“I don’t think science really knows,” Trump said with a laugh Monday during a meeting with officials at McClellan Park in California.
He told Wade Crowfoot, secretary of the California Natural Resources Agency: “It’s starting to cool, you see.”
Crofoot ignored the science and warned the president about the dangers of “putting our heads in the sand and thinking about vegetation management”.
State Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom, who has been adamant about the role of climate change in wildfires, also confronted Trump directly, bluntly telling the president that “climate change is real.”
“We feel very strongly that the hots are warming up,” Newsom said. “Drying is dry, when we have hot towers, favorites never seen before in our history.”
“We come from a perspective, humble, where science is, and the observed evidence makes it clear by itself that climate change is real and that it exacerbates it,” the governor said.
“Please respect – and I know you do – because there is a difference of opinion here on this fundamental issue on the issue of climate change,” Newsom told Trump.
“Absolutely,” Trump responded.
Trump and California officials agreed that continued federal assistance was needed with forest management.
Shortly before his briefing, Trump asked a reporter.
“Well, I think it’s more of a management situation. If you look at other countries, if you go to other countries in Europe, Austria, Finland … they are forest countries. They are in the woods and they don ‘have no such problems,” the president responded.
The President pointed out that countries other than the United States need to be held accountable for their level of pollution, because America is “just a small scar”.
“When you enter climate change, will India change its ways? And will China change its ways? And Russia? Will Russia change its ways?” Trump asked.
Paris celebrated its decision on Saturday to pull America out of the Climate Accord early in its administration.
The global agreement is intended to address climate change – a problem experts say is certainly playing a role in massive fires. India, China and Russia all signed.
As Trump toured the west coast on Monday, Joe Biden addressed the Delaware warning of the devastating effects of climate change, calling the president a “climate diner” and a “climate arsonist”. He said giving Trump another post would do untold damage to the country.
CNN’s Kevin Liptok, Nicki Robertson, Christina Walker, Sarah Mucha and Mave Reston contributed to the report.