L. A. Times Ca. climate alarmist wildfire story hides key studies showing global & Ca. wildfires in decline

Guest essay by Larry Hamlin

The L. A. Times published a Ca. climate alarmist wildfire story falsely claiming that the states most recent wildfires are result of “heat like the state has never seen”.

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As usual with climate fear articles like this one in the L. A. Times the scientific reality present a far different picture. The latest scientific study completed by the Royal Society concludes that global wildfires are in decline.

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The reduction is global wildfires is summarized graphically in Figure 2 contained in this study.

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Additionally a study by the USGS of wildfires in the western U.S. provides scientific evidence documenting the decline of wildfires over the last 40 years in California using both USFS and Cal Fire historical fire data sources.

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Not only is this L. A. Times Ca. wildfire propaganda claim wrong about the pattern of wildfire occurrences in California it is also wrong about its flawed claim that these fires are the result of “heat like the state has never seen”.

The Times offers its “heat” evidence in the following graphs which fails to include maximum monthly temperature data for all summer months of June through September as provided by NOAA temperature data for California covering the period between 1895 to 2018.

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The complete summer month maximum temperature data for June through September from NOAA’s California temperature data base shows that the state has experienced the present “heat” levels many times before.

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The NOAA California maximum monthly summer temperature record documents that the highest temperatures occurred in 1960 (58 years ago), followed by 2003 (15 years ago), followed by 2008 (8 years ago), followed by 2017, followed by 2006 (12 years ago), followed by 2016 (2 years ago), followed by 1981 (37 years ago), etc.

Additionally a 2015 study by the University of California at Berkeley concluded that the present extremely high level of vegetation now fueling California wildfires has occurred because of fire fighting forest management policies over the last century which have allowed an unsustainable amount of vegetation to accumulate. The Berkeley study notes:

“National parks and other protected areas clearly provide an important function in removing carbon from the atmosphere and storing it,” said Battles. “But we also know from previous research that a century of fire suppression has contributed to a potentially unsustainable buildup of vegetation. This buildup provides abundant fuel for fires that contribute to carbon emissions.”

The Berkeley study concludes that changed fire fighting forest management policies will likely be required to improve the present unnatural centuries long buildup of high vegetation that exists in the state.

The L. A. Times continues its climate alarmism propaganda campaign while ignoring and hiding from its readers significant scientific data and studies which completely undermine its alarmists claims.

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2hotel9

Allow undergrowth to become so dense the annual rainfall can not sustain it and,,,,,,,Oh, well, really no point in telling the environwackadoddles the truth, they refuse delivery. And definitely don’t suggest that building structures in a manner that they would be more fire resistant could help!

Jack Miller

https://lamalfa.house.gov/media-center/press-releases/lamalfa-applauds-administration-s-request-for-forestry-management : “The catastrophic wildfires that have been ravaging our public lands are a fixable problem with a very clear cause – mismanagement has left our forests highly susceptible for these fires to spread at a record rate. Fire prevention, such as thinning dead trees and removing hazardous fuel, has taken a backseat while we spend billions to suppress fires only after they’ve gotten out of hand. These wildfires are every bit the natural disasters that hurricanes are, yet they receive only a fraction of the funding. They destroy property, hurt rural economies, and are a constant danger to human life, wildlife, and their habitat – but it can all be mitigated with better forest management practices.”

https://naturalresources.house.gov/foresthealthandwildfires/ : “While factors such as prolonged drought continue to raise the risk of wildfire, it is imperative that the federal government actively address the one issue within its control: hazardous fuels. Unnatural, overgrown, and unhealthy forests increase the risk and intensity of wildfires. Active management; e.g., thinning the forests, helps protect and restore forests while also helping local economies, and creating jobs. The inability of the Forest Service to thin forests due to overly cumbersome and lengthy environmental processes, increasing frivolous lawsuits filed by certain litigious environmental groups, and a lack of sufficient agency focus on this challenge has led to nearly 60 million acres that are at high risk of deadly and catastrophic forest fires that endanger communities, hurt local economies, destroy land and water quality and release massive amounts of emissions into the atmosphere.”

2hotel9

Calie has millions of convicts, put them to work clearing underbrush. Win/Win! Also, using the cleared material for paper/cardboard and for agricultural and landscaping applications would be a yuge benefit. The winning, it just don’t stop.

Ken

No need for “environmental processes”. Just do what nature does: burn them off every X years. I know that could get messy, but if we had a routine of setting controlled burns, over time we would learn how to do it safely. They key is not to suppress the burns, but instead to adapt to them. They are INEVITABLE, like hurricanes. Building multimillion dollar homes in the middle of forests (or on Gulf Coast beaches, or slide-prone hillsides) is equivalent to clothing yourself in black and taking a stroll on a darkened Interstate. Sooner or later…

Jeff Alberts

“Unnatural, overgrown, and unhealthy forests increase the risk and intensity of wildfires.”

What is “unnatural”? What IS unnatural is putting the fires out. As callous as it sounds, they should be left to burn. That’s natural.

Carbon Bigfoot

This comment is incredulous. Resurrect the timber harvesting business and SAVE the lumber and the jobs that it generates. Don’t let the resource go to waste. A-hole.

rocketscientist

Clearing underbrush doesn’t create much if any usable lumber, and what little is harvested is more than likely too costly to attempt to bring to the mill.

Davis

Underbrush and related waste could be turned into wood pellets to burn and make electricity with.

Edwin

Jack, California is a mess. If land is properly managed especially if prescribed fire are properly planned and used then it not only takes care of the underbrush but also the dead and dying trees. California’s problem is that have suppressed fire for way too long and allowed environmentalists raised by Smokey Bear to call the shots. For what they spend a year fighting “wildfires” they could do a lot of proper land management and better education.

Kristi Silber

Lack of funding might have something to do with it. Environmentalists aren’t likely against funding for State and National Forests and Parks.

According to the Royal Society paper, fire suppression was adopted following Germany’s model. I haven’t heard that it’s big on environmentalists’ agenda, but then I don’t really know what they think about it.

I thought Smokey the Bear was about avoiding starting forest fires, which doesn’t seem like a bad idea. Better to be ready to manage and control prescribed fires than have people set them willy-nilly. “We definitely have the education side,” Calfire spokesman Scott McLean said. “We spend a lot of money being proactive in trying to educate the public.” (link from article).

NCCoder

The problem is, once Smokey’s message gets out, ALL fire is bad. The public here has been so poorly educated they can’t tell the difference between a controlled burn or a true “problem” fire.

Kristi Silber

Greenpeace: ” Smokey the Bear was wrong A “put out every fire” approach to wildland fire management for decades has left us with a fire deficit which can fuel unusually big, hot fires. Many forests in the West have “skipped” fires that normally would have occurred due to overly-aggressive fire suppression. Ecologically speaking, these forests need to burn, as they have for thousands of years, to sustain a cycle of life, death and renewal. We need to protect people and property, but extinguishing every wildland fire only, well, backfires over time.”

Paul Stevens

Major newspaper lies in front page headline to attract readers. Film at 11:00.

John Harmsworth

Film as in the bacterial variety.

DJ Meredith

Next up: Climate Change Causing Global Warming Causes More Arson Causing More Wildfires

ResourceGuy

It’s California, the no-think state.

Rich Davis

I feel you are right about that, except that there is no such thing as right or wrong. Who am I to judge? (do I need /sarc)?

Komrade Kuma

We have similar problems in Oz where our natural vegetation is actually designed to regenerate through fire as against deciduous species which use the ice and snow of winter to do so.

Our indigenous peoples were right on top of the issue with the use of fire to sculpt the landscape for tens of millenia such that when the English came their consistent comment was that the landscape looked like ‘an English gentleman’s park’. The lack of controlled, ‘cool’ burning by us pig ignorant ‘white’ folks has let the understory vegetation flourish such that when there is a fire it tends to be very hot and devastating.

Eucalypts, which a lot have been introduced into California I understand, produce a highly flammable oil when a fire comes through that helps propagate the fire via the tree tops.

All of this has Sweet Fanny Adams to do with so called climate change. It is entirely about lazy and thoughtless land management compounded by building assets in fire prone areas. That is it is just poor risk management. The irony is that the greeny goons are the first to oppose controlled burning.

ЯΞ√ΩLUT↑☼N

Our indigenous peoples were right on top of the issue with the use of fire to sculpt the landscape for tens of millenia..

No they didn’t and it’s one of the most prolific myths. These alleged “stewards of the land” started a fire at one end of an area and captured escaping food at the other. Then picked up some cooked remains once the fire went elsewhere. They didn’t even know how big their “world” was, so no consequences could be garnered from this as they were hunter-gatherers that simply moved around. Essentially they still are, but they go where the grog is.

Captain cook had a name for them as he sailed down the East coast watching everything burn. It wouldn’t surprise me if many of the fires were started by their fire sticks blowing sparks into the brush when the wind picked up suddenly, let alone natural lightning strikes.

I mean, think about it. When the ground is torched due to controlled burning herbivores and reptiles move out of the area to find edibles. That’s not conducive to a stocked larder.

Komrade Kuma

Really advertising your ignorance there comrade. They would cool burn an area then wait for the new shoots to attract game then hunt the game. They would burn one area with a hot burn to kill the trees and cool burn adjacent areas and keep the trees as shelter/cover for hunting parties. Read Bill Gammage’s “The Biggest Estate on Earth”.

I am sure that there were peoples who did use fire in the simple way you describe but the practice in Australia was generally much more long term and sophisticated. The lack of that practice is very noticeable with the thick scrub now pretty much the norm in any area of ‘bush’.

BTW, Cook sailed up the east coast (S->N).

ЯΞ√ΩLUT↑☼N

They no longer live in the real “bush”, such as East coast. Probably why the thick scrub today, considering nobody’s allowed to light them. With Cook I was gonna say down (or up) but couldn’t be bothered.

BCBill

I don’t know much about fires in Oz but having fought something in the orderof 300 forest fires, I have never seen a cooked large animal. I have walked dozens of fires days to weeks after they were out and after the first rain succulent green sprouts attract deer, bears and numerous other animals. All nature loves a fire and the larder is well stocked for several years after a fire. I may be wrong, but I it seems probable to me that you don’t have any observations to support your claims.

ЯΞ√ΩLUT↑☼N

Cooked or slightly singed, I don’t care.

I had enough experience bulldozing their communities we all paid for after they stripped and burned them out. It’s clear they’re using old habits to restock their larder indoors too, as you describe?

Komrade Kuma

“I had enough experience bulldozing their communities we all paid for after they stripped and burned them out”. Says a lot there comrade. “We all paid for'”? You mean some beads, a vague promise then a volley of bullets, John Batman style?

Grant

Ucalypts were mainly planted along coastal areas and you don’t find them in the areas where most of the fires burn.
That said, they burned spectacularly in the Oakland fire.

Clyde Spencer

The Oakland fire happened in October. Why do the graphs only show temps for June-August? There have been many times in years past that I have been deer hunting in the Mother Lode in October, with the daytime temps in the 90s.

Richard Patton

And I remember having to wear winter uniform at Naval Station San Diego station in January when the temperature was 91 Deg! In CA hot weather can come any time of the year as can Human stupidity.

rocketscientist

True for the Shasta area fires, not so much for the bay area fires. Those were due to no woodland management at all in residential areas and communal “green zones”.

Komrade Kuma

That is the essential problem in Oz where we now have days or remembrance like Ash Wednesday in Victoria and SA and even Black Tuesday in our coolest, wettest, southernmost State , Tasmania.

Not only does it make incidental fires virtually impossible to fight or control, it creates a target for nut job arsonists who just salivate at the thought of the next hot, dry, windy spell of weather.

Trevor

K Kuma :”The irony is that the greeny goons are the first to oppose controlled burning.”
THAT’S BECAUSE THEY LIVE THERE !
and they don’t like THAT KIND OF SMOKE !
They “carved out a niche” for themselves and DON’T WANT ANYONE ELSE
SHARING IT. Stupidly , MOST of their road-designs are cul-de-sacs and
OFTEN there is only ONE ROAD OUT OF THE TOWN through the forest.
RESULT: When a large tree falls across the road THEY ARE TRAPPED.
[ Perhaps from a storm or from a tree burning-out at the base ]
Once a fire starts in earnest you have to LEAVE or DEFEND your house.
Most are under-prepared to DEFEND and choose to leave.
IF the exit is blocked and the fire is raging they are stuck !
Outside the vehicle they burn and inside the vehicle they bake !
MANY FIRES ARE LIT BY ARSONISTS , FALLEN POWER-LINES and
LIGHTNING STRIKES………very few from “B-B-Q’s ” or camp-fires
which I understand the “Smokey the Bear” campaign was about !
Not putting out “wild-fires” but putting out “camp-fires ” when you
had finished cooking….so they didn’t spread. THAT IS STILL SENSIBLE.

ЯΞ√ΩLUT↑☼N

Amazing how they only connect heat and global warming in a hemispheric summer. The reverse only happens on a slow news day or if they’re in panic mode and need to fund themselves by cr@pping out a non-scientific paper or two by “Wild Guess et al” to satisfy the MSM and the UN.

Jeff Alberts

“L. A. Times Ca. climate alarmist wildfire story hides key studies showing global & Ca. wildfires in decline”

They didn’t hide it, they just didn’t include it in their story. Big difference.

That is called “lying by omission.” Standard propaganda tactic.

JimG1

Jeff,
No difference. More disinformation is spread through leaving out critical information than by printing outright lies and it is more effective.

Kristi Silber

How often do you see articles posted here that leave out critical information? Do you look into it? Do you think that WUWT writers provide a balance of views?

rocketscientist

Jeff, willful omission is hardly what you’d call fair and unbiased journalism. Surely, the LA Times cannot claim ignorance, for that is just as damning.

MarkW

How is not including relevant information different from hiding it?

Steve Reddish

The spirit of providing the 5 W’s in every news story is that providing every relevant fact matters. Editors used to chastise reporters who didn’t report ALL the facts.

SR

Kristi Silber

I agree with Jeff. From what we can tell by reading the *part* of the story presented in the WUWT article, the L.A. times is associating high temperatures with a record wildfire year for CA. They are not reporting on global wildfire trends. Although there has been variation in max. summer temps, since 2000 they have all been above the average since 1895, and the min. summer temps seem to show a clear trend. Record temps are following a period of above average ones, and that could contribute to wildfire intensity and area burned. Scientists have been reluctant to associate climate change with “worsening wildfires,” it says – but the link with increase in temps “has become impossible to ignore,” according to some experts. Have any experts denied a link between prolonged above-average temps, below-average rainfall and area burned by CA wildfires? Has any expert suggested there is no connection between climate change and wildfire? Keep in mind that management and education could be working in the opposite direction to limit fire frequency, area and intensity…and that the Keeling data haven’t been analyzed; he admits he doesn’t know what is causing the patterns he sees.

Larry’s post leaves out the fact that in the article from which he got his CA fire *frequency* graphs a Calfire representative says that wildfire *area* burned follows the opposite trend. If we are to believe Writing Observer, “That is called ‘lying by omission.’ Standard propaganda tactic.”

McComber Boy

Thin the forests! Provide defensible space around homes and other buildings. Have we not known these things for decades, or with the German forests, centuries? But the culture clash is between those who know how to manage forest lands and those who believe that the only holy use for a tree or bush is to sacrifice it through fire to Gaia. Somehow it is holy to burn down the forest but it is a crime against nature to use those trees for homes or other human uses.

It is insane to force homeowners to get permits to cut trees adjacent to their houses, and then deny the permits. Yet this is what is happening in the Tahoe area. And how many homes burned in their fires of last year.

And thinning. We keep hearing about bark beetles killing trees and that it is drought related. It is not drought related unless we refuse to thin the trees and leave the standing trees with enough water to drown the beetles in sap as the bore into the trees. We lost a few trees during the very real drought of 1977-78 in California. But only in areas where we had left too many trees crowded into too small an area. In lodgepole forests, especially, we need to pay contractors to thin the forests to sustainable levels of tree spacing. Money that will then not be needed to fight fires in the future.

And stop with the worst fire year ever crap. In 1910 one fire in the Idaho, Wyoming, Montana tristate area burned over 3 million acres. Even in California it isn’t the worst. Google (or Bing) 1889 fires in SoCal. 300,000 acres in the Santiago Canyon fire with close to 500,000 acres burning in the complex of fires that were all burning at once.

And stop with the “it was built up fuel due to fire suppression” crap as well. There was no concerted suppression prior to 1910. Forests burn. They always have. We can help by thinning and making use of the already sequestered carbon (hat tip to AGW :>). It would seem that the green crazies would be in favor of keeping the carbon dioxide in the trees, whether standing or in human use, but no. Trees are a crop and need to be harvested. Brush are weeds that need to be cleaned out or managed. Sacrificing all on the altar of ‘wilderness’ or ‘natural burn’ is crazy on the face and incredibly wasteful of the dollars and lives spent to try to stop conflagrations that could have been prevented or controlled by proper management.

Rant over. PBH

Richard Patton

You need to add to the Idaho fire the Miramichi Fire of 1825 of the same size in Maine and New Brunswick which killed 86 people to your list (notice both of them were before ‘global warming’ in fact the Miramichi one was during the Little Ice Age).

None of the fires in California even come close to the top ten list. https://www.worldatlas.com/articles/largest-brush-and-forest-fires-in-recorded-history.html The fires in Russia in 2003 “fueled” by an Omega Block (a weather event) burned 47 MILLION square miles (or 30 BILLION acres). There are some interesting YouTube videos of people actually having to drive through the flames to escape. Oh, Yeah, no fire suppression had ever been done in the Russian forests that burned in 2003.

And then lest we forget, the Great Plains, before we turned them into the breadbasket of the world, regularly burned with devastating wildfires.

BCBill

Uhhhhh, Russia is 6,612,100 sq mi in area. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russia

MarkW

Obviously the fire ran from one end of Russia to the other, then it reversed and did it over again, 7 times.

Richard Patton

OOOOPPPPs. My bust.😲Acres is what it was. Point still stands. the CA fires aren’t in the top ten.

JClarke

It was actually 47 million acres.

73 thousand square mile = 47 million acres.

Tim

Around 40 years ago, I recall a building industry journal featuring a specifically designed and constructed fire-resistant house.
Surely the insurance industry would be interested enough to offer incentives to builders. It appears nothing has progressed on this for many years. Bureaucracy or stupidity?

You will probably find that overall the insurance cost on 0.1% of houses that burn down is less than building all houses so that they don’t.

I had a US Robotics modem back in the day when 9600 baud was top of the line internet speeds..

My telephone line took a direct strike. Yup. Not nearby. Bang on the line, Just a black mark across the road where it had hung.

US Robotics replaced the modem under ‘lifetime guarantee’. I talked to an engineer ‘way cheaper than putting surge suppression in, and besides nothing survives a direct strike anyway’

The serial parallel card in the PC went and so did the laser printer attached to it HP wanted more than the printer cost to replace power supply CPU card and parallel interface card. I said well thanks bit no thanks. The service man said ‘I cant reduce the price, all I can do is make it a warranty repair ..free of charge’

Do that then, I said 🙂

Costs are weird things. Sometimes the cost of the paperwork…

The property owner (I rented it) had to report the incident to his insurance company, and they insisted on paying for a complete rewire of the property as ‘we cannot insure a lightning struck property until that is done’

MarkW

You don’t know what kind of damage has been done to the wires or the insulation until you do a visual inspection of the wires. By the time you’ve gone to the expense of opening up the walls, you might as well just replace all the wires. Just in case.

Richard Patton

It isn’t the insurance industry, it is the Consumer. The reason that homes in Florida are not built to withstand Hurricanes while the homes in Guam are built to withstand Typhoons is consumer Cost. If costs to ensure against damage are cheaper than building to prevent the damage, buildings will never be built to prevent damage. Guam gets hit so often that even their power poles are solid concrete and their homes are concrete block-ugly.

I saw on TV years ago a house that a man had built on the Gulf Coast that was designed to withstand a category 5 hurricane (including storm surge). It wasn’t pretty but you could tell by looking at it that no wind was going to tear it apart and the waves weren’t going to tear away the foundation (the lower story was parking with walls intended to give way to storm surge)

John Harmsworth

Didn’t Cali have a lot of rain last year or the year before? Wouldn’t that cause more growth and greenery to follow? Isn’t that a likely contributor to a major fire? Can these people figure anything out for themselves?
Inquiring minds want to know!
Next on Oprah.

rocketscientist

Many have figured it out. Its just the politicians have more shiny projects to demonstrate their talents. The daily chores of running a society are not sexy enough to garner votes from those who don’t ever visit a forest.

Knackwurst7

Correction: Fig. 2 in that study is not showing “the reduction i[n] global wildfires”, but does show a reduction of fires in the European Mediterranean region as per the caption.

Marcus

O.T. but….”Senate hearing to examine the EPA’s agenda”

http://video.foxnews.com/v/5816621523001/?#sp=show-clips

ResourceGuy

Blame it on Reagan. It worked at Yellowstone.

MarkW

All the news that’s fit to make up.

Rob Dawg

Newspapers are made out of dead trees. the LATimes is literally talking their book.

ResourceGuy

Meanwhile, it’s quite pleasant in the middle of the country. Climate change must cause pleasant also.

Rich Davis

Oppressively comfortable 77F (25C) here on the east coast. We’ve never seen comfortable like this before! The poor are hardest hit.

ResourceGuy

Somehow Super Storm Comfortable does not sound like a winner for getting extra recovery aid from DC.

HenryP

What country is that?

The dry summers in the NH are easy to understand if you get that it has already started global cooling. Namely the decreasing differential between the T equator and T pole will make more water condensing at the lower latitudes and less at the higher latitudes. Consequently, we can expect very cool winters – i.e. less clouds preventing a warming effect from the cloud cover.
We have the 87 years Gleissberg cycle which caused the dust bowl drought 1932-1939.

We are only standing at the beginning of the major drought coming
– 2018-87 =1931….

ResourceGuy

Okay, but I’ll stick with the AMO for my mid- to long run cycle. The recent start and the impact is the same story though.

Beth Walker

The destructiveness of CA wildfires would be diminished if proper management was performed: maintain fire roads instead of allowing them to deteriorate into narrow, rutted tracks, perform brush and undergrowth clearing so there are not years of buildup, remove reasonable amounts of deadwood instead of allowing entire beetle-killed hillsides to remain. I’ve ridden horses in the local mountains for decades, and seen the effects of the poor forest management. Then a fire comes along and clears it all out…

Jan de Ruiter

It seems that the more damage a natural phenomenon does, the more certain we are that it’s caused by us.

Kristi Silber

Hmmm. So, since 1895, 8 of the 10 hottest summer temperatures in California have occurred in the last 25 years. Five of the 7 hottest have been in the last 15 years. And it looks to me like all the maximum summer temps since 2000 have been above the mean of maximum temps for the last 123 years. What are the odds, I wonder? It doesn’t exactly support the idea that it’s the same as it ever was.

“The reduction is global wildfires is summarized graphically in Figure 2 contained in this study.”
According to the caption, the graph is for the European Mediterranean area. Of course, there could be many reasons for a global decline in fires that have nothing to do with climate.

The graphs for California are for fire frequency. I wonder what they are for area burnt? Oh…here we are… The author says, “Despite the decline in overall fires, the amount of acres burned by wildfires isn’t following the same trend. In fact, acreage burned by wildfires is doing just the opposite.

“For most ignition sources we have found a decline in the numbers since the 1980s, but not a decline in the area burned.”

So, does this mean that the L.A. Times was lying and “hiding” studies? Record temperatures have nothing to do with the worst fire year on record for California? Larry Hamlin thinks so, so it must be true.

The LA Times would feel justified in finding ANY connection, so if the numbers of fires had increased though area burned decreased, then BINGO! Must be us.

If BOTH numbers increase, then BINGO! Must be us.

If both numbers declined, only then would there be “no story worth printing…”

Bill G

Yeah, that is what the linked article says – amount of acreage burned is going up. Also, refer to the firefighter website http://wildfiretoday.com/ – it has a statistics page which also shows both a slow decline in the number of fires but a big increase in acreage burned in the continental US – http://wildfiretoday.com/tag/statistics/. It is a good site if one is interested in wildfires.

Frank

Note that the graph of maximum summer temperature does rise about 1 degC, like most temperature records. The appropriate question is whether that 1 degC has anything to do with current changes in wild fires. Or are other factors (including chance) vastly more important?

GaryH845

LAT’s – today’s print edition: Many parts of Southern California broke heat records for July

They actually presented this:

Bakersfield saw 21 days in a row in July of temperatures above 100 degrees — the ninth longest on record. The record was set in 1906 when temperatures exceeded 100 degrees for 50 consecutive days.

That sure convinces me that it’s never been this hot before. LOL

Gov Jerry Brown said this week: “Fire-Fueling Heat Worst ‘Since Civilization Emerged 10,000 Years Ago.”