Biden blames U.S. wildfires on ‘climate arsonist’ Trump
While Joe Biden labeled President Trump a “fire arsonist,” blaming the West Coast wildfires on climate change, Trump traveled to California on Monday to discuss the federal response, contending the primary problem is bad forest management.
At a briefing with President Trump in Sacramento, Gov. Gavin Newsom pointed out that the federal government owns nearly 58% of California’s 33 million acres of forest land, while the state owns just 3%, underscoring the impact of federal policy.
It turns out that nearly 30 years ago, President Bill Clinton restricted the ability of the U.S. Forest Service to thin out dense foliage and downed trees on federal land. And that policy has created the conditions for massive wildfires, contends Bob Zybach, an experienced forester with a PhD in environmental science.
He told the Daily Caller News Foundation that Clinton’s policy, enacted shortly before he left office in 2001, created a ticking time bomb.
“If you don’t start managing these forests, then they are going to start burning up. Thirty years later, they are still ignoring it,” said Zybach.
Zybach, who spent more than 20 years as a reforestation contractor, warned officials years ago that warding off prescribed burns in Oregon and California creates kindling fuelling fires.
At a rally Sunday night in Minden, Nevada, Trump, said he had spoken to officials in Oregon, California and Washington state, and “they’ve never had anything like this.”
“But, you know, it is about forest management,” he said. “Please remember the words, very simple: forest management.”
There are other factors, he said, but it’s mostly about forest management.
Meanwhile, Biden, in a televised speech Monday in Delaware, insisted that four more years of Donald Trump would put the planet in peril.
“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?” he said. “If you give a climate denier four more years in the White House, why would anyone be surprised when more of America is underwater?”
Trump: ‘I don’t think science knows’
Shortly after Biden’s speech, Trump was in California at the briefing with Newsom and state and federal officials on the fire disaster.
Newsom, noting he is grateful for the president’s cooperation, acknowledged forest management is a problem while “respectfully” pointing to a difference of opinion on climate change.
Wade Crawfoot, secretary of the state’s Natural Resources Agency, told Trump that global warming is making the fires worse.
He said 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.”
Trump responded, “It’ll start getting cooler, you just watch.”
Crawfoot replied, “I wish science agreed with you,”
“I don’t think science knows, actually,” the president said.
After the briefing, Trump told reporters of his conversation with a European leader who said his heavily forested nation didn’t have a major problem with wildfires.
“He said, ‘We have trees that are far more explosive’ — explosive in terms of fire — but ‘we have trees that are far more explosive than they have in California, and we don’t have any problem, because we manage our forests.’ So we have to do that in California,” Trump said.
Trump on fires: But you know it is about forest management pic.twitter.com/roVri8xt3x
— Acyn Torabi (@Acyn) September 13, 2020
‘Almost 100% the cause’
Zybach argues that climate change has almost nothing to do with the increase of fire kindling across forest floors.
“The lack of active land management is almost 100% the cause,” he told TheDCNF.
University of Washington climate scientist Cliff Mass told TheDCNF in 2018 that “global warming may contribute slightly, but the key factors are mismanaged forests, years of fire suppression, increased population, people living where they should not, invasive flammable species, and the fact that California has always had fire.”
Zybach explained that the Clinton’s “Roadless Rule” hindered the deployment of controlled burns designed to cull the underbrush in forests to lessen the chance of massive fires.
The rule was part of a resolution Clinton adoped in 1994, the Northwest Forest Plan, to protect forests from being over-logged. The ultimate objective was to turn forests in the West into pristine land free of human interference.
Years of keeping the forest in its natural state result in dead trees and dried organic material that become like matchsticks soaked in jet fuel during dry seasons, he said.
The timber removed from land between 2000 and 2013 declined by 80%.
University of California at Berkeley professor Scott Stephens, a leading authority on wildfires, has pointed to the large number of dead trees left standing as a serious fire risk that needs to be addressed, BBC News reported.
Fires have killed 26 people in Washington, Oregon and California since August. More than half-a-million people have evacuated their homes in Oregon, representing about 10% of the state’s population. About 100 massive fires were blazing in the West on Saturday, including 12 in Idaho and nine in Montana, the National Interagency Fire Center said. More than 4.5 million acres have been burned in 12 states.
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