President Donald Trump is guilty of "willful ignorance" with his denials on climate change and its connection with the wildfires that are destroying several areas in the nation's western states, Sen. Jeff Merkley said Tuesday, after having driven hundreds of miles through his state of Oregon to view fire devastation there.
"This is putting your hands over your eyes and your ears saying 'I see no climate change, I hear no climate change, there is no climate change, everything will get better,'" the Oregon Democrat said on CNN's "New Day."
Such "ignorance," said Merkley, has caused coronavirus deaths to climb to the point in which within a week, 200,000 Americans will have died.
"What we're seeing in the west is just a steady scorching of our forests and now the incineration of our towns," he commented, adding that the Oregon fires are burning along the highly populated I-5 corridor, meaning thousands of people will lose their homes.
Merkley said he drove more than 600 miles in his state over the weekend, visiting refugee and fire control centers and going through towns that were "absolutely incinerated...all the consequences of changing climate across the world, but it's certainly impacting Oregon now."
Trump visited California on Monday, where he told a panelist during a meeting with scientists and first responders that he does not "think science knows, actually" about climate change.
"We have a president that is so welded to the fossil fuel industry that he is determined to never really look at what's going on," said Merkley in response. "I would like to think that he would feel that he had some responsibility to help lead the nation to attack this problem."
Trump has also blamed the fires on poor forest management. Merkley said that if he really wants to help with that, billions of dollars are needed to thin out second-growth trees.
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