This is a national problem at least, and more appropriately a global one since — unless you’re President Donald Trump, who insists the fires will abate once the season changes — this climate change thing isn’t going away.
He’s right, of course. Fall will come and temperatures will cool. But he’s stubbornly and ridiculously wrong that climate change is a hoax.
What’s the difference between climate and weather and how is a changing climate fueling forest fires? Read more here.
If he wouldn’t believe the wildfires, you’d think maybe the fact that we’ll start reaching into the Greek alphabet to name storms in the Atlantic this year would help convince him. It won’t. Here’s the latest on Hurricane Sally, which is expected to bring catastrophic flooding to the Gulf Coast.
California officials were respectful of Trump on Monday, when he visited the state. (They need federal money.) But they still told him the science is pretty clear.
Trump, true to type, said he doesn’t think science knows anything. Who cares if he meant it as a joke. Wildfires burned an area the size of Connecticut out of California this year. Dozens of people have died and more than 4,200 structures have been claimed by fire. And Trump is still focused on forest management.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom, who delicately tried to point the science out to Trump, on Tuesday met with a political ally, Kamala Harris, the state’s current junior senator and former attorney general who is also the Democrats’ vice presidential nominee.
On Monday, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden called Trump a “climate arsonist.”
Climate action is one of the most important distinctions between these candidates in November.
Trump wants to expand the dominant US fossil fuel economy, spewing more carbon into the air he doesn’t think is changing.
Biden wants to transition the entire US economy to deal with the climate crisis.
Both men, essentially, want to spend trillions of dollars. Trump wants to cut taxes even more than he already has without enacting any spending cuts to to the social safety net.
Biden, on the other hand, has offered up a plan that some experts say could equal $5.4 trillion in new spending — a half-step to the Green New Deal championed by more progressive Democrats. Tax increases, mostly on the wealthy, would pay for more than $3 trillion of that, according to estimates.
Part of his effort to rebuild parts of the economy devastated by coronavirus would be to spend big — $2 trillion or more — on infrastructure and transportation in upgrades that would green the US and set the goal of emissions-free power by 2035.
The choice between the two on this issue is quite stark.
Trump routinely brags about US oil production.
Biden makes leaving oil behind a selling point of his candidacy.
These men are selling very different futures for the country. None is more different than on climate change, which most Americans agree is occurring, but that elicits a wide swing in level of alarm.
What Trump won’t do vs. what he wants done
Where Trump will and won’t use the power of the US is often stunning when you put it all together.
He won’t use the US government to slow the changing of the climate, something which is endangering people in real time because of wildfires and poses an existential threat to humans.
He won’t use the US government to encourage people to wear face masks and stop the spread of Covid.
He will, however, push the Department of Justice to look into John Bolton, his former national security adviser, for writing a book that argues Trump’s an unfit international leader.
DOJ has not commented on the criminal probe, which was first reported by the New York Times. But the probe would be in line with what Trump asked for, in tweets over the summer, when he argued Bolton broke the law by publishing the book.
The White House had argued, trying to stop publication, that Bolton did not complete a pre-publication censor of classified information, although a judge rejected the claim.
The Bolton DOJ investigation belongs in the same category as Trump’s latest efforts to discredit former Defense Secretary Gen. James Mattis. He did that while also sort of admitting he’d asked the Pentagon to assassinate Syrian President Bashar al Assad.
He will retweet stupid theories about Joe Biden. This one walks right up to the QAnon line. It’s hard to say if it’s right to call out this silliness or ignore it. But when he’s feeding this to his tens of millions of Twitter followers, it’s hard to let go unchecked.
Trump gets his own historic Mideast peace photo op
Trump’s administration should rightly get some credit for helping usher in a wave of new agreements between Arab nations and Israel to normalize relations.
Both the UAE and Bahrain have moved to a friendlier posture with Israel. It’s not the full peace in the Middle East with the Palestinians, but it’s still a very big deal.
Trump appeared in Washington on Tuesday with the leaders of all three nations, albeit with social distance in the time of Covid.
Read more about today’s developments and what they mean for the Middle East from CNN’s Jerusalem bureau chief Oren Liebermann, who put some context behind Trump’s boast the signing of these so-called “Abraham Accords” will “change the course of history” and marks “the dawn of a new Middle East.”
It certainly echoes previous key steps toward Mideast peace, either in normalizing relations between Israel and an Arab nation or facilitating talks between Israel and the Palestinians.
The most famous took place on September 17, 1978, when US President Jimmy Carter, Israel’s President Menachem Begin, and Egypt’s Anwar Sadat signed the Camp David Accords. A peace treaty between Israel and Egypt followed in March of 1979.
Bill Clinton hosted photo ops in the Rose Garden, with Israel’s Yitzhak Rabin and the Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. He also oversaw the normalization of relations between Israel and Jordan at the White House.
Later, after a lot more drama, he hosted another one in 1998 with Arafat and Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu, who is back in office and was also present at the White House today.
In 2000, it was Clinton with Arafat, but this time with Israel’s Ehud Barak.
President George W. Bush met multiple times with the Palestinian Authority’s Mahmoud Abbas and several successive Israeli leaders, including Ariel Sharon and and Ehud Olmert.
There was no Palestinian representative at today’s White House events. (Here’s a good chronicle of decades of Mideast peace photo ops from Tablet Magazine.)
Each of these meetings signified some new step in the peace process. Today’s is another such step. There will be more, hopefully.