Trump challenged on climate change during wildfire briefing

A California environmental official challenged President Donald Trump to believe and follow the science on climate change after Trump suggested that record-breaking temperatures in the state would cool down on their own.

“It’ll start getting cooler. You just watch,” Trump said after Wade Crowfoot, California’s secretary for natural resources, urged him and others not to “put our head in the sand” and simply ignore the warming climate.

Trump’s remark during a roundtable in McLellan Park, California, on the wildfires that have engulfed huge swaths of the state, generated laughs from some of the participants.

But Crowfoot responded: “I wish science agreed with you.”

Trump, with a smirk, shot back: “OK, well, I don’t think science knows, actually.”

US President Donald Trump(C) listens as FEMA workers speak at Sacramento McClellan Airport in McClellan Park, California on September 14, 2020 during a briefing on wildfires.

Brendan Smialowski | AFP | Getty Images

The White House declined CNBC’s request for further comment on the president’s remarks.

Crowfoot tweeted later Monday: “It actually won’t get cooler Mr. President. #ClimateChangeIsReal.”

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, speaking in Wilmington, Delaware, on Monday, struck a very different tone on the issue.

“With every bout with nature’s fury, caused by our own inaction on climate change, more Americans see and feel the devastation in big cities, small towns, on coastlines and farmlands,” Biden said, according to his prepared remarks.

“It is happening everywhere. It is happening now. It affects us all,” Biden said.

The president has largely blamed the wildfires, which continue to blaze in parts of California, on poor forest management practices.

He said at the roundtable, which also included Democratic California Gov. Gavin Newsom, that he had been told by the leader of a “major country” in Europe that “‘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.'” 

Trump in the past has repeatedly called climate change a “hoax.”

But Crowfoot stressed in his remarks Monday that boiling temperatures in parts of California are part of a larger trend.

“We’ve had temperatures explode this summer. You may have learned that we broke a world record in the Death Valley – 130 degrees [Fahrenheit]. But even in greater L.A., 120-plus degrees. And we’re seeing this warming trend make our summers warmer, but also our winters warmer, as well,” Crowfoot said.

“I think one area of mutual agreement and priority is vegetation management, but I think we want to work with you to really recognize the changing climate and what it means to our forest, and actually work together with that science, that science is going to be key.”

“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 said.

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