T.The air outside my window is yellow today. It was orange yesterday. The air quality index is above 200. The Environmental Protection Agency defines this as a “health warning” in which “anyone can have more serious health effects if they are exposed for 24 hours”. Unfortunately, the index has been above 200 for several days.
The west is on fire. Forest fires in California, Oregon, and Washington are burning homes, killing dozens of people, making many others sick, evacuating hundreds of thousands, burning entire cities, consuming millions of acres, and blanketing the western third of the United States with thick acrid and dangerous smoke.
Yet the President said and did almost nothing. A month ago Trump wanted to protect life in Oregon and California from “rioters and looters”
Today Portland is in danger of being burned and Oakland and Los Angeles are under health warnings. Trump will visit California on Monday, but he said little.
One reason: these states voted against him in 2016 and he still holds a grudge.
He was on the verge of rejecting California’s application for emergency funding.
“He told us to stop giving money to people whose houses were burned down because he was so angry that the people in California weren’t supporting him,” said Miles Taylor, former chief of staff at Homeland Security.
Another explanation for Trump’s silence is that the forest fires are linked to man-made climate change, which Trump humanely did everything possible to worsen.
Extreme weather disasters are raging across America. On Wednesday, the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration released its latest report on the state of the climate, noting that the US was not hit by disasters worth $ 4 billion until August. In addition to forest fires, there were two enormous hurricanes and an extraordinary derecho in the Midwest.
These are inconvenient facts for a president who has spent much of his presidency dismantling every major climate and environmental policy he can get his hands on.
Starting with his unilateral decision to get out of the Paris Climate Agreement, Trump was the most environmentally friendly president in history.
He called climate change a “joke”. He has claimed, without evidence, that windmills cause cancer. He has weakened the Obama-era limits on carbon dioxide to warm the planet from power plants, as well as from cars and trucks. He reset the rules for clean air, water, and toxic chemicals. He opened more public land for oil and gas drilling.
He specifically targeted California and revoked state authority to set stricter emissions standards for automobiles than the federal government required.
In total, the Trump administration has reversed, repealed, or otherwise reversed nearly 70 environmental regulations. More than 30 rollbacks are still in progress.
Now, seven weeks before election day, when much of the nation is either on fire or suffering from other consequences of climate change, Trump is fearlessly defending his record and attacking Joe Biden.
“The core of [Biden’s] The economic agenda is a crusade by the left against American energy, ”Trump said in a speech in the Rose Garden last month.
Not quite. While Biden has made tackling climate change a core part of his campaign and proposes investing $ 2 billion in a massive green jobs program to build renewable energy infrastructure, his ideas aren’t exactly radical. The money would be used to improve energy efficiency, build 500,000 charging stations for electric vehicles and increase renewable energy from wind, solar and other technologies.
Biden plans to end the use of fossil fuels for power generation by 2035 and bring America to net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 at the latest. His goals might be too modest. If what is happening now in the West is any indication, 2050 will be too late.
Even so, Americans have a clear choice. In a few weeks, when they decide whether Trump deserves another four years, climate change will be on the ballot.
The choice shouldn’t be difficult to make. Like the coronavirus, the dire consequences of climate change – along with Trump’s utter misconduct – offer clear evidence that the common good is no less important to him.