Climate Scientist Calls Out Media (and Mann) ‘Misinformation’ On Wildfires And Global Warming

By Michael Bastasch

With wildfires engulfing over 620,000 acres of California, there’s been a concerted media campaign to single out man-made global warming as the primary force behind the deadly blazes.

But that’s not what the data suggests, according to University of Washington climate scientist Cliff Mass.

“So there is a lot of misinformation going around in the media, some environmental advocacy groups, and some politicians,” Mass wrote in the first of a series of blog posts analyzing the California wildfires.

“The story can’t be a simply that warming is increasing the numbers of wildfires in California because the number of fires is declining. And area burned has not been increasing either,” Mass wrote.

Firefighters are struggling to put out the largest fire in recent decades, the Mendocino Complex fire, that’s consumed over 300,000 acres in northern California. Environmentalists and some scientists have pushed a media narrative that blazes across the state to global warming.

“Climate change is making wildfires more extreme. Here’s how,” PBS Newshour warned viewers on Monday, quoting Pennsylvania State University climate scientist Michael Mann.

“You warm the planet, you’re going to get more frequent and intense heat waves. You warm the soils, you dry them out, you get worst drought,” Mann said. “You bring all that together, and those are all the ingredients for unprecedented wildfires.”

The San Francisco Chronicle ran with similar coverage: “Scientists see fingerprints of climate change all over California’s wildfires.” The Chronicle also quoted Mann, who further argued global warming weakened the jet stream, causing extreme weather patterns to persist.

“These factors work together to produce the sorts of persistent extreme weather events — droughts, floods, heat waves, wildfires — that we’re seeing across the Northern Hemisphere right now,” Mann said.

However, Mass combed through California wildfire statistics, finding state figures showed a decrease in acres burned in four out of five regions. U.S. Forest Service data for public forests and lands in California shows mixed trends, with some regions having just as big of fires as in the 1920s.

“The bottom line of the real fire data produced by the State of California and in the peer-reviewed literature is clear: there has been no upward trend in the number of wildfires in California during the past decades,” Mass wrote on his blog.

“In fact, the frequency of fires has declined,” he wrote. “And in most of the state, there has not been an increasing trend in area burned during the past several decades.”

“Clearly, climate change is only one possible factor in controlling fire frequency and may not be the most important,” Mass wrote.

While the seasonal weather is an important ingredient for wildfires, it’s not the only factor, making it particularly hard to attribute fires to global warming. Land management and population growth are also major factors since most fires are started by humans.

A recent study found the risk of fire increased in once-rural areas as populations increased, putting more buildings, plants, vehicles and other ignition sources in fire-prone areas that were once sparsely populated.

“This is a people problem,” U.S. Geological Survey fire scientist Jon Keeley told The San Jose Mercury News. “What’s changing is not the fires themselves but the fact that we have more and more people at risk.”

Mass authored a similar analysis of California’s 2017 wildfire season when many media outlets suggested the blazes were driven by man-made warming.

“Those that are claiming the global warming is having an impact are doing so either out of ignorance or their wish to use coastal wildfires for their own purposes,” Mass wrote in 2017.

“Wildfires are not a global warming issue, but a sustainable and resilience issue that our society, on both sides of the political spectrum, must deal with,” Mass wrote.

Full story here at the Daily Caller

156 thoughts on “Climate Scientist Calls Out Media (and Mann) ‘Misinformation’ On Wildfires And Global Warming

  1. In the old days it was a Reagan “issue” with fires in Yellowstone. Why not a Jerry Brown issue today?

      • Yes, You know the message is: If only Governor MoonBeam had more tax revenue to allocate, he and band of merry thieves could have prevented this.

        Meanwhile, back at the train between Fresno and Bakersfield that no one will use….. send more money please.

      • just saw on the news that some nut job firebug, who was a member of a firefighting crew no less and long suspected of being unhinged by his colleagues , i.e. a firebug, who had years ago warned the ‘authorities’, was arrested for lighting some massive fire in California.

        It really raises the issue about the hysteria manufactured by the CAGWarmistas actually encouraging, stimulating and rewarding such nutters such that there is no need for actual ‘global warming’ or ‘climate change’ just a propaganda campaign and enough unhinged loons to create the necessary special effects.

        The media do the rest with their confected, edited footage… just like in the movies…or more like the War of The Worlds broadcast way back in the old days.

        If you can scare the crap out of enough people just using radio just imagine the effect with television PLUS the internet….

        • Enviro-mental alarmists actually creating the events to stir up the public is of course the basis plot in Michael Crichton’s excellent “State of Fear” novel

      • Yes, progressives really do believe they are not responsible for anything bad that happens as a result of of their policies. But Republicans are always responsible, even when the problem is the fault of progressives. It’s almost like progressives view themselves as children while viewing Republicans as the only adults in the room. Children are never responsible for the problems they cause. It is always the fault of the adults who were supposed to be supervising them. Unfortunately, the children have taken over California, and adult supervision is severely lacking. It’s like watching them descend into “Lord of the Flies” territory.

    • I read a comment from a Redding resident who claimed the Carr Fire was able to get an initial foothold because the fire started on the border between two Fire Agencies (Redding and Whiskeytown?). Neither agency sprang into QUICK action, thinking it was the others responsibility. I know it is heresy to EVER DARE criticize our “heroic” First Responders … and I am aware of the FF deaths fighting the Carr Fire … but … what IF this IS true? Will we LEARN from this mistake … like we learned from Columbine … to get our First Responders asses (and guns) into the damn school ASAP!!! if we want to save lives.

      The DEVASTATING Oakland Hills Fire was CAUSED by FF incompetence … who FAILED to FULLY extinguish a small nothingburger fire … which was reignited by high winds into an unstoppable conflagration. Sorry, but mankind has ONLY advanced by learning from our mistakes … regardless of how painfully finger-pointing it is.

      I am not convinced that any SINGLE factor is “causing” the devestating fires in CA. And the whole concept of “hot ground” (as if THAT hasn’t occurred for all recorded time, every summer) … is an excuse because CA hasn’t been “in a drought” for 2-3 years. Another typical “invention” by the rabid CAGW lobby. Nor do I give a rip about this authors “statistical” analysis of there being no more frequency of fires or acreage burned. Fact is … there are LOTS MORE PEOPLE affected by these fires (as Jerry’s flooded our State with illegals). We MUST “control” fires … not the reverse. And don’t give me the crap about where humans shouldn’t build homes. Rubbish. We can’t all live in the hellish ant-farm urban zones. No amount of “defensible space” or non-flammable building materials will save you from these mass conflagrations.

      Why is nobody telling the TRUTH about these fires? And therefore finding an intelligent, analytical, solution? Who/what are starting these fires? Initial Response times MUST be improved. Techniques for fighting these fires must be improved – buy and fly MORE air tankers!? Controlled burns. Preventative maintenance. Privatize the FF … and pay bonuses in inverse relationship to the size of the fires.

      Sitting by, and typing screeds about “Global Warming” … or … how the “noble”, “eco-aware” Native People’s proactively burned scrub growth … is not helping. Where is the governmental leadership on the PREVENTION of these MASS, devastating conflagrations?!!!

      • It happens alright . . .
        A relative’s house burnt to the ground while two country fire-stations argued over who was responsible for attending the fire!
        In the end they both turned up when it was all over.

        • I’ve seen the same happen in jurisdictional boundaries where the paid “proffesional” city team stopped fighting a commercial structure fire because they discovered it was on the wrong side of the street. County firefighters (volunteer) had to wait around until the “proffesionals” packed up their spaghetti supply lines and cleared from the hydrants. (City used 2×2.5″ supply lines, county used single 5″ lines at about double the flow capacity of the city’s B/S)

      • Yeah I was living in Oakland at the time. But I don’t think privatizing the firefighters would do you any good – if firefighting was being paid for by private interests, they would have no incentive to protect the general public, don’t you think>

        • Well the “proffesionals” aren’t worth crap. Much of our county has switched to paid firefighters and the average responce times got slow enough to make insurnce rates go up.

      • “Heroic?” Dunno about that. I did it for the adrenaline fix.

        I can logically see station chiefs being paid a stipend based on station performance, but a well trained volunteer group is probably superior in action. One and all, we got paid with adrenaline. Our personal standing within the station was dependant on how many calls we had responded to. I think my last year I showed up for 400 + calls, then I got transfered out of state (USN). After I retired and moved back here, the system had gone mostly paid “proffesional” and I had lost my taste for it. (Plus I couldn’t see working for a cheif who had threatened me with a knife when he was a teen) ( I gave him back his knife after a couple of days)

      • There was a study done a while back that found that clearing out the overgrowth nationwide (resulting from decades of stopping all fires ASAP) would take something like 80 years. It is going to take a while. 😦

        The federal government could do more were it not for “environmental” groups suing to stop preventative actions being taken. Personally, I would love to see people hold these whackjobs responsible for the resultant devastation, but you know that won’t happen.

        If the government did not have to waste time and resources on defending ridiculous lawsuits, they could actually help the environment MORE. It really burns my biscuits knowing how many millions of dollars have to be spent so that the feds can actually effectively manage the wilderness under its care (if they get a reasonable judge, which is not guaranteed, especially in the 9th Circuit), when that money could be spent on things like controlled burns, selective logging (evil!), putting appropriate wildlife protection in place, etc. I do not agree with every action or idea any government takes or promotes, but there are a lot of reasonable and necessary measures that are stymied by so-called environmentalists.

  2. When one has bad wildlands management, it just might be more appropriate to attribute the extensive fires to that, not global warming.

    • If CO2 has any part to play in the problem, it’s because it makes plants grow faster and thus increases the fuel load.

      • Yes. Wins the thread.

        Anecdotally, in recent years many of my local rural walks that I use frequently have become impassible due to overgrowth with brambles and nettles. It is a genuine tipping point in that if a path isn’t properly cleared during autumn/winter, traffic falls. And then the growth during the next season obliterates the evidence that there ever was a path.

  3. Eco-loon thought-process: If temps increase, it gets closer to the point of combustion. Therefore, warming causes more fires.

  4. Btw, Dr Mann’s appearance on the PBS NewsHour news outlet was the 56th time in which a scientist associated with the IPCC / NASA / NOAA has appeared there, while there has been exactly zero climate scientists from our side there. I quantified that here: . Anthony Watts appeared once in a taped interview, and many of us remember how much of a meltdown the far-left viewers went into over that. Imagine what would happen if Dr Mann appeared in-studio opposed by Richard Lindzen or Roy Spencer.

    • It’s PBS (Propaganda Broadcasting Service). It used to promote American interests, which were mostly rational and practical. Now it serves special and peculiar interests, foreign investors, and the consensus (i.e. single-thinker).

    • I can’t watch the PBS Newshour, or listen to NPR … for the overwhelming leftist bias. Their mono-political broadcasting is marketed as “more intelligent” than commercial News broadcasts which is simply laughable. Yes, their stories sometimes go more “in-depth” on issues … but this only means MORE leftist arguments to frame the story. Public Broadcasting = High Priests preaching orthodoxy of the Left.

      • I watched PBS Newshour today in Australia. Sat 18 Aug and it was all about groups of left wingers sitting around agreeing with each other.

      • PBS Newshour is not leftest – more like liberal. Chomsky would be leftest – Sanders is leftest. KPFA in Berkeley is leftest.

    • Face it, their support base — the people who keep them financed and on the air — are the affluent left. They literally cannot afford to piss off that audience. Too much truth and the lefties will stamp their feet and withhold their pledges that year. The left wing bias is part of a year-round pledge drive that isn’t quite so obvious as their regular beg-a-thons.

    • In Washington State, most fires are brought under control, if possible, very quickly.
      Local officials believe they are seeing more fires started along roads because of autos catching on fire.

      In the mountains with forests, there is a massive amount of fuel. These fires can get big very quickly and little can be done. Structures are protected, when possible.
      Era of Mega-Fires

    • Gary

      “Is the decrease in burned area due in part to better fire-fighting in recent years?”

      There has been no decrease in burned area over the past 30 years. As Cliff Mass’s article states, area burned increased 1987-2016 (final figures not yet in for 2017). See the second chart in his blog post. It amounts to an increase of ~150,000 acres per decade in that period.

      Mass reckons “the trend would not be significant not significant”. Tamino (AKA Grant Foster) disagrees and has invited Mass to comment on his blog:

  5. Climate change is making ……pyromaniacs……. more extreme.

    ..most of these fires were started by people

    • Most wildfires (about 84%) are results of activity by people.
      Most are NOT set by arsonists.
      For example, see my LINK at 5:34. Under reply to Gary.

      • Statistics NEVER tell the whole truth of an issue. For example: homeless people who set fires “to keep warm” (in a windstorm) are not “arsonists” … they just behaved like an arsonist. They were just as … effective … as an arsonist. But never made onto the “arsonist” side of the firestarting statistics. “Arson” or “Criminal negligence”? What does it matter when 10,000 acres and thousands of homes are destroyed?

        Kinda like Hillary Clinton didn’t “intend” to expose Top Secret National Security documents via her unsecured server. She just did.

  6. Who can take a fire (who can take a fire)
    Sprinkle it with lies (sprinkle it with lies)
    Cover it with pseodoscience and a wheedle or two
    The Liar Mann (the Liar Mann)
    Oh, the Liar Mann can (the Liar Mann can)
    The Liar Mann can
    ‘Cause he mixes it with hate
    And makes the world so bad (makes the world so bad)

  7. One of the things we looked at in the lands we managed was when was the last time a parcel of land had burned either from “wildfire” or from a prescribed burn. It is critical for planning the next prescribed burn because it gave some appreciation for the amount of fuel there was on the ground and how many dead trees were probably still standing.

    It would interesting to know with last year’s and this year’s fires in California when those lands burned the last time.

    California has an opportunity to develop and implement better land management policies and plans. But I am dreaming.

    • No, no, no … you are WRONG! This IS (Jerry Brown’s) CA’s Fire management plan. Allow as many devestating Fires BURN the State as possible, do little to prevent or control … and then after the WHOLE State has burned … mission accomplished … nothing left to burn.

      And scream!! Global Warming!! Man is sinning against Gaia!!! with every blaze.

      Since this is EXACTLY what is happening … how can it NOT be the States policy … and plan?

    • The problem is how to do periodic prescribed burns in a region where there is a six month drought every Summer and Fall, there are human habitations most everywhere, and Winter rains aren’t all that reliable. Once the forest/brushland has dried out in late Spring/early Summer, it’s next to impossible to control/extinguish fires whether “prescribed”, deliberate(arson), accidental, or natural (e.g. caused by lightning).

      The vegetation is adapted to the climate and mostly shrugs off occasional incineration. Human habitation … not so much.

      • Don, doing prescribed burns takes careful planning and hard work. They require an understanding of average weather (climate?) conditions but also the present weather conditions.

        Florida is on about a 11 years plus or minus a few, drought cycle with about every other drought being severe. Late winter and spring are usually very dry. Historically there was a great debate between traditional land managers and environmentalists. Enviros wanted prescribed burns done when they would occur “naturally” which meant during lightning season, late spring and summer. Traditional land managers wanted to do them when the land needed it and when conditions were as close to perfect as possible for a controllable burn.

        When managing land managers who planned prescribed burns we actually study the experiences from other states, including California. California has an extremely bad record relative to fire management and has to years. Organized environmentalists certainly played a role in prevent proper fire management.

  8. During our campervan trip last Autumn in NW N. America we were told several times by both immigrants and natives that in ages past the local inhabitants regularly burnt off the undergrowth and deadfalls, maybe every 8 – 10 years or so, meaning that the enormous fires seen today didn’t happen.
    I would say that the current fires are due to lack of forest management.

    • Driving around the PNW you can often see the boundary line between federal/state lands and privately managed lands just by looking at how the forests are being managed.

    • The forests are no longer the same as they were back then. The older trees are almost all gone. Those older trees could easily survive brush fires. For example where I live the trees in the surrounding countryside are largely 3rd, 4th, or 5th growth, aka pecker poles. These younger trees have a hard time surviving a fire, especially large fires.

      • Not true. There are like 10 million acres of old growth in Oregon alone. Set aside long ago. And yes at least in Oregon the Indians would set fire to whatever would burn each summer. A lot more food on a grassy prairie then in the woods. That is why the Willamette valley was largely easier to clear for farming since there were not massive stumps everywhere to dig out to the same degree as once you crossed fire boundaries, rivers and mountain ranges. The private commercial forest land looks very healthy compared to much of the state and federal lands. A fair bit of it is open to recreation and you can see the difference.

    • It has been speculated that the aboriginal burns in California are the reason for the relatively pure stands of redwoods because redwoods are more naturally resistant to fire than the other trees associated with the climate zone. Yet, self-appointed environmentalists abhor more sophisticated forest management such as logging or thinning of chippable trees.

      • The irony.. when you log it and make it into lumber and then produce some durable good with it – house/furniture etc. That CO2 stays stuck there until someone burns the product or it rots. Meanwhile a fresh new CO2 consuming tree is growing within feet of the one cut down and doing the job. Deadfall rots and releases CO2. Logging and lumber stores it away. So there hatred of logging is counterproductive to their stated goals.

  9. Meanwhile, Mass’ home state of WA is getting warmer, statistically significantly so. Not even Mass denies that.

    • I live in the state you talk about, it is NOT getting warm significantly, you need to stop the lies about it. It goes up and down over time, slightly warmer now than in 2001, the start of the new century.

      Meawhile warmists like YOU keep pushing the dishonest narrative that it is really hot these days, when it isn’t happening the way you paint it. You keep ignoring the IPCC per decade projections of a .30C trend, while PREVIOUS warming trends back to the mid 1800’s have been about half that.

      Q&A: Professor Phil Jones

      Meanwhile you are silent about DR. Mass’s presentation showing that temperature changes has little effect on wildfires.

    • Even if that were true, which it isn’t, it’s probably because of all the people who have moved there.

    • Warmer WA is probably a good thing. Of course, you do know that it was getting warmer before CO2 and other greenhouse gases were emitted in significant amounts by humans, right?

    • NY is Cliff Mass’ home state. But thanks for playing.

      Homework assignment: Find the highest temperature ever recorded in Washington State. Where was it recorded, and (crucially) when?

      • Alley, still waiting for your homework assignment, an “Incomplete” disqualifies you from further participation. Where and when was the highest temperature recorded in WA?

      • Time’s up. Answer: 5 August, 1961, in Burbank, WA: 118° F (48° C)

        So, despite your assertion, the climate in WA has been cooling since 1961, if you believe heat records being broken constitute evidence of an overall trend (which alarmists yammer about every day.)

        • Cooling since 1961? Nope. Warming since 1961. Or did you think that you simply take the highest temp of the year and connect the dots?

          I bet you did!

          • Alley

            Cooling since 1961? Nope. Warming since 1961.

            No, the most recent short-cycle cooling was the 30 years from between 1935-1945 down to the mid-70’s low point (although CO2 was steadily increaasing the entire time), and then a warming trend from 1975-1998. Been pretty steady from 1998-2018, the most recent 30 years, as C)2 went up by more 25%. Actually, those 23 years from 1975-1998 are only time that CO2 and global average temperature have EVER increased at the same time!

      • As yes. I see that the climate is not warming. Good show! I am convinced by some Brain guy that CO2 is not warming the earth because of some random question about a record in a small fraction of 1% of the globe. Who’d of thunk?

        Why do you insist that a state is warming when there is not a single report showing otherwise? Are you picking a starting point in the past two years? WA is most definitely warming, says everyone who can read a chart.

        Homework assignment: When was the last year that earth had a below-average yearly temp relative to 1951-1980 average temperatures?

        An incomplete disqualifies you from discussing anything dealing with the topic of global climate change.

        [?? .mod]

  10. So far, this year, there has been 39,772 fires. In 2008, on this date, 56,778 fires, In 2009, 59,990. The last 10 years can be seen at National Interagency Fire Center. The average number on this date for the last 10 years is more than what has occurred this year.

  11. Having a considerable background in fire dynamics and fire performance testing and research, I can say that wildfires are not an ambient temperature problem. They are primarily a fuel accumulation problem combined with dry climate conditions. Since the western US is a mostly semi-arid region, it has always had periods of weeks to months of zero rainfall. It takes only a few weeks of warm dry weather for small cross section vegetation (grasses, brush, branches, twigs, etc.) to dry to low moisture content and become tinder. Under these conditions it takes only the smallest ignition source to start a fire and generate enough heat to dry and ignite the forest canopy. Add a bit of wind and you get a rapidly spreading conflagration.

    The best control measure is to simply not allow the build-up of fuel in the forest under-story. Regular controlled burns that can remove under-story vegetation without generating enough energy to ignite the tree canopy is the answer.

    • How about letting citizens harvest the dead and/or ‘down’ trees for firewood?
      How about letting citizens harvest thick lodge pole pine stands for corral, fencing and barn construction materials?
      How about letting private enterprise be a part of the solution?

    • Thanks, Rick C. It is amazing how far Dr. Mann is willing to go, beyond his expertise in the field of paleo-dendroclimatology.

      His statements exemplify the classic pseudo-scientific arguments of the left – change one variable leaving all others constant and you can get any answer you want. Increase the minimum wage – instant wealth for the downtrodden. Never mind all the ones who lose their jobs, priced out of the market and replaced by robots.

      The statement that warmer temperatures cause more fires seems obvious to anyone who is completely ignorant or unwilling to think about the issue.
      1. Just about every warmist thinks that warmer temps cause more water vapor, more precipitation, more destructive storms. They think this because it is critical to their theory. The nearly saturated CO2 effect by itself could not cause dangerous warming, it requires “positive feedbacks” from water vapor to create their doomsday scenarios.
      2. But in reality there hasn’t been much warming, nowhere near as much as they predicted. So they have switched over to “extreme weather”, that way droughts, floods, fires, ice storms, heat waves all “prove” them right without any need to resort to facts or real evidence.
      3. This alarmist hand-waving makes them look more and more like the clowns they are, but they can’t stop now. One lie needs another to keep it alive.

    • Absolutely right. Have the fit strong youngsters collect firewood for me to burn over winter to save the community from wild fires! I promise to spread the ash back into the forest the next year.

    • Rick: Thank you for sharing your professional experience.

      It is the introduced gum trees that are the problem, they are an ecological disaster.

      The following extract from a report by Joe Shute and Bruno Manteigas was published in the UK Telegraph Magazine (4 August 2018, page 17):-

      In the Mafra region, just north of Lisbon (Portugal), the local Proteçăo Civil has begun to introduce ‘prescribed burning’ on private land it deems to be of particular threat. Since 2006, explains Carlos Trindade, Mafra’s civil protection coordinator, the authorities have deliberately burnt around 200 hectares of land. As a result the number of fires has dramatically decreased from a yearly average of 368 between 2001 and 2005 to 115 between 2011 and 2016. Not a single life has been lost to wildfire in Mafra since the scheme began.

      The article continues to describe the ecological benefits of prescribed burning:-

      As we climb a steep hill where the prescribed burning has recently taken place, Trindade points out the germination of native oak trees where eucalyptus once stood, and the tracks of rabbits (a native species in the Iberian Peninsula) that increasingly populate the area. Swifts swirl about our heads and, he says, local populations of Bonelli’s eagle are also beginning to increase as the ecosystem recovers. In the distance though, on land where his team have not been able to work, thickets of planted pine and eucalyptus still wave in the breeze. Trindade knows the dangers of this un-managed land “You see nature, he says. I see fuel.”

      Just as in California where the local native flora is also adapted to fire, the cork oaks of Portugal are more fire resilient when their bark is allowed to develop and provide a natural fire protection for the living tree.

      Fire vulnerability was higher for trees with thin bark (young or recently
      debarked individuals) and decreased with increasing bark thickness until cork was 3–4 cm thick.

      Catry FX, Moreira F, Pausas JG, Fernandes PM, Rego F, et al. (2012) Cork Oak Vulnerability to Fire: The Role of Bark Harvesting, Tree Characteristics and Abiotic Factors. PLoS ONE 7(6): e39810. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0039810

  12. University of Washington climate scientist Cliff Mass is a voice of reason in a wilderness of inflamed agenda driven deceit. We need to support him now, as he will be the target of personal attack by the AGW fanatics.

      • Steve Mosher – the second paragraph “Recently, some commentators have tried to dismiss recent increases in the areas burnt by fires in the US, claiming that fires were much worse in the early part of the century. To do this, they are ignoring clear guidance by scientists that the data should not be used to make comparisons with earlier periods.”

        Can you explain why the “clear Guidance by Scientists to not make comparisons to prior periods?

        Maybe because empirical facts get in the way of the narrative?

        Fire data for the period 1926-1951 shows 2-4x the number of fires and acreage vs the 2010-2016 time period.

        Actual facts do matter

    • Yes, J Mac. Gerard Roe is another UW scientist who likes to take the Kool-Aid only in small sips. It makes me feel proud to be an alumnus when common sense is generally so thin on the ground.

    • JMac, you do understand that Cliff Maas says that CO2 is warming the planet and that action is required to reduce CO2 emissions in order to avoid serious problems later on. Right?

  13. “Clearly, climate change is only one possible factor in controlling fire frequency and may not be the most important,”

    With those words he weasled out. Perhaps he didnt want his funding cut off completely.

  14. If we just destroy Capitalism then the whole world will become a Garden of Eden, with Fearless Leader running things instead of that nasty God guy.

  15. There is only 1 solution. Controlled burning. Every year. At worst a fire will only have a few feed of new growth as fuel and any wildfires will not pose a serious threat. Used properly fire is your friend. Burn the underbrush.

  16. I always wonder where Steven Mosher and Nick Stokes are when garbage like this comes down the wire. It’s pretty much every day and the horses#!t substantiations from Michael Mann and other all-stars of the phony science are always there front and centre. But Steven and Nick can only parse over the minutiae of their failed Eco-Socialist garbage heap.
    They are like sad pioneers wandering aimlessly through the burnt out wreckage of their homestead that they had such dreams for, little realizing they built it in a swamp while wearing blinders!

    • In the absence of Mosh & Mr Stokes, may I point out that the above article neatly excludes the fact, clearly stated on Mass’s blog, that area burned in California has actually increased over the past 30 years (to 2016). In fact it’s increased at a rate of around 150,000 acres per decade. Mass considers this to be “not significant”, but this is disputed over at Grant Foster’s blog:

    • I am a skeptic. That means I reserve Judgement pro or con, until I ACTUALLY LOOK AT THE DATA FOR MYSELF

      Then when I look at the data I TAKE CARE about the sources

      This means

      1. I dont need to refute or support everything I read. I reserve judgement.
      2. When I talk about something you can be pretty sure that I have worked with the data
      or the science myself

      I am skeptical that Anyone here actually looked at the data.
      well did ya? Nope.

      You read and instantly rejected. I read and suspend judgement.

      Here is what I know
      1. GHGs will warm not cool the planet.
      2. The increase in GHGs is due to man.
      3. IT HAS WARMED, as predicted.
      4. The best scientific explanation is a combination of forcings: Solar, GHG, and aerosols.

      Attribution is hard science and new science.
      I am skeptical.
      Skeptical of those who REJECT the science
      Skeptical of those who make overconfident statements about attribution.

      Finally, Whether fires go up or down has nothing to do with the core physics
      GHGs warm the planet

      Now, How would I go about doing the analysis?

      I would start with some data review and literature review.
      OH, I would also pick folks Known to me to be expert and diligent when it came to testing
      their own ideas. I would START by reading them, and then dive deeper

      NOTE: I did not say TRUST these folks. I said START with these folks. and then plow through data. But in the grand scheme of things, nothing in attribution studies has very much interest for me. We know what we need to know. We knew it in 1896.

      Fire attribution studies are wheel that doesnt turn. Interesting, tough problem, but in the end we already know that we cannot emit c02 with impunity.

      • “….. the end we already know that we cannot emit c02 with impunity.”
        We are going to though, no way around that one, unless you are looking for some kind of new world order, good luck herding the cats.

      • I am at a loss to understand how figure 7 in that article can show burned area south of 30°S showing a similar scale to that burned in the northern hemisphere.
        Last time I checked, there just isn’t that much land in that part of the globe where you could start a fire.

      • When you post from rabid propaganda fakedata sites like climate briefs and tamino

        … of course your message is not going to get through.

        As soon as one of them says “factcheck” you KNOW the lies are coming.

    • In the same vein, empirical evidence demonstrates that dry, cold, windy conditions at the height of the last glacial period (from about 25,000 years BP to 13,000 years BP) created the vast desert dune fields throughout Central Australia. The deserts were not formed in hot, dry conditions.
      References: Bowler 1976, Bowler and Wasson 1984, Harrison 1993, Ross et al. 1992, Wasson 1983, 1984, Nix and Kalma 1972, Wasson and Donnelly 1991.

  17. Is that weakened jetstream the same one that was so strengthened by “climate change” that it pushed colder air into Europe and Eastern North America last winter? I think it was the reason Global Warming froze into Climate Change.


    I searched WUWT on the name Charles Anderson. His name comes up rarely and I dont see any reference to his ground breaking analysis of CO2 and the atmosphere available on his website (see the above link).

    I BELIEVE THAT HE NOW IS THE WORLD AUTHORITY ON EXACTLY HOW THE ATMOSPHERE BEHAVES. John Nicol from Australia also has a good handle on the subject but since these 2 PhDs do not have the stature of a Richard Feynman , their arguments get lost in the shuffle of the global warming hoax.
    On a related note I have emailed Michael Modest one of the top 10 world authorities on radiative heat transfer but after his 1st email response where he questioned me what I meant by AGW and CAGW and my response, he went silent. I suppose that probably even though he knows it is a hoax and it will cost the world trillions of $ and many lives, he probably doesn’t want to lose all his scientific friends and be ostracized in that community for speaking out. I say this because if thought the global warming was legitimate he should have at least replied to me and said so the 2nd time. HE DID NOT. This is true ; even when he is already at retirement age. Many scientists have lost all of their scientific friends for speaking out against this hoax and they are truly the courageous ones. THE QUESTION IS CAN WE CALL A SCIENTIST WHO KNOWS IT IS A HOAX, but refuses to speak out against it a coward?


      What makes him the world authority on atmospheric physics?

  19. Listening to NPR on the way to work this morning, I heard a report about the possibility of the state of California suing PG&E for causing fires from downed power lines. The head of PG&E responded that they couldn’t afford to keep brush away from power line right of ways because of climate change. Lol. Well played sir ,well played.

  20. If the fires are not getting worse, does this meant that 80 years of fire suppression is not to blame either?

  21. Admitting that the weakened polar jet stream was a contributor to changes in the climate is a big step forward for Prof M Mann. Now that we have agreed upon that, let’s look into the cause(s) of a lazy polar jet stream. It would soon be established, about two minutes into the investigation, that it is related to solar activity. Whether or not it is related to temperature is a different matter. It isn’t. It is related to solar activity whatever the temperature.

    It is nice to see some progress in this rather contentious field.

  22. I wonder if all these horrific fires, along with loss of life and property, will finally wake CA up to the fact we need proactive fire prevention. I used to show 2 videos to my 5th graders (I’m retired now) when we were studying environmental science. The first covered the massive fire in Yellowstone in 1988. There was almost no stopping it because the authorities had never allowed natural burn off of underbrush. The Holy fire in the Elsinore area is burning in an area that has not seen a fire in 40 years! The 2nd video I showed was about a state park in Florida that was mainly lodge pole pines (they burn like a gasoline torches). Florida encouraged natural burns and they also did some controlled burns. They have never had an out of control fire in the park. Florida also encourages private property owners to apply control burns to cut down on devastating fires. Since the environmentalists all insist that humans allow “nature take its course”, maybe they will allow natural fires in huge accumulations of “unnatural” growth to cut down on wild, out of control burns. /sarc/ Unfortunately, it is probably too late. There is just too much underbrush that has built up during the “we will stop any fire anywhere anytime” ethos. CA is faced with many more devastating fires until nature is allowed to return to normal and we finally allow “nature to be nature”.

    • A major hurdle is the “environmental” groups that sue the government to prevent appropriate fire management. Logging is bad, regardless of the purpose! Cutting down a tree is irreversible harm! (A judge actually said that during a lawsuit. Obviously, the government lost that one.) In my biology (and conservation!) courses, my professors all talked about how controlled burns and thinning of forests was necessary for healthy ecosystems. I asked a few if this was a generally accepted idea among biologists. They all replied in the affirmative.

      This further convinced me that many “environmental” groups are willfully and knowingly advocating for actions that are likely to CAUSE ecological and environmental harm, and that the people involved not only do not care about people, they do not care about the environment.

      This kind of BS is why I call myself a conservationist rather than an environmentalist.

  23. We live in Redding and had a chance to drive CA-299 out to Whiskeytown and also into the Keswick area. It’s worse than you can possibly imagine. Except for the occasional brick chimney and the metal panels from garage doors and burned cars and trucks you can’t identify anything.

    We have friends who built a lovely new home in the area where many but not all homes burned. Across the street from them the land drops down into a ravine and then up a hill where so many homes no longer exist. Their house is absolutely untouched. Green grass, flowers, everything as if no fire took place. Across the street the burn is black, black, black right up to the edge of the curb.

    The old city of Shasta is mostly burned but untouched homes are surrounded by total burned destruction. Most of the Shasta Historical Park seems untouched.

    The utility companies are busy replacing power poles and lines. The pre-burn heavy vegetation hid the fact that the road was very close to very steep, deep drop offs. They’ve installed new metal guardrails along those stretches.

    It is a tragedy you simply can’t imagine if you don’t see it for yourselves. Do what you can to help.

  24. This fire is now a little more than half the size of the fire that devasted southe east Australia in 2009, and probably has a way to run yet. Both fires appear to have human sources either through arson or power utilities.

    Both fires also occured against a backdrop of forest mismanagement and development in bushfire prone areas without adequate clearing and access. We appear doomed to repeat this pattern as lessons are not learnt or dissapate over time.

    • We are doomed to repeat it as Vic Roads and the local council are failing to keep the roadsides properly managed and the greenies are going on about undergrowth management ( thanks to unwarranted concerns about a certain ‘cute’ little possum).

  25. Writing from a position of ignorance: Could the scientist’s name be Maas, not Mass? Just asking . . .

  26. For those that want to prevent wildfires by collecting firewood, or even controlled burns:
    Think again.
    Controlled burns help near where people might get a fire started.
    Look up “Firewise” and “Fire adapted communities”
    Where the forests are now loaded with fuel, and in mountains, come have a look.
    Search “Images” for
    Jolly Mountain Fire, or
    Norse Peak Fire

  27. The media and Michael Mann has television with compelling images of wild fires on their side.

    Statements like “The bottom line of the real fire data produced by the State of California and in the peer-reviewed literature is clear: there has been no upward trend in the number of wildfires in California during the past decades,” isn’t going to convince people. Who are they going to believe? Your “data” or actual images before your eyes showing the devastation of wild fires!

    Those who want to rebut the media and the likes of Mann has to come up with something more than “data” (and graphs) – something that can be seen and easily grasped by people. And by the way, don’t use
    the term “peer-reviewed” – it has become a four-letter word!

  28. I appreciate the professor’s perspective (and I took a look at his article). But it is my experience living here in CA that the fires are becoming more intense and destructive. A chart on an insurance site – – lists the 10 largest CA wildfires and seven out of the ten are during or after 2003 (the top five are during or after 2003). The site – wildfire today – sees a trend is the size of wildfires increasing – – this is for the continental US (the same data is on the insurance site without the trend line). The fire in Ventura was especially anomalous as it happened after winter began (there is a timeline visual on the wildfire today site which shows how anomalous it was). Also, the fires seem to be moving faster and with more intensity. This is a subjective impression – also heard firefighters quoted on TV saying so. Anyway, if you live in CA you can think about whether it is true for you if you think the weather is becoming, overall, more hot and dry – which, of course, leads to fires. Of course, it would be better to do what the natives did – which was to burn forests during winter – but that doesn’t work in crowded CA with all this expensive property.

      • Thank you for the link. Two observations:
        First, 30 years of data is not very much to go by.

        Second, it shows that the total number of fires is decreasing by 170/year; while the total acreage burned is increasing by 12000 acres/year.
        Clearly for this to happen, the area of each fire must be increasing. I calculate that in total, the area/fire is increasing by 3 acres/fire/year.
        But what is even more interesting is the breakdown.

        For local government firefighting, the area of each fire has actually *decreased* by 1.9 acres/fire/year;
        For California state firefighting, the area of each fire has increased by 1.89 acres/fire/year;
        Now for the Feds:
        For Federal firefighting, the area of each fire has increased dramatically by 9 acres/fire/year.

        The problem seems to lie with Federal firefighting resources, tactics and strategy – or perhaps on increasing demands placed on them as firefighting resources are allocated. That seems a more likely explanation than climate change.

  29. Cliff Mass’ blog strawman starts by conjuring the phrase “the key driver”… when no-one thinks that.

    Bastasch backs up with “the primary force”!

    “that’s not what the data suggests” Um, no it isn’t, what a surprise. You wern’t surprised were you Michael?

    B-grade ‘splainin, right there.

  30. Wildfires are caused by many things, including mismanagment of forests, and undergrowth, and over-development. But it’s a logical fallacy to hold that because things other than climate change are contributing to the problem, climate change is not contributing.

    A better view is that because of climate change, we are being made to pay more dearly for our environmental mistakes.

    It is a fact that climate change is occurring in California, in the form of the extension of the hot and dry season by several weeks on both ends in recent years. The extent to which this change is contributing to the wildfire problem is hard or impossible to quantify exactly. But we cannot dismiss it as a factor contributing to the problem.

    Whether the wildfires currently raging in California are the worst ever is something for the people who publish the Guinness Book of World Records to ponder. It is reasonable to conclude that if the world were greener and wetter instead of hotter and dryer, wildfires would be less of a problem.

  31. This has been quite interesting for me. I have been voicing my opinion on many social media platforms for ages and geting the usual vitriol coming back at me. On Yahoo UK this week was a story about the wildfires so I commented on the fact that this was forecast back in march but people who really knew the weather and also the slow start to the hurricane season. I then threw in the fact about how many times the Arctic has been predicted to melt out. After 4 days I have not had a single thumbs down or reply telling me I know nothing (why is partially true).

  32. 2 guys caught lighting multiple spots already..often happens in Aus too;-(
    pity cali doesnt have death penalty

    • Under U.S. federal law, arsonists can be held responsible for the costs of fighting the fires they set, however, few (if any) have millions of dollars to cover them. I am not sure how often anyone is charged, it may be difficult to prove in a court of law, or be considered to not be worth the court costs to recover a pittance.

      I do wonder if bankrupting a few arsonists might serve as a deterrent.

  33. In case you are starting to believe the climate warming propaganda being “proven” by the “recent” increase in forest fires, as is publicized nowadays, click for the governmental statistics in this link.

    In summary:

    During the recent few years: approximately 5 million acres burned per year on average.

    During the few years about 1930: approximately 48 million acres burned per year on average. The year 1930 a record at 53 million acres burned.

    [1 acre = 4000 m2]

    • jake,

      It says right at the top of your linked-to data:

      “Prior to 1983, sources of these figures are not known, or cannot be confirmed, and were not derived from the current situation reporting process. As a result the figures prior to 1983 should not be compared to later data.”

      Yet that’s exactly what you’ve done. Anyway, it would hardly be a surprise if acres burned was greater in the 1930s, given relative lack of infrastructure (roads, for instance, to provide fire breaks and access for fire crews), water supplies, air support, etc. It’s not a like-for-like comparison.

      Cliff Mass used verified CALFIRE data from 1987-2016, which is both more reliable and provides a more reasonable comparison. What it shows is that area burned since 1987 has
      increased. The trend is ~ 150,000 ac/dec, but that will increase substantially once 2017 data are added; 2018 too, unfortunately.

      • You selectively fail to mention that the number of fires per year has dropped from 13,000 in 1987 to 7000 in 2016 – i.e. it has halved!
        That must tell us that the areas of the fires are increasing. Fewer but bigger fires.
        Could it be down to fire-fighting tactics? After disasters like the Storm King fire, are managers are more reluctant to commit human resources at ground-level? Much more use is being made of air-attack.

        • the number of fires drops.
          the area burned goes up
          all during a period of improved response.
          what can you deduce…smaller number of larger fires…its worth a look.

          question is.

          does climate change, or increased drought,


          note, not cause the fire, not cause more fires, but contribute along with other factors to increases in burn area?

          contribute, not cause.


          well if we had a natural drought I imagine folks would say, sure, dry conditions contribute to the increase in fire size of both natural fires and arson.

          tough question to untangle. if we have dry conditions that are, in part, a result of climate change, regardless of the cause of climate change, we would conclude that larger fires are partially influenced by climate change.

          the fun part is.
          a. figuring the partial contribution of climate change.
          b. figuring the partial contribution of man to climate change.

          • I suppose that a fourth molecule of CO2 per 10,000 dry air molecules might however have contributed to more fuel on the forest floor, which, when dried up in the summer, could catch fire and burn more hotly.

          • An excellent summary of the issue. Thanks Steven.

            Unfortunately most people just want to cheer on anything that lines up with what they already believe.

          • Much more likely to be down to changes in land management.
            A real scientist will try to discover and evaluate ALL the possible causes of the observed phenomenon – not just the one that suits his favourite ideology. And once they have proposed a hypothesis, real scientists will ‘bend over backwards’ (per Feynman) to think-up and test counter-instances. With climate scientists, there is only one explanation – climate change – and it is the explanation for everything.
            Here’s another possibility that could be explored. Hunting and the health of ruminant populations. Have there been changes to the way the forest understory is being browsed? I would suggest that a forest which supports a large healthy ruminant population would have a very clean clear understory; whereas a forest lacking them would have a lot of undergrowth that could easily catch fire in dry weather.

          • J,

            Misguided environmentalists have made grazing on USFS land hard. Yet that was the original use of the Service’s land, which is why it’s in the Department of Agriculture rather than Interior.

    • Why is the data presented in the SAME table, as though it is of equal quality to the other data, giving the strong visual appearance that leads one to believe that the figures in the SAME table are reliable. If the data is not reliable, then it should NOT be published in a visual manner that first leads one to believe that it is. Whoever decided to publish that table made a bad, dare I say “erroneous”, decision. Those earlier figures should NOT have been put in there. If they are useless, then why put them in? It makes no sense. Very annoying.

  34. I wonder if we in northern Utah can sue California for damages due to the poor air quality caused by their forest mismanagement and urban sprawl. Salt Lake City has been under a sickly haze for weeks.

    • Since I read an article on this very website of which they’re usually meticulously sourced, much like the wonderful commenters data in these areas: I would have to say no. Most of your pollution comes from Asia. It’s blown over the Pacific and only supplemented by the hordes of progressives in their urban west coast sprawl. [Sidenote: these are also the Asian countries that have been the primary contributor to the largest floating landfill in the world, located slightly west of Hawaii if memory serves. It’s larger then the state of Texas.] The almost non-existent fire break laws in California and little or no control of brush and dead trees certainly don’t help either. How could they have less tinder piled up all around and in the suburbs if they don’t have the money to clear it? If, after the thousands or millions of dollars in legal fees you actually won a lawsuit against California which is usually bankrupt; you could only obtain a portion in damages.

  35. Logic, facts, and actual studies on population growth, drought, and poor forest management policies leads to massive wildfires. 100 years of Smokey Bear and environmentalist resistance to sound forest and wilderness management has produced this mess.

    Too bad that Michael Mann, a dendochronologist, has no knowledge or experience in forestry or forest management, yet is propped up as an “expert” in fire science. It certainly has little to do with climate.

  36. how many DC-9 fire retardant drops did they use 30 years ago? Helicopter water drops? What kind of equipment expense in water tender and bulldozer costs did they have in the 1980’s? The cost of fighting wildfires and the technical and pure physical capacity to fight them has increased exponentially over the last 50 years, as has the expense nationally.

    In Redding california the top wind speeds from a fire vortex was over 135 miles per hour.

  37. Seeing that California has wild-fires every year why don’t they keep more rain runoff in some big manmade reservoir, set up the forests with a network of sprinklers and use that water to keep everything nice and moist. Yes it would be expensive but what is the cost of all of these fires?

  38. Arson is becoming a significant factor in forest fires. A man has just been convicted of starting a fire which caused the evacuation of 13,000 people. Also the Athens fires are believed to have been arson by the local fire chief because they all started on the same day. I actually suspect that amateur climate activists are doing it in the belief it will further the cause.

    • so if we had a natural drought and a dude set a fire that burned massive area, would you argue that the area burned was LARGE because of arson?

      or would you say, the fire was caused by arson and made worse by dry conditions?

      simple question.

        • I think there are many factors that matter if both sides of the political spectrum would stop bashing each other on Twitter long enough to actually look at the historical data. Isn’t that what this article is about?

  39. Taking animals off the land for the past several hundred years is the most likely culprit. Of course that is man-made also. But animals don’t have much of a lobby.

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