Editor’s Note: The following is an excerpt from author Marc Morano’s 2019 best-selling book, The Politically Incorrect Guide to Climate Change.
The mainstream media seems to be very sure that wildfires are getting worse because of man-made global warming. ABC World News Tonight warned in 2014 that “here in America, more wildfires, intense burns” have arrived courtesy of climate change. CBS This Morning featured climate fear promoter Michio Kaku, predicting “hundred-year droughts, hundred-year forest fires” and claiming that “something is very dangerously happening with the weather.”
Al Gore also thinks he knows all about wildfires. “All over the West we’re seeing these fires get much, much worse,” Gore said in 2017, adding, “the underlying cause is the heat.”
But the science tells a very different story. A 2016 study published by the Royal Society reported, “There is less fire in the global landscape today than centuries ago” and the “global area burned” has seen a “slight decline over past decades.” The study, by Stefan Doerr and Cristina Santín of Swansea University in Wales, noted that “many consider wildfire as an accelerating problem, with widely held perceptions both in the media and scientific papers of increasing fire occurrence, severity and resulting losses. However, important exceptions aside, the quantitative evidence available does not support these perceived overall trends.”
The study also found that the data for the western U.S. indicates “little change overall, and also that area burned at high severity has overall declined compared to pre-European settlement. Direct fatalities from fire and economic losses also show no clear trends over the past three decades.” The researchers concluded, “The data available to date do not support a general increase in area burned or in fire severity for many regions of the world. Indeed there is increasing evidence that there is overall less fire in the landscape today than there has been centuries ago, although the magnitude of this reduction still needs to be examined in more detail.”
According to the study, “fire is a fundamental natural ecological agent in many of our ecosystems and only a ‘problem’ where we choose to inhabit these fire-prone regions or we humans introduce it to non-fire-adapted ecosystems.
The ‘wildfire problem’ is essentially more a social than a natural one.” Researchers from the Universidad Carlos III de Madrid found that “climate change” is not to blame for increased forest fires in the Mediterranean basin. “The change in the occurrence of fires that are recorded in the historical research cannot be explained by the gradual change in climate.” The fires instead “correspond to changes in the availability of fuel, the use of sources of energy, and the continuity of the landscape.”
In the United States, wildfires are also due in part to a failure to thin forests or remove dead and diseased trees. In 2014, forestry professor David B. South of Auburn University testified to the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee that “data suggest that extremely large megafires were four-times more common before 1940,” adding that “we cannot reasonably say that anthropogenic global warming causes extremely large wildfires.”
As he explained, “To attribute this human-caused increase in fire risk to carbon dioxide emissions is simply unscientific.” The evidence is so strong that even the Los Angeles Times featured an article rebuking Governor Jerry Brown for his claims that California’s 2015 wildfires were “a real wake-up call” to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, which he claimed were “in many respects driving all of this.” The Times article noted, “But scientists who study climate change and fire behavior say their work does not show a link between this year’s wildfires and global warming, or support Brown’s assertion that fires are now unpredictable and unprecedented. There is not enough evidence, they say.”
Dominick DellaSala, chief scientist at the Geos Institute in Ashland, Oregon, has conducted research on fires in the western United States and found them declining. “If we use the historical baseline as a point in time for comparison, then we have not seen a measurable increase in the size or the severity of fires,” DellaSala said. “In fact, what we have seen is actually a deficit in forest fires compared to what early settlers were dealing with when they came through this area.”
A 2014 study found that Colorado wildfires have not become more severe since the 1900s. “The severity of recent fires is not unprecedented when we look at fire records going back before the 1900s,” said research scientist Tania Schoennagel. The study, “one of the largest of its kind ever undertaken in the western United States,” was published in the journal PLOS ONE and funded by the National Science Foundation.
Update September 2020: Forestry mismanagement is a huge driving component of these wildfires.
Astrophysicist Dr. Willie Soon: “It is their extreme policies of no management on fire fuel loads that is the real cause of this problem. It has been estimated that during the past between 4.4 to 12 million acres of California forested lands were burned each year. Between 1982-1998: California land managers burned 30,000 acres a year and the number dropped to 13,000 acres a year between 1999-2017. Can you understand the problems caused by decades of bad policies because of extreme anti-science zealots?”
And the whole point of the Green New Deal and mandates for solar and wind are to limit energy. See:
Plummeting Forest Fire Burn Acreage – Down 80% since 1930’s – And forest fires are down 90% since CO2 was at pre-industrial levels – when an area larger than the state of California burned every year.
California’s ‘new normal’ of winter wildfires doused by climate scientists – Bjorn Lomborg, president of the Copenhagen Consensus Center, compiled data from 1926-2017 showing that the acreage burned by U.S. wildfires has dropped fourfold since peaking in the 1930s, which was posted on the skeptics’ website Climate Depot. “The destructive fires in California are not unexpected given the wet winter last year and resultant plant growth, followed by hot and dry weather since then in which the vegetation dried out,” University of Colorado Boulder meteorologist Roger A. Pielke Sr. said. “An important issue is an extent humans have deliberately or inadvertently started the fires,” Mr. Pielke said. “If these were not started by people (including sparks from power lines), how many fires would there have been naturally? Probably none.” “As to whether this is a ‘new normal,’ it is easy (and inaccurate) to blame climate change just from added CO₂,” said Mr. Pielke, “when in reality the reasons for the fires and the damage they are causing are more complex.”
Prominent forestry scientist goes from environmentalist hero to victim after his research reverses ‘old growth’ logging concepts – “Against the Grain” by Warren Cornwall in Science, 6 October 2017.
STUDY: HUMANS, NOT GLOBAL WARMING, SPARKED ALMOST ALL OF CALIFORNIA’S WILDFIRES – Ninety-five percent of wildfires that ravaged California in the past 100 years were caused by humans, according to a forthcoming study in the International Journal of Wildland Fire. “In most of California, if we could stop ignition during extremely high winds and drought and heat spells, like now, that will be an effective approach,” lead author and U.S. Geological Survey wildfire expert Jon Keeley told The San Jose Mercury News of his soon-to-be-published study. While the public debate largely rages around global warming’s role in wildfires, Keeley’s study shows that human interaction with the landscape, no matter the climate, is causing most fires.