(Sacramento, Los Angeles and Portland) Donald Trump swept aside climate concerns on Monday by stressing that he would end up “cooling down” during a briefing in California on the fires ravaging the coast west for over a week.
Jerome CARTILLIER, Laurent BANGUET and Cyril JULIEN
France Media Agency
“It will eventually cool,” assured the US president during an exchange with Wade Crowfoot, a local official at the California Natural Resources Protection Agency in Sacramento.
“I don’t think science really knows,” added the Republican candidate, who regularly makes climate skepticism.
“This doesn’t get cold indeed Mr. President #realclimate change,” Mr. Crowfoot replied on Twitter, pairing his post with a graphic of rising temperatures in California.
“The observed evidence speaks for itself: climate change is real and it worsens” fires, also insisted Gavin Newsom, Governor of California.
The dozens of blazes that have been devastating the coast for days have already done at least 27 dead since the start of the summer, including 16 this week alone in the three states of Washington, Oregon and California.
The American president has arrived in Sacramento, the capital of California, but he must stay there only a few hours, before leaving for a stopover in Arizona, one of the key states that could change the November 3 ballot.
Democratic candidate Joe Biden at the same time raged against his rival, who he said denies the reality of climate change, partly responsible for the fires ravaging the American West.
“If we give a climate arsonist four more years in the White House, how could we be surprised that America is set on fire even more? The former vice president said during an open-air address in Wilmington, Delaware, where he lives.
“We have a choice, we can commit to moving forward together, because we know that climate change is an existential challenge that will determine the future of our country”, or “we can choose the path of Donald Trump : ignore the facts, deny the reality, which amounts to surrender completely, ”he said.
Kamala Harris, Joe Biden’s running mate, will also travel to California, the state she represents in the Senate, on Monday to assess the damage and meet with emergency services the next day.
The Republican official points to an alleged mismanagement of forests in these states, controlled by his Democratic opponents.
“It is forest management that is at issue,” he said at a campaign rally in Nevada on Saturday night, without ever mentioning climate change. “Remember those words, forest management”.
According to scientific consensus, the scale of these forest fires is well linked to climate change, which aggravates chronic drought and causes extreme weather conditions.
In California, the results for the week went up to 15 Victims, including 11 in Butte County alone , still traumatized by the memory of the fires of November 924 which had reduced to ashes the city of Paradise.
Eight people had already been killed in fires in August in the state.
The acrid fumes given off by the flames affect huge areas. The cities of Portland, Seattle and San Francisco were among the most polluted in the world on Monday, according to the IQAir company ranking.
Ten deaths have been recorded in Oregon.
In Mehama, east of the state capital, Salem, police checkpoints limited access to the towns of Mill City and Lyons, evacuated in the face of the advancing Beachie Creek fire. Long lines of cars waited in the thick fog, with many farmers eager to return to feed their animals.
“We went back to Mill City this morning, but the police had advised us not to do it, because it is dangerous”, explained to AFP Elaina Early, a resident of this small town crossed by flames. “The house is standing, but we are leaving now because the conditions are really not good. “
More than 400 00 0 hectares went to ashes in Oregon, double what normally burns there each year, Governor Kate Brown noted on CBS Sunday. About 500 00 0 inhabitants are subject to a more or less high level of evacuation order, and 40 000 0 people have effectively left their accommodation.
“This should make us all aware that we must do everything in our power to fight against climate change”, she declared.
Another victim, a baby, was mourned in Washington State.
The fires have already consumed more than two million hectares on the west coast, while the fire season does not theoretically end until November.