No disrespect meant to George W. Bush, but the original quote goes like this: “Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me.” So it might have sounded familiar to some of you when, on Monday, Donald Trump said of Climate Change, “It’ll start getting cooler. You just watch.” He said that to California’s Natural Resources Secretary Wade Crowfoot, after Crawfoot told him that California’s record-breaking temperatures and forest fires were a direct result of Climate Change.
And it’s deja vu all over again. You may recall Trump saying something similar about coronavirus, about how it would “magically” be gone by April once the temperatures turned warm, or Trump’s 32 other public utterances where he proclaimed that coronavirus would soon disappear and there was really nothing to worry about. (It’s ironic when you think about it, though. Not even temperatures enhanced by Climate Change could make coronavirus go away.)
Trump’s final verdict was this, and I had to listen to it twice to make sure I heard it right the first time: “I don’t think science knows.” Yes, after the end of a week when Trump had been severely burned by the Woodward revelations for publicly repudiating science about coronavirus when he privately knew better, Trump started another week by doing it all over again. Pay attention, Susan Collins, this is the extent to which Donald Trump doesn’t learn his lessons.
I encourage those of you who haven’t seen it to watch the footage of Trump saying this. He sits smugly with his arms folded as secretary Crawfoot explains to him, “If we ignore that science [Climate Change] and put our heads in the sand and think it’s all about vegetation management we’re not going to succeed together in protecting Californians.” Trump then smugly replies, “Okay, it’ll start getting cooler. You just watch.” Crawfoot replied, “I wish science agreed with you.” Trump chuckled and said, “Well, I don’t think science knows, actually.”
Yes, science does know. Does Trump know also? A week ago I would have responded in the negative. Today I’m not so sure. We know he’s capable of pretending that coronavirus is nothing when he secretly knows better. So it’s not a particularly long stretch to suspect he actually knows climate change is real and he pretends to think it isn’t. And we know he’s perfectly comfortable with letting people die and California burn.
Trump’s unhelpful response to California is to blame California. If only, he maintains, they managed their forests better. He’s added a new wrinkle to his leaf-raking solution. He now says the forests wouldn’t burn if California would only start plowing up periodic fire breaks. (Trump wasn’t so eloquent about it. He employed his limited vocabulary here and called them “cuts.”)
The trouble with this “solution” is, even if it worked, and it wouldn’t, California owns only 3% of its forests. A whopping 57% of California’s forests are owned by the federal government. So if Trump truly believed in his “cuts” solution, presumably he’d be doing them. So far, nothing. To those who still choose to continue to believe anything said by this monster, you’ve now been fooled twice in the same way and the shame is strictly your own. In any case, as a former twenty-six year resident of California, I do recall that the state had some lovely golf courses. So for Donald Trump, the visit needn’t be a total loss.
There are a million reasons why Donald Trump is unfit to be president of the United States, this has been another one. And, as ever, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, comrades and friends, stay safe.
Robert Harrington is an American expat living in Britain. He is a portrait painter.