This week people and animals will die, forests and habitats will burn and billions of dollars worth of property will be destroyed in California because substandard zeal was employed in the service of Donald Trump’s ego. Donald Trump has threatened to cut off funding for wildfires sweeping California because California’s governor is a Democrat, and Trump doesn’t like him. Trump blames Governor Gavin Newsom for the fires, saying he has done a “terrible job of forest management,” despite the fact that a considerable percentage of the fires happened in unforested areas.
In a shrill, taunting tweet, the Infant-in-Chief sniveled, “Every year, as the fire’s [sic] rage & California burns, it is the same thing – and then he comes to the Federal Government for $$$ help. No more. Get your act together Governor.”
At least the part that Trump acknowledges, that a pattern of fires in California has emerged over the last few years, is certainly true. My sister’s home in Santa Rosa was destroyed in the now infamous Tubbs Fire two years ago. Since then much of California has become an inferno with unbreathable air and terrifying conditions.
Today the state I called home for 26 years, with its clean sparkling air and sun-dappled vistas, is all but unrecognizable. The culprit, of course, is climate change – and it’s getting worse. We know this to be true because science recognizes the clear and unstoppable loop-back mechanism that is making it worse. As long as greenhouse gases continue to be pumped into the air and cause the sun’s heat to be retained, global temperatures will continue to rise and conditions ideal for fires will continue to increase in size and number.
This is a fact acknowledged by virtually 100% of the earth’s climate scientists. But Donald Trump, a man who can’t spell, never reads and is beholden to the coal and oil company doubts it, on absolutely no supporting evidence. Trump thinks California’s problem is due to the fact that they don’t rake the leaves often enough. “You don’t believe in climate change,” The Governor tweeted back to Trump. “You are excused from this conversation.”
Climate scientists are resigned to the reality that California wildfires are now a yearly phenomenon. Increased temperatures due to global warming will continue causing huge wildfires there, according to a recent study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Drier and warmer conditions lead to vegetation drying out and becoming more flammable.
In 2018 Trump made a similar threat to cut federal aid after the The Ranch Fire, the most deadly fire in California’s history. In truth, Trump would like to help out, but a couple of years ago he and the Republicans of Congress gave billionaires a $1.5 trillion tax break and he’s a little short of cash. But he’s working diligently on his golf game to make up for it.
Robert Harrington is an American expat living in Britain. He is a portrait painter.