Trump denies climate change during visit to California after wildfires

Governor Jerry Brown accompanied Donald Trump on a walk through the ashes of the Northern California town of Paradise on Saturday, where the President repeated his view that forest management was to blame for the fire, the most destructive in California’s history.

President Donald Trump visited California to survey the deadliest and most destructive wildfire in the state’s history, greeted by Governor Jerry Brown and his successor, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, both of whom are Democrats and have sparred with the Republican over the cause of the deadly blazes.

The Camp Fire, in northern California, which has killed at least 76 people and more than 1,200 people have been reported missing, is now about 55% contained but fire officials say they may not have it fully under control until the end of the month.

In Southern California, just outside of Los Angeles, the Woolsey Fire is 82 percent contained after engulfing 98,362 acres.

In the destroyed town of Paradise, Trump described the scene as “sad” and reiterated his disputed claim that poor forest management was to blame.

“We do have to do management maintenance and we’ll be working also with environmental groups. I think everyone’s seen the light,” he said.

“I don’t think we’ll have this again to this extent,” Trump said.

Historically, California’s “wildfire season” started in summer and ran into early autumn – but experts have warned that the risk is now year-round.

Low humidity, warm winds, and dry ground after a rain-free month have produced a prime fire-spreading environment.

Speaking to journalists, Trump – who repeatedly referred to the devastated town of Paradise as “Pleasure” – and Newsom pledged to work together to prevent future wildfire tragedies.

However, the president said it had not changed his point of view on climate change. Authorities say the scale of the fire was fuelled in part by a severe lack of rain that resulted from a changing climate.

“I have a strong opinion,” Trump said in response to questions from reporters. “I want great climate and we’re going to have that and we’re going to have forests that are very safe.”

Experts have pointed to the weather, climate change and population shifts as bigger causes of the wildfires.

His communications staff immediately cut off questions once the president started making assinine comments that contradict facts and demonstrate agonizing ignorance about the circumstances, as Brown and Newsom stood nearby.

“You gotta take care of the floors. You know the floors of the forest, very important,” Trump said. “You look at other countries where they do it differently and it’s a whole different story. I was with the president of Finland and he called it a forest nation, and they spend a lot of time on raking and cleaning and doing things and they don’t have any problem. And when they do, it’s a very small problem.”

Trump appeared to be talking about the need to thin forests that are overgrown from decades of fire suppression, something that Brown accelerated this fall when he signed a law approving $1 billion in state money over the next five years for forest thinning projects and controlled burns.

Trump did not mention that many of the fires, particularly in Southern California, aren’t burning in forests at all, but in chaparral, or that fact that this one began in an area of federal land, the Plumas National Forest.

Social media users pounced on Trump’s remarks, noting that while California has a mostly dry Mediterranean climate, Finland is a Nordic country at the same latitude as Siberia, Greenland and Alaska, where temperatures reach -45 F in the winter, and the local animals include reindeer.

Under the hashtag #rakeamericagreatagain they mocked Trump for expressing such stupidity.

Trump suggested Saturday he was prepared to shut down the federal government next month if Congress fails to give him the money he wants to build a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico.

“If I was ever going to do a shutdown over border security — when you look at the caravan, when you look at the mess, when you look at the people coming in,” the president said. ” … This would be a very good time to do a shutdown.”

The president has asked lawmakers for $5 billion for new wall construction in fiscal 2019, but Democrats oppose the project and a bipartisan Senate compromise earlier this year included just $1.6 billion for it.

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