Minggu, 13 September 2020

Trump breaks silence on devastating wildfires, blaming them on bad forest management - Sydney Morning Herald

New York: US President Donald Trump has acknowledged the unprecedented nature of the wildfires ravaging America’s west coast, but has blamed the disaster on bad forest management.

A day after a visibly frustrated Californian Governor Gavin Newsom described the devastation across his state as a “climate damn emergency”, Trump told supporters at a packed out rally in Nevada: “They’ve never had anything like this, but you know it is about forest management.

Jacen Sullivan, 14, from Talent, Oregon, holds a burned tomato he found in the garden at his burned home.

Jacen Sullivan, 14, from Talent, Oregon, holds a burned tomato he found in the garden at his burned home.Credit:AP

“Please remember the words. Very simple: forest management,” he said, to roaring cheers from the crowd.

The comments came as fires in California, Oregon and Washington state continued to tear through communities on Saturday (local time), destroying homes and businesses, and blanketing the west coast with smoke and ash.


Tens of thousands of people across the region have been displaced, and the death toll has now topped 30 – although authorities have warned this is likely to increase.

After being relatively silent on the matter for weeks, Trump announced he will travel to California on Monday to get a briefing from local and federal emergency officials.

Smoke from the California wildfires hangs over San Francisco bridge.

Smoke from the California wildfires hangs over San Francisco bridge.Credit:Bloomberg

At his rally, he also acknowledged the severity of the wildfires and thanked the “28,000 firefighters and first responders who courageously and bravely are fighting out there".

Of the fires, he said: “There’s not been anything quite like this one.”

The President's comments about fire management are likely to prove contentious, particularly as most of the forests in California are in national forests, and managed by federal authorities.

However, it is not the first time he has shared such views: at a rally in the battleground of Pennsylvania last month, Trump threatened to withhold emergency funding to California because the state was not doing enough to “clean the floors” of its forests, and therefore it had “decades of leaves”.

Trump says the wildfires in the West Coast are the result of bad forest management.

Trump says the wildfires in the West Coast are the result of bad forest management.Credit:New York Times

"Maybe we're just going to have to have them pay for it because they don't listen to us,” he said.

California has experienced five of its 10 largest fires in history this year. According to Newsom, there were 7700 wildfires over the past few months and close to 1.3 million hectares had burned. By comparison, the state last year recorded 4900 wildfires and 48,000 hectares had burned.

“The debate is over in terms of climate change,” the Democratic governor said in news conference on Saturday after touring the North Complex Fire near Oroville. “If you don’t believe that, just come to the state of California.”

Newsom said that to deal with the crisis, California would need to readjust its environmental goals. This could include adapting strategies to get more electric vehicles out on the street, electrifying its transport system, and re-examining its land use and soil policies.

Trump’s visit to California was added to a two-day campaign tour of Nevada and Arizona, two key battlegrounds in the November 3 election.

His Nevada rally today took place at an airport hanger in Mindin, near Lake Tahoe. It was supposed to be held in Reno but ended up being cancelled because of the governor's 50-person COVID19 limits on outdoor gatherings.

There were no such limitations at the new venue, however, with Trump supporters gathering in droves to see the President. Most of them were not wearing masks or observing social distancing guidelines.

Trump came out swinging on coronavirus nonetheless, insisting that the US – which has now recorded more than 190,000 COVID-19 deaths – was turning the corner. He also reiterated that a vaccine would be announced by the end of the year “and maybe much sooner than that.”

"We've done this in record time – years ahead of schedule," he said. "If this were Sleepy Joe and Obama, you wouldn't have a vaccine for three years."

Meanwhile, trials for a coronavirus vaccine that the Trump administration hopes could be among the first in the world to stem the pandemic have resumed in Britain after halting last week due to safety concerns.

Pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford confirmed today that the trials had recommenced after the UK Medicines Health Regulatory Authority recommended it was safe to do.

However, the nation’s top infectious diseases expert Anthony Fauci has warned that even if a vaccine was developed by the end of the year it would not be available immediately, and might only be about 75 per cent effective, unlike the measles vaccine, which is up to 98 per cent effective.

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2020-09-13 06:35:00Z

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