With wildfires raging across the West, climate change took center stage in the race for the White House on Monday as Joseph R. Biden Jr. called President Trump a “climate arsonist” while the president said that “I don’t think science knows” what is actually happening.
A day of dueling appearances laid out stark differences between the two candidates: a president who has long dismissed climate change as a hoax and rolled back environmental regulations and a challenger who has called for aggressive cuts to the greenhouse gases blamed for increasingly extreme weather.
Mr. Trump flew to California after weeks of public silence about the flames that have forced hundreds of thousands from their homes, wiped out communities and forests, burned millions of acres, shrouded the region in smoke and killed at least 26 people. But even when confronted by California’s governor, the president insisted on attributing the crisis to poor forest management, not climate change.
Mr. Biden, for his part, assailed Mr. Trump’s climate record, asserting that the president’s inaction and denial had fed destruction, citing not just the current emergency on the West Coast but flooding in the Midwest and hurricanes along the Gulf Coast. In aspeech in Wilmington, Del., the Democratic presidential nominee sought to paint a second Trump term as a danger to the nation’s suburbs, flipping an attack on him by the president.
“If we have four more years of Trump’s climate denial, how many suburbs will be burned in wildfires?” Mr. Biden asked. “How many suburban neighborhoods will have been flooded out? How many suburbs will have been blown away in superstorms? If you give a climate arsonist four more years in the White House, why would anyone be surprised if we have more of America ablaze?”