As wildfires sweeping the west coast states assumed center stage on Monday (September 14) in the US election campaign, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden stressed the role of climate change in stoking the fires, saying President Donald Trump, who has blamed the fires on poor forest management, has not done enough.
“Donald Trump’s climate denial may not have caused these fires and record floods and record hurricanes, but if he gets a second term, these hellish events will continue to become more common, more devastating and more deadly,” he said.
The blitz of wildfires across Oregon, California and Washington state has destroyed thousands of homes and a half dozen small towns since August, scorching more than 4 million acres (1.6 million hectares) and killing more than two dozen people.
Biden has blamed human-caused higher average temperatures in US West coast states for the wildfires and included climate change in his list of major crises facing the United States, along with the coronavirus pandemic.
Calling Trump a “climate arsonist,” Biden said, “If we have four more years of Trump’s climate denial, how many suburbs will be burned by wildfires? How many suburban neighborhoods will have been flooded out,” he said.
Democrats have blasted Trump for remaining mostly silent about the largest wildfires in state history, except for his efforts to blame the blazes on failures by the state government.
Trump, who pulled the United States out of the Paris accord that laid out an international approach to combat climate change, has authorised federal disaster aid for both California and Oregon and is due to meet with firefighters and emergency officials in Northern California.