Musings on Forest Fires, Fuel Load, Dr. Ehrlich and the CO2Fertilization Effect Upon U. S. Forests

Don Healy, July 2023

In the past two decades we have witnessed a upturn in the number of acres of forest lands burned in the United States.  As shown in the graph below compiled by the National Interagency Fire Center, the years from 1958 to 1998 marked a consistently lower incidence of forest fires, averaging about 4 million acres burned per year.  In the years since 1998 the number of acres burned has increased with two years equaling or exceeding 10 million acres. Aside from the catastrophic loss of timber resources, homes, structures and in some cases entire towns, the resultant smoke from these fires has created very hazardous air quality issues over broad swathes of the American West.  In an ominous start to the 2023 fire season, fires in Eastern Canada have been so extensive as to impact much of the Eastern U.S. with dangerous air quality.  There has been much handwringing, but thus far little motivation to seriously address this problem.  The time has come to act, but the first step is to identify the root of the problem.  Please take a moment to study the graph below.

                                                                                    Fig. 1

You will notice that during the years from 1926 to about 1956 forest fires were a much bigger issue virtually all years, showing more acres burned in all, with two years experiencing more than 5 times greater areas than the worst recent year.  To put this in perspective, earlier in our history dense forests were viewed as an impediment to settlement and development in much of the west and there was little concern if vast acreages were burned so long as humans and settlements weren’t impacted.  To many of our earlier citizens periods of heavy smoke commonly prevalent were viewed as “the price of progress”. It wasn’t until the mid-1930s that the recently formed U.S. Forest Service became active in suppressing forest fires.

What is the common denominator between the numbers on the right side of the chart versus those on the left side, separated by the relatively benign period between 1956 and 1998?  As my forestry professor told us during Forest Protection class in 1965, the three most important factors in preventing forest fires were “fuel load, fuel load and fuel load, in that order”.  Prior to the 1950s, extending back millennia, fuel loads in the western U.S. were massive.  The anecdotal records from the early Spanish and British explorations of the Pacific Northwest indicate dense smoke from massive forest fires extending well out into the Pacific, and a record of Mark Twain’s visit to Tacoma Washington, in 1895 describes the city fathers apologizing to Mr. Twain for the heavy forest fire smoke that obscured the view of the surrounding mountains.  The reality is that the period from the early 1950s to just a few years ago was probably a “goldilocks” event, one of the few periods when large fires and heavy smoke were not a common experience.

In conversations with many fellow citizens, it is my perception that most are quite convinced that the United States has less forested area and less wood volume currently than it did decades ago.  However, the U.S. Forest Service takes a complete inventory of all United States forest resources on all ownerships on a regular basis that belie that notion.

Volume615,884 733,056781,655835,665932,089 985,238

Fig. 2

Row 2: Thousands of Acres of Forested Land in U.S., Table 3.
Row 3: Volume of Growing Stock in U.S. in Millions of Cubic Feet; Table 20
    From: Forest Resources of the United States, 2017:

Between 1953 and 2017 the acreage of forested land in the U.S. increased by 3.2%, while the volume of growing stock, fuel load, increased by 60%.  Due to the actions of environmental groups, harvesting on federal lands essentially ceased in about 1980, resulting in the shuttering of most of our forest products industry.  However, the trees continued to grow during the past 43 years and with increased competition has led to areas of stagnation and the resultant insect and disease problems that occur in a natural environment; problems that had been reduced prior to the suspension of selective harvest silvicultural programs that reduced these issues and fuel load.  Not only has the fuel load increased dramatically on federally controlled forested areas, but the susceptibility to fire has also increased disproportionately, leading to the uptick in acres burned that we see on the right side of the graph in Figure 1.  If we continue to do nothing to reduce fuel load it is only reasonable to conclude that on average the number of acres burned annually will on average increase until we reach the numbers shown on the left side of the graph in figure 1.

In many news reports regarding recent forest fires much of the blame is placed on global warming.  Mankind’s addition of CO2 and other greenhouse gases does play a role in the fire issue, but I believe that a serious review of the empirical evidence will reveal that global warming thus far is a relatively minor player. The graph in Figure 3 is very accurate, but the proportion is out of scale to the human experience.  This information comes from the NASA sponsored work Drs. Spencer and Christy,  University of Huntsville, Alabama, using satellites to take millions of atmospheric soundings daily is probably the most accurate global. temperature record

Fig. 3                                                                            

available. The trend for the 43 years of this record is .13 degrees per decade, which would equate to 1-degree centigrade above today’s global temperature in the year 2100.  Yes, a slight increase but nothing like the predictions generated by recent climate models upon which the IPCC relies for their predictions, many of which run 3 times hotter.

Figure 4. Data from same source as Figure 3, but displayed on scale more typical to the human experience using the highest and lowest known temperatures recorded on earth as the upper and lower bounds..

Fig. 4

 The graph in Figure 5 shows data from the USCRN.  This is the best surface station record available.  Unfortunately, it was not installed until 2005 and only covers the United States and shows no discernable trend.

Fig. 5

Graph created by the United States Climate Research Network (USCRN).  This information is obtained from state-of-the-art weather stations in the United States. The sites are excellently situated to avoid urban heat island effects and other undo influences with instruments that provide triple redundancy.  This network was created in 2005 after much criticism about the prior U.S. Historical Climate Network which had all manner of deficiencies with only about 11% to its stations meeting NOAA standards.

We do know empirically that increasing CO2 levels will raise temperature modestly.  In lab experiments a doubling of CO2 levels from 280 ppm to 560 ppm will raise temperate about 1-degree Centigrade.  The next doubling would raise temperature even less as the absorption spectra quickly becomes saturated. So the actual temperature increase due to greenhouse gases is proving to be relatively minimal.  A far more important effect, especially from the aspect of the fuel load situation in our nation’s forests is that of the CO2 fertilization effect  (CFE) on all vegetative growth, plants, crops and certainly trees.  We shall delve more deeply into this aspect shortly, but a little historical perspective is necessary first.  When coniferous trees evolved about 360 million years ago, CO2 levels were about 4000 ppm (parts per million), 9 times today’s levels.  When deciduous trees, broadleaves evolved about 160 million years ago CO2 levels were about 2200 ppm.  The thousands of botanical experiments to study the effect of elevated CO2 on crops, trees, grasses, and other vegetative forms indicate that 800 to 1000 ppm CO2 is the optimum level for most species.

Not only does CO2 fertilization produce more growth, but it also increases the drought resistance of most plants.  Additionally, since the stomata, the pores on the leaves through which the CO2 enters the leaf to allow photosynthesis to take place do not need to remain open as long to allow CO2 to enter, less transpiration of water takes place and the plants become more drought resistant.  Thus, plants grow more rapidly and require less soil moisture for the same unit of growth. These two issues, CO2 fertilization and increased drought resistance are two important factors in accelerating the increase in fuel load that have yet to receive much media coverage.

When dealing with critical issues such as the appropriate response to our nation’s forest fire issue we need to be totally pragmatic about the thought process that goes into formulating a rational response.  We can continue to put the blame on the global warming issue, but the harsh reality is that the U.S. has already done a great deal to reduce our carbon emissions.  However, China, India and many lesser developed countries are going in the opposite direction.  Both China and India are continuing to build new coal-fired power plants and have no plans to stop this expansion until mid-century at the earliest. CO2 levels in the atmosphere will continue to rise at current rates for the foreseeable future.  However, our nation can take immediate action to reduce the fuel load problem, but we need to get started.  It will take a multi-pronged approach to work involving:

  1. Education of the public in the necessity of reducing our fuel loads and the ways in which we can do this in an environmentally friendly fashion.  The public needs to be made aware of:
    • Clear cutting is no longer necessary or desirable on most sites.  The alternative is selective harvesting where forests are thinned, focusing on species diversification, size distribution, removal of trees with insect or disease issues and wildlife issues as well as the reduction in the fire hazard.
    • Thinning is a very expensive operation and we have millions of acres that need attention.  To raise the funds necessary to address the full scope of the issue we will need to harvest some merchantable timber to reduce the cost per acre.
    • To have a competitive market for the merchantable wood component of the proposed thinning operations, we need to reestablish a modest forest products industry.  Much of our fuel load issue is a result of the elimination of most of our wood products industry in the 1980s.  Now we currently import about $20 billion dollars-worth of wood products annually.  With farm goods the mantra is to buy locally; should not the same philosophy apply to forest products?
    • The public needs to be made aware of the scope of the fuel load problem.  Most of our citizens are quite convinced that both forested acreage and net growing stock have been in a dramatic decline over the past seven decades, when the reality is forested acreage is up slightly, and net growing stock has increased by 60%.  The reality is dramatically different from the public’s perception; something that needs to be addressed to accomplish a solution.
  2. A major factor that also needs to be addressed is the interference created by our legal system, where anyone or any group can stop a harvesting project on federal land for the small price of filing a lawsuit. This problem is what created this problem in the first place, commencing in the 1970s and 1980s. The health issues that we will face if we continue on our current path make something like a war powers act designated by Congress necessary so a rational plan can be created and implemented without continued delay and interference. The alternative is to repeat the fire conditions we experienced prior to the 1950s and for much of our prior history.

Between 1953 and 2017 (volume at the last USFS inventory) the total growing stock on all ownerships has increased by 369,354 million cubic feet. Now, let’s examine the fuel load issue going forward. Since 1953 our timber base has been growing at 1.56% per year, adding 5,771 million cubic feet each year.  If our forests were to simply keep growing at that rate in another 64 years our total net growing stock would reach 1,354,592 million cubic feet.  At these levels, we would be potentially facing the average burned area shown on the left side of Figure 1, and 5 times greater than anything seen recently.

However, we are living in a much different climatic situation today, one that could make the fire situation even more dire.  Yes, we do get modestly higher temperatures with increased greenhouse gases, but with higher CO2 levels there comes an effect termed CO2 fertilization.  From your high school botany or biology class we have the formula for photosynthesis:

Fig. 6

 At 430 ppm CO2 in the atmosphere currently most terrestrial plants are just starting to get in their happy zone.  As mentioned above, the optimum CO2 levels for most plant species is between 800 and 1000 ppm. 

While these two issues appear to be a piling on of negative factors, we need to realize that this only applies to fuel load; a situation that can easily be controlled with selective timber harvesting practices.  On the positive side we need to realize that both the CO2 fertilization effect and the increase in drought resistance are both a major boon to crop production upon which the survival of the human population is dependent. 

We had heard very little about the CO2 fertilization effect (CFE); just how big a factor is it?  It turns out that it is very important and very likely has been a salvation for the human species in recent decades as the human population continues to climb toward the 9 billion mark. 

How do we know CFE is a factor in plant growth?  We now have several lines of evidence that validate this:

1. There is the formula in Fig. 6 that supports this when combined with German scientist Justus von Liebig’s Law of the Minimum which states: ”that the yield achievable is dictated by the nutrient that is most limiting.’
There are 16 essential elements that are supplied in mineral form from the soil and CO2 which is absorbed from the atmosphere. In comparing today’s CO2 levels to the optimum levels stated earlier, we are assured that if all the other essential elements are available plants will grow more rapidly.

2. Global satellite surveys have confirmed a global greening of the planet with one study published April 26, 2016 from NASA titled, “Carbon Dioxide Fertilization Greening Earth, Study Finds”.  The first two paragraphs read:

. From a quarter to half of Earth’s vegetated lands have shown significant greening over the last 35 years largely due to rising levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide”, according to a new study published in the journal Nature Climate Change on April 25.
An international team of 32 authors from 24 institutions in eight countries led the effort, which involved using satellite data from NASA’s Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectrometer and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer instruments to help determine the leaf area index, or amount of leaf cover, over the planet’s vegetated regions. The greening represents an increase in leaves on plants and trees equivalent in area to two times the continental United States.”

The full article available here:
The United States comprises about 6.27% of the terrestrial area of our planet, So the numbers in this paper indicate a greening equal to 13.8 % over the 35 years of the study, 3.9% per decade.

3. Thousands of laboratory and FACE (Free Air CO2 Enrichment) studies have been conducted to observe the results of growing numerous plant species at higher than ambient levels of CO2.  A great repository of the data from many of these experiments can be found at: co2  Virtually all of these species show results ranging from modest to surprisingly large increases.  In the table below please find a list for some major forest and crop species grown at CO2 levels 300 ppm above current atmospheric levels.

Percentage Increase in Dry Weight with 300 ppm CO2 Increase above ambient level.

4. Two recent papers have been published also document the effects of CFE.

A. “Higher than expected CO2 fertilization inferred from leaf to global observations.”  Vanessa Haverd et al, Global Change Biology 2020:26:2390-2402. 

This paper covers the increase in photosynthetic activity between 1910 and 2010 and attempts to isolate the CO2 fertilization effect for other factors.  The abstract from this paper reads:

“Several lines of evidence point to an increase in the activity of the terrestrial biosphere over recent decades, impacting the global net land carbon sink (NLS) and its control on the growth of atmospheric carbon dioxide (ca). Global terrestrial gross primary production (GPP)—the rate of carbon fixation by photosynthesis—is estimated to have risen by (31 ± 5)% since 1900, but the relative contributions of different putative drivers to this increase are not well known. Here we identify the rising atmospheric CO2 concentration as the dominant driver. We reconcile leaf‐level and global atmospheric constraints on trends in modeled biospheric activity to reveal a global CO2 fertilization effect on photosynthesis of 30% since 1900, or 47% for a doubling of ca above the pre‐industrial level. Our historic value is nearly twice as high as current estimates (17 ± 4)% that do not use the full range of available constraints. Consequently, under a future low‐emission scenario, we project a land carbon sink (174 PgC, 2006–2099) that is 57 PgC larger than if a lower CO2 fertilization effect comparable with current estimates is assumed. These findings suggest a larger beneficial role of the land carbon sink in modulating future excess anthropogenic CO2 consistent with the target of the Paris Agreement to stay below 2°C warming, and underscore the importance of preserving terrestrial carbon sinks.”

From 1900 to 2010 atmospheric CO2 levels have increased from 291 to 390.1 ppm, an increase on 99.1 ppm, which equates to an increase in photosynthetic activity of .302% per increase per I ppm of CO2.  With CO2 increasing at 2.37 ppm per year this converts to a 7.157% increase in photosynthesis per decade.

The final paragraph in the paper reads: By reconciling multiple global‐scale observational constraints, we identified a CO2 fertilization effect on historical global GPP that is significantly higher than current estimates. Independent regional studies using amplitude of seasonal cycle data (Northern Hemisphere extra‐tropics; Wenzel et al., 2016) and catchment water balance (tropical forests; Yang et al., 2016) have also inferred larger CO2 fertilization effects than predicted by TBM ensembles. The causes of such model‐data discrepancies are poorly known, but biases associated with the representation of nutrient limitations on GPP have been invoked as one possible cause (Wenzel et al., 2016; Yang et al., 2016). Our results, that account for nitrogen‐cycle effects on ecosystem productivity, suggest that underprediction of GPP trends and CO2 responses is associated with a failure by current TBMs to account for plant coordination of photosynthesis. This finding is important for the future role of land carbon sinks, suggesting an underestimate by current models of potential CO2 removal under low‐emission scenarios consistent with the Paris Agreement targets.”

B. “CO2 fertilization of terrestrial photosynthesis inferred from site to global scales.”  Chi Chen et al.  PNAS 2022 Vol. 119 No. 10 e2115627119.

The abstract in this paper states: “Global photosynthesis is increasing with elevated atmospheric CO2 concentrations, a response known as the CO2 fertilization effect (CFE), but the key processes of CFE are not constrained and therefore remain uncertain. Here, we quantify CFE by combining observations from a globally distributed network of eddy covariance measurements with an analytical framework based on three well-established photosynthetic optimization theories. We report a strong enhancement of photosynthesis across the observational network (9.1 gC m−2 year−2) and show that the CFE is responsible for 44% of the gross primary production (GPP) enhancement since the 2000s, with additional contributions primarily from warming (28%). Soil moisture and specific humidity are the two largest contributors to GPP interannual variation through their influences on plant hydraulics. Applying our framework to satellite observations and meteorological reanalysis data, we diagnose a global CO2-induced GPP trend of 4.4 gC m−2 year−2, which is at least one-third stronger than the median trends of 13 dynamic global vegetation models and eight satellite-derived GPP products, mainly because of their differences in the magnitude of CFE in evergreen broadleaf forests. These results highlight the critical role that CFE has played in the global carbon cycle in recent decades.”

The conclusion this paper identifies the “CO2 caused Gross Primary Production trend is comparable to the EC-inferred counterpart and translates this CO2 fertilization effect to a global increase in photosynthesis of 4.1% decade since the 2000s…”

5. For crop species, we have another empirical test that can be applied to see if CFE is real.  The U. S. Department of Agriculture has records going back into the late 1800s concerning crop production, including yields per acre, for our species most critical for the survival of humanity.  In the chart below the period of comparison has been pared down to compare the average of the yields from the decade of 1950 to 1959 to the most recent decade ending in the year 2022. The reason for starting this comparison in 1950 was to reduce the influence of the dramatic increase in the use of the nitrogen-based fertilizers that we began to use heavily prior to 1950, created using the Haber-Bosch process (H-B).  Before the H-B process crop rotation and other methods were used to replenish the nitrogen content of farm soils, but nowhere as efficiently as the H-B process.

Yields Per Acre:  Comparison of Decade of 1950s to Most Recent Decade.

The average increase in yield for all crop species of 254%, or about 36% per decade. This is an amazing increase, and very likely the reason that the Malthusians have been proven wrong.  The predictions in Dr. Paul Ehrlich’s book “The Population Bomb”, published in 1968 appear to have been erroneous because he did not consider the impact of nitrogen rich fertilizers produced with the H-B process, nor the beneficial effects of the increase in CO2 in both the growth rate and the drought resistance of plant species. Had we not implemented the artificial fertilization methods while the natural CFE benefit was taking hold, Dr. Ehrlich’s dire predictions of global famine may have occurred.

We now have data from 4 different approaches to determining the CFE.  They include the two model-based studies dealing with the photosynthetic Gross Primary Production estimates that generated estimates of 7.1% and 4.1% increase per decade, the 2016 NASA study, numerous laboratory, and FACE CO2 fertilization studies on numerous species under controlled conditions, and the analysis of U.S.D.A data on crop production from 1950 to the present.  All show that the CFE is both real and substantial.  While it is a major boon to mankind due to its effect on crop production, its impact on our forest resources is perhaps too much of a good thing and requires that we immediately take steps to control and utilize the bounty, so we do not have to continually endure smoke-filled skies and very hazardous air quality.

Conclusion:  The CO2 fertilization effect is both real and substantial in both beneficial and harmful ways.  The United States can do very little to reduce CO2 emissions in the short term. However, if we move promptly we can do a great deal to contain the future impact that CFE will have on our forest’s fuel load, and if done properly can also create jobs and provide needed forest products and greatly reduce the negative effects of rampant forest fires.

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Tom Halla
July 10, 2023 10:34 am

I will blame Nixon and Carter, especially Carter, for the current environmental regulation scheme, and all the Republicans since for not having the courage to overturn that folly.

July 10, 2023 10:49 am

Good work finding the original, now-suppressed National Interagency Fire Center graph. The USFS now starts its record at 1983, the better to fit the narrative.

State and national mismanagement is more to blame for big wildfires in this century than is any possible slight increase in temperature. In CA, for instance, slash was allowed to pile up into trees’ crowns to enhance air quality from not burning it. Hence, air quality became much worse when lightning, transformers or arson set the dry slash alight.

Reply to  Milo
July 10, 2023 2:49 pm

Resulting in the CO2 reported for the heavy CA fires that darkened local skies 3(?) years ago;
The quantity of CO2 from the burning fires that year cancelled the previous 18 years of CA CO2 emission reduction efforts. This says to me that, if CO2 production reduction was actually a serious need, most resources would be diverted away from the current “green” programs and into doing serious and effective forest management to reduce fuel load and improve forest conditions.

Reply to  Milo
July 11, 2023 4:39 am

“The USFS now starts its record at 1983, the better to fit the narrative…..”

Yes, they deleted the inconvenient data a few months after Biden became president. What a coincidence. In the US, is it legal for government agencies to manipulate data for political purposes? Has there been a legal challenge?

Reply to  cwright
July 11, 2023 6:14 am

The answers to your questions:
In the US, is it legal for government agencies to manipulate data”; No, it is illegal! Unfortunately, an illegality ignored since James Hansen was in charge of NOAA.

“Has there been a legal challenge?”; Not to my knowledge, has any effort to investigate any governmental data abuse survived senior government interference since the 1990s..

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  ATheoK
July 11, 2023 1:21 pm

Any disturbances from rocking a boat brings the swamp alligators out of their lairs — as Trump is all too aware.

Rud Istvan
July 10, 2023 11:12 am

My SW Wisconsin dairy farm has three woodlots, each about 40-50 acres, where the land is too steep for row crops or good pasture. We selective log one about every 15 years, marked for harvest/thinning by a professional forester independent from the logger. All hardwoods, mostly hard maple, black cherry, hickory, and various oaks. The crowns make great firewood, and the extra wood income is always welcome.
Had one $11k offer to take a cluster of just 9 mature straight bole ~24inch diameter white oaks on just one of the plots not yet ready otherwise to selective log. Turned that little patch of new forest opening into a half acre wildlife feedlot for grouse, turkey, and deer. Used the little logging road they cut into the hillside for access to take in the compact 4WD tractor to plow/harrow/seed around the stumps.

Reply to  Rud Istvan
July 10, 2023 11:17 am
Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  Milo
July 10, 2023 12:41 pm

I see there:

Although it fell into disuse in the first half of the twentieth century, the practice has been revived in contemporary Great Britain, where there is tremendous interest in both the conservation of ancient woodlands and in the ecological rather than the economic benefits of coppicing.

Coppicing made sense when it was more important to grow as much easily accessible and easily harvestable wood to keep from freezing in the winter and to cook food before the age of fossil fuels. Otherwise, it makes more sense to grow trees into large, very valuable timber. I don’t see much ecological value in coppicing. Maybe some birds like to nest in them- but to me they’re a bit ugly compard to a nice, tall, handsome specimen of oak or maple or pine or Norway spruce that will offer the owner a nice profit. Such a decision to do one or the other option of course is all about trade offs- but I notice too often that the decisions are not made with a good understanding of the trade offs but based on phony reasons- like this new idea to leave the forests alone to do nothing but sequester carbon.

Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
July 11, 2023 12:58 pm

Newspeak = “sequester carbon”

Reality = “growing fuel for the next disastrous and wasteful forest fire”

A least if the wood was harvested it would be “sequestered” in the form of decades lasting homes and furniture.

Reply to  PCman999
July 11, 2023 1:01 pm

…and burned efficiently in a wood stove to offset other fuel use – instead of providing temptation to eco-nazi arsonists and pyromaniacs.

Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
July 11, 2023 5:04 pm

Trees really only sequester carbon when rapidly growing. OId growth forests represent diminishing returns, especially outside the tropics.

Reply to  Milo
July 12, 2023 10:06 pm

Well, as long as the tree isn’t burning, it’s sequestering carbon. But you have a point- it would be better to harvest the trees once they reach a good height and give a new generation of trees a chance to eat up all that CO2.

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  Rud Istvan
July 10, 2023 12:34 pm

Right on!

J Boles
Reply to  Rud Istvan
July 10, 2023 1:47 pm

OT, but in that area is a very nice state park, Wyalusing, I’m sure you know it, with a commanding view of the Mississippi river, I camped there a few times, 30 years ago. One can also see trains going over the bridge by the river.

Rud Istvan
Reply to  J Boles
July 10, 2023 2:41 pm

Know it well. We also have a 5000 acre state park (Governor Dodge) with a nice big lake just north of Dodgeville (ground zero for the Wisconsin wild turkey reintro, about 15 miles from the farm), and a 500 acre state park (Shot Tower) on the Wisconsin River about 5 miles from the farm.

Reply to  Rud Istvan
July 10, 2023 9:12 pm

Rud, if we rebuilt even a modest forest products industry you may be able to realize even a higher return from a more competitive market for your forest products!!!

Reply to  Rud Istvan
July 10, 2023 9:53 pm


You’re a crap sceptic.


Seriously though, what pisses me off about “environmentalists” is the assumption that if you are not 100% on board with the whole green agenda, you’re a monstrous, child-eating fiend who drowns kittens before breakfast.

I’ve been an avid environmentalist my whole life. The natural world is fascinating and delightful.

I guess that’s the reason I don’t buy into the whole “we’re all gonna die because CO2” bullshit.

Reply to  Redge
July 11, 2023 1:06 pm

Exactly me too – and I got turned off when I noticed that “environmentalists” don’t really care about the underlying environment. They are not conservationists only political bullies and fascists using the environment as a convenient wedge.

July 10, 2023 11:40 am

This is a very well presented discussion of the situation with wild fires, with the appropriate use of data.
As Milo (comment below) points out, the the USFS now starts its record for burn acreage at 1983. The previous data was eliminated in January at the start of the Biden administration. There are no footnotes describing why this earlier data is missing. I consider this to be “bad science”.
My conclusion from your discussion and the various actions by the administration, is that there is a distinct preference for using forest fires as a scare tactic for the Global Warming movement. Therefore, the rational approach shown in this article is unlikely to prevail with the “global warming alarmist” community that is now in control in government, the media and business.
Those of us who believe that treating problems from a logical perspective must first take the high ground of convincing the public, that the problem is “fuel load” and the logical direction is reducing that excessive “fuel load” through good forestry practices.
The question is “How”.

Reply to  rwbenson66
July 10, 2023 2:53 pm

I consider this to be “bad science”.
Propaganda, not “science” is the driver of everything coming out of the Biden administration.

Curious George
Reply to  AndyHce
July 11, 2023 9:10 am

Propaganda is the future of diverse science.

Reply to  rwbenson66
July 10, 2023 9:09 pm

Additionally, our legal system is a major hurdle that we need to overcome. My forestry career ended in the late 197o’s because the environmental groups could shut down federal timber sales for a few hundred dollars by filing a suit. About 75% of timber for our mills came from federal land. We need to be able to develop a coherent forest management plan and then the important part is to be able to implement it without further interference.

Curious George
Reply to  drhealy
July 11, 2023 9:23 am

“Between 1953 and 2017 the acreage of forested land in the U.S. increased by 3.2%, while the volume of growing stock, fuel load, increased by 60%. Due to the actions of environmental groups, harvesting on federal lands essentially ceased in about 1980, resulting in the shuttering of most of our forest products industry.”
The story of forest fires in a nutshell.

Reply to  drhealy
July 11, 2023 1:09 pm

Why didn’t the mills and lumberjacks and other workers counter-sue? Or did everyone lose their mind during those years and just assumed the protesters must be right and knew what they were doing?

Reply to  PCman999
July 12, 2023 7:56 pm

By the time the legal process worked its way through the courts, the impacted parties gave up. The process is so time consuming that it simply isn’t worth pursuing. If you have ever been involved in a simple legal matter involving courts, you can be looking at numerous years to get a resolution.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  drhealy
July 11, 2023 1:45 pm

And the problem isn’t limited to timber. There is currently a Biden administration proposal to lock up 1.6 million more acres of the Mojave Desert for limited use, banning hobby mineral collecting. As it is, there are now so many areas in the desert that are off limits to motor vehicles (despite old roads being present), that access is limited to young, healthy individuals during months that end in an “r.” It is de facto age discrimination and catering to rabid environmentalist’s demands. Gone is the concept of multiple uses for public lands. It seems that every administration wants to out do the previous in withdrawing public lands to create new National Parks and National Monuments that have a history of subsequently being converted to National Parks. All to cater to a very small and select group. The last time I visited the Chanchelulla Wilderness Area (Trinity-Shasta NF), there had been 4 people sign in at the parking area trail head in the last two years. And, the former jeep trail over the top of the mountain had been bull dozed shut.

Joseph Zorzin
July 10, 2023 12:32 pm

Thinning is a very expensive operation and we have millions of acres that need attention. To raise the funds necessary to address the full scope of the issue we will need to harvest some merchantable timber to reduce the cost per acre.”

What helps to cover the cost of thinning is the existence of a woody biomass market- which barely still exists in the American northeast. Until the forestry haters started going after biomass because they say “it’s worse than coal”- that market would pay, maybe, $10-15/cord stumpage (on the stump) for otherwise worthless trees. If the stand was young and no sawlogs were marked for sale- such a project would usually not be possible unless it was a land clearing operation or a clearcut. If the stand was a mid age stand with some good timber and some low quality timber and a lot of worthless trees (no potential for growing into sawlogs)- we could do a thinning which would remove the low quality timber and all or most of the “junk wood”- leaving the best trees to grow another 20 years or more. But now that the biomass industry is slowly dying- the stumpage value for the “junk wood” has dropped to zero or lower- so unless there is some decent timber to remove- the project will have a negative value- that is, it would be expensive to do- so such work won’t get done- they’ll cut the sawtimber but leave the junk wood – resulting in a high graded job- that is, cut the best and leave the rest. Even if a timber stand is relatively high quality- it will most likely (I’m talking northeast forestry) have some “junk wood” which loggers won’t remove without a biomass market- even for firewood, because much of the “junk wood” is not wanted for firewood due to severe defects, species or other reasons. Having a biomass market greatly enhances the possibility for excellent forestry because with that market, loggers will cut any tree regardless of species, size, quality, rot, crooks, etc. In the following videos I made I show this type of harvesting, in north central Woke-achusetts.

Anyone who hates the biomass industry has no clue what they’re talking about – they get it from reading the lying bastards who hate all forestry- and who now have a new plank in their climate cult- it’s called proforestation- the idea that all trees must be left to do nothing but sequester carbon. I detest those idiots. I’ve been arguing with the most significant forestry haters for years. They’re winning the political battle on this issue so the state govenor this year has stopped all logging on several hundred thousand acres of state owned forest.

Rud Istvan
Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
July 10, 2023 1:07 pm

My daughter and her husband rebuilt an old mountain cabin into their new full time 3 Br home in Evergreen CO. They put in a new wood stove. Unlike our 45+ year old wood stove and wood heater firebox at the dairy farm house (burning several cords/ winter of seasoned split oak and hickory stored in the cellar) they opted for wood pellets. Cleaner burning. So there is still a wood biomass market.

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  Rud Istvan
July 10, 2023 4:26 pm

Well, yes but it’s not enough to provide a sufficient market for the entire forestry industry in North America, which could provide tens of millions of tons of otherwise worthless wood to power plants. Unless many more people buy pellet stoves. The only problem with them is, I think, you need electricity to run them so it’s a problem with the power is out unless you have a generator.

Rud Istvan
Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
July 10, 2023 6:12 pm

You have a point. In Evergreen CO, all wood stoves must have a catalytic converter to reduce wood smoke. On my Wisconsin farm, we view residual wood smoke as fertilizer.

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  Rud Istvan
July 11, 2023 4:21 am

I had a very old wood stove. The state of MA has pushed to get everyone who has these to upgrade them- rather than telling everyone who likes to burn wood to install a heat pump- so they offer them for free to low income people like me- living on just social insecurity- so they paid to have a new wood burner installed- and it does meet EPA standards but doesn’t have a catalytic converter. We seldom use it- mostly if there is a power outage on a cold day- but we have been lucky with no power outages for a few years. I do notice the difference in the smoke- which previously was bluish grey and now is very white, more like steam. Perhaps your state should find out about these stoves that meet current EPA regs without the converter- since, I presume, they must be less expensive. If MA, the most climate fanatic state of all, says they’re OK, others should too.

Rud Istvan
Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
July 10, 2023 6:25 pm

True but unavoidable in CO. My daughter has a sufficiently unreliable (high mountain, stormy) grid that they also built in (at my insistence plus financial support) a propane tank fired aux Gen.

Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
July 10, 2023 3:44 pm

Having a biomass market greatly enhances the possibility for excellent forestry because with that market, loggers will cut any tree regardless of species, size, quality, rot, crooks, etc.

It is only a matter of time. Trump has put USA 4 years behind the rest of the developed world in the race to full insanity. Once energy prices become prohibitive, any biomass will look attractive. Biden’s administration is working hard to get the USA back into the club of climate zealots. It is only a matter of time before the whole of USA looks like California but some regions with less sunlight and need for more heating.

This article describes the increase in illegal logging in Victoria where energy prices have doubled in the past decade:

Thousands of cubic metres of wood is being stolen, stripping the bush of centuries of growth as carefully organised groups target river red gum forests and sell the timber as firewood for quick cash.

If you think California’s Newsom is a nutter, he is well down the list in that regard compared with the the State Premiers in Australia. Melbourne would not have set the world record for Covid lockdown without the guiding hand of Dan Andrews.

Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
July 10, 2023 9:03 pm

My thoughts are to convert wood in useful products where ever you can, but all the excess could be converted to biomass. Many of the fires burning in Canada are in the northern areas where the trees have very little or no value due to size or distance constraints. It would make sense to build large biomass power plants in these areas and connect them to the grid to get the power to southern Canada or the U.S. Burning biomass in efficient power plants would greatly reduce the pollution emanating from the current forest fires and would provide non-interuptible power at the same time.

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  drhealy
July 11, 2023 4:38 am

The last “big” biomass power plant built in New England was built several years ago in Berlin, NH. It’s a 75 MW power plant. It burns something like 800,000 tons/year of “junk wood” that has no other potential value. There are several other, small biomass power plants in the region but there would be far more if the forestry haters didn’t force the politicians to not allow them. Two were proposed in western MA several years ago but the greens fought ferociously to stop them from being built. They both would have been 60 MW. If they had been built, there would have been a boom in forestry. Currently only 20% of the forests in the state are managed. If they had been built, that figure I think would have tripled. There then would have been a revival of the sawmill industries and other industries making all sorts of products from wood, like furniture- which used to be big industries in MA. The Queen of the forestry and biomass haters is Dr. Mary Booth, a physical chemist. She has a web site dedicated to this battle. She refuses to tell us who funds her: She’s in this state- along with the founder of the “proforestation” fantasy, Dr. William Moomaw. Forestry is MA could be a fantastic industry but it’s been dying the entire 50 years of my forestry career. Biomass would have revived it. Unfortunately, forestry leadership is weak- very, very weak. But that’s another story for another day. And, yes, biomass power can produce base load power and it is renewable and is carbon neutral though the greens won’t admit that. The carbon it emits is already in the carbon cycle, unlike carbon coming out of the ground, not that I have a problem with carbon. Just saying.

Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
July 11, 2023 1:21 pm

I gave you a + however biomass won’t be carbon neutral unless you have biomass powered trucks and equipment, though nowadays you could make the case that burning the wood and junk selectively prevents a lot of other wood from burning uncontrollably – and hence saves a lot of carbon emissions that way.

Certainly a lot healthier than the current situation and what we have been forced to breathe in during the fire season.

Reply to  PCman999
July 11, 2023 1:27 pm

Some more evidence for your side of the argument – Tesla trucks. Skeptical until I heard a logger going on how great it will be, with the trucks going up the hills and mountains empty and coming down fully laden – charging the batteries and saving the brakes with the regenerative braking. The trucks could be charged with biomass power (when ‘coming down the mountain ‘ isn’t enough and the trucks development might have beneficial effects towards developing electrical forest equipment (not holding my breath – it was just a thought experiment).

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  PCman999
July 11, 2023 1:38 pm

Log trucks carry a tremendous weight. The batteries for a log truck would probably half fill the bed of the truck. Loggers love diesel. One logging firm here in north central Woke-achusetts bought an old oil delivery truck which he fills with diesel and drives it to the site of a logging project- to run his log trucks, feller-buncher, skidders, etc.

July 10, 2023 12:37 pm

There are also secondary effects from spotted owl logging ban. The timber companies no longer build logging roads that served as fire breaks, and they no longer have any economic interesting in harvesting the downed trees to reduce the possibility of fires. Both of those add to the available fuel burden.

William Howard
July 10, 2023 12:38 pm

and as reported in WUWT land mass the size of the USA has been reclaimed from the desert – all due to increased CO2 which is also used to feed the growing population of the earth

July 10, 2023 2:05 pm

This is really important, straight forward information in understandable language and damn few wishy washy words or phrases.I would prefer that no weight be given to the Paris treaty or any other so called climate change proposal. CO2 levels are at historic lows, CO2 is not the control knob for earth’s climate, we are not in a climate crisis, CO2 is a net benefit, forest fires are natural but not necessarily desirable, we can manage the forests benefiting us and making forest fires more manageable and finally most of our current problems are caused because we listen to people who don’t know what they are talking about. Shame on us.

Jimmie Dollard
July 10, 2023 2:32 pm

Thanks for a great paper on increase in fuel load from more CO2. I will pin this paper. I would like to add a few comments about number and size of fires.

I was a smokejumper 70 years ago (1951-1954) during the lower points of acres burned. We used initial attack like a religion. Our goal was to get to every smoke identified by the lookouts and have it contained by 10:00 am when the up slope winds started. I believe this thinking had a lot to do with the lower acres burned. Ah, you say, but that let the fuel load build up. Maybe, but let me make a few points.

  1. I don’t think fuel load has much to do with acres burned and nothing to do with number of fires. Every megafire (lets say over 100,000 acres) has one thing in common—–WIND. Some of our largest fires in the Southwest have been in low fuel load, but high winds. The Marshal fire (Colorado’s most expensive fire ever) had zero forest fuel load. The only fuel was houses. The tragic loss of life at Mann Gulch and Storm King mountain were in low fuel load areas.
  2. As a smokejumper, two of us put out a fire in some of the heaviest fuel load in the country, near the Oregon coast, with just a shovel and a pulaski (no wind). That same area was later devastated by the Biscuit fire, driven by high winds, that destroyed a million acres of the finest timber in the world. It could have been stopped on day one by initial attack.
  3. Our modern firefighters can control any fire, regardless of the fuel load in no/low wind. Current firefighters please chime in. Of course heavy fuel loads make for more intense fires in high winds and do much more damage to the remaining forest than a lighter fuel load. So, yes, we should try to reduce fuel load. You outlined some good ways to help with this but you did not discuss “let burn” and “prescribed burn” which is the only way to reduce the fuel load in the scale needed. These have had some bad outcomes, due to bad management, in the past few years contributing to the recent increase in acres burned.
  4. After I retired I had the priviledge of working on volunteer trail projects, where some of the top USFS management and fire personnel joined us to get out of the office. It is amazing what you can learn from these guys with years of experience sitting around a campfire after a few beers. They talked to each other about the horrible line of command with D.C. in the loop, the amount of paper work required for a prescribed burn, difficulty in getting decisions, pass the buck and carreer endangerment, how local management had little control, etc. After this education, here is my proposed solution to improving forest management, including fire.
  5. Return to the old “Forest Ranger” and put an experienced forester in charge of that forest. Let him manage that forest and make all decisions. Every Forest, every fuel type, every slope, and every climate and day is unique. Decisions about timber sales, mechanical fuel load removal, prescribed burn, let burn vs. initial attack, etc need to be made by the guy living in the forest wearing logging boots, not some senior person in D.C. wearing Italian loafers days later.
  6. Give him he resources he needs.
  7. Support him with better microclimate forecast to help with the wind issues.
  8. Give him authority to order initial attack on every smoke, unless he thinks it wise to let burn based his knowledge and current conditions.
  9. A recent article said 90% of fires are human caused. I can’t confirm that, but it is a lot. Let the Forest Supervisor order power lines crossing his forest to reduce causes of ignitions, or maybe even require burial. When fire danger is high, give him the authority to restrict access, activities. etc. Let him do what is necessary to reduce ignition.
  10. In other words, LET HIM MANAGE THE FOREST.

I believe this could lead to better managed forests, fewer fires, and less unintended acres burned. Global warming and added growth from more CO2 are red herrings and a copout for bad management.

Reply to  Jimmie Dollard
July 11, 2023 1:32 pm

Your suggestions make too much sense for the socialist paradise we currently live in.

Steve Case
July 10, 2023 2:42 pm

CO2 is way more than mere fertilizer. It is a necessary component in photosynthesis. It absolutely must be there. For the most part, more, is better.

John Hultquist
Reply to  Steve Case
July 10, 2023 8:31 pm

Correct: CO2 is plant food. The soil provides micro-nutrients.

Reply to  John Hultquist
July 11, 2023 4:35 pm

The ground also provides water, through the roots, a wonderful evolutionary development.

Reply to  Steve Case
July 10, 2023 9:50 pm

Confirmed by the fact that all C3 plants have already evolved to use 4X the amount of CO2 available naturally in the atmosphere for photosynthesis.

Reply to  doonman
July 11, 2023 4:38 pm

More like two to three times. The most CO2 in commercial green houses is about 1300 ppm, vs. current ambient ~415 ppm, but benefit starts kicking in around 800 ppm.

Flowering plants evolved under about 1700 ppm, so in a way, you’re right on. But conifer trees evolved in the Carboniferous Period, with two differing CO2 regimes, ranging from about 1500 ppm in the earlier Mississippian to maybe 350 in the glacial Pennsylvanian.

July 10, 2023 3:17 pm

Reduction in the fire hazard. Goats.

John Hultquist
Reply to  Mike Jonas
July 10, 2023 8:48 pm

Goats can be effective in certain situations, especially where brush and such is accessible to people. Other places not so much.
Put the following into Google Earth:  48.0943353, -121.006613
When you land at that spot, back off a little and then tilt to look north until you see the horizon.
This is 70 miles NE of Seattle, WA., about 7,300 feet elevation.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Mike Jonas
July 11, 2023 1:56 pm

And, reduction of poison oak/ivy. 🙂 I once had a horse that liked to eat poison oak.

July 10, 2023 3:23 pm

We do know empirically that increasing CO2 levels will raise temperature modestly. In lab experiments a doubling of CO2 levels from 280 ppm to 560 ppm will raise temperate about 1-degree Centigrade.  

Can you please provide a link to the lab experiment described?

Reply to  RickWill
July 10, 2023 4:06 pm

The only actual lab experiments that I ever heard of used outrageously high amounts of CO2 to arrive at their conclusions. Rather like the cancer experiments on saccharine and rats. If you inject a 2 kg rat with 5 kg of saccharine, the rat gets a tumor.

Reply to  RickWill
July 10, 2023 8:38 pm

This information came from the original Charney Report in 1979 on page 8.
I have it copied but the reply section does not want to seem to accept it.
From the 1 degree effect of CO2, the Charney Committee then assumed that various feedback effects could add another 2.5 to 3.5 degrees of warming due to added water vapor in the atmosphere. That assumption seems to be failing.

Reply to  drhealy
July 11, 2023 12:55 am

There is no laboratory experiment detailed in that paper. on how CO2 directly heats the surface. It is just based on absorption spectrum. It is bunkum. Repeating such nonsense degrades from the otherwise good points in the original post.

Reply to  RickWill
July 11, 2023 1:40 pm

Right but no ever said “CO2 directly heats the surface” – shame on NASA/NOAA for implying that by calling it ‘forcing’.

All CO2 can do is slow down the heat lost to space – if there is heat to begin with. In Antarctica, the additional radiative emission lets it get even colder in winter than it would be without the CO2.

Its effect should be modelled as a variable dependent on the temperature as well as the CO2 level

July 10, 2023 3:48 pm

I think there may be a problem with the graph at the top of the article. Many have pointed out that the pre-1953 data is unreliable, for a variety of reasons, including but not limited to double-counting of fires. Additionally, if it were in fact fuel load that were causing more fires, wouldn’t the fuel load necessarily be lower? Due to aggressive policing of fires in the modern era, and the lack of forest management, one might think that fuel load is a bigger problem *now* than it was in the early 20th century.

I’m certainly not saying that the hand-wringing over the current era fire seasons has value, or that it’s caused by climate change as many have said, but that the giant mountain graph of pre-1950s burn area might be a red herring. The current increase in burned areas over the past 10 ish years seems more likely to be, yes, fuel load, as well as weather cycles that have lead to drought conditions in the Western US (which may be coming to an end; the cycle seems to be about 40 years).

Reply to  waforests
July 10, 2023 6:32 pm

Note that the USFS has made no effort to rectify the supposed unreliability of pre-1983 data. Why? Because they know the data would still show massively more wildfire acreage in prior decades.

Growing up in Oregon, I saw the Tillamook Burns area growing more trees decade by decade. No matter how you count, the 1920s to 1950s suffered far more wildfires than since then, and any recent increase from 1983 is down to mismanagement, not more plant food in the air, although more CO2 does make for bigger trees.

Reply to  waforests
July 10, 2023 8:49 pm

The pre-1953 data actually came from U.S. Census figures:
Copy and insert into search bar:
See page 537 for prior table, labeled “Series L.48-55. Forest Fires and Area Burned Over: 1926 to 1970.

I have no valid reason to question the accuracy of these figures. The Interagency graph data prior to 1953 are precisely the same figures.

Reply to  drhealy
July 11, 2023 4:10 pm

The Carbonari “doubt” them because they don’t fit the narrative.

July 10, 2023 6:01 pm

From Tony Heller which has been regularly pushing back on the “disinformation” (read: Lies) on wildfires for a long time now.

Climate Fact Checkers | Real Climate Science

The vast majority of recent fires are also started by humans, and the Heartland statement made no mention of “wildfires.” There were discrepancies in the way the number of fires were counted, but there is no discontinuity or discrepancy for burn acreage. The Heartland statement was correct, and the Politifact fact-check was completely false.

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Mr Ed
July 10, 2023 6:36 pm

Very interesting thread, I live and spend quite a bit of time in the Northern Rockies.

A change in management would go a long way in fire reduction IMO. At one time
each National Forest Units were locally managed but now they are all managed via
the “Ivory Tower” in Washington DC. Over the past 15+ yrs we had a very large
beetle kill in the pines. Some of these units are 90+% dead. This needs to be
cleaned up but that’s not what’s happening. At the same time of the beetle kill we
had a major recession and the lumber market crashed and the only pulp mill closed.
That mill took in 100+ semi loads per day just thru this area. That alone paid the
fuel bill for the loggers from their slash.

Also the big timber company’s changed their tax status to REITS. They started to
log off big units then subdivide then sell the units. We have in
the country groups such as Big AG, Big Pharma, Big Oil and such. There is also Big Timber.
When the pulp mill closed it could have been converted to a solids to liquids
plant eg. Fischer-Tropsch very easily but Big Timber would not allow it.
It required under federal law the approval of pulp and timber industries.. It was torn
down and sent to China for scrap.

It is estimated that
each beetle killed acre has 20+ tons of dead trees per acre which if run thu the solids to liquids plant would yield 70-80 gallons of high grade diesel per ton. So in a 100 mile radius
of where I sit there is something on the order of 6 billion gallons of high grade diesel,
just in wood waste. Now take that out to the entire western US. Hundreds of billions
gallons of diesel.. Understand the Germans ran their war machine on that during WW1
& WW2.

Volvo the Swedish
equipment company has built portable solids to liquids plants that can run continuously
with only a LNG tank to make it work. Chips flow in and diesel flows out at the landing.
But Big Timber & the greens says no way. CO2 is nothing compared to the poor management of our forests. And don’t get me started on endangered species…

Then look at the fire fighting aircraft business, the VLATS, and see where the money
comes from behind that. It’s not easy to follow, but someone is making big money
by not managing the forest as it should be. Then there is the Greens and their
lawfare and the federal judges that rubber stamp nearly every little case and stop
all sound management practices…

July 10, 2023 7:54 pm

I agree it’s the fuels: the quantity and contiguity are greater today than at any time in the Holocene.

I respectfully disagree with Mr. Healy’s statement: “Prior to the 1950s, extending back millennia, fuel loads in the western U.S. were massive.” Fuel loads in pre-Contact millennia were limited by anthropogenic fire. Indigenous residents burned their landscapes frequently for a variety of survival purposes. Elimination of traditional burning in the 1800’s is the reason we have unprecedented biomass (fuel) loading today.

Fuel management – reducing the quantity and contiguity – is necessary to prevent megafires. “Thinning” is the buzz word, but few realize what that really entails: namely, restoring pre-Contact conditions. Pre-Contact forests had less than five trees per acre and little ground fuels due to frequent (3-6 year) fire return intervals — deliberate burning by the residents.

Today’s forests have 500+ trees per acre. 99% of them must be removed and the ground fuels treated often thereafter. I know, that prescription is mind-blowing to modern residents. It will probably never happen, not as long as people remain ignorant about past landscapes and real forest restoration. Thus megafires are here to stay.

Bob Zybach
July 10, 2023 9:30 pm

This is a very good article and appears to be very factual as well. A few days ago I was interviewed by Lars Larson on his radio show on this topic. For the past 20+ years I have been a somewhat regular guest on his program — usually once or twice during fire season, or something or other to do with reforestation or forest management, because those are the topics in which I have the most professional experience and academic training. Most interviews are about 10 minutes long, and this one was a little less, but the topics of wildfire predictability, climate change, and reforestation in the Pacific Northwest were covered for the 2023 fire season. (8 minutes, and no competition with Lars’ promotion of his next story):

Jan Guttusrud
July 11, 2023 1:06 am

“in lab experiments a doubling of CO2 levels from 280 ppm to 560 ppm will raise temperate about 1-degree Centigrade. ”

This is probably wrong. Which experiment(s) did you have in mine ?

Below are references to three articles by Thorstein Seim that show otherwise.

July 11, 2023 6:05 am

In the years since 1998 the number of acres burned has increased with two years equaling or exceeding 10 million acres.”

And the number of fires caused by malicious arson are what mostly increased, not naturally caused fires.

“Aside from the catastrophic loss of timber resources, homes, structures and in some cases entire towns, the resultant smoke from these fires has created very hazardous air quality issues over broad swathes of the American West.”

Specious sophistry!
Cite actual studies that prove smoke from fires is directly harmful.
EPA has tried for years to prove that point and has failed. Now the EPA cites statistical mummery as if it has merit.

“The CO2 fertilization effect is both real and substantial in both beneficial and harmful ways. The United States can do very little to reduce CO2 emissions in the short term.”

Why should the “United States” try and reduce a trace gas absolutely essential for life during any length of “term”?

“However, if we move promptly we can do a great deal to contain the future impact that CFE will have on our forest’s fuel load, and if done properly can also create jobs and provide needed forest products and greatly reduce the negative effects of rampant forest fires.”

A new age of Colonialism?

  • create jobs“!? How many times have we heard that claim from renewable energy shysters?
  • provide needed forest products“. How condescending of you. What “needed forest products” are not being provided, now!? Or are you implying that regularly occurring forest fires deprive you of “needed forest products”? Or perhaps you believe forest fires waste valuable wood lignin that can be used for mankind’s benefit?
  • A statement that indicates you do not understand many conifers, grasses and scrub/brush growths are dependent upon forest fires to survive?
  • greatly reduce the negative effects of rampant forest fires“!?
  • How nice that you avoid specifying exactly what are the “negative effects of rampant forest fires“? That is, beside your concerns about breathing wildfire smoke from very distant forest fires or wasting good wood.?

The “Smokey the Bear” effort during the Twentieth Century means that every forest/woodland in the USA is suffering from excessive fuel load. A fuel load that kills or sterilizes soils when ignited, seriously harming regrowth potential.

Canada’s boreal forest experiences regular extensive forest fires that causes smoke to spread downwind. A fact documented since North America first encountered Europeans.

Peta of Newark
July 11, 2023 6:19 am

Oh dear, Monumental hubris, magical thinking, kindergarten & junk science, appeals to unverified/unverifiable authority, cause & effect reversals….. just for starters, this one’s got the lot.

One Tiny Tiny Tiny Point where it all goes so badly, (for Planet Earth) wrong is in the..
fuel load fuel load fuel load assertion

  • Fuel: Stuff that is (only) good for burning/consuming
  • Load: ‘Weight’ ‘Burden’ or = something that must be endured or put-up-with while offering no return

Starting from thinking like that, the trees haven’t a Hope In Hell have they?
How can they, they make something that is only fit for burning and is a burden while it’s waiting to be burned.

Is there not possibly anything that trees and the assorted debris that falls out of them could be used for, or especially, something that Does Not Revolve Around Money
The greed and selfishness are as palpable as the hubris

Just the words ‘Fuel Load‘ alone consign this tsunami of verbal diarrhoea to the bin and the rest us to a very cold, dark, lonely and hungry eternity.
(Frankly, we’re already there)

Let’s just pick 2 points or illustrations:

Point One: Disease and Pestilence (as afflicts trees thus making the liable to catching fire)
Use as an example “Coniferous Trees” – notable for 3 particular things.

  1. They smell. They go to a great effort and use much precious resource making aromatic (smelly) compounds (VOCs) that they ‘simply release to the atmosphere‘. They do that to protect themselves against Ozone = extremely damaging stuff and as created any time where unfiltered sunlight acts upon diatomic Oxygen. Ozone ‘damages the health of trees as much as it damages the health of anything it touches. If they are now ‘fertilised’ – wouldn’t they make more VOC and be more resistant to pests and disease following attacks by Ozone?
  2. Turpentine. (White spirit) Conifer trees are chock full of the stuff. It makes a near perfect substitute for kerosene or Diesel should you be inclined or as Soichiro Honda used during WW2, as a petrol substitute. We can all empathise with what it’s like to get petrol/diesel/white-spirit on our skin and even worse, in our mouths, noses or heaven-forbid, our eyes. So, how does the infamous/ubiquitous and extremly damaging Pine Beetle get around that. Seriously, how does the Pine Beetle or any other sentient creature ever get a hold of a Pine Tree with that stuff inside it?
  3. Sap/Resin/Amber. Again, things that all conifers are famous for, immensely sticky sap that gets ever stickier as its exposed to sun/air. Pray tell, what sort of creature can navigate that stuff = stuff that’s instantly released the very instant you ‘touch’ any coniferous tree?

Is it beyond the bounds or reality and possibility that the trees are incredibly ill already if they cannot mount their own, what should be, automatic and intrinsic defences?
That Pine Beetle is NOT the cause but an effect of ‘something else’?

Point Two: Fertility
CO₂ is supposedly a ‘well mixed gas’ – meaning that atmospheric levels are similar everywhere on/around Earth
Because of it Fertilising Effect, in the presence of no other extenuating circumstances, plants all around the world should respond equally to rising CO₂ levels and have similar yields.
Plants that we measure/record the yields of.

Take Triticum aestivum as our example here.

The initial wonderation might by why the UK, England especially, has been ‘invaded’ as many times in its history and by as many different people.
wtf is the attraction? Hardly the weather and balmy climate – why exactly did e.g. The Romans come here? Do or did Californians routinely invade Alaska – it’s little different?

Here’s why:

  • Wheat yields in England, especially then Eastern Side are typically 5 or 6 Tonnes per acre
  • Wheat yields in the US Corn Belt are typically One Tonne per acre
  • Wheat yields in Australia might be 0.5 Tonnes per acre during the 2 years out of 5 when there’s actually something to harvest

All I want to know is – why is that?

Why can farmers on the Cambridge fen grow 20 Tonne crops of potatoes witn hardly any fertiliser and Zero Irrigation.
Cabbages the size beach ball also and next to zero pesticides. Some herbicides yes, pests/diseases no

While 80 miles north in Nottinghamshire, farmer growing potatoes are using 3mm per day of irrigation and are constantly spraying ‘something’ on them.

Why is that.
How does this fantastical and contrived story about Carbon Dioxide Fertilisation explain any of my examples and questions?

Reply to  Peta of Newark
July 12, 2023 10:02 pm

Full of a near perfect substitute for diesel and its ‘renewable’??? Hasn’t anyone told Biden or the EU? I’m sure they’ll fall over themselves rushing to subsidize some project to harvest the stuff.

July 11, 2023 10:32 am

I wonder if the author of the yields per acre chart has accounted for the large improvements in yields in all crops via genetics over the decades. I expect that this could be one of the largest factors in improving crop yields. Not to argue that CO2 has no effect, but is it responsible for All the yield increases?

Clyde Spencer
July 11, 2023 1:18 pm

In lab experiments a doubling of CO2 levels from 280 ppm to 560 ppm will raise temperate about 1-degree Centigrade.

That should be considered an upper-bound because a simple lab experiment doesn’t allow for negative feedback loops such as increased vegetation with increased CO2, and increased cloudiness with increasing temperatures.

Gary Pearse
July 11, 2023 6:16 pm

As soon as I see a knowledgeable, logical, compelling scientific essay explaining reality of a climate ‘issue’ that differs from the doctrinaire hype, I sigh a little despairingly, knowing that the Dark Side even knows all this but are unmoved. They have the cash, the doting press, all of academia, national and international institutions, the ear and purse of the political decisionmakers, the private wealth is invested and being enriched, …

Anyway, we’re outnumbered 97 to three. I like the odds. Dissidents in the Soviet Union were about the same ratio.

Ancient Wrench
July 11, 2023 10:31 pm

Forest management needs to be based on one simple principle: A tree leaves its forest in only two ways; as timber or as smoke.

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