With hundreds of thousands of Americans being forced to evacuate their homes in the western United States, Donald Trump has not said a word about the forest fires in several states in nearly three weeks.
However, some National Democratic leaders have also been slow to draw attention to the California, Oregon, and Washington fires that killed more than 20 people, forced millions to breathe ashes from an orange sky blocking the sun, and seen hundreds of thousands from People are fleeing their homes.
Climate activists say the lukewarm political response, particularly from Democratic House spokeswoman Nancy Pelosi, is another sign that US politicians are far from taking concrete steps to deal with the realities of climate change, let alone laws to write to stop fossil burning fuels to slow its effects.
Another four years in office of Trump would destroy the international climate movement, but even a democratically controlled government cannot handle the crisis significantly.
Last week, Pelosi barely mentioned the fires ravaging her home state of California until asked about it on Thursday on MSNBC and at a weekly press conference.
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When asked if Democrats would immediately pursue major climate change laws if they gained control of Congress and the White House, Pelosi gave a mixed up answer.
“Well, we will … we will obviously, hopefully, have subsided the Covid pandemic – if there is any thought that Republicans in Congress will be paying attention to science,” she said.
“Right now they’re in a place where they don’t believe in science and don’t like governance. So they don’t want a reason to have to govern, to demand standards to defeat the virus … but of course – in other words, to open our schools and our economies – the virus has to be in the first place. But yes, it will be part of the agenda early. “
Pelosi added that climate change has long been her “flagship”, spoke of a 2005 energy bill she was involved in passing, and noted that House Democrats have produced a climate report.
Pelosi spokesman Henry Connelly pointed to Pelosi’s comments on forest fires and climate change in interviews and press conferences two weeks ago, August 26-27. He said that under her leadership, the House had made it a priority to pass climate-focused laws, noting that this weekend she convened the G7 parliamentary leaders on the climate crisis and economic and environmental justice.
However, Pelosi previously made fun of the Green New Deal – a progressive proposal for massive spending to tackle inequality and the climate crisis at the same time – calling it the “green dream.”
So did Dianne Feinstein, the senior Democratic Senator for California, who told children who came into her office last year to sign up to a Green New Deal that she disagreed with the plan, also because there were “none Opportunity to pay for it ”.
Feinstein recently issued a statement linking the more intense fires to climate change and calling for political changes to help communities prepare and fight fires. However, it did not write any guidelines to stop rising emissions.
“You look up at the sky and wonder. It’s not just Republicans who are failing us. It’s also the Democrats who are not fighting for a better climate future, ”said Rebecca Katz, a progressive political advisor and founder of New Deal Strategies. “Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said that climate delay is the same as climate denial. And it’s hard not to see this point crystal clear on a morning like today. “
Joe Biden has a $ 2 billion plan to try to virtually eliminate climate emissions by 2050, but he repeats frequently that he wouldn’t try to ban fracking – the process that sparked a gas drilling boom in the US . In doing so he has earned the support of some reluctant trade unions.
“The Biden Campaign believes that full implementation of an aggressive climate change agenda could cause problems in the upper Midwest,” said Dan Schnur, who has served as advisor to former California Governor Pete Wilson and the Senator of Arizona, John McCain, acted. “Trump has shown no interest in talking about California other than using it as a liberal punching bag to represent his case on behalf of his conservative base.”
On Thursday, Biden’s campaign tweeted a video about the destruction, saying, “Make no mistake: climate change is already here – and we are seeing its devastating effects every day.
“We have to get President Trump out of the White House and treat this crisis like the existential threat that it is.”
Sabrina Singh, a spokeswoman for Kamala Harris, said Biden and Harris had “been closely monitoring forest fires across the state and highlighting the urgent need to address the threat of climate change.”
Barack Obama also tweeted photos of a glowing, smoke-filled San Francisco, urging supporters “to vote as if your life depends on it – because it is”.
That’s compared to Trump, who has held 46 public events since Aug. 23 where he could have tackled the forest fires but didn’t, according to a review by the Climate Power 2020 group.
When asked why he failed to do so, White House spokesman Judd Deere said Trump “closely monitored” the fires and sent federal funds and personnel to help states fight them. Deere pointed to a tweet in which Trump spoke to California Governor Gavin Newsom to “express his condolences for the loss of life and reaffirm the government’s full support to help those on the front lines of the fires” .
The high-profile democratic allusions to the climate crisis are an improvement on a few years ago, when the topic was barely addressed in the presidential debates. However, activists say it is not enough. The planet is already 1C hotter than before industrialization. Getting at least 3 ° C hotter is on the right track. The forest fire season is increasing and the climate-induced drought makes the fires more dangerous. Stronger hurricanes are ripping apart communities on the Gulf Coast. Iowa and other Midwestern states are still swaying from a derecho.
“It is unfortunate that the speaker’s district is being affected by current developments,” said Anthony Rogers-Wright, policy coordinator for the Climate Justice Alliance.
“There are far too many in the democratic leadership who believe that climate change is a wedge problem. When it’s really about a topic that, if articulated correctly, could bring everyone together. “
On Thursday, the Climate Justice Alliance joined a “coalition of grassroots, trade unions, black, brown and indigenous leaders” in support of a Congressional resolution aimed at “creating nearly 16 million good jobs, revitalizing our economy and.” address the interlocking climate crises change, racial injustice, public health and economic inequality ”.
Without saying the words “Green New Deal”, the objectives of the measure are closely coordinated.
The resolution has sponsors from across the Democratic political spectrum: Senators Chuck Schumer, Ed Markey, Cory Booker, and Elizabeth Warren; and representatives Deb Haaland, Debbie Dingell, Donald McEachin, Sheila Jackson Lee, Raul Grijalva, Rosa DeLauro, Brendan Boyle, Barbara Lee, Ilhan Omar and Ro Khanna.
In a virtual press conference on Thursday, Democratic Senator Jeff Merkley from Oregon spoke about the “almost apocalyptic moment” in his state.
He accused an influx of “dark money” from the fossil fuel industry in political campaigns and said their contributions brought Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell to power.
“We’re seeing bigger, more intense disasters coming in on a regular basis that are absolutely in line with what happens when you have a warmer planet,” Merkley said. “We must now translate that into a determined, hopefully non-partisan effort to have a bold, massive undertaking to tackle it.”