FEMA administrator Peter Gaynor repeatedly declined to answer on CNN's "State of the Union" Sunday whether he believes human activity is responsible for climate change, instead saying, "I'm going to leave all that up to the scientists."

Why it matters: It is an overwhelming scientific consensus that greenhouse gases emitted by human activity are a driving factor of climate change. While President Trump has frequently denied this consensus, his own administration has published reports concluding there is no credible explanation for modern-day global warming other than the burning of fossil fuels.

The big picture: Gaynor leads the agency responsible for responding to extreme weather events, which scientists say are being exacerbated and made more frequent by climate change. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration warned earlier this month of the potential for an "extremely active" hurricane season in the Atlantic.

What he's saying: "I'm not a scientist. My role as the nation's emergency manager is to deliver those valuable resources to those impacted by disasters no matter the cause, no matter the place. That's my mission," Gaynor said.

Go deeper: Climate change is fueling this summer's extreme weather

Go deeper

Gov. Jay Inslee describes “cataclysmic” fire conditions in Washington

Gov. Jay Inslee in Olympia, Washington. Photo: Axios

Gov. Jay Inslee (D-Wash.) described the deadly wildfires sweeping the West Coast as "cataclysmic" for Washington state at an Axios virtual event on Thursday and said that climate change has made the problem worse.

What he's saying: "What we're experiencing in Washington is profound changes particularly in our grassland and our sage brush. It's incredibly dry, very hot, and as a result we have explosive conditions in the state of Washington," he said.

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
Sep 16, 2020 - Energy & Environment

Fighting fire with fire

A firefighter works on the scene of a wildfire in California on Sept. 15. Photo: Ringo Chiu/AFP via Getty Images

The catastrophic wildfires in parts of the West are a product of climate change, but also decades of failure to use controlled fire to reduce fuel load.

Why it matters: Warming temperatures in the years ahead will only intensify the climatic conditions that can lead to massive wildfires. That puts more pressure to scale up land management techniques that can clear overgrown forests before they ignite.

Updated 6 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 10 p.m. ET: 30,065,728 — Total deaths: 944,604— Total recoveries: 20,423,802Map
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 10 p.m. ET: 6,674,070 — Total deaths: 197,615 — Total recoveries: 2,540,334 — Total tests: 90,710,730Map
  3. Politics: Former Pence aide says she plans to vote for Joe Biden, accusing Trump of costing lives in his coronavirus response.
  4. Health: Pew: 49% of Americans would not get COVID-19 vaccine if available today Pandemic may cause cancer uptick The risks of moving too fast on a vaccine — COVID-19 racial disparities extend to health coverage losses.
  5. Business: Retail sales return to pre-coronavirus trend.