In the first couple of years after 9/11, more people died from its polluting aftereffects than those who died on that day. Donald Trump may even have shown up to voice his support for rescue efforts.
As this letter goes to print many people are still unaccounted for as a result of the western wildfires, and towns throughout Oregon, California and Washington have been incinerated, not to mention forest habitats that include thousand year old trees.
For days Portland, known as the Rose City, has been the world’s most polluted city, and aftereffects from extreme air pollution will increase risks of heart, pulmonary, pneumonia and asthma rates.
Picture nearly half the people in Maine having to abandon homes and communities.
Picture COVID-isolated Mainers warned not to go outside.
Picture one sixth of our state on fire and nearly one half of our population having to evacuate. Picture losing places like Baxter, Sebago, Acadia.
This past week, when a maskless Trump addressed thousands of maskless supporters In Nevada, he dismissed the causes of these fires, offering his typical simplistic answers. It was the first time since the fires began that he had publicly mentioned them at all.
Then he flew to California and argued with Gov. Newsom. Poor forest management, which he said repeatedly, was the only cause, and he blamed environmentalists for trying to ‘divert’ rivers to the Pacific Ocean instead of building more dams near fire-prone areas. Trump laughed when Newsom said that in California “the hots are getting hotter, the dries getting drier.” The president said that it’s really getting cooler, and that scientists don’t know if climate change is even a factor.
Since taking office, Trump has reversed or revoked over 70 environmental laws, many of which would address the rising temperatures and massive droughts that fuel these fires. Scientists have been been ignored, mocked, threatened and fired though most agree that their predictions are coming true much faster than expected. This is Trump’s inconvenient truth, and he refuses to accept it.
Wildfire smoke has now drifted over our drought stricken state. The dramatically orange sunsets will amaze us, though millions of people in the west see this Martian—like orange all day long. Western wildfires may be a crisis for those 3000 miles away, but they’re a tragedy for all of us and the president clearly doesn’t care.
Beverly Roxby lives in Belfast. Though she’s a member of Belfast’s Climate Crisis Committee, the opinion represented here is her own.