Yahoo Finance’s On the Move panel discuss the latest on the west coast wildfires and President Trump's stance on climate change.
JULIE HYMAN: Let's talk about President Trump's appearance in California yesterday. He met with California officials including Wade Crowfoot, who is the California Secretary for Natural Resources.
WADE CROWFOOT: 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.
DONALD TRUMP: OK. It'll start getting cooler.
WADE CROWFOOT: I wish--
DONALD TRUMP: You just watch.
WADE CROWFOOT: I wish science agreed with you.
DONALD TRUMP: Yeah, well, I don't think science knows, actually.
JULIE HYMAN: Melody, you are out there in California experiencing the ash, the smoke from the wildfires. Of course, up north, it has been even worse. What is the feeling on the ground there in California in terms of what now needs to be done, whether the state's going to get any help from the federal government, which owns a lot of the land, by the way, where the fires are happening?
MELODY HAHM: And let's remember that Donald Trump actually threatened to pull the existing funding, saying that climate change is a hoax. He has repeatedly been a denier. Of course, over the last couple of months, he has walked back those claims. But even in that SOT that we just heard, he isn't basing any of his evidence on science itself.
I do want to point out that Governor Gavin Newsom did say, sure, forest management is a key part of the solution, but that is by no means the reason why we're seeing 3.1 million acres in the state of California alone in flames, entire villages being displaced. We don't even know-- there are plenty of Californians who still have yet to know whether their homes are intact because they're still evacuated.
And I want to point out that even in New York where you all are located, the air quality has gone down specifically because of these fires on the west coast. I think as of now, more than 4.6 million acres across 10 states, including, of course, California, but Washington, Oregon, Idaho are all in flames. So for him to say that this is something that we have to take care of and that local leaders are responsible for is a completely irresponsible action as the President of the United States.
And I want to point out, coupled with the coronavirus pandemic, these small business owners that have been trying to reopen their doors, it's basically impossible at this current moment, right? No one is out and about. They're already beleaguered. They're already struggling. So I think this infusion of capital is much needed, but unfortunately a lot of the business leaders on the ground don't believe that it's going to happen.
JULIE HYMAN: Oh, Adam? Muted.
ADAM SHAPIRO: --at least once a quarter.
JULIE HYMAN: There we go.
ADAM SHAPIRO: Mel, I'm curious-- we just had the discussion about how misinformation undermines things via social media. Then you get this. The fact that everything has two sides-- I mean, this argument that the science is not determined with climate change when, in fact, there is something going on with the climate, and science has confirmed that. How does anyone address that? How do you even address a business issue when you can't get the leaders of a nation to agree on that?
MELODY HAHM: Well, and we just spoke with a market guest, right, who specifically said that because there's been this vacuum in political leadership, unfortunately, a lot of the financial leaders in the industry itself has had to rally around investing in ESG. As much as we can say it's a cliche, as much as we can say we wonder if the returns will be as great as just not having a moral compass, I do feel as though private sector leadership has really sprouted up during this time.
And I do want to point out, Adam, I'm glad you mentioned that. I was listening to an interview with a documentarian specifically focused on climate change issues, and she said scientists have done a poor job at communication. And that's a very well acknowledged fact at this point.
And because the situation is so dire, to your point, Adam, there has to be a better way and, honestly, more savvier, more commercial ways, whether that is kind of experiential technology-- of course, we know VR has sort of taken a back seat. It was sort of supposed to be heralded as a way for people to get a sense of rising sea levels, to get a sense of how crazy these fires are if you don't live here.
But sort of like the coronavirus pandemic, I do want to say, if you experience it firsthand or you know a family member or a friend or someone in your community who's been affected, this is hard to ignore, and this is hard to deny. So unfortunately, I do feel like Trump maybe should have been outdoors when he was having that press conference, right, or maybe when he was having those conversations because it would be hard to breathe to be outside in Sacramento.
JULIE HYMAN: Thanks, Melody. I just wanted to mention something, as well, that one of our editors flagged, which is that "Scientific American," the journal, says it has never endorsed a presidential candidate in its 175 year history-- they tweeted this this morning-- until now.
They are urging people to vote for Joe Biden for president. They say it's a vote for health, science, and Joe Biden. They say this election's literally a matter of life and death, so scientists are definitely speaking out on this and, to your point, perhaps more effectively than they were before. We shall see, Melody.