President Donald Trump flew to California last week to assess firsthand the wildfires that have ravaged the west for weeks, killing at least 35 people, forcing hundreds of thousands from their homes, burning millions of acres across three states and unleashing smoke that drifted all the way back to the White House in Washington, D.C.
In a meeting Monday, California officials implored the president to acknowledge the role that climate change played in the wildfires. Trump has blamed California for not raking up dead leaves and other bad forest management practices. When Wade Crowfoot, California’s natural resources secretary, chided the president — “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” — Trump flatly dismissed the point. “It’ll start getting cooler,” he said. “You just watch.”
The fantasy that the Earth will “start getting cooler” is only the latest scientific delusion from a president who has a long history as a climate denier. Whether one believes Trump is ignorant or indifferent, or even both, the net effect nonetheless is that this mindset and the policies and inaction that follow endanger American lives, livelihoods and property. It comes despite the president’s access to the greatest experts and scientific resources available. It also comes as a warming climate and its varied impacts — including severe drought, record high temperatures and rising sea levels — increasingly threaten more Americans from coast to coast. The same week the president toured a fire-ravaged west, the Atlantic Ocean had five tropical cyclones active at the same time, only the second time that has happened in recorded history.
Here is a sampling of Trump’s comments on climate change from both before and after he became president.
The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.
— Nov. 6, 2012
It’s freezing outside, where the hell is “global warming”??
— May 25, 2013
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I’m not a believer in global warming. And I’m not a believer in man-made global warming. It could be warming, and it’s going to start to cool at some point.
— Sept. 21, 2015, as Trump ran for the Republican presidential nomination
I don’t believe it.
— Nov. 26, 2018, responding to report by U.S. government agencies that unchecked global warming would devastate U.S. economy
I don’t think it’s a hoax...But I don’t know that it’s man-made.
— Oct. 14, 2018
The whole climate crisis is not only Fake News, it’s Fake Science. There is no climate crisis, there’s weather and climate all around the world.
— March 12, 2019 Trump retweet of a quote by a guest on “Fox & Friends.”
Editorials are the institutional voice of the Tampa Bay Times. The members of the Editorial Board are Times Chairman and CEO Paul Tash, Editor of Editorials Graham Brink, and editorial writers Elizabeth Djinis, John Hill and Jim Verhulst. Follow @TBTimes_Opinion on Twitter for more opinion news