The orange sky over Foster City, California on Wednesday, September 9, a result of the multiple wildfires in the region. | Photo by Gel Santos Relos

LAST Wednesday, September 9, those of us in the West Coast all shared a very eerie experience as we woke up to inferno-like orange skies, and it seemed the sun did not shine that day.

The blazing skies, choking smoke and ash in the air were caused by wildfires that have been raging in the West Coast — Washington, Oregon and California — all at the same time at an unprecedented pace and magnitude.

The wildfires on this coast that continue to burn have already killed at least 36 people, torching more than 4.7 million acres — that is more than 32 times the size of Metro Manila!

At least 87 wildfires are burning in 11 states, according to the National Interagency Fire Center, and they continue to push firefighters beyond exhaustion, risking their lives to protect the lives of people, animals, forests, homes, and businesses.

In California alone, 16,500 firefighters are battling 28 major fires in the state. About 3.2 million acres have burned in the Golden State this year. Six of the 20 largest wildfires in state history have occurred this year.

Scientists around the world, using longitudinal scientific studies and measures, have concluded the Earth is warming, and many said these record wildfires in the West Coast have been fueled by climate change.

Other indicators of climate change as reported by climaterealityproject.org  include:

• Air temperatures over land are increasing.

• Arctic sea ice is decreasing.

• Glaciers are melting.

• Sea levels are rising.

• Ocean heat content is increasing.

• Sea surface temperature is increasing.

• Snow is decreasing.

• Earth’s lower atmosphere temperature is increasing.

In the past years, President Donald Trump had been blaming poor forest management for the wildfires, threatening to withhold funding from the federal government unless the grounds of the forests are cleared of dried leaves, and denying climate change.

He blamed “explosive” trees and poor forest management for the wildfires sweeping across America’s west coast. Yet, again, he denied the existence of climate change.
Trump has been weaponizing and politicizing federal funding, casting blame on the Democratic-led states of California, Oregon and Washington.

The president seems ignorant of the fact that national forests are owned collectively by the American people through the federal government, and managed by the United States Forest Service, which is a division of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Of the 33 million acres of forest in California, about 57% is owned and managed by the U.S. Forest Service or Federal Bureau of Land Management.

On Monday, September 14, Trump visited California weeks after the wildfires started burning. California officials led by Gov. Gavin Newsom confronted President Donald Trump face-to-face about his ignoring climate change’s role in the raging west coast wildfires.

Arms crossed, and with a smirk on his face, Trump dismissed their concerns, as usual,  and the exchange was painful to watch and hear for us Californians and for the American people.

Trump foolishly said, “Ok, it’ll start getting cooler, you just watch.”

California Secretary for Natural Resources Wade Crowfoot replied: “I wish science agreed with you.”

Trump arrogantly responded: “I don’t think science knows, actually.”

Amid this climate crisis, we are waging another war — our battle against COVID19. The coronavirus pandemic that has claimed nearly 200,000 and infected more than 6.76 million. Family lives were shattered, businesses closed, many Americans lost their jobs just because Trump deliberately chose to downplay the pandemic. He did not invent nor create it, but his response to the crisis marked the failure in leadership to keep Americans safe and save lives.

The president did not really care if 2,000 Americans died each day just as he pushed for businesses and schools to open despite the uptick in coronavirus cases.

What he really cares about obsessively is to be re-elected.

Because of this, he became Public Enemy #1 who denigrated health experts and scientists’ advice to mitigate the spread of the virus and save lives because what they were saying do not fit into his own narrative and political agenda.

These scientists and health officials have been working so hard to research more on the new virus, and share important information to help save lives. They have been advocating for wearing mask, social distancing, personal hygiene, avoiding crowds, yet the president of the United States has been defying these measures.

He even held indoor rallies that did not require masks and social distancing. Worse, he vilifies and makes fun of those who wear masks, and made it a political issue instead of a national health emergency that it truly is.

Trump even insulted and undermined his own Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), whose officials just testified under oath about the importance of following these mitigation measures, calling him “confused” and insisting on his own views about wearing a mask.

Trump has sidelined his Coronavirus Task Force officials like Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Deborah Birx because he did not want them fact-checking him for the dangerous misinformation he has been telling the American people.

He has been twisting facts and politicizing not only wearing masks, but the development and distribution of vaccines and treatment, hinders wide-scale testing and contact tracing, and attempts to manipulate data from the CDC for his political agenda.

Americans, Scientific American endorses Joe Biden, its first presidential endorsement in its 175-history.

“This year we are compelled to do so. We do not do this lightly,” the editors wrote for the October 2020 issue, published online on Tuesday, September 15.

 

It continued: “The evidence and the science show that Donald Trump has badly damaged the U.S. and its people—because he rejects evidence and science.”

“The most devastating example is his dishonest and inept response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which cost almost 190,000 Americans their lives by the middle of September.”

“Scientific American covers the advances in research and discovery that are changing our understanding of the world and shaping our lives. Founded 1845, it is the oldest continuously published magazine in the United States and now reaches more than 10 million people around the world each month through its website, print and digital editions, newsletters and app,” according to the “About” page on its website.

“Authoritative, engaging features, news, opinion and multimedia stories from journalists and expert authors—including more than 200 Nobel Prize winners—provide need-to-know coverage, insights and illumination of the most important developments at the intersection of science and society.”

The editors of Scientific American called out Trump’s attacks on environmental protections, health care, research and science agencies.

“That is why we urge you to vote for Joe Biden, who is offering fact-based plans to protect our health, our economy and the environment,” they wrote.

They added, “Trump’s rejection of evidence and public health measures have been catastrophic in the U.S.”

Filipinos in America and fellow Americans: If we are truly pro-life, if we are truly concerned about our safety and lives now and if we are truly committed to protecting the environment and the planet that we will pass on to our children, grandchildren and the future generations, then we must vote for Joe Biden.

* * *
Gel Santos Relos has been in news, talk, public service and educational broadcasting since 1989 with ABS-CBN and is now serving the Filipino audience using different platforms, including digital broadcasting, and print, and is working on a new public service program for the community. You may contact her through email at gelrelos@icloud.com, or send her a message via Facebook at Facebook.com/Gel.Santos.Relos.

Gel Santos Relos
Gel Santos Relos

Gel Santos Relos is the anchor of TFC’s “Balitang America.” Views and opinions expressed by the author in this column are solely those of the author and not of Asian Journal and ABS-CBN-TFC. For comments, go to www.TheFil-AmPerspective.com and www.facebook.com/Gel.Santos.Relos

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