Columns

Trump Lacks 'Fear of the Wrath of God,' Says California Governor

Jerry Brown

California Gov. Jerry Brown declared that President Trump doesn’t have “a fear of the Lord” when it comes to facing catastrophic events and tackling climate change.

“The fire season used to be a few months in the summer, now it’s almost year-long. These fires are unprecedented. We’ve never seen anything like it,” Brown told 60 Minutes in an interview aired Sunday. “Scientists are telling us, ‘This is the kind of stuff that’s going to happen.’ And we got to deal with it.”

Several Santa Ana wind-whipped fires have raced through Southern California from San Diego to Ventura counties over the past week. Four thousand firefighters are trying to gain control of the Thomas Fire, the largest blaze that has chewed through 173,000 acres since Dec. 4, destroyed more than 750 structures and is only 15 percent contained; new mandatory evacuations were ordered Sunday for portions of eastern coastal Santa Barbara County. The cause of that blaze and others, including the Creek Fire east of Sylmar that is now 90 percent contained after destroying 60 homes, remains under investigation.

Authorities said a 70-year-old woman from Santa Paula died in a car crash while fleeing the Thomas Fire.

“Nature is not a political game. Nature is the ground on which we stand, it’s the air which we breathe. The truth of the case is that there’s too much carbon being emitted, that heat-trapping gasses are building up, the planet is warming and all hell is breaking loose,” Brown said.

The governor called it “preposterous” that Trump backed out of the Paris climate agreement, arguing it wasn’t a good deal. Brown said people are rightful to fear a leader “not looking at the facts.”

“I don’t think President Trump has a fear of the Lord, the fear of the wrath of God, which leads one to more humility,” Brown said. “And this is such a reckless disregard for the truth and for the existential consequences that can be unleashed.”

The governor argued there’s “more confidence” in California than in swing states that swung for Trump; “there’s less fear.”

“People are looking to the future. They’re not scared, they’re not going inward, they’re not scapegoating, they’re not blaming Mexican immigrants. They’re not blaming the stranger. Just the opposite,” Brown said. “It’s is a place that’s alive. It’s dynamic. It’s a culture that’s on the move, not pulling up the drawbridge out of fear and economic insecurity.”

During a Saturday news conference at the Ventura County Fairgrounds on a trip to survey firefighting efforts, Brown warned that “this could be something that happens every year or every few years — we’re about to have a firefighting Christmas.”