National Public Radio’s Misinformation on Wildfires and Climate: Part 2

by Jim Steele

In 1994 the Harvard Business Review insightfully wrote, “The news media and the government are entwined in a vicious circle of mutual manipulation, mythmaking, and self-interest. Journalists need crises to dramatize news, and government officials need to appear to be responding to crises.” So it’s no surprise that NPR headlines hyped, Climate Change Is Driving Deadly Weather Disasters From Arizona To Mumbai claiming, “Heat waves. Floods. Wildfires…We know that climate change is to blame.” Nor is it surprising that the New York Times wrote, “climate change is a key culprit” for the American west’s wildfire disasters.  And right on cue, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warns “It’s code red for humanity”. But governments promise to fix the “crisis” by controlling your energy and social policies.

Is the media honestly following the science, or once again engaging in “mutual manipulation, mythmaking, and self-interest”?

We ecologists know that wildfires and climate change are extremely complex issues with many contributing variables. Bigger, more intense, and more frequent wildfires and a longer fire season are similarly produced by different variables. Distinguishing the “key culprit” is not as easy as a NY Times’ opinion suggests. Thus, ecologists are trained to maintain multiple working hypotheses to determine which hypothesis best fits the evidence. This scientific process has grave social importance. Wrong analyses always produce wrong remedies, and bad remedies can be worse than the problems they seek to fix. So here are some major competing hypotheses explaining recent upticks in wildfires.

  1. Wildfire Suppression

In the 1800s the western USA landscape was a mosaic of open meadows and patchy forests. That mosaic was maintained by frequent wildfires, either ignited naturally or by native Americans. The patchy mosaic created natural fire breaks that prevented the spread of megafires. Frequent fires also reduced both ground fuels that cause more intense fires and ladder fuels that carry fire into the canopies. All wildfire experts agree the policy of wildfire suppression from 1900 to 1970 allowed a) the explosive accumulation of ground fuels and ladder fuels and b) reduced patchiness which allowed fuel continuity across larger swathes of forests. The increase in wildfires since 1970 coincides with the relaxation of fire suppression policies when ecologists emphasized that low-intensity frequent fires are needed to maintain forest health and biodiversity.

A US Forest Service report provides photographic evidence of the landscape patchiness in 1909 before wildfire suppression began versus the increase in ground and ladder fuels and dense connected forests that evolved by 1979 due to fire exclusion.

  • Human Ignitions

Since 1900, California’s population increased from 1.5 million people to more than 39 million. More people inevitably produce to more accidental ignitions. Eighty-four percent of all USA fires are ignited by people. A larger population also requires a larger electrical grid. California’s 2nd largest fire (Dixie) was ignited by an electrical spark, as was the deadliest ever Camp fire and the 4th deadliest Tubbs fire. Three of California’s largest fires (Mendocino, Rim, & Carr fires) were caused by other human accidents.

While the natural fire season, ignited by lightning, extends from May through September, peaking in hot and dry July, human ignitions extend the fire season throughout the entire year. In California this is especially dangerous, as ignitions during the winter are rapidly spread by fierce Santa Anna and Diablo winds. These winds begin to ramp up in October as increasingly cold seasonal temperatures in the high mountain deserts push dry air down across California towards a relatively warmer Pacific Ocean. A downed powerline in December ignited a fire spread by the Santa Ana winds that devastated southern California with its 8th largest fire (Thomas Fire). California’s 4 deadliest fires, Camp, Griffith Park, Tunnel, and the Tubbs wine country fires were all rapidly spread by October and November winds. The 2nd deadliest Griffith Park fire was accidentally started in October 1933.

  • Altered Grasslands

Grasses and shrubs produce small diameter “fine fuels” that rapidly dry within 1 to 10 hours of dry weather. As discussed in part 1, those 1‑hour fuels are highly flammable even during freezing temperatures and easily ignited. As seen in Fig 3. (from Keeley, 2015) grassland fires account for the largest burnt areas.  Some fire experts argue the tremendous drop in wildfires during the early 20th century was not only due to fire suppression policies, but severe overgrazing that reduced the grasslands ability to spread fire. Similarly, a recent NASA report determined wildfires globally had “declined by 24 percent between 1998 and 2015.” They attributed this global decline to a change in landscapes across the African savannahs. Before, to support grazing, fires had been intentionally set to keep grasslands free from invading shrubs and trees. As villages and homes intruded into the savannah and cultivation of permanent crop fields replaced grassland, the use of fire was reduced.

In 1992, ecologists from UC Berkeley and Stanford University wrote the seminal Biological Invasions by Exotic Grasses, the Grass/Fire Cycle and Global Change. Grasses create conditions that favor fire by producing a “microclimate in which surface temperatures are hotter, vapor pressure deficits are larger, and the drying of tissues more rapid than in forests or woodlands.”  An invasion of alien grass species “provides the fine fuel necessary for the initiation and propagation of fire. Fires then increase in frequency, area, and perhaps intensity. Following these grass-fueled fires, alien grasses recover more rapidly than native species and cause a further increase in susceptibility to fire.” This cycle had been well known to land managers who seeded alien grasses to increase fire frequency and intensity to suppress woody species.

The grass/fire cycle has altered landscapes across the world. In Hawaii alien grasses thoroughly filled the spaces between native shrubs, providing continuous layers of fine fuel. Prior to a 1960’s invasion, only 27 fires were recorded in 48 years, each burning an equivalent of 8 football fields. In the 20 years following invasion, twice as many fires ignited each burning an average of 400 football fields. In western North America the invasion of cheat grass increased the frequency of fires in Idaho shrublands from once every 60-110 years to every 3-5 years. In eastern Oregon land dominated by cheatgrass is considered 500 times more likely to bum than other landscapes. In the Great Basin deserts, due to low fuel abundance, sagebrush ecosystems burned just once every 60 -100 years.

Now cheat grass-dominated sagebrush habitat burns every 3-5 years, up to 20 times more frequently than historic natural conditions.  Eleven of the USA’s 50 biggest fires in last 20 years have been in Great Basin sagebrush habitats, where invasive cheatgrass is spreading. Nevada’s largest fire was the 2018 Martin Fire. Rapidly spreading through the cheat grass, it burned 439,000 acres, a burned area rivaling California’s 4th largest fire in recorded history.

  • Natural Climate Cycles

Most media, like the NY Times, seek out the researchers whose research focuses on finding a connection between a climate change crisis and wildfire crises. So typically the media quote Park Williams, John Abatzoglou, Daniel Swain, or Kevin Trenberth. Park Williams summarizes, “This climate-change connection is straightforward: warmer temperatures dry out fuels. That statement is true, but so is the converse. Drier conditions also dry out fuels and raise temperatures. So, blaming warmer temperatures maybe the tail wagging the dog. Furthermore, it is bad science to apply a 2°F rise in global temperatures to the measured local temperatures where fires ignite. In the USA, 36% of the weather stations with 70+ years of data report cooling trends. It’s also bad science to use average daily temperatures. Rising minimum temperatures are associated with growing populations and may still be below the dew point which would moisten ground fuels. It’s the maximum temperatures that dry out fuels.

For example, in the region of the huge Mendocino-Complex fire, which was accidentally ignited in dry grasses, annual maximum temperatures have cooled since the 1930s as recorded in the US Historical Climate network. Cooling maximum temperatures holds true throughout northern California.

Contrary to Williams’ suggestion, dryness does not depend on temperature as witnessed by the warm wet tropics or cold dry tundra. The Sahara Desert was driest during the depth of the Ice Age but converted to the moist Green Sahara as temperatures warmed. Dry conditions are mostly a function of how atmospheric circulation transports moisture from the oceans to the land, and its atmospheric circulation that makes the American west so dry and the eastern USA so moist. The most important modulator of that circulation is the natural El Nino cycles (ENSO) and the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) that shift rains and drought northward and southward.  Researchers found “combined warm phases (positive PDO during El Nino) co-occurred with large fires in the central and northern Rockies, while the combined cool phases (negative PDO during La Nina) appeared to promote large fires in the southern Rockies. Almost 70% of large fires in Rocky Mountain National Park burned during La Nina events that coincided with a negative PDO, although these phases co-occurred during only 29% of the 1700-1975 AD period.”

Appropriately, the recent uptick in forest fires coincides with the natural 21st century shift of the PDO to its negative phase and increased frequency of La Nina conditions. This natural cycle of droughts and fires forced Williams to find a narrative that synthesized the scientific evidence of La Nina effects with modeled speculation of a climate crisis induced wildfires. In 2014 Williams wrote, “The southwestern United States (SW) experienced extreme drought in 2011, related at least in part to a La Niña event in the tropical Pacific Ocean. The 2011 SW drought event was accompanied by record breaking total burned and record-size ‘‘megafires’’ in the forests of eastern Arizona and northern New Mexico.” He then conflated model myth-making writing, “Model projections developed for the fifth phase of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project suggest that by the 2050s warming trends will cause mean warm-season vapor pressure deficit to be comparable to the record high VPD (dryness) observed in 2011.

But climate models have done an extremely poor job of modeling drought. Michael Wehner published the graph below, which was also featured in a National Climate Assessment. The observed (red) Fractional Extreme drought area over the USA and Mexico was clearly greatest during the 1930s and attributed to landscape changes and natural cycles. The second worse drought extent occurred in the 1950s.  Although modelers already knew the results, their CO2 driven model results (blue) failed to even hint at those historical droughts and accompanying heat waves. All the climate models could do is project imagined disasters in the future. Rarely does the media mention the grass/fire cycle, or the dryness of ENSO cycles. Instead NPR prefers to blame climate change for worse wildfires The media is indeed stuck in the “vicious circle of mutual manipulation, mythmaking, and self-interest”

Jim Steele is Director emeritus of San Francisco State University’s Sierra Nevada Field Campus, authored Landscapes and Cycles: An Environmentalist’s Journey to Climate Skepticism, and proud member of CO2 Coalition

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John Garrett
August 11, 2021 2:14 pm

Those western wildfires are anthropogenic, all right.

A Former College Professor Is A Serial Arsonist In Northern California, Feds Sayhttps://www.npr.org/2021/08/11/1026700103/former-college-professor-arson-charges-california-dixie-fire

Firefighters battling the Dixie Fire have also been facing a second enemy: a serial arsonist who went on a spree of setting fires in July and August — and who sought to trap fire crews with his fires, according to agents from the U.S. Forest Service. They allege former college professor Gary Maynard is the culprit, citing their tracking of his movements and other evidence.

“Where Maynard went, fires started. Not just once, but over and over again,” the government said in a court memorandum arguing for Maynard to be denied bail.

While court documents allege that Maynard is connected to more than a half-dozen dangerous fires in Northern California, he is currently charged with starting only the Ranch Fire. That blaze broke out on Saturday morning, in a remote area where, according to court records, Maynard had just camped for the night. It’s one of three fires officials say Maynard set in recent days — all of them very close to the Dixie Fire’s northeastern footprint.

“He entered the evacuation zone and began setting fires behind the first responders fighting the Dixie fire,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Sacramento said in court papers. It added, “Maynard’s fires were placed in the perfect position to increase the risk of firefighters being trapped between fires.”…

Jim Steele
Reply to  John Garrett
August 11, 2021 2:25 pm

Indeed fire experts determined, 84% of all fires are ignited by people and one sub-set of those human ignitions is arson. My Sierra Nevada field campus was threatened years ago by the Bassett’s fire set by an arsonist.

January 2020 I reported,

“According to the U.S. Fire Administration, arson accounts for 20% of California’s fires, 55% of Kentucky’s and is the leading cause of Florida’s fires. More resources are needed to address the arson problem as well as increasing current public education programs to reduce careless fires.”

Vuk
Reply to  John Garrett
August 11, 2021 2:26 pm

Criminal justice professor Dr. Gary Stephen Maynard.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  John Garrett
August 11, 2021 6:19 pm

They ought to throw the book at him. He should spend the rest of his life in jail.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Tom Abbott
August 11, 2021 8:32 pm

Or, at least in a mental institution.

Reply to  Tom Abbott
August 11, 2021 8:33 pm

How many counts of attempted murder? One for each responder he tried to trap with flames?

Zig Zag Wanderer
Reply to  John Garrett
August 11, 2021 6:38 pm

His teaching and research, according to the school, focuses on topics that include “sociology of health, deviance and crime” and sociology of the environment.

Sociology of the environment. What a maroon.

Gary Stephen Maynard, 47, is believed to have worked at a number of colleges in California, including Santa Clara University and Sonoma State University, where a Dr. Gary Maynard is listed as a lecturer in criminal justice studies specializing in criminal justice, cults and deviant behavior.

Well, he certainly understands crime and deviant behaviour. Let’s hope that he gets an up close and personal experience of justice.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Zig Zag Wanderer
August 11, 2021 8:14 pm

As in, “It takes a criminal to know one.”

Tom Abbott
Reply to  Zig Zag Wanderer
August 12, 2021 8:52 am

“Maynard is listed as a lecturer in criminal justice studies specializing in criminal justice, cults and deviant behavior.”

You can’t make this stuff up!

He probably studied criminal justice to learn how to dodge it, and the cults and deviant stuff were his training manual.

Yeah, he is very mentally ill if he is out in the woods lighting fires to try to trap the people trying to put out the fires.

He’s definitely a menace to society and shouldn’t be walking around free.

Last edited 1 month ago by Tom Abbott
Tom Halla
August 11, 2021 2:15 pm

Another problem is intervention by environmentalist groups to interfere with wild lands management programs by policies allowing them to endlessly appeal any actions.
Another is CARB restricting controlled burns to such an extent they are difficult to do.
Of course, the politicians sucking up to the greens will find someone or something else to blame rather than their own fecklessness.

Waza
Reply to  Tom Halla
August 11, 2021 3:46 pm

There is an incestuous relationship with theses environmental groups and environmentalists working within government departments to roadblock just about everything.

Greg61
Reply to  Waza
August 11, 2021 5:28 pm

Environmentalists are the worlds worst racists, insisting that black and brown people work as slaves in mines to gather materials for their “renewables” while fighting to keep mainly white countries from exploiting their own resources. Exploiting those resources using union labour and technology rather than little black kids.

Al Miller
Reply to  Tom Halla
August 11, 2021 4:42 pm

Of course this is only an issue because politicians are listening to the green interests (very green as in the color of money)

Tom Halla
Reply to  Al Miller
August 11, 2021 4:50 pm

I believe that some of the politicians are sincere greenies,which means they can cause much more damage. A vendido knows that they are a mercenary, and might decide that they are not getting enough reward for doing something destructive. A True Believer can be much worse than a sellout.

Ken Irwin
Reply to  Tom Halla
August 12, 2021 1:15 am

Early American settlers travelled by covered wagons to the West and were able to drive through the widely spaced trees of the indigenous forests. You can’t do that today – the trees are too close together and the ground so littered with years of accumulated deadwood and brush that they are impassable.
These original forests had frequent underbrush fires – in many cases set by native Americans – who knew how dangerous fuel build up can become. Australian aborigines similarly have a long history of controlling vegetation with fire.
Then came those who thought they could do a better job of “managing” a forest.
Rushing to extinguish minor fires is all good and well but if you simultaneously don’t make an effort to clear the dead wood and vegetative clutter that would naturally be cleared by low intensity fires – then the fuel load continues to build until the day comes that a fire starts that you cannot extinguish and it then creates devastating “crown fires” which race at speed through vast areas.
And of course such events are more likely to occur during prolonged dry spells or droughts – which aside from all the climate change hype are normal climatic occurrences (which are not becoming more intense of frequent – regardless of what the alarmists tell you). So a minor fire can quickly become an uncontrollable inferno.
Such fires are difficult to run away from and people die when they cannot egress quickly enough.
Had controlled burns and bush clearing been done at more opportune times the major conflagrations could have been avoided.
Raging wildfires invariably get stopped at managed privately owned logging forests (timber farms) where sensible policies prevail over clueless eco-utopian idealism.
The moment you put any fire out – you are managing a forest – not leaving it to nature – so you are committed to continuing what the fire would have done if left unmanaged.

Cam_S
August 11, 2021 2:18 pm

I found this on the NPR website… not related to climate change.
– – – – – – –

A Former College Professor Is A Serial Arsonist In Northern California, Feds Say

Firefighters battling the Dixie Fire have also been facing a second enemy: a serial arsonist who went on a spree of setting fires in July and August — and who sought to trap fire crews with his fires, according to agents from the U.S. Forest Service. They allege former college professor Gary Maynard is the culprit, citing their tracking of his movements and other evidence.

Maynard, 47, is a former professor who has taught at colleges in New York and California, according to online records. Last fall, he taught in the criminology and criminal justice department at Sonoma State University, which says in its official bio for Maynard that he has three master’s degrees and a doctorate in sociology.

His teaching and research, the school said, focuses on topics that include the “sociology of health, deviance and crime” and environmental sociology.

https://www.npr.org/2021/08/11/1026700103/former-college-professor-arson-charges-california-dixie-fire

Richard Page
Reply to  Cam_S
August 11, 2021 3:10 pm

Interesting. May be the first case where we can infer that his environmental interests could have been a factor – trying to manufacture ‘proof’ of dangerous climate change.

John Garrett
Reply to  Cam_S
August 11, 2021 3:36 pm

Notwithstanding the commission of arson, you can bet your bottom dollar that NPR won’t amend or correct their repeated, egregiously exaggerated claims that western U.S. wildfires are caused by “climate change.”

Last edited 1 month ago by John Garrett
August 11, 2021 2:19 pm

Climate Change causes fires “Ex-college professor suspected in arson blazes near California’s massive Dixie fire”. … https://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/567425-college-professor-suspected-for-arson-blazes-near-massive-dixie

ps: looks like most of us picked up on this story.

Last edited 1 month ago by goldminor
Cherith
August 11, 2021 2:25 pm

VIDEO CAPTURES MOMENT ARSONIST SETS FIRE TO GRASS IN SOUTHERN ITALY
video – 58 secs
A video has been released by the Italian Carabinieri military police which showed a hidden camera capturing an arsonist starting a fire in the countryside. The video released on 6 August, showed a person light a match and place it on the grass before running away near Montesarchio, a town some 31 miles (49km) from Naples in Italy. The man was arrested by the Carabinieri. In Italy, the civil protection authority warned on Monday of more fires to come as temperatures in parts of the country reach 45C . Wildfires rage in Greece and Italy as EU mounts firefighting operation.


To bed B
August 11, 2021 2:25 pm

This happened in Australia early last year after a bad fire season
Senator Matt Canavan asks Dr Peter Mayfield of CSIRO why an explainer document they put out about the bushfires didn’t include a sentence he found in another CSIRO study.

“No studies explicitly attributing the Australian increase in fire weather to climate change have been performed at this time.”

A record breaking ten long seconds of silence in Senate estimates this week.
https://joannenova.com.au/2020/03/csiro-forgets-to-mention-no-study-explicitly-shows-climate-change-caused-bushfires/

The idea of listening to experts is to save time and effort of redoing the research – not to listen to their gut feeling.

Scissor
August 11, 2021 2:36 pm

Maybe YouTube will suspend NPR’s channel for spreading misinformation.

Rud Istvan
August 11, 2021 2:44 pm

Very nice article, JS. Forestry is a complex subject. Warmunists and politicians do not like complexity. So they simplify too much and get it wrong. Some favs:
CO2 ‘control knob’ ignores proven natural variability.
Polar bears do not depend on Arctic summer ice, so are thriving.
Satalt SLR is not fit for purpose and does not close; TGs close with no acceleration.
The RAPID moored buoy array across the Atlantic at 26N latitude shows the AMOC is not weakening as PIK models have predicted for years. (Last week’s MSM scare).

Jim Steele
August 11, 2021 2:55 pm

Emerson understood why scarey climate stories are so powerful

emerson on fear and ignorance.jpeg
Hoyt Clagwell
August 11, 2021 3:11 pm

I thought you were going to say the fires are caused by peak oil.

Sweet Old Bob
August 11, 2021 3:15 pm

NPR has become…
New Pravda Radio …

BCBill
Reply to  Sweet Old Bob
August 11, 2021 4:50 pm

Yes similarly CBC is part of the Novaya Pravda Network, spreading fascist/ socialist ideals, seeding conflict between groups, working to create economic and social chaos so that George Soros and Bill Gates can rescue us with their new world order. As with the old Pravda, they lie with impunity while laying claim to the moral high ground without any justification for that claim. Dreadful people with limited skill sets who somehow think that in spite of their clear limitations in almost every field of endeavour, they somehow have divined that social fascism is best.

Richard Page
August 11, 2021 3:16 pm

We don’t ‘keep downplaying that’ – most people on here like to use facts which means finding proof of something. Unfounded opinion or wild speculation can be fun but you wouldn’t want to bet your countries economy on it. Oh, wait….

Waza
August 11, 2021 4:04 pm

Jim
Victoria Australia context
Attached is a review of how the Victorian government manage fuel reduction.
After the 2009 bushfires the Victorian bushfires Royal Commission VBRC completed in 2010, made it very clear a target of 5% of public lands was necessary as the PROTECTION OF HUMAN LIFE WAS THE HIGHEST PRIORITY.
Authorities starting increasing their annual clearing from about 1.5%.
They treated about 3% in 2012/2013.
By 2013 authorities created a code for bushfire fuel management which essentially downgraded the priority of human life and made protection of the environment as the key goal in fuel reduction.
Ever since authorities on carry out 1-1.5% fuel reduction burning.
Fuel reduction burning in East Gippsland can be rounded to 0%
The attached report reviews this in 2015
The summer of flames which was catastrophic in East Gippsland was in 2019/20

https://www.igem.vic.gov.au/publications/igem-reports/review-of-performance-targets-for-bushfire-fuel-management-on-public-land

It doesn't add up...
August 11, 2021 4:39 pm

Is this an example of media manipulation?

https://mobile.twitter.com/RyanMaue/status/1425554597054189582

Dotty California professor setting fires gets caught. Why would such a person do that? (Rhetorical)

Al Miller
August 11, 2021 4:40 pm

They can blame everything on Klimate Kaching, oops, change. Mismanage the forests- hey blame it on CC and raise taxes to “fix” it.
Want to try and keep the worriers worried- hey CC is the answer – oh and raise taxes.
Country flooding- blame CC – and raise taxes.
Rude, people demanding things from your government – hey limit freedoms in the name of CC and let’s see- raise taxes.
Now we can all see that government is the answer to our problems…oh wait government did bugger all and is/was the CAUSE of our problems.

Zig Zag Wanderer
August 11, 2021 5:48 pm

mutual manipulation

There’s another word for that activity….

Zig Zag Wanderer
August 11, 2021 5:52 pm

This scientific process has grave social importance. Wrong analyses always produce wrong remedies, and bad remedies can be worse than the problems they seek to fix.

It’s much, much worse than that. Every proposed ‘remedy’ for CAGW is far worse than the supposed problem, even if the problem is real!

Last edited 1 month ago by Zig Zag Wanderer
Tom Abbott
August 11, 2021 6:24 pm

Love the graphs, Jim. They tell the story.

John Boland
August 11, 2021 7:13 pm

I bet you could find a correlation of increasing wild fires to the elimination of ash trays in cars, so I am putting the blame there because I didn’t ask for that change and sometimes I have to choose between a car fire and a wild fire…Sorry Smoky Bear.

Clyde Spencer
August 11, 2021 7:59 pm

Wrong analyses always produce wrong remedies, and bad remedies can be worse than the problems they seek to fix.

I’m delightfully surprised at how closely your views mesh with mine. And, I’m not even an ecologist!

Thank you for another great article, Jim.

August 11, 2021 7:59 pm

I don’t much like the first picture with a comparison on the Bitterroot NF. I remember when that publication came out and laughing at that photo. It’s not that the comparison would be reasonable, but that the 1909 open forest appears to have slash piles scattered about. That means it was already a managed firest and not a natural one.

Mike Dubrasich
Reply to  Rodger L. Nelson
August 11, 2021 10:02 pm

The open, park-like stands of the Bitterroot were managed, by the residents, for 6,000 years or more. Then the residents were removed by the US Army. The frequent fires were suppressed by eviction of the fire farmers.

Nobody was thinning and piling in 1909. Had loggers been through it at that date they would have clearcut those clean, OG yellow pines. And not piled the slash. What appear to be piles are shrubs.

Note that the trees in 1909 were ponderosa pines, but in 1979 the second-growth invaders were firs. The site was not limited biologically to pines, obviously. Firs out-compete pines in mixed stands, but pines dominated the earlier one. Curious, eh? It appears that mast-producing pines were selected, and firs eliminated. Lightning doesn’t do that, but people can and did. No other explanation/theory is plausible.

Note that in 1909 the trees were widely separated. The canopy was open, with less than 50% cover. Note that the trees were quite large, perhaps well over 250 years old. At a fire return interval of 3 to 6 years, they must have survived dozens of fires.

My cynical guess is that sometime since 1979 the modern, closed canopy, 99% shade covered forest has burned, ignited by lightning, and those OG pines were scorched and rendered into snags. Without frequent, deliberate, careful, expert anthropogenic fire, the fuel accumulated and burned with 100% mortality to all the trees, destroying that ancient, culturally maintained, heritage forest.

Reply to  Mike Dubrasich
August 12, 2021 8:37 am

Those are debris piles in the photo. Debris piles don’t exist in native forests, even those that would naturally be “open park-like stands”. I’m not arguing that fire management has changed fire dynamics, simply that the photo doesn’t show what it’s intended to show.

Mike Dubrasich
Reply to  Rodger L. Nelson
August 12, 2021 8:25 am

Mr. Nelson — It’s easy to see how you might have been deceived by the photo. Open, park-like, heritage forests are beautiful and they look managed or even manicured in this case. That’s because they were managed. They were the front yard, back yard, grocery store, hardware store, school, playground, shopping mall, etc. for the people who lived there.

Restoration forestry seeks to restore the open, park-like conditions of Pre-Contact forests by using modern technology to mimic the traditional. That means thinning forests to wide spacings, leaving the oldest and largest trees, mowing, mulching, piling, and burning the understories, and maintaining those structures/conditions.

Restored forests are fire resilient. A properly restored forest will not be damaged by wildfire, no matter what ignites it. Restored forests are defensible, accessible, and safer for fire fighters. Fires in restored forests need not be suppressed, unless those fires threaten other values, and in those cases the fires are easily contained, controlled, and extinguished.

Forests that have not been restored, where fuels have been allowed to accumulate, where canopies are closed and continuous, where stewardship has been excluded and abandoned, will most definitely burn someday with severe mortality and destruction of all resource values. The “exclude humans” approach guarantees catastrophic failure.

Humans have been caring for our forests for millennia. That heritage should be respected for traditional values of stewardship, safety, ecological integrity, beauty, and longevity.

Reply to  Mike Dubrasich
August 12, 2021 8:38 am

I know what forests look like.

Clyde Spencer
August 11, 2021 8:03 pm

California’s 4 deadliest fires, Camp, Griffith Park, Tunnel, and the Tubbs wine country fires were all rapidly spread by October and November winds.

And, the great Oakland Hills conflagration was in October.

Clyde Spencer
August 11, 2021 8:30 pm

Furthermore, it is bad science to apply a 2°F rise in global temperatures to the measured local temperatures where fires ignite.

2°F is an exaggeration because half of that occurred before 1940. The global average is biased upward by the three-times warming in the Arctic, meaning that the global average increase is not representative of what is happening in the mid-latitudes. Lastly, because it is warming faster at night and in the Winter than it is during the day in the fire season, the global average again overstates what has happened. Therefore, the rationalization that a fraction of a degree F increase in mid-latitude forests is causing a significant change in wildfires is not supported.

Pat from kerbob
August 11, 2021 9:34 pm

I’m constantly amazed by how many people I see tossing live cigarette butts out of the car window.
20 years ago I was a smoker and I would never have carelessly disposed burning materials, except sometimes I’d flick a butt out the window without thinking

I think the act of smoking temporarily disables common sense in many?

griff
August 12, 2021 1:15 am

48.8 C reported from Sicily yesterday: record for Europe if confirmed. Record 45C in Athens…

That’s why the fires… and that is climate change.

you can’t keep ignoring the physical, right here and now evidence…

AndyHce
Reply to  griff
August 12, 2021 2:11 am

What temperature will cause mid Sahara to catch fire?

Andrew Wilkins
Reply to  AndyHce
August 12, 2021 3:52 am

Don’t bamboozle Griff with science Andy, he gets confused.

Andrew Wilkins
Reply to  griff
August 12, 2021 3:51 am

So what you’re saying is, trees spontaneously catch fire at 48.8C?
Wow, I never knew that before.

Andrew Wilkins
Reply to  griff
August 12, 2021 3:58 am

Oh dear Griff:
Whilst it is currently speculative, there is evidence to suggest that wildfires in Italy have been deliberately started by affiliates to the mafia so that land can be freed up for the development of solar farms.
“These suspicions are currently being investigated by the Sicilian anti-Mafia commission — a body set up by the Sicilian parliament — which is auditing some landowners who have reportedly been approached by intermediaries offering to sell the land to affiliates of the solar sector.”
https://www.dw.com/en/why-italy-is-struggling-to-contain-wildfires/a-58753964

Jim Steele
Reply to  griff
August 12, 2021 5:50 am

Here’s Griff source of scientific information

spontaneous combustion film.jpeg
Reply to  griff
August 12, 2021 8:04 am

Heat and fires have may correlate but isn’t a causation, while drouht is.
Winterfire are caused by drought, not by heat, because of absence.

Stuart Hamish
Reply to  griff
August 15, 2021 3:39 pm

” 48 .8C reported from Sicily [ presumably Syracuse ] yesterday : record for Europe if confirmed . Record 45C in Athens ” You forgot to mention experts are urging caution The highest recorded hot temperature for Athens – and arguably mainland Europe – stands at 118. 4F [ 48C ] on July 10 1977 during the global cooling climate scare . Not 45C .. How ironic you posted that under a WUWT article on climate misinformation ..I say arguably because 127F was registered at Zaragoza , Spain on June 22 ,1935 [ NYT , June 23 .1935 ] and a blistering 131 F at Tudela, Spain , on 12 August 1966 .[ The Minneapolis Star , 13 Aug , 1966 ] ….. ” That’s why the fires……that is climate change ” ? Bull-dust Fires in the Mediterranean region have declined . The historical data for Turkey shows that while the fire ‘starts are up the burned acreage has decreased [ so too in the United States and globally ] while approximately 93% of ignitions are ignited by humans deliberately or accidentally Almost as much Anatolian landmass burned in 1945 as the recent conflagrations https://www2.fire.uni-freiburg.de/iffn/iffn_37/12-IFFN-37-Turkey.pdf .No comment on the serial arsonist mad professor Gary Maynard caught lighting multiple fires in the Californian wilderness ‘ Griff ” ?

Jack
August 12, 2021 2:53 am

California’s population expanded seventeenfold (yes, 17x !!!) during the 20th century while the global warming increased by ONE °C only during the same time.
84 % of forest wildfires in California have a human origin, either accidental or intentional.
Then the AGW is a too easy but utterly erroneous explanation of the catastrophic forest fires.
In my opinion, emptying California of its human population would swiftlyy solve the probem: The forest would begin growing again, the burnt surfaces would be slowly cured, the moisture would enhance, thus bringing back the rainfalls.

2hotel9
August 12, 2021 4:05 am

NPR? National Socialist Propagandist Radio. They leave out the S so woketards can virtue signal to their hearts’ content.

cerescokid
August 12, 2021 6:38 am

I doubt any journalist has learned the complexities that you have very nicely laid out here. There are 2 levels of attribution with forest fires. How much is related to a warmer climate versus innumerable other factors and how much of the warming is CO2. The media can’t even think through the first step.

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