Abstract and Figures
By Dr. Denis Rancourt
In this critical review of the scientific literature about fire, I describe how the false notion of a link between forest fires and anthropogenic CO2 was ignited in 2006 by a fatally flawed article promoted in the science-trend-setting magazine Science, and spread like wildfire through the scientific literature and beyond, driven in part by high winds of climate modelling extravagance, while fortunately leaving large unburnt patches. There is no evidentiary basis for such a link. On the contrary, established knowledge about forest fires leads to the conclusion that dedication to teasing out such a link is preposterous: In the present circumstances starting in approximately 1900, the dominant effect is direct human impacts on land use, which causes global fire occurrences to be dramatically less than from the known long-term natural cycles (modern fire deficit). No special circumstances or regions have been correctly identified where forest fire behaviour can be attributed to CO2. Canada’s recent Fort McMurray fire is no exception. The claimed 7 g mean birth weight loss arising from mothers’ general exposure to CO2-driven southern California wildfires, like all such claims, is a product of statistical and conceptual overenthusiasm. I use concepts from the animal-behaviour scientific literature to explain how some scientists and their followers can get so carried away.
Figures – uploaded by D. G. Rancourt
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Full Study here: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/303446052_Anatomy_of_the_false_link_between_forest_fires_and_anthropogenic_CO2
There is no evidence–based likelihood that there is a link between forest fires and
anthropogenic CO2. On the contrary, established knowledge about forest fires leads to the
conclusion that expecting to find such a link is preposterous in the present circumstances in
which the dominant effect causing fires since approximately 1900 to behave outside of the
long–term natural cycles is direct human impacts on land use, which vary and increase with
increasing population. No special circumstances or regions have been identified where forest
fire behaviour can be attributed to CO2.
The on–going flurry of alarmism in fire research is traced to a fatally flawed 2006 publication
that was promoted in the research–trend–setting magazine Science. The authors of that paper
failed to recognize the systematic errors present in government archival records of fires, and
the fact that satellite detection and characterization of fires was virtually impossible without
field confirmation until infrared sensors were implemented in Landsat–4 in 1984.
Too many scientists in the fire research community (and beyond) were overly enthralled by the
news and allowed themselves to over–interpret data and to overstate the potential that CO2
could affect modern–era fire behaviour. The spectacle, recorded in the scientific literature, is
worthy of the wildest rush of screaming monkeys for the trees to avoid a falsely detected
As with all such rushes, the waste of resources and the loss of attention for valued activities
harm the society and the individual. The waste and loss in this case are substantive, since
research budgets don’t grow on trees. The thus depreciated science is then used in designing
expensive management, education, health and safety policies.
Rancourt: False link between forest fires and CO2 Page 14
Here are a few examples of ridiculous excess, to make the point. In their review paper exploring
the risk caused by climate change to children’s health,Berntein and Myers describe potential
health effects from the added stress on availability of clean air and cite the said fatally flawed
paper and followers. In the same line, Holtius et al. claim a 7 g mean birth weight loss
arising from general exposure to Southern California wildfires, again by citing the said fatally
The alarmism may also be damaging in more subversive ways. It may contribute to making us
stupid? In a sociological study, Brenkert et al. found conclusively that, among urban–forest
interface inhabitants, the more one believed in global warming the less one is likely to take the
promoted and recommended practical steps to protect one’s home and family from forest
Given the magnitude of systemically funded, career–rewarded and promoted climate alarmism,
it is also possible that widespread institutional alarmism is intended to deceive and manipulate
the Western middle–class.[69