Nearly 2,000 miles west of the Cleveland auditorium where President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden sparred in their first televised debate Tuesday night, fires have scorched a record 2.5 million acres and incinerated entire towns ― and there are still several months left in the fire season.
The president shrugged off a question about what should be done about it.
“That’s burning down because of lack of management,” he said, echoing past arguments that raking leaves and other forest management tasks were all that is needed to combat wildfires that in the past decade have burned more than twice as many acres per year on average than in the 1990s.
Pressed on whether he understands the role that human-caused emissions are playing in heating the planet, causing prolonged droughts and extending a fire season that has already doubled in length since the 1970s, Trump extolled the need for “immaculate air and immaculate water.”
“You know, we’re planting a billion trees,” Trump said.
That there was any climate question at all was a surprise from Fox News moderator Chris Wallace, and it offered one of the clearest contrasts in a 90-minute verbal cacophony of disinformation, petty jabs and schoolyard squabbling.
Biden pitched his plan to add “millions of good-paying jobs” created by new efforts to eliminate the energy sector’s emissions by 2035 and build 500,000 charging stations for electric vehicles. He vowed to halt Trump’s chaotic withdrawal from the Paris climate accord and marshal U.S. allies to fund efforts to stop deforestation in countries such as Brazil.
“We’re going to be in a position where we can create good jobs by making sure the environment is clean and we are all in better shape,” Biden said.
Climate is perhaps Trump’s greatest weakness. For years, his party’s opposition to climate science has been out of step with the American public, which overwhelmingly has favored clean-energy...