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Is Global Warming Causing more Wildfires?

In the previous post we looked at Southern California. While Southern Californians might feel they are the most important people in the world, some of us might wonder if there’s evidence climate change has affected wildfires overall. There really isn’t readily available data on “the world” when it comes to long term fire data so I’ll be limited to areas and countries which have good data.

The United States:

Once again there appears to be a slight upward trend which some enterprising Democratic Senator could connect to global warming. However the picture changes when we look at our northern neighbors:

No discernible trend. Global warming isn’t causing an increase in wildfires in Canada.

What about elsewhere?

Not a lot of good data but I did find this graph:

I couldn’t come to a conclusion but it looks like wildfires aren’t well correlated to increases in temperature or other aspects of climate change. If I had to venture a guess I would say the causes of wildfires are too far removed from the consequences of greenhouse gasses to be an important factor.

There is going to be a lot of data in the coming decades which will give us a clearer picture of any relationship between wildfires and climate change but until then the focus for public policy when it comes to wildfires should be on effective measures of wildfire control. Excess growth should be burned in controlled fires, people in high risk areas need to build accordingly, fire fighting capacity should be increased (much cheaper than Kyoto) and the human element: arsonists, neglectful campers, etc; should also be the focus of our actions.

The debate about climate change needs to be rational and free from exaggerations. Connecting wildfires to atmospheric carbon is simply a political move to make gains on human suffering and is not part of a healthy policy debate.

In other words, please shut up Mr. Reid.


One Response

  1. I concur

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