California Governor Gavin Newsom met with Donald Trump on Monday for a briefing on the wildfires that continue to ravage the state and much of the West Coast.
Newsom asked Trump to "agree to disagree" on the politics of climate change, telling the president point-blank that "climate change is real" and is only exacerbating the deadly fires.
"We can agree to disagree, and I appreciate your frame on the politics of this, but let me just acknowledge two things briefly," Newsom said in the meeting, which took place at the Sacramento McClellan Airport in McClellan Park, California.
"There's no question when you look past this decade, looking past almost a thousand-plus years, that we have not done justice on our forest management," Newsom said, seeming to reference one of Trump's earlier critiques that California had not done enough to clear detritus from forest floors, which can act as fuel for wildfires.
Newsom said that the state had made a commitment to double forest management efforts over the next two years in response.
The Governor also pointed out that 57 percent of forest land in California is owned by the federal government, and only three percent is owned by the state.
"So we really do need that support," he told Trump, who in 2018 threatened to cut off federal aid if the state did not remedy what he called at the time the "gross mismanagement of the forests."
Newsom then on Monday asked Trump to "respect" the state's recognition that in addition to poor forest management, climate change is having an undeniable impact on the ongoing wildfires.
"We obviously feel very strongly that the hots are getting hotter, the dries are getting drier," Newsom said. "When we're having heat domes, the likes of which we've never seen in our history, the hottest August ever in the history of the state, the ferocity of these fires, the drought five-plus years, losing 163 million trees to that drought. Something's happened to the plumbing of the world."
"And we come from a perspective, humbly, where we submit the science is in, and observed evidence is self-evident: that climate change is real, and that is exacerbating this," Newsom continued. "I think there's an area of at least commonality on vegetation, forest management, but please respect, and I know you do, the difference in opinion out here as it relates to this fundamental issue on the issue of climate change."
On Friday, Newsom spoke in even stronger terms about climate change, saying that he was "exhausted" about debating its verity.
"This is a climate damn emergency," Newsom said of the 28 fires burning across California, Huff Post reported. "I’m a little bit exhausted that we have to continue to debate this issue. The debate is over on climate change. Just come to the state of California."
In an interview with NBC Nightly News last week, Newsom warned that Washington State, Oregon and California are experiencing disasters that experts predicted wouldn't begin until 2040.
"There is something so fundamental, that also cannot be denied, and that is climate change," he said.
Trump said Monday that he doesn't "think science knows, actually," CNN reported, despite the scientific evidence that shows climate change is making the fires worse.
As of Monday, there have been 24 deaths related to the fires in California since August 15, according to Cal Fire, and more than 4,200 structures have been destroyed.
To help communities facing destructive wildfires in the Western U.S., consider donating to the following organizations:
• The American Red Cross allows donors to direct funds to support people impacted by the fires.
• GlobalGiving’s Wildfire Relief offers emergency funding to local efforts providing essentials to wildfire victims in need.
• GoFundMe’s California Wildfire Relief Fund aims to “support a range of needs” by issuing “grants to individuals, organizations and communities that have either been impacted themselves or are dedicated to helping.“
• The California Fire Foundation “provides emotional and financial assistance to families of fallen firefighters, firefighters and the communities they protect."
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