeed together protecting Californians,” Crowfoot added.
Trump responded, “It will start getting cooler, just you watch.”
Crowfoot politely pushed back that he wished the science agreed with the president. Trump countered, “I don’t think science knows, actually.”
Science knows. At the very least, science can help us understand the situation we’re in far more than the Republican strategy of sticking your fingers in your ears at every turn.
While that disturbing conversation was taking place, Democrat Joe Biden gave a speech correctly describing Trump as a “climate arsonist.”
“If we have four more years of Trump’s climate denial, how many suburbs will be burned in wildfires?” Mr. Biden asked. “How many suburban neighborhoods will have been flooded out? How many suburbs will have been blown away in superstorms? 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?”
The wildfires don’t care who’s president. But the climate crisis will get significantly worse if the country is run by a president and a party that actively ignores or rejects science when it doesn’t suit their political agenda. More people will suffer because of continued GOP negligence, and because of an electoral system in which a Republican president can just flat-out ignore blue states like California, there’s no incentive for Trump to take measures to prevent the worsening of the crises.
As Biden said so clearly:
“Donald Trump’s climate denial may not have caused these fires and hurricanes,” Biden said. “But if he gets a second term, these hellish events will continue to become more common and more devastating and more deadly.”
You don’t have to love Biden to recognize the truth in what he’s saying. There’s a choice in the election: Vote for our planet’s own destruction, or vote for the only option that gives us a chance at reversing the trend. Anyone choosing to sit out this election or make a protest vote for some third party candidate is incredibly selfish and undoubtedly cruel; they’d rather see the world burn than vote for an imperfect candidate who’s far superior to the current president.
Trump’s scientific illiteracy (to put it kindly) is damning on a national scale, and it’s true of GOP governors at the state level. Republicans have won elections by treating science as the enemy instead of our shared reality. That myopic strategy has haunted us during the pandemic. Now people on the West Coast are seeing it right outside their windows.
Ignoring science isn’t an option. But electing people who ignore science unfortunately remains a very real possibility.