- President Donald Trump visited California on Monday to meet with Governor Gavin Newsom and other state leaders dealing with the raging wildfires.
- Many scientists believe climate change has significantly exacerbated the severity of the fires. However, Trump said that “it will get cooler” and that he doesn’t “think science knows, actually” about climate change.
- His comment was met with backlash from those upset he could deny climate change as millions of Americans are currently living through its effects.
- Climate change has also now become a focal point of the election. Biden condemned Trump’s denial and claimed that another four years of him in office would make the situation even worse.
Trump Visits California
As the state of California deals with raging wildfires, many scientists believe that climate change has exacerbated their severity. While visiting the state on Monday, President Donald Trump said that he doesn’t “think science knows, actually” and insisted that the weather will just get cooler.
Trump met with California Governor Gavin Newsom and other leaders in the state to discuss the fires, which have decimated millions of acres of land on the west coast. The fires are worst in California, Oregon, and Washington, where 35 people have died, hundreds of thousands have had to evacuate, and thousands of structures have been destroyed. Air quality is also unhealthy or hazardous in most areas of those states.
Trump has frequently blamed California’s fires on leaders in the state and forest mismanagement. While state officials do agree that forest mismanagement does play a role, they also believe that climate change has significantly impacted the scale of the fires, as temperatures in the state are climbing and the fires are getting bigger. Trump has pushed this argument aside.
While Newsom began some of his remarks by saying “there’s no question” that forest management has not been handled well, specifically noting that 57% of the state’s forest land is actually federally owned, he also asked the president to understand that he and others believe climate change should also be a top priority.
Meeting With Gov. Newsom
“We come from a perspective, humbly, where we submit the science is in and observed evidence is self evident that climate change is real, and that is exacerbating,” Newsom said. “And so i think there’s an area of at least commonality on vegetation and forest management but please respect, and I know you do, the difference of opinion out here as it relates to this fundamental issue, on the issue of climate change.”
Newsom’s delicate approach to the matter was different from that of California’s secretary for natural resources, Wade Crowfoot, who really pushed for the need to look at climate science.
“If we ignore that science and sort of put our head in the sand and think it’s all about vegetation management, we’re not going to succeed together protecting Californians,” Crowfoot said.
“It’ll start getting cooler. You just watch,” Trump pushed back.
“I wish science agreed with you,” Crowfoot responded.
“Well, I don’t think science knows, actually,” Trump said in a moment that went viral online, igniting backlash from those who see climate change as one of the planet’s biggest threats.
Crowfoot himself later tweeted a graph showing the increasing temperatures in his state, telling the president it “won’t get cooler.” Celebrities also responded to the clip, saying his comments were dangerous.
Climate Change’s Impact
Scientists and experts believe that these fires should serve as a massive wake up call when it comes to climate change. Since the fires and smoke have started smothering the west coast, more and more articles have come out explaining the growing and present threat of climate change. Many climate scientists believe that now more than ever, we are able to see its clear effects just by looking out the window.
Scientists have long warned that the world would see hotter temperatures, bigger wildfires, poorer air quality. Now that five of California’s biggest wildfires in recorded history happened within the last three years, many think we have reached that point.
“What we’ve been seeing in California are some of the clearest events where we can say this is climate change — that climate change has clearly made this worse,” Zeke Hausfather, a climate scientist at the Breakthrough Institute told the Los Angeles Times. “People who have lived in California for 30, 40 years are saying this is unprecedented, it has never been this hot, it has never been this smoky in all the years I’ve lived here.”
Many scientists also believe that some of the damage done by climate change has already become irreversible. They are trying to warn officials that action needs to be taken immediately to mitigate that damage, and to prevent more harmful side effects from becoming permanent.
“We have no more time to twiddle our collective thumbs. The bad news is that the long delay in tackling climate change means that some severe impacts, like the fires we’re seeing now, are no longer avoidable and we must begin the process of adapting to them,” Peter Gleick, a hydroclimatologist, wrote for The Guardian.
“We must, at the same time, accelerate the complete elimination of fossil-fuel combustion to slow the rate of future climate changes and prevent even worse, potentially catastrophic impacts from occurring.”
Biden and 2020 Race
Trump’s remarks, combined with the fact that many Americans are now living in climate change’s effects, have made the issue a main focus in the 2020 presidential election. Trump’s opponent, former Vice President Joe Biden, has insisted that climate change is real and something that must be met with swift action.
“Donald Trump’s climate denial may not have caused these fires and record floods and record hurricanes, but if he gets a second term, these hellish events will continue to become more common, more devastating, and more deadly,” Biden said while speaking on Monday. He later referred to Trump as a “climate arsonist.”
Over 170 climate leaders have signed an open letter encouraging Americans to vote for Biden because climate change is such a pressing issue. As more Americans become concerned about the environment, many think it could become a deciding issue in November.
See what others are saying: (New York Times) (Sacramento Bee) (KTLA)
Lincoln College to Close for Good After COVID and Ransomware Attack Ruin Finances
Last year, 1,043 schools in the U.S. were the victim of ransomware attacks, including 26 colleges or universities, according to an analysis by Emsisoft.
One of the Only Historically Black Colleges in the Midwest Goes Down
After 157 years of educating mostly Black students in Illinois, Lincoln College will close its doors for good on Friday.
The college made the announcement last month, citing financial troubles caused by the coronavirus pandemic and a ransomware attack in December.
Enrollment dropped during the pandemic and the administration had to make costly investments in technology and campus safety measures, according to a statement from the school.
A shrinking endowment put additional pressure on the college’s budget.
The ransomware attack, which the college has said originated from Iran, thwarted admissions activities and hindered access to all institutional data. Systems for recruitment, retention, and fundraising were completely inoperable at a time when the administration needed them most.
In March, the college paid the ransom, which it has said amounted to less than $100,000. But according to Lincoln’s statement, subsequent projections showed enrollment shortfalls so significant the college would need a transformational donation or partnership to make it beyond the present semester.
The college put out a request for $50 million in a last-ditch effort to save itself, but no one came forward to provide it.
A GoFundMe aiming to raise $20 million for the college only collected $2,452 as of Tuesday.
Students and Employees Give a Bittersweet Goodbye
“The loss of history, careers, and a community of students and alumni is immense,” David Gerlach, the college’s president, said in a statement.
Lincoln counts nearly 1,000 enrolled students, and those who did not graduate this spring will leave the institution without degrees.
Gerlach has said that 22 colleges have worked with Lincoln to accept the remaining students, including their credits, tuition prices, and residency requirements.
“I was shocked and saddened by that news because of me being a freshman, so now I have to find someplace for me to go,” one student told WMBD News after the closure was announced.
When a group of students confronted Gerlach at his office about the closure, he responded with an emotional speech.
“I have been fighting hard to save this place,” he said. “But resources are resources. We’ve done everything we possibly could.”
On April 30, alumni were invited back to the campus to revisit the highlights of their college years before the institution closed.
On Saturday, the college held its final graduation ceremony, where over 200 students accepted their diplomas and Quentin Brackenridge performed the Lincoln Alma Mater.
Last year, 1,043 schools in the U.S. were the victim of ransomware attacks, including 26 colleges or universities, according to an analysis by Emsisoft.
See what others are saying: (The New York Times) (Herald Review) (CNN)
U.S. Tops One Million Coronavirus Deaths, WHO Estimates 15 Million Worldwide
India’s real COVID death toll stands at about 4.7 million, ten times higher than official data, the WHO estimated.
One Million Dead
The United States officially surpassed one million coronavirus deaths Wednesday, 26 months after the first death was reported in late February of 2020.
Experts believe that figure is likely an undercount, since there are around 200,000 excess deaths, though some of those may not be COVID-related.
The figure is the equivalent of the population of San Jose, the tenth-largest city in the U.S., vanishing in just over two years. To put the magnitude in visual perspective, NECN published a graphic illustrating what one million deaths looks like.
At the beginning of the pandemic, the White House predicted between 100,000 and 240,000 Americans would die from the coronavirus in a best-case scenario.
By February 2021, over half a million Americans had died of COVID.
The coronavirus has become the third leading cause of death in the U.S. behind heart disease and cancer.
The pandemic’s effects go beyond its death toll. Around a quarter of a million children have lost a caregiver to the virus, including about 200,000 who lost one or both parents. Every COVID-related death leaves an estimated nine people grieving.
The virus has hit certain industries harder than others, with food and agriculture, warehouse operations and manufacturing, and transportation and construction seeing especially high death rates.
People’s mental health has also been affected, with a study in January of five Western countries including the U.S. finding that 13% of people reported symptoms of PTSD attributable to actual or potential contact with the virus.
Fifteen Million Dead
On Thursday, the World Health Organization estimated that nearly 15 million people have died from the pandemic worldwide, a dramatic revision from the 5.4 million previously reported in official statistics.
Between January 2020 and the end of last year, the WHO estimated that between 13.3 million and 16.6 million people died either due to the coronavirus directly or because of factors somehow attributed to the pandemic’s impact on health systems, such as cancer patients who were unable to seek treatment when hospitals were full of COVID patients.
Based on that range, scientists arrived at an approximate total of 14.9 million.
The new estimate shows a 13% increase in deaths than is usually expected for a two-year period.
“This may seem like just a bean-counting exercise, but having these WHO numbers is so critical to understanding how we should combat future pandemics and continue to respond to this one,” Dr. Albert Ko, an infectious diseases specialist at the Yale School of Public Health who was not linked to the WHO research, told the Associated Press.
Most of the deaths occurred in Southeast Asia, Europe, and the Americas.
According to the WHO, India counts the most deaths by far with 4.7 million, ten times its official number.
See what others are saying: (NBC) (U.S. News and World Report) (Scientific American)
Official Says Missing Alabama Convict and Corrections Officer Had a “Special Relationship”
Authorities have also said they now believe the officer willfully helped the inmate escape.
New Information on Missing Inmate & Officer
Authorities in Alabama revealed Tuesday that Assistant Director of Corrections for Lauderdale County Vicky White, who is accused of helping a murder suspect Casey Cole White escape from jail, had a “special relationship” with the inmate.
“Investigators received information from inmates at the Lauderdale County Detention Center over the weekend that there was a special relationship between Director White and inmate Casey White,” Lauderdale County Sheriff Rick Singleton said in a statement. “That relationship has now been confirmed through our investigation by independent sources and means.”
Officials have previously said that the two are not related, despite their shared surname.
Singleton elaborated on the nature of the relationship while speaking to CNN later on Tuesday. He said it took place “outside of her normal work hours” and added that although it did not include “physical contact,” he still characterized it as “a relationship of a different nature.”
“We were told Casey White got special privileges and was treated differently while in the facility than the other inmates,” Singleton said.
Also on Tuesday, the Marshals Service issued a statement confirming that authorities believe Officer White had helped Mr. White escape. The authorities described her as a “wanted fugitive” and offered a $5,000 reward for any information on her whereabouts. Earlier this week, the Marshals Service also offered a $10,000 reward for any information that could lead to Mr. White’s capture.
Singleton echoed the belief that Officer White’s actions were intentional while speaking to Good Morning America Wednesday.
“I think all of our employees and myself included were really hoping that she did not participate in this willingly. But all indications are that she absolutely did,” he said. “We’re very disappointed in that because we had the utmost trust in her as an employee and as an assistant director of corrections.”
Vicky White and Casey White were last seen leaving the Lauderdale County jail just after 9:30 a.m. Friday. The officer told other employees that she was taking the inmate to a mental health evaluation at a courthouse just down the road, and that she would be going to a medical appointment after because she was not feeling well.
Officials later said her actions violated an official policy that required two sworn deputies to transport people with murder charges. In 2020, Mr. White was charged with two counts of capital murder in connection to a fatal stabbing he confessed to and was awaiting his trial in Lauderdale County.
Mr. White was also serving time for what officials said was a “crime spree” in 2015 which included home invasion, carjacking, and a police chase. He had also previously tried to escape from jail, police said.
It wasn’t until 3:30 p.m. on Friday that a jail employee reported to higher-ups that he was not able to reach Officer White on her phone and that Mr. White had never been returned to his cell.
During a press conference that same night, Singleton told reporters that there had never even been a scheduled mental health evaluation. At another briefing Monday, he announced that an arrest warrant had been issued for Vicky on a charge of “permitting or facilitating an escape in the first degree.”
At the time, Singleton said it was unclear “whether she did that willingly or was coerced or threatened” but added, “we know for sure she did participate.”