This story is part of Covering Climate Now, a global journalism collaboration strengthening coverage of the climate story.
By Anders Lorenzen
Last week the US Presidential hopeful, Joe Biden aired his strongest views so far that climate change is an imminent and dangerous risk to Americans. This comes as the US west coast wildfires reached unprecedented levels. While Donald Trump points his finger of blame at local governments for the fires, Biden says that climate change is undeniably to blame.
The fury of climate change
Speaking at a televised event in Delaware, as wild fires sweep through California, Oregon and Washington state, Biden spoke of the fury of climate change right here right now. The former Vice President explained that people now have to worry not only about the wildfires but about the air they breathe and the effect of the fumes on their lungs, and parents need to worry about their kids getting asthma attacks when playing outside. This comes on top of the profound worries about COVID-19.
Biden set out how big a problem wildfires had become: “Over the past two years the total damage from wildfires has reached nearly $50 billion in California alone.” and “…. this year nearly five million acres have burned across ten states”. He said that it is far from over as the fire season runs through to October, and can now be seen more than 100 million miles away in space by NASA astronauts.
The presidential hopeful explained that the impact on the ground is dreadful with loved ones lost and precious possessions such as photographs and their memories destroyed.
No place in the US safe from climate change
Biden said that the worry about these events extends beyond fires, and included other extreme weather events such as Hurricane Laura which devastated Louisiana last month. He warned that the storms are getting more wild, destructive and frequent, and by the time you have cleared debris after one the next one hits. He gave examples of other parts of the US frequently hit by extreme weather events and saying these rare weather events are happening much more frequently.
Biden underlined that more and more Americans are now linking these extreme weather events to inaction on climate change. “ It is happening everywhere and it is happening now and it affects us all”, he said.
The former Vice-President explained that peoples` jobs and livelihoods that sustain the economy are now at risk.
Climate change is science
In a remark that was without a doubt directed towards the Trump Administration, Biden said: “The crisis of our time requires action, not denial, requires leadership not scapegoating, it requires the president to meet the threshold duty of the office. Climate change is not a partisan phenomenon, it is science”.
Focusing directly on Trump, Biden said that the President has no interest in tackling the issue and he will not do what the science demands, “this is another crisis, the President will not take responsibility for”. Biden warned that a second term of Trump would cause extreme weather events to become more common, more devastating and more deadly.
Biden stated with passion: “This is Donald Trump’s America and you’re not safe in it. If you give me the honor to serve as your next President we will solve the climate crisis, and I will bring you back into the Paris Agreement”.
The former Vice-President concluded that there is really one way forward; “We have a choice. We can invest in our infrastructure and make ourselves more resilient and at the same time tackle the root causes of climate change. Or we can continue down the path Donald Trump has us on which would cost us tens of billions of dollars to rebuild”.
Americans go to the polls on the 3rd of November.