'Years of Living Dangerously' shouts climate fire! But, data says their shouting is simply noise

Taking liberty or artistic license? Debunking the claims made in the film that almost nobody watches, and now shouldn’t even take seriously

YEARS_OF_LIVING-DANGEROUSLYGuest essay by Jim Steele, Director emeritus Sierra Nevada Field Campus, San Francisco State University and author of “Landscapes and Cycles: An Environmentalist’s Journey to Climate Skepticism.”

Yelling “fire” in a crowded room is the iconic example used to distinguish free speech from license. Falsely claiming there was a fire in a crowded room would be punishable license because it could cause a panicked stampede resulting in injury. Episode 2 of Years of Living Dangerously treads dangerously close to license, as the producers present a completely one-sided biased view of forest fires purposely trying to incite climate panic. Those of us who have studied forest ecology for the past few decades have understood that bigger more destructive fires have been the result of fire suppression and a growing population. As the USA added 100 million people since 1970, more and more people moved into more forested areas and changes in fire frequency are skewed by the number of fires ignited by humans.

For example the Arbor Day Foundation reports that more than 83% of forest fires in 2006 were started by human activities, accounting for the burning of nearly 4.4 million acres. In 2004, wildfires in Alaska burned more than 5 million acres, the worst year for Alaskan fires. However 426 fires were started by humans and only 275 were natural fires ignited by lightning. In 2003 California’s “Fire Siege” the first of several fires was set during military artillery practice. The biggest fire, the Cedar Fire, happened when a signal fire got out of control.

While using movie stars to bludgeon us with the idea that all bad things must be due CO2 climate change, “Years of Living Dangerously” committed huge sins of omission.

There is a wealth of scientific research regards the effects of fire suppression and natural cycles. Instead Arnold Schwarzenegger yuks it up with firefighters on the frontline.


The episode then exploits human tragedy by highlighting the recent death of a “hot shot” crew. And Arnold (scientist?) then marries the tragedies by telling us CO2 climate change is making fires bigger, more frequent, and more dangerous.

But Arnold never tells us forests that naturally experienced fires every 5 to 40 years, had built up dangerously high fuel loads. During the 20th century era of fire suppression the US Forest Service’s “10 AM rule” dominated, and every attempt was made to extinguish all small fires by 10 AM the next day. Normally those small fires would burn longer and spread further and create a mosaic of forest patches. The remaining forest patches were then buffered from any new fires that started in a neighboring patch and large catastrophic fires are very rare in mosaic habitats. A patchy forest also prevents widespread beetle infestations.1 Until the media’s recent attempts to promote climate fear, forest ecologists had always complained fire suppression was promoting larger beetle infestations. A list of research on the effects of logging, fire suppression and natural cycles on beetle infestations can be found here. Yet “Years of Living Dangerously” simply blames climate change.


In 1996 one of the fire experts interviewed in “Years of Living Dangerously”, Thomas Swetnam wrote:

“The paradox of fire management in conifer forests is that, if in the short term we are effective at reducing fire occurrence below a certain level, then sooner or later catastrophically destructive wildfires will occur. Even the most efficient and technologically advanced fire fighting efforts can only forestall this inevitable result. It is clear from many years of study and published works that the thinning action of pre-settlement surface fires maintained open stand conditions and thereby prevented the historically anomalous occurrence of catastrophic crown fires that we are experiencing in today’s Southwestern forests2

[emphasis added]

However there are other forests at higher elevation that naturally burn every 100 to 300 years. Over that time fuel loads naturally build to dangerous levels. When those forests burn it is usually catastrophic. So Swetnam also co-authored a paper with Westerling, suggesting the increase in fires since 1970s is likely do climate change and that paper became the “scientific basis” for this episode of “Years of Living Dangerously”. They cited warm temperatures and dry weather associated with those large catastrophic fires but they confused weather for climate and their paper only diagnosed 3 decades of trends and only the largest fires (see graph below). However the authors did admit, “Whether the changes observed in western hydroclimate and wildfire are the result of greenhouse gas–induced global warming or only an unusual natural fluctuation is beyond the scope of this work.” [emphasis added] Nonetheless instead of providing a greater historical framework to critique natural cycles that last 60 to 200 years, they promoted untested speculation and simply reported that all the models predict more fires due to CO2 warming in the future.


Figure from Westerling 2006

But all catastrophic fires for the past several centuries have been associated with warm dry conditions. Months of dry weather accelerated the biggest fires in written history. Swetnam himself had published papers showing southwest forest fires were far larger and far more frequent between 1700 and 1900 as seen in his published graph (Fig.5 below) Other authors echoed the same findings. Estimated from early journalists’ accounts of fire throughout the Rocky Mountain region, modern fires burn less than one-fourth of the land that had burned historically. Fire ecologists debating how great an area needs to be burned to restore the natural fire regimes reported a “comprehensive assessment of burning in the contiguous United States and estimated that approximately 3 to 6 times more area must be burned to restore historical fire regimes.”1 The Westerling paper shows a peak in 1988, driven largely by the Yellowstone fires that burnt about 800,000 acres. In comparison The Great Fire of 1910 was a wildfire that burned about three million acres (approximately the size of Connecticut) in northeast Washington, northern Idaho, and western Montana. From a historical point of view, the Yellowstone fire was modest.

The Peshtigo Fire of 1871 (in and around Peshtigo, Wisconsin) caused an estimated 1,500 deaths possibly as many as 2,500. It consumed about 1.5 million acres, an area approximately twice the size of Rhode Island. The combination of wind, topography and fire that created the firestorm that is now known as the Peshtigo Paradigm. Those elements that created the fire were studied and recreated by the American and British military during World War II for the fire bombings of German and Japanese cities. Nonetheless the Peshtigo fire happened the same time as the Great Chicago Fire, so it did not get a lot of media attention. However the combination of those catastrophic fires prompted a fearful public to speculate that comets, meteorites or aliens were behind those firestorms, and one must wonder if blaming CO2 for recent fires is driven by the same lack of scientific understanding.


The USA embarked on an era of fire suppression as early as 1886 when the U.S. Army began to patrol the newly created National Parks. But fire suppression to preserve natural resources had unintended consequences. The consensus among fire experts is “Fires generally become less frequent and more severe with active suppression on the landscape” “Modern wildfires on late seral landscapes tend to be larger, more intense, and more severe because of high biomass loadings, multilayer stand structures, and the high connectivity of the biomass at the stand and landscape level.” “The end result of fire exclusion in fire-prone forests is increasingly synchronous landscapes dominated by large, catastrophic disturbance regimes.”1

The Westerling paper argued that the greatest absolute increase in large wildfires occurred in Northern Rockies forests where fire exclusion has had little impact on natural fire regimes because those forest had only burned every 100 to 300 years and the era of fire suppression was too short to play a significant role. So they suggested that earlier springs due to climate change had caused the increase in catastrophic fires in that region. However a study by the US Forest service concluded fire suppression has played a major role in the Rocky Mountains.1 A picture near the Yellowstone River from 1871 shows a landscape dominated by grasslands and a mosaic of forest patches (Figure 1C below). After a century of suppression, a photograph of the same area from 1981 (Figure 1D below) shows a vast expanse of interconnected forest with a high fuel load now dominating landscape and primed for a huge fire. Until that landscape recovered from the 1800s fires, large catastrophic fires would impossible.

Large fires have always been a natural occurrence in these regions. What is unprecedented in recent decades are tremendous swathes of dense forest. (Also notice contrary to global warming theory, trees confined to the higher elevations had migrated to lower elevations.) Furthermore the sudden uptick in recent forest fires beginning in the 1970s correlates with a change in forest management. Land managers now recognized the importance of natural fires and the mosaic the prevented devastating fires and promoted biodiversity. The “10 AM” rule was dropped and small fires were allowed to burn. The 3 decades of fire suppression simply delayed the inevitable as forests recovered. Catastrophic fires in Yellowstone were the result of small fires that were now allowed to burn.6


The American West also experiences decades of drought driven by natural ocean cycles. Most extreme climate events occur when a La Niña and a cold Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) phase coincide, or when an EL Niño and a warm PDO phase coincide. When a La Niña and a cold PDO coincide, the southwestern United States experiences its severest droughts and heightened fire danger. For example, each phase of the PDO persists for about 20-30 years, but cycles of El Niño and La Niña alternate every two to seven years. Thus the coincidence of both a La Niña and the cool phase of the PDO has only occurred about 29% of the time. However since the 1700s that 29% coincided with 70% of all major fires in Rocky Mountain National Park. Colorado’s 2012 wildfire season was no exception.5 Snow fall and the timing of Spring’s arrival is als0 largely driven the Pacific Decadal Oscillation.6 Informing the public about those natural cycles would help them prepare better for the weather it brings, but this episode prefer fear mongering.

“Years of Living Dangerously” justifies yelling fire and promoting climate fear based on Westerling paper that reports all the models show rising CO2 will cause warmer and drier weather in some places (but wetter elsewhere). However those models have failed horribly in replicating natural ocean cycles. Several researchers have shown that the warmth and drought predicted by CO2 driven models may have mistakenly modeled the climate effects of ocean cycles but blamed the results on CO2. One study from climate experts at Los Alamos National Laboratories explored the climate impacts of the PDO and Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation on the American Southwest.

They concluded,

“The late twentieth century warming was about equally influenced by increasing concentration of atmospheric greenhouse gases (GHGs) and a positive phase of the AMO [Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation].” “A strong warming and severe drought predicted on the basis of the ensemble mean of the CMIP climate models simulations is supported by our regression analysis only in a very unlikely case of the continually increasing AMO at a rate similar to its 1970–2010 increase7

The 17 year hiatus global warming is likewis being attributed to those same ocean cycles, and ardent advocates of CO2 climate change like Kevin Trenberth now admit, “The IPCC has not paid enough attention to natural variability, on several time scales, especially El Niños and La Niñas, the Pacific Ocean phenomena that are not yet captured by climate models, and the longer term Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) and Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO) which have cycle lengths of about 60 years.”

“Years of Living Dangerously” takes great liberties with the truth about forest fires. Such a one-sided presentation attempting to incite climate fear borders on license. It is also the second episode in which they discuss lost rainforests that were burned for Palm Oil. Yet despite Harrison Ford’s expose on corrupt government officials, the episode has still failed to mention the European Union alone has provided $11 billion dollars in biofuel subsidies and the bulk of that has subsidized palm oil for the biodiesel industry .

Is such distorted truth liberty or license? I suppose if no one is listening the question is moot.

Literature Cited

1. Keane, et al (2002) Cascading Effects of Fire Exclusion in

Rocky Mountain Ecosystems:A Literature Review. USDA Forest Service RMRS GTR-91.

2. Swetnam, T. W.; Baisan, C. H. 1996. Historical fire regime patterns

in the Southwestern United States since AD 1700

3. Westerling et al (2006) Warming and Earlier Spring Increase Western U.S. Forest Wildfire Activity Science, vol. 313

4. Schoennagel, T., (2005) ENSO and PDO Variability Affect Drought‑induced Fire Occurrence in Rocky Mountain Subalpine Forests. Ecological Applications, vol. 15, pp. 2000-2014

5. McCabe, G., et al., (2011) Influences of the El Niño Southern Oscillation and the Pacific Decadal Oscillation on the timing of the North American spring. International Journal of Climatology, doi:10.1002/joc.3400

6. Romme (1989) Historical Perspective on the Yellowstone Fires of 1988 Bioscienc, vol. 39

7. Chylek et al (2013) Imprint of the Atlantic multi-decadal oscillation and Pacific decadal oscillation on southwestern US climate: past, present, and future Climate Dynamics DOI 10.1007/s00382-013-1933-3


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A similar analysis of fires in Australia would, reckon, lead to similar conclusions

Mark Whitney

I have heard it before, but when and where did Trenberth say this?
“The IPCC has not paid enough attention to natural variability, on several time scales, especially El Niños and La Niñas, the Pacific Ocean phenomena that are not yet captured by climate models, and the longer term Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) and Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO) which have cycle lengths of about 60 years.”


what “17 year hiatus”? it’s just a ***few years according to NatGeo:
registration required at NatGeo; however, “Earth Vision Trust” is visible under this short animated video:
VIDEO: 25 April: Nat Geo: Brian Clark Howard: Science Behind the “Global Warming Pause”
The ocean appears to be absorbing excess heat.
Although global temperatures have been rising over the past century, a slowdown in the rate of warming in the past ***few years has left some scratching their heads over a seeming “global warming pause.”…
found elsewhere online, VIDEO CREDIT AT END OF VIDEO: ” Made possible by the Joyce Foundation”:
VIDEO: 25 April: National Geographic: Short Film Showcase
Has Global Warming Stopped or Slowed?
April 25, 2014—A recent lull in global air temperature warming has led people to ask if the rise in temperatures has stopped or slowed down. In this video by Earth Vision Trust, Jerry Meehl, from the National Center for Atmospheric Research explains the data that shows our global temperature is, indeed, increasing.
Earth Vision Trust is a nonprofit founded by National Geographic photographer and grantee James Balog that seeks to educate and inspire the public through innovative visual exploration of the changing environment.
For more about Earth Vision Trust, click here
more an infomercial for renewables, specifically wind turbines.

Mark Bofill

Thanks Jim, nice job.
I’ve often thought that AGW is used for a convenient excuse for any number of mismanagement practices. Is your atoll having trouble (ahHem that-your-policies-have-directly-caused)? Drought in California (mm-let’s-avoid-mentioning-the-crazy-patchwork-of-agencies-and-no-oversight)? Any other bodies to bury? Look no further! AGW, the new and improved scapegoat! Your constituents can ignore the real problems and feel good about themselves as they do it!


25 April: Fashion Times: Inigo Monzon: Nobel Prize Winner Plans To Reverse Climate Change
Nobel prize winner Rajendra Pachauri hopes to reverse the effects of climate change on the world through the use of alternative sources of energy, the Tampa Tribune reported…
Speaking before the faculty members and students of the University of South Florida’s Patel College of Global Sustainability on Monday, Pachauri encouraged his audience to put a stop to the global problem…
Unlike other environmentalists, Pachauri does not use the term global warming. For him, this phrase carries a connotation that only applies to the world’s temperature, and not other factors that can significantly affect the world.
He said, “I never use the term ‘global warming,’ because it conveys the impression that all you’re talking about is temperature. Climate change is much wider. What we’re seeing is changes to the planet.”
Pachauri was awarded with the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007 for his work with the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
24 April: Tampa Tribune: Education: Nobel laureate sees hope for reversing climate change
Rajendra Pachauri can paint a pretty dour picture of the effect of climate change.
Rising sea levels. Melting polar ice. Heat waves and heavy rains. Dwindling water supplies. The movement of fish from what had been fertile fishing grounds to more hospitable waters.
Those aren’t concerns for the future – they’re happening now, said Pachauri, Nobel Prize-winning chairman of the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change…
Human activity has begun to change the planet “in a very short period of time, and in a very intense way, which is totally out of the track that you have seen over millennia,” Pachauri said. “Limiting climate change will require sustained and substantial reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.”
How substantial?
To reverse the doomsday scenario many expect by the end of the century, Pachauri said the use of renewable, nuclear and carbon-captured energy sources would have to increase from 30 percent of energy production today to 80 percent by 2050.
Fossil fuel power generation without carbon capture would have to be phased out almost entirely by the end of the century, he said…
The chief executive of the Energy and Resources institute in New Delhi was preaching to the choir at the Patel College, which is backing sustainability programs on campus and around the world. Given the nature of the audience, the subject of climate change denial was barely addressed; Pachauri did provide an anecdote about an airport employee who implied to him that the Midwest’s torrid winter cast doubts on his work.
“I never use the term ‘global warming,’ because it conveys the impression that all you’re talking about is temperature,” he said. “Climate change is much wider. What we’re seeing is changes to the planet.”
In a brief interview after the speech, Pachauri said scientists have to do better to communicate the global threat.
“In any society, people have freedom to hold their own views, but it’s important for those of us working in the field to not only produce good and robust assessments, but also to communicate them to the public,” he said. “If we do that, I’m sure human society is altogether rational enough to take the right steps.”


26 April: WaPo: Letter: Charles Krauthammer misses the mark on climate change
Charles Krauthammer is upset with my organization, Forecast the Facts, which organized 110,000 people to sign a petition calling on The Post and other newspapers to stop publishing misinformation on its opinion pages about climate change. In his April 11 op-ed column, “Thought police on patrol,” Krauthammer said that, by asking for factual accuracy, we are exhibiting “intolerance” and a “totalitarian” attitude.
Krauthammer is missing the mark. We are not asking for censorship. We are asking The Post to apply basic journalistic norms before it publishes columns. It is not intolerant to ask a newspaper to give its readers a true and accurate accounting of the conclusions of climate scientists, whether it is printed in the news section or on the opinion page…
As Krauthammer is fond of highlighting, the science of climate change continues to evolve. No science stands still, and there is always more to learn. Questions vex us, such as, how much carbon pollution can the atmosphere handle if we are to stay below the internationally agreed warming threshold of 2 degrees Celsius? What will civilization look like if we hit 500 parts per million of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere? What about 600 parts per million and beyond?
Scientists have different answers to these questions. They use scientific modeling and observed data to make educated guesses, and they ask colleagues to test their assumptions and validate their conclusions…
Not only will Krauthammer not accept this consensus, however, but he also communicates misleading information on climate change that unnecessarily confuses the issue. This is why The Post’s leadership should step in.
In his Feb. 21 op-ed column, “The myth of ‘settled science,’ ” Krauthammer lent credence to the common fallacy that warming has stopped…
In the same February column, Krauthammer said the link between extreme weather events and climate change has not been established with certainty. He is wrong…
But Krauthammer’s quarrel with well-established scientific conclusions is not only unreasonable but also built on misinformation that should have no place in a space intended to further an informed debate.
Brant Olson, Berkeley, Calif.
The writer is campaign director of Forecast the Facts.

Lance Wallace

Mark–The Trenberth quote is here:
The full quote is below:
These increases are certainly less than the warming rates of the 1980s and first half of the 1990s of about 0.15 to 0.20 C (.27 and .36 F respectively) per decade. The earlier period may have provided an unrealistic view of the global warming signal, says Kevin Trenberth, climate scientist with the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Co.
“One of the things emerging from several lines is that the IPCC has not paid enough attention to natural variability, on several time scales,” he says, especially El Niños and La Niñas, the Pacific Ocean phenomena that are not yet captured by climate models, and the longer term Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) and Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO) which have cycle lengths of about 60 years.
From about 1975, when global warming resumed sharply, until the 1997-98 El Niño, the PDO was in its positive, warm phase, and heat did not penetrate as deeply into the ocean. The PDO has since changed to its negative, cooler phase.
“It was a time when natural variability and global warming were going in the same direction, so it was much easier to find global warming,” Trenberth says. “Now the PDO has gone in the other direction, so some counter-effects are masking some of the global warming manifestations right at the surface.”


Shouting fire, fire about the climate is nothing new. It’s been going on for well over 100 years.

“Fire and Ice”
“150 Years of Global Warming and Cooling at the New York Times”
“A Century Of Cycles: Do You See A Pattern Here?”

‘Witches’ were executed during the Little Ice Age due to bad weather events / natural climate changes.


Climate change witch hunts during the Little Ice Age.

Gunga Din

While using movie stars to bludgeon us with the idea that all bad things must be due CO2 climate change, “Years of Living Dangerously” committed huge sins of omission.

There are movie stars that are good people and there are movie stars that are bad people.
What they have in common is that the profession requires them make people believe they are something that they are not. That’s [their] job. They are actors.
Is Mann moving to Hollywood? Probably not. There are to many other pretenders out there.


I’ve been asking questions on their facebook page and get nothing but insults from those connected with this travesty. I’ve found myself blocked which is a small victory. Why not help support them by logging in and pointing out the gulf between the hypocrisy displayed by the stars of the show and what they have to say on the subject.


I see forest fires. Forest fires have been behaving strangely.
US fire data

Boreal forest fires are just a thing of the past and it really is much worse than we previously thought. Sorry for the repetition but it must be rammed home.
Abstract – 2008
Climate and wildfires in the North American boreal forest
…Climate controls the area burned through changing the dynamics of large-scale teleconnection patterns (Pacific Decadal Oscillation/El Niño Southern Oscillation and Arctic Oscillation, PDO/ENSO and AO) that control the frequency of blocking highs over the continent at different time scales…
……Since the end of the Little Ice Age, the climate has been unusually moist and variable: large fire years have occurred in unusual years, fire frequency has decreased and fire–climate relationships have occurred at interannual to decadal time scales……
Paper – 2008
K.E Ruckstuhl et al
Introduction. The boreal forest and global change
……In this issue, Macias & Johnson (2008) show that the frequency of these blocking highs in the North American boreal forest is controlled by the dynamics of large-scale teleconnection patterns (the Pacific Decadal Oscillation/El Niño-Southern Oscillation and the Arctic Oscillation). They also note that warming itself is not a predictor of increased fires since, as shown in previous studies, fire frequency across the North American boreal forest decreased as the Little Ice Age came to an end in the late nineteenth century (Johnson 1992; Bergeron & Archambault 1993). The study by Macias & Johnson (2008) provides not only evidence for the link between decadal-scale changes in the teleconnection patterns (e.g. the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) index) and the increased fire frequency in the late twentieth century but also an explanation of why the pattern of fire variability and fire-climate relationships changes at different time scales from centennial/decadal to interannual…..
Abstract – 1998
M.D. Flannigan et. al.
Future wildfire in circumboreal forests in relation to global warming
Despite increasing temperatures since the end of the Little Ice Age (ca. 1850), wildfire frequency has decreased as shown in many field studies from North America and Europe. We believe that global warming since 1850 may have triggered decreases in fire frequency in some regions and future warming may even lead to further decreases in fire frequency….
Abstract– September 1993
Yves Bergeron et. al. – The Holocene
Decreasing frequency of forest fires in the southern boreal zone of Québec and its relation to global warming since the end of the ‘Little Ice Age
We present here evidence from fire and tree-ring chronologies that the post-‘Little Ice Age’ climate change has profoundly decreased the frequency of fires in the northwestern Québec boreal forest.
doi: 10.1177/095968369300300307
Abstract – February 2000
Henri D. Grissino Mayer et. al. – The Holocene –
….Century scale climate forcing of fire regimes in the American Southwest
Following a centuries-long dry period with high fire frequency (c. AD 1400-1790), annual precipitation increased, fire frequency decreased, and the season of fire shifted from predominantly midsummer to late spring….


I see Arnold Schwarzenegger. I have a FAR SMALLER CARBON FOOTPRINT than Arnold Schwarzenegger. Trust me, I am no multi-millionaire, eco-hypocritical fool.
Now, what does Arnold own? I will save him the embarrassment here.


Ask yourselves one question. How many of those who took part in this batshit show have a LOWER carbon footprint than you???????????????


I end my case.


Forest fires, man made? Reminds me of this
2011 Israel Forest fires caused by Rainbow festival, Enviro gathering.
Female enviro shat in the woods and BURNT HER TOILET PAPER.
“Aren’t Rainbow Camps run by Greenpeace? ”
“Environmentalists – don’t you just love ‘em? 42 dead, 15,000 acres of forest and its inhabitants
annihilated, but little Miss
Holier Than Thou’s toilet paper ecologically disposed of.”
(that quote is from a now defunct page and not in the following article but it wraps up things nicely.)


pat says:
April 25, 2014 at 4:31 pm
“26 April: WaPo: Letter: Charles Krauthammer misses the mark on climate change
Charles Krauthammer is upset with my organization, Forecast the Facts,”
makes you wonder what models “Forecast The Facts” uses, and whether they have been shown to have predictive skill.
But of course, if Forecast The Facts is a govt connected entity, they should have no problem knowing what WaPo will say before WaPo says it.


Speaking of WaPo, their sugardaddy today lost 10% of his illgotten fortune. (AMZN hit an iceberg, 10% down on the day)


I don’t have the time because I am going to bed now now but some trees ENCOURAGE fire as part of their life cycle. [USA]. Same with some desert plants.


feeling stupid…on Slate, no less:
24 April: Slate: Future Tense: Daniel Sarewitz: It’s the End of the World as We Prefer It, and I Feel … Stupid
(Daniel Sarewitz co-directs the Consortium for Science, Policy, and Outcomes and is professor of science and society at Arizona State University. Future Tense is a partnership of Slate, New America, and Arizona State University.)
That’s right: Millions will die; still more will be displaced; nations and economies will teeter at the edge of disaster as populist demagogues rise, regional stabilities are tested, and environmental despoliation expands.
Judging by the attention it’s getting on the various scientist and environmental listservs that find their way into my inbox, the recent New York Times Magazine profile of the writer and environmental activist Paul Kingsnorth has hit a highly resonant chord. Having accepted that (as the REM song goes, and the article is titled) “It’s the end of the world as we know it,” Kingsnorth is retreating to “rural Ireland” to wait out the coming climate-change-induced collapse of civilization, teach his children the skills necessary to survive without a supermarket, and enjoy good wine. It sounds lovely, actually—I wish I had the courage to do something like that…
Of course, even if the climate change apocalypse that Kingsnorth accepts as inevitable magically failed to materialize, every one of my dire predictions would still be likely to come true. Climate change, added on top of all the other causes of these problems, will often make things worse. But for the most part there will be no way to tell which ones are worse than they would have been anyway, or how much worse they have become. So it’s not that apocalyptic fears about climate change are utterly fantastic—climate change may well exacerbate a range of serious and potentially even disastrous problems—it’s that the monomaniacal, apocalyptic version of climate change gives us a picture of the world that is so incomplete that it’s much worse than simply wrong. Worse because, just like religious and political orthodoxy, it cannot be falsified…
The real problem is not the few Kingsnorth’s who actually have the mettle to drop out; it’s the hysterics that they leave behind who insist, often in the name of science, that all the suffering to come will have only one true cause, and that redemption can be achieved only by following one true path. No matter that long and sad human experience teaches us where such absolute orthodoxies lead. Indeed, with climate change being blamed for almost everything these days, the one phenomenon that seems to have escaped the notice of scientists, environmentalists and the media alike is that, perhaps above all, climate change is making us stupid.


Mark Whitney says:
I have heard it before, but when and where did Trenberth say this?



24 April: AFP: Shaun Tanden: Bollywood called to arms against climate change
TAMPA, USA – Bollywood’s glitterati on Thursday heard an appeal to use their star power to fight climate change as they opened their first awards ceremony in the United States.
Bringing a somber note in the midst of Bollywood’s trademark festive dancing, Rajendra Pachauri, the Indian scientist who leads the Nobel Prize-winning UN climate panel, took the stage in Tampa, Florida, to urge stars to channel their influence for the planet.
“We are all residents of spaceship Earth and anything we do – anything that happens on that spaceship – has implications for everybody else,” said Pachauri, who was invited to Bollywood’s annual awards extravaganza as a special guest.
“What I would like to urge all the stars who are here is to see that they associate themselves with the larger problems that humanity, and all living species of the world, face,” he told Bollywood celebrities assembled in a heavily air conditioned hotel ballroom…
Pachauri said that he spoke before the Bollywood ceremony to Florida Governor Rick Scott, a Republican who has expressed doubt about the science on climate change, and told him that the coastal state was “particularly vulnerable.”…
not going down too well in the comments…

The producers of the series merely got their marching orders from the IPCC as theirs is also a sin of Omission. Indeed, if the data does not fit the conclusion, then change the data.

Rob Dawg


Hot under the collar

That’s the problem with religion, you are preaching to the already converted congregation who are winding each other up and confirming their own bias. Anyone from the outside can spot the false prophets and even if entertaining will not believe the propaganda.
Arnold Schwarzenegger preaching environmentalism? Get real – what next Imelda Marcos telling us to buy less shoes?
Now if they did a program suggesting that it is OK to freeze their poor elderly neighbours to death due to fuel poverty caused by paying for green subsidies to fit solar panels and renewable energy to some of these movie stars multi million dollar pad(s), the public may start taking notice. Arnie could even play “Mr Freeze” (God help us).
Or do they think others dying because they can’t afford to pay their energy bill is OK to feed their religion and lavish lifestyle? Or maybe they actually need the subsidy (paid for by everyone else) on their multi million dollar pad(s)?

Mark Whitney
The Trenberth quote is from 938. Appell, D. (2013) Whither Global Warming? Has It Slowed Dpwn? The Yale Forum on Climate Change and the Media. http://www.yaleclimatemediaforum.org/2013/05/wither-global-warming-has-it-slowed-down/

John F. Hultquist

Thanks Jim,
Just in case you need another event we were on evacuation drill for a worker-caused-fire (8/13/2012). Had the camper packed and hooked to the PU. We kept track of it and did not leave. Three weeks later a multitude of fires called the Table Mountain Complex resulted from a storm (9/8/2012) with thousands of lightening strikes.
About the Taylor Bridge Fire:
DNR’s fire investigation concluded that the fire was human caused and associated with the cutting and welding activity taking place on and below the deck of Bristol Bridge (also known as the Taylor Bridge) at the intersection of State Highway 10 and Taylor Road, southeast of Cle Elum. The activity was ongoing during a period of extreme fire danger, and without reasonable precautions like clearing away flammable material, any effort to control welding and cutting sparks, or having the proper fire equipment and trained personnel on-site.
Nice photo and story here:

John F. Hultquist

In western Pennsylvania the sky darkened and the Sun turned orange. We had no idea why until a day or so later:


pat says:
April 25, 2014 at 4:31 pm
“26 April: WaPo: Letter: Charles Krauthammer misses the mark on climate change
Charles Krauthammer is upset with my organization, Forecast the Facts, which organized 110,000 people to sign a petition calling on The Post and other newspapers to stop publishing misinformation on its opinion pages about climate change. In his April 11 op-ed column, “Thought police on patrol,” Krauthammer said that, by asking for factual accuracy, we are exhibiting “intolerance” and a “totalitarian” attitude.
Krauthammer is missing the mark. We are not asking for censorship.”
Seems to me you are asking for exactly what you claim you are not asking for… censorship.
You seem to think they WaPo should not be allowed to air any view with respect to climate that does not follow the CAGW meme. For example it would appear that you and the other 11,000 people (11,000x10each to get 110,000) do not want these facts to ever see the light of day.
1) No warming for 17+years
2) Sea level rise has been slowing recently, not accelerating
3) Global sea ice same now as the 1980s, global sea ice is NOT decreasing (Arctic has been decreasing but Antarctic has been increasing).
4) Planet is 11% greener and crop yields are way up since CO2 went from 300ppm to 400ppm
5) So far the rise in CO2 and temperatures has been net beneficial to humankind. Temps only about 1.5C higher than LIA and have flat-lined. Crop yields have benefitted.
6) No increase in tornadoes or hurricanes, in either severity or frequency. No increase in droughts or floods in either severity or frequency.
Basically, if it DOESNT support CAGW, to you that is NOT fit to print. I call that censorship and a totalitarian attitude. You can call it something else if you wish, but calling a horse a Unicorn doesn’t make it so. Krauthammer was right on the mark.


‘Years of Living Dangerously’ Sorry what , Is it the latest Claude Van Damme straight to cheap DVD bin flim?


adding to the chances of more fires in the US is the spread of Non-indigenous species.
“Similarly, European cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum) is dramatically changing the vegetation and fauna of many natural ecosystems. This annual grass has invaded and spread throughout the shrub-steppe habitat of the Great Basin in Idaho and Utah, predisposing the invaded habitat to fires (Kurdila 1995; Vitousek et al. 1996; Vitousek et al. 1997). Before the invasion of cheatgrass, fire burned once every 60 – 110 years, and shrubs had a chance to become well established. Now, fires occur about every 3 – 5 years;”
“An example of a widespread invader that
has caused tremendous changes in fire regimes and other
ecosystem properties is the alien annual grass Bromus tectorum
in western North America. Its invasion across this vast landscape has increased fire frequency to the point that native shrub–steppe species cannot recover”
“Exotic annual grasses and weeds have increased fire risk across the western U.S. and constitute one of the greatest hazardous fuel concerns in this arid region. They out-compete the more fi re-resistant, perennial native vegetation by germinating in the fall or winter, and consuming soil moisture and nutrients early during the subsequent growing season. When they set seed and die
in late spring they create a continuous carpet of dry, fine fuel that can ignite easily and carry fire rapidly. In contrast, native vegetation tends to grow in separated clumps and remains green much later into the summer, resulting in lower potential for fire spread.


And, yet, the imdb page for ‘Years of Living Dangerously’ gives it a rating of over 8/10…


More fires are needed not less.
“Much of the southeastern United States was once open longleaf pine forest with a rich understory of grasses, sedges, carnivorous plants and orchids. The above maps shows that these ecosystems (coded as pale blue) had the highest fire frequency of any habitat, once per decade or less. Without fire, deciduous forest trees invade, and their shade eliminates both the pines and the understory. Some of the typical plants associated with fire include Yellow Pitcher Plant and Rose pogonia. The abundance and diversity of such plants is closely related to fire frequency. Rare animals such as gopher tortoises and indigo snakes also depend upon these open grasslands and flatwoods.[20] Hence, the restoration of fire is a priority to maintain species composition and biological diversity.[21]”

Richard M

If Trenberth took the time to look at the impact of natural factors this is what he might find based on RSS data.
Computation of man-made vs natural warming components based on NOAA satellite data.
The trend from 1979-2005 during the +PDO was .16C/decade. The cooling from 2005 until present during the -PDO was .06C/decade. This gives us two equations with two unknowns if we assume the natural variation is equal and opposite.
1) X + Y = .16
2) X – Y = -.06, X = Y – 06
Substituting for X in 1): Y – .06 + Y = .16, 2Y = .22, Y = .11
Substituting for result in 1): X + .11 = .16, X = .05
This tells us the value of man-made warming is .05C/decade while the value of the PDO yields ±.11C/decade. This occurred while CO2 concentration went from 340 to 400 ppm over the 35 year period. CO2 would double at this rate (340 to 680) in 340/60 * 35 years = 192.5 years. At this rate we would see a temperature increase of around .05 * 19.2 = .96C by 2206.

How can you say that about forest fires? You’re not a climate scientist! Only climate scientists can see the real effect of climate on forest fires.


pat says:
April 25, 2014 at 4:22 pm
25 April: Fashion Times: Inigo Monzon: Nobel Prize Winner Plans To Reverse Climate Change
Pachauri was awarded with the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007 for his work with the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

So he’s still making that fallacious claim, despite the Nobel Foundation’s advisory not to. Donna, take note.


PS–I missed this. (He has form, doesn’t he?):

24 April: Tampa Tribune: Education: Nobel laureate sees hope for reversing climate change
Rajendra Pachauri can paint a pretty dour picture of the effect of climate change.
Rising sea levels. Melting polar ice. Heat waves and heavy rains. Dwindling water supplies. The movement of fish from what had been fertile fishing grounds to more hospitable waters.
Those aren’t concerns for the future – they’re happening now, said Pachauri, Nobel Prize-winning chairman of the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change…

Pamela Gray

Hart Mountain is one of those areas that was drastically and negatively altered by fire suppression. Of course they also threw in human directed unregulated grazing (as if there was NO grazing prior to domesticated cows…rrriiiiiight). As a result of this, antelope no longer had the kinds of grass and brush they needed for grazing and cover so they moved on. With controlled fires (and of course limited domesticated grazing) the antelope are back. So I call BS on global warming caused fire catastrophy. I will however say that such catastrophic burns are human caused. Modern humans don’t like fire but we need to let it burn folks. Whenever it wants to. And stop protecting the idiots who wanted a house in the far reaches of a forest surrounded by trees, living in nature, and singing kum baaaa yaaaaaaa. If they want to protect their investment, let them buy expensive fire insurance.


Salute all!
Go look up Colorado’s Hayman fire and then the Waldo Canyon fire, and smaller ones west of Colorado Springs in 2012. Don’t forget last year’s Black Forest fire because folks allowed all the trees to remain instead of thinning them ( controlled burns not possible die to high population density, so depended upon homeowner mitigation of the hazard).
The Hayman fire was positively cause by a human and she went to jail. Without a lot of population to “protect” it burned about like most of the historical fires before we got involved. Sadly, it still wiped out many summer cabins and such, but loss of life was almost nil. The Waldo fire has been presumed to be caused by a hiker or camper, but no proof yet. It burned and burned, then one day it jumped the last ridge from a Colorado Springs suburb and got a few hundred homes. Very low loss of humans, but still shows the danger of concentrating humans in the forest.
Colorado and other states out west have gone for thousands of years of dry conditions now and then and many “natural” fires. The “no burn” policy of those who “know better than us” has been instrumental preventing loss of trees and such, but then a real fire finally breaks out, whether caused by humans or a lightning strike. The result if a fuel-rich environment and the fire becomes a lot worse than during the natural fire era when the forest burned basically under the crowns of the trees.


@Richard M ..
Actually , the 1998 ElNino (unrelated to CO2) caused a rise of approximately 0.25C in atmospheric temperature.
Now if you subtract that value from the RSS temps after the Elnino settled down by 2001, you get this…..
As you can see, there is basically zero warming in the whole of the RSS record apart from the 1998 ElNino.. No CO2 effect at all. !!

David Ball

A more accurate title for the producer and stars; The Years of Living Disingenuously.

If increased atmospheric CO2 increases tree growth rates…
… wouldn’t that also accelerate the fire cycle?
It seems to me that the connection to climate is unnecessarily complex.
Restating my chain of logic:
1) Increased CO2 accelerates the life-cycle.
2) Fire is part of the life-cycle.
3) Therefore fires should increase in frequency to maintain the same level of function within the life-cycle.