Sorry, Jerry Brown, Global Warming Is Reducing Wildfires (updated)

James Taylor writing at Heartland Blog:

California Gov. Jerry Brown blames global warming and Republicans for recent wildfires in California, but objective scientific data show a decline in wildfires as our planet modestly warms.

2013 was one of the quietest wildfire years in U.S. history, according to objective data from the federal government’s National Interagency Fire Center. The 47,000 wildfires last year may seem like a very large number – and it certainly gives global warming alarmists like Brown plenty of fodder for misleading global warming claims – but the 47,000 wildfires was less than half the average number of wildfires that occurred each year in the 1960s and 1970s. Importantly, the Earth was in a cooling phase during the 1960s and 1970s when so many more wildfires occurred.

The unusually quiet 2013 fire season continued a long-term trend in declining wildfires. From 1962 through 1982, for example, at least 100,000 wildfires occurred in the United States every year. Since 1982, however, not a single year has registered 100,000 wildfires. During the past decade, an average of 73,000 wildfires occurred each year. During the 1970s, by contrast, an average of 155,000 wildfires occurred each year.

The 2014 wildfire season, moreover, has been relatively quiet so far. The total number of wildfires is well below the 1962-2013 average, and is even below the average for the past decade. Even so, the below-average 22,000 wildfires so far this year give global warming alarmists plenty of opportunities to mislead the public about the scientific facts.

Full article is HERE  Jerry Brown can invent his own political narrative but he cannot invent his own scientific facts.

Update 05-28-14  In the comments Steven Frisch claimed that the number of wild fires is relatively stable?  Look like they are in decline to me. If they are caused by global warming, they should be increasing. 


About Russ Steele

Freelance writer and climate change blogger. Russ spent twenty years in the Air Force as a navigator specializing in electronics warfare and digital systems. After his service he was employed for sixteen years as concept developer for TRW, an aerospace and automotive company, and then was CEO of a non-profit Internet provider for 18 months. Russ's articles have appeared in Comstock's Business, Capitol Journal, Trailer Life, Monitoring Times, and Idaho Magazine.
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9 Responses to Sorry, Jerry Brown, Global Warming Is Reducing Wildfires (updated)

  1. stevefrisch says:

    We could have that discussion Russ but first you would need to admit that the data you posted was misleading and that the number of acres burned is increasing, regardless of cause.


    • Russ Steele says:

      It is Gov Brown that is doing the misleading, he is implying that humans are responsible for global warming that is responsible for more drought, which is responsible for more fires. Which is not true. It is true that more acres have burned, but not the result of global warming, but due to forest mismanagement. We have not seen an increase in global warming in 17 years, yet CO2 continues to rise, what is the connection?


  2. Russ Steele says:

    While were are discussing misrepresentation lets look at the study of the relationship between western U.S. drought severity and increasing large fire trends. We soon discover that there was no reference to man made global warming. The abstract available here:

    While the climate alarmist Like Governor Brown press loudly proclaim that “man made climate change is to blame” for these findings the actual study is much more circumspect about what the contributors are that could be impacting the results. The authors believe contributing impacts include invasive species and consequences of past fire management practices in addition to changes in climate and in particular increasing drought severity.

    The study addresses large wildfires (greater than 1000 acres) in the western U.S. across nine different study defined eco-regions which have occurred since 1984. The data shows that the total regional burn area has increased by about 87,700 acres per year with an increase of 7 additional regional fires per year during this period.

    “For example, invasion of nonnative annual grasses across large areas of the Great Basin [Balch et al., 2013] has been linked to increases in fire frequency and area burned in recent decades. The role of past fire management practices on trends in fire variables varies by ecoregion. Past fire suppression has led to changes in fuels, fire frequency, and fire intensity in some southwestern ponderosa pine [Fulé et al., 1997] and Sierran forests [Collins and Stephens, 2007] but has had relatively little impact on fire activity in portions of the Rocky Mountains [Schoennagel et al., 2004] and in southern California chaparral [Moritz et al., 2004]. Changes in fire fighting practices over time (e.g., more frequent use of intentional burning to clear fuels as a fire suppression tactic) may have had impacts on mapped burn area boundaries. The effects of human development vary regionally, in some cases increasing fire activity and in others decreasing it [Hawbaker et al., 2013; Syphard et al., 2007].”

    Further the study highlights the relationship between western U.S. drought severity and increasing large fire trends with the following:

    “Ecoregions with increasing trends in the number of large fires and total fire area also displayed increasing trends in drought severity. The geographically broad and coherent nature of fire and climate trends across much of the study area implicates climate as a dominant driver of changing fire activity in the western U.S. Due to complex interacting influences on fire regimes across the western U.S. and the relatively short period analyzed by this study, care must be exercised in directly attributing increases in fire activity to anthropogenic climate change. Even so, these changes in fire activity are a reflection of long-term, global fire trends that will likely occur with increased temperature and drought severity in coming decades.”

    Nowhere in the report do the authors specifically articulate that “man made climate change is to blame” for the studies findings.


  3. stevefrisch says:

    Did you draw that red line in yourself? I have to learn how to do that so I can misrepresent the truth as effectively as you can!


  4. stevefrisch says:

    Typical data cherry picking. The creator of this graph created a mean line, and the mean line shows that the numbers are, as I said, relatively stable, it went down from 80K to about 70K. But if you look at acres, the number of acres burned over the same period went from about 3 million to about 8 million.


  5. Steven Frisch says:

    Sorry Russ, the number of wildfires is staying relatively stable, that is true, but the size, aggregate number of acres burned, and intensity of wildfires is increasing. Yet another example of cherry picking facts to only tell part, and the least important part, of a story.


  6. Dena says:

    Fires are normal but what’s not normal is putting the fire out before the fuel load has been eliminated. The native americans would start fires in order to clear land so wild life would have plenty of grass to feed on. In the last 100 years we have stopped control fires and put out natural fires that would have burned free in the past. Leaving all the fuel laying around and letting mother nature play with matches means you will see fires with the only question being when,
    Yes, man has change the natural cycle but it has nothing to do with CO2 or warming natural or otherwise.


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