I don’t want to be accused of being a “climate denier” (I do believe there is a climate) or of being so anti-science that I disagree with Nancy Pelosi when she warns us, “Mother Earth is angry.” But if we’re ever going to get the terrible wildfires in California under control, it’s necessary to look at real facts and not simply accept overheated claims that “manmade climate change” is entirely to blame for the fires – something that even Gov. Gavin Newsom recently admitted wasn’t true.
Toward that end, I thought I’d point you to a couple of recent reports that look at real statistics and history of both wildfires and weather trends to see if the environmental left’s claims about droughts, temperature and forest fires (pardon the expression) hold water.
First, check out this report from the Foundation for Economic Education.
It asks the provocative question, if global climate changes are to blame for California’s fires, why aren’t other places with forests on fire? Texas, for instance, has more forest acreage than California and a hotter climate, but it’s not burning down. California's winds get blamed, but those have been blowing for millennia. Maybe, as the article points out, it’s because 95% of Texas’ land is privately owned by people who practice wise management policies like controlled burns to remove dead vegetation that turns into kindling, something that California’s environmentalists won’t allow.
"Well, then, how do you explain why the number of wildfires and the acreage on fire are both at record levels?"
Answer: they aren’t. 2020 is on track to be a very bad year, but not as bad as 2017.
“Still, that was the all-time record year for forest fires!” Only because the records being cited start in 1960. In 1930, about five times more acreage burned as in 2017, and the annual average from 1926-‘52 was several times higher. Forest fires have been with us since before there even were humans in North America, but in recent decades, we learned how to control them. Only California has made those methods illegal.
Ironically, one thing that’s also illegal in California is arson, but that hasn’t seemed to stop anyone from doing it.
Of course, pointing all this out doesn’t mean that there is no climate change going on. But the climate is always changing. The big questions are, is it due to humans and is it catastrophic? It’s now conventional wisdom that the answer to both is a big “YES!” and if you disagree, you’re a science-denying lunkhead.
So to check that out, a researcher for the Global Warming Policy Foundation examined data mostly from the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) “to analyse trends in temperature, precipitation, droughts, floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, sea-level rise and wildfires. In particular, it takes account of the widely varying regional climates.” The goal was to determine the state of the climate in 2019.
Here’s what the data shows, quoted directly from the report’s summary:
• “Average temperatures have risen by 0.15°F/decade since 1895, with the increase most marked in winter.
• There has been little or no rise in temperatures since the mid 1990s.
• Summers were hotter in the 1930s than in any recent years.
• Heatwaves were considerably more intense in decades up to 1960 than anything seen since.
• Cold spells are much less severe than they used to be.
• Central and Eastern regions have become wetter, with a consequent drastic reduction in drought. In the west, there has been little long-term change.
• While the climate has become wetter in much of the country, evidence shows that floods are not getting worse.
• Hurricanes are not becoming either more frequent or powerful.
• Tornadoes are now less common than they used to be, particularly the stronger ones.
• Sea-level rise is currently no higher than around the mid-20th century.
• Wildfires now burn only a fraction of the acreage they did prior to the Second World War.
In short, the US climate is in most ways less extreme than it used to be. Temperatures are less extreme at both ends of the scale, storms less severe and droughts far less damaging. While it is now slightly warmer, this appears to have been largely beneficial.”
I’m sure many people will attack the report, the writer and the foundation that funded it. But I’ll be waiting to see if they produce any evidence that he or NOAA got their weather data wrong.