California’s worst fire in recorded history currently has a death toll of 76 people. This doesn’t include the over 1,200 people who are still reported as missing. President Donald Trump went to both Northern and Southern California this weekend and visited Paradise, Malibu, and Thousand Oaks, among other areas.
In Paradise, alongside Democratic Governor Jerry Brown and Governor-elect Gavin Newsom, Trump seemed to comprehend the level of devastation in front of him. He even spoke graciously about the land and fire management, unlike his earlier tweet:
There is no reason for these massive, deadly and costly forest fires in California except that forest management is so poor. Billions of dollars are given each year, with so many lives lost, all because of gross mismanagement of the forests. Remedy now, or no more Fed payments!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 10, 2018
Surprising no one, however, he had a mindboggling response to a reasonable question about climate change.
“No, no, I have a strong opinion. I want a great climate,” Trump replied after he was asked whether or not the devastation before him changed his perspective on climate change.
During a briefing held at a command center in Chico, California, Trump went on to say, “We’re going to have that, and we are going to have forests that are very safe because we can’t go through this…Every year we go through this. We’re going to have safe forests, and that’s happening as we speak.”
On Air Force One, Trump was consistently incoherent. The president explained that he does disagree with Brown and Newsom on climate change, though he feels their views are “maybe not as different as people think.”
“Is it happening? Things are changing,” Trump said. “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.”
In a clip from his interview with Fox News released on Friday, Trump again downplayed the significance of climate change, saying:
“Maybe it contributes a little bit. The big problem we have is management…. You need forest management, it has to be, I’m not saying that in a negative way…. I’m just saying the facts, and I’ve really learned a lot.”
Of course, Trump’s dismissal of climate change is nothing new. He was similarly skeptical about the way climate change impacts hurricanes. Just last month, when asked about the recent slew of hurricanes hitting the United States, he simply said: “Weather has been a factor and yet, they say worst hurricanes were 50 years ago.”