The footage and ignorance of the so-called leader of the free world, is sometimes painful to watch.
On his visit to California over the weekend to see the total devastation caused by the wildfires and where just under a thousand people are still unaccounted for, a bumbling President Trump said that he was going to come up with “some solutions to a problem that is a very, very big problem.” He added that, “we don’t really have a choice. We have to get it done”.
When asked specifically about climate change being a factor in the fires, Trump said: “We will be looking at everything” before adding that “land management and forest management is really what you mean. We are gong to be looking at every factor. We are going to get to the bottom of it… we are going to come up with some very good solutions... the right conclusion here is to get these forest fires to stop because I really think there is a way of doing that.”
It would be easy for Trump to listen to any of the climate scientists who have been warning for years about the dangers of burning fossil fuels, but he won’t. His ignorance is startling. His addiction to fossil fuels total.
He bumbled on. Trump could not even get the name of the town of Paradise right. He said: “What we saw at Pleasure. What a name right now. We just left Pleasure”, before he was corrected that the town he had just visited which was incinerated was called Paradise.
Asked whether witnessing the devastation in California had made him change his mind about climate change, he said: “No, no, I have a strong opinion. I want a great climate.”
Later on he said: “Is it happening? Things are changing. And I think, most importantly, we’re doing things about. We’re going to make it better. We’re going to make it a lot better. And it’s going to happen as quickly as it can possibly happen.”
The hypocrisy of Trump’s position is blatantly obvious to anyone who follows American politics and the fact that Trump remains a climate denier, who is promoting an unabashed pro-fossil fuel agenda.
To give you one two quick examples: The day before Trump’s visit to California, Reuters reported that at the upcoming UN climate talks next month in Poland, the “Trump administration plans to set up a side-event promoting fossil fuels.”
On the same day, it was revealed that Trump plans to nominate the ex-coal lobbyist, Andrew Wheeler, as the permanent head of the Environmental Protection Agency. Wheeler also served as a staffer for the renowned climate denier, Republican Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma for 15 years.
Trump has no intention of finding a solution to climate change. He is a die-hard denier. As Bill McKibben outlines in a powerful polemic in the New Yorker: “Of all the environmental reversals made by the Trump Administration, the most devastating was its decision, last year, to withdraw from the Paris accords, making the U.S., the largest single historical source of carbon, the only nation not engaged in international efforts to control it”.
As Bill McKibben notes, in part because of Trump, “We are on a path to self-destruction”, however “there is nothing inevitable about our fate”. Indeed, people are rising up. As Trump bumbled his way around California, some 6,000 people took to the streets in London on a major demonstration organized by Extinction Rebellion, blocking five major London bridges.
The group is calling on the British Government to “tell the truth about the climate and wider ecological emergency”, to “enact legally binding policy measures to reduce carbon emissions to net zero by 2025 and to reduce consumption levels” as well as set up a Citizen’s Assembly.
The demonstration led to over eighty people being arrested. Tiana Jacout, of Extinction Rebellion, said the blockages were “not a step we take lightly” but “if things continue as is, we face an extinction greater than the one that killed the dinosaurs”.
One of those who took part is Alice, 19, from Bristol: “This moment will be remembered in the history books, when we finally stopped allowing our leaders to take us over the cliff,” she said.
They were not the only ones protesting. Back in the US, an Extinction Rebellion banner was unfurled outside Trump Tower and fifty-one young people were arrested in Nancy Pelosi’s office for staging a sit-in, demanding that the Democrats embrace a “Green New Deal”. And on Friday, more protesters demonstrated in the offices of Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), the likely next chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee.
Meanwhile, Extinction Rebellion is busy making international contacts, with events planned in six countries beyond the UK and UK, including Canada, Germany, Australia and France.