President’s juvenile explanation for wildfires raises other questions

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Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2020 | 2 a.m.

After hearing President Donald Trump refuse to acknowledge that climate change had anything to do with the horrific wildfires in California and instead blame them on poor forestry management practices, Sun reader Jeff Avis came to us with some questions he felt were worth asking the president. We thought he was onto something, so we’re posing his questions today along with some of our own.

If the fires are a matter of not raking up dead leaves and pine needles, Mr. President, what other disasters would you claim are not associated with human-caused global warming?

Was bad forest management to blame for the fires in Australia last year, which burned 37,500 square miles — an area larger than the state of Indiana — destroyed thousands of homes and killed more than a billion native animals?

How about the 29,000 wildfires that were burning last month in the Amazon? Same thing? Not enough raking?

Tell us, Mr. President, were the fires in the freaking Arctic circle and Siberia because of bad forestry practices?

And what about the damage being caused by all these hurricanes and typhoons? Is there some explanation besides climate change for those, like maybe we’re designing bad storm sewers or failing to flush them out on a regular basis?

Why did Hurricane Sally — the earliest-named “S” storm in history — turn streets into rivers and neighborhoods into lakes, not long after Hurricane Laura did the same thing? Why were 12 million people forced out of their homes due to an unusually high number of floods and landslides in India, Nepal and Bangladesh this year, including flooding that left one-third of Bangladesh underwater at one point?

How about the back-to-back cyclones — Idai and Kenneth — that hit Zimbabwe, Malawi and Mozambique last year, taking more than 1,000 lives?

Closer to home, how about the “bomb cyclone” winter storm that left much of the Midwest underwater in 2019?

Just some kind of stormwater management issue, Mr. President?

Then there are these droughts, like the one we’re enduring in the Southwest. What’s the explanation there? Bad water management? We’re showering too long or something? Oops, that wouldn’t explain the below-average runoff we’re seeing in the Colorado River, would it? How do you explain new models showing that compared with an average year, just 55% of Colorado River water is flowing from the Rocky Mountains to Lake Powell and Lake Mead?

And we’re just one region battling these withering droughts. East Africa has suffered through severe drought conditions in 2011, 2017 and 2019, leaving 15 million people in Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia in need of aid while facing acute food and water shortages.

Central America is enduring six straight years of drought, with the typical dry season of three months extending to six months or more. The result is 2.5 million people suffering food insecurity in portions of Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and Nicaragua. So, Mr. President, what gives? It’s hard to blame Democrat-controlled governments for all of this, isn’t it?

How about the deaths of coral reefs? The declining ice fields in both polar regions? The record heat in the desert Southwest and elsewhere? The record 150-plus straight days without measurable rainfall in Las Vegas?

Can we fix all of this with a rake, or with some other simple solution, Mr. President?

Of course we can’t.

Trump can deny science and experts all he wants, but the explanation to all of this is abundantly clear. Global warming brought on by carbon emissions from the burning of fossil fuels has disrupted weather patterns around the planet and intensified natural disasters.

That’s the situation.

When a California official implored Trump to embrace the science behind the fires there and Trump responded, “I don’t think science knows, actually,” the president may have prompted fist-pumping from his misguided supporters. But as he cynically pushes for votes, the state and the planet burn.

The solution here isn’t to improve simple management practices. It’s to vote in November for candidates who’ll respond to this global emergency, adhere to the science of climate change and start addressing the problem.

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