Wildfires of the United States: Human or Climate-Caused?

Paper Reviewed: Balch, J.K., Bradley, B.A., Abatzoglou, J.T., Nagy, R.C., Fusco, E.J. and Mahood, A.L. 2017. Human-started wildfires expand the fire niche across the United States. Proceedings of the U.S. National Academy of Science114: 2946-2951.

Noting that the economic and ecological costs of wildfires in the United States have risen substantially in recent decades, Balch et al. (2017) describe how they studied over 1.5 million government records of wildfires that had to be either extinguished or managed by state or federal agencies from 1992 to 2012. And what did they learn by so doing?

The six scientists report that “humans have vastly expanded the spatial and seasonal ‘fire niche’ in the coterminous United States, accounting for [1] 84% of all wildfires and [2] 44% of total area burned,” that (3) “during the 21-year time period, the human-caused fire season was three times longer than the lightning-caused fire season,” and that (4) humans “added an average of 20,000 wildfires per year across the United States.”

And so we find that people, not nature (as in climate change) have been responsible for the increasing number of yearly U.S. wildfires over the past two decades, which makes one wonder if the same might also be true of many of the other deleterious weather phenomena that climate alarmists claim to be caused by anthropogenic CO2 emissions.

Read more at CO2 Science

Comments (3)

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    Spurwing Plover


    Most of the wildfire we have around here where i live in Siskiyou County California are lightning cuase and they have been that was long before any of this Global Warming/Climate Change was ever heard of

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    Bet they spent more time looking that one up to try and make themselves look intelligent than they did on actually writing the report.

    Manmade, have they never heard of arson.

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    David Lewis


    As usual the selected dates of a study can influence the results. If wildfires are considered starting in the mid 1960’s on, a pattern of increasing wildfires can be seen. However, if you start viewing data from 1900, there has not been a lot of increase.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if nation wide man is the most common cause of wildfires, but it is carelessness, not climate change.

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