by Judith Curry

Subtitle: our failure to live in harmony with nature.

I’m taking a breather today from nonstop hurricane stuff. Well, ‘breather’ may not be quite the right word.

As I’m writing this, I’m looking out into the smoke from the California fires that are blowing into Reno (not to mention much of the rest of the U.S.).  Schools in Reno are supposed to be open (they have a good COVID protocol), but have been closed more than half the time for the past month owing to bad air quality from the fires.

The mantra from global warming activists that manmade global warming is causing the fires, and therefore fossil fuels must be eliminated,  is rather tiresome, not to mention misses the most important factors.  More importantly, even if global warming is having some fractional impact on the wildfires, reducing fossil fuels would fractionally impact the fires but only a time scale of many decades hence.


Here are some of the more intelligent articles that I’ve seen on the California fires.

From the LATimes: 150 million dead trees could fuel unprecedented firestorms in the Sierra Nevada. Excerpts:

The Creek fire is burning in the Sierra National Forest, an epicenter of the bark beetle attacks that killed nearly 150 million drought-stressed trees during the last decade.

“All of us on the paper were suggesting that if you are going to try to reduce that mass fire problem in the future, you really need to start putting prescribed fire into these stands to start whittling away at those bigger fuels,” 

While thinning — cutting down the dead timber and hauling it away — can play a role, especially around mountain communities, North said a majority of the beetle-killed stands are in wilderness or in areas that are too remote and too steep to be logged.

Moreover, the dead trees have lost most of their commercial value and are of little interest to the remaining sawmills in California.

Fire ecologists have long pointed to the mid-elevation pine and mixed-conifer belt of the Sierra Nevada as a place desperately in need of the frequent, low-intensity burns that shaped the forest before settlers and a century of government fire suppression policies snuffed them out.

The elimination of indigenous fire practices, logging of the biggest and most fire-resistant trees and fire suppression produced an overgrown forest vulnerable to bark beetle attacks during the severe California drought of 2012-16.

Some areas have 500 to 800 trees per acre, compared with 60 to 100 pre-settlement. The beetle toll was the greatest in the densest stands. There dead fuel will keep piling up for years to come.

Prescribed fire programs aren’t getting the staffing and money they need from the regional and national Forest Service offices.

“We have a culture, and our society, that make it difficult” to return fire to its proper place in the Sierra, he said. “I can’t tell you how many times we had burns and had to shut down a campground and people were upset because we were ruining their vacation,” he recalled. “We had to explain we are trying to make this a place to come back to in the future.”

From the Mercury News – California fires: State, feds agree to thin millions of acres of forests. Excerpts:

The two dozen major fires burning across Northern California were sparked by more than 12,000 lightning strikes, a freak weather occurrence that turned what had been a relatively mild fire season into a devastating catastrophe.

Yet what’s driving these enormous fires is not sparks, but millions of acres of fuel: bone-dry trees and brush that haven’t burned in many years.

Under the plan, California agencies and the U.S. Forest Service will use brush clearing, logging and prescribed fires to thin out 1 million acres a year by 2025 — an area larger than Yosemite National Park every 12 months, and roughly double the current rate of thinning, which already is double rates from a few years ago.

But the plan is not without complications.

Environmental regulations will need to be streamlined, particularly permits for landowners with small parcels to thin trees and brush on their properties. 

Some residents complain about controlled burns because they put smoke in the air and spike hospital visits from people with asthma.

Also, more uses will need to be found for millions of tons of dead brush and small trees that will be removed from forests, much of which has little lumber value. Some can be used to make chipboard and other forest products. There are hopes some can be made into biofuels. The material also can be burned at biomass plants to make electricity, but those are polluting and controversial in many communities. Otherwise, crews pile up dead brush in the forest during spring and winter months and burn it when wildfire risk is low.

And it will cost hundreds of millions of dollars every year.

Environmental groups say they generally support the more aggressive thinning plan. But they have concerns.

Article by Michael Schellenberger, California ha always had fires, ENvironmental Alarmism Makes Them Worse than Necessary.  Worth reading.


An excellent article from OregonLive entitled Oregon’s historic wildfires: unusual but not unprecedented. Excerpts:

The “east wind event” that conspired with existing drought conditions to blow up two low-level fires and other human-caused ignitions last Monday is rare but hardly unique, academics and fire experts say. The winds were the main culprit in making the catastrophic infernos as fast moving as they were. The windstorm and resulting fire danger were forecast days in advance, but with little appreciable effect.

The prospect of widespread forest treatments in the complex ecosystems of the west side – establishing fire breaks and using thinning and prescribed burns to reduce the fuels that choke forest floors – is environmentally unthinkable to some, and impractical to others.

That leaves Oregon facing the paradox of relying on full fire suppression. But leaping on every fire and putting it out immediately is the practice that helped create the problem in the first place.

Alternatively, Oregon can turn to other, easier measures. It could adopt policies requiring more frequent pre-emptive blackouts by utilities so that downed power lines do not spark fires. Or the state could force updated building codes, regulations on defensible space near structures, and incorporate wildfire risk in land-use planning and zoning.

But those policies won’t stop big fires and are contentious, too. Bills to expand forest treatments across the state, as well as legislation to modernize and bolster the Oregon Department of Forestry’s ability to put down wildfires quickly, went nowhere.

The idea of human-set fire is also apt. Most of the fires burning in Western Oregon today were not caused by lightning, which doesn’t occur during the atmospheric conditions in place Monday. Officials have yet to identify the cause for most of the blazes, saying they are under investigation. But with population increases, particularly in what fire experts call the wildland-urban interface, 70 percent of fires in Oregon today are human caused, and earlier this summer, the percentage was 90 percent, according the Oregon Department of Forestry.

It is feasible that Oregonians can agree on some of the wildfire mitigation and adaptation strategies that the council recommended. Among many others, they include updating building codes, increasing enforceable requirements on defensible space, incorporating wildfire risk in land-use planning and zoning.But those recommendations aren’t universally popular either. Should the requirements apply to new construction vs. retrofits of existing homes? How to assure low-income communities benefit? Do you adopt penalties for neighbors who don’t comply with defensible space?”

This image is from the Oregon Department of forestry.  Click on the diagram to blow it up, you can see the influence of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO).


This is a superb article in the NYTimes, entitled Australia’s Witnesses to Fire’s Fury and Desperate to Avoid a Sequel.  Liberal excerpts (since behind paywall):

“Ms. Taylor Mills is one of many who have turned for the first time to local Aboriginal fire experts for help with controlled burns that aim to make the land that didn’t get scorched last year less of a threat. Others, in areas that did burn, have been busy raking up branches and dead trees for preventive burns of their own.

Land clearing has become more common than barbecues. Calls to 000, the equivalent of 911, have been flooding in as people report both preventive burns by their neighbors and those who fail to clean their property of brush and leaves.

The government is actually giving landowners more responsibility. State fire officials recently adopted a series of recommendationsf rom an independent fire inquiry, including a measure requiring that people ensure their properties are safe by clearing land and conducting hazard-reduction burns.

Further changes, to allow for more preventive burning by firefighters and Aboriginal experts, could arrive at the national level later this year.

Interest is already surging. The Walbanja elders who worked with Ms. Taylor Mills — Andrew White, Owen Carriage and Les Simon — said they had received more than 60 requests for help with burns that rely on Aboriginal knowledge to minimize the impact on animals and native plants.

“When you’ve been living with the environment for thousands of years, you know how to read it,” said Mr. Carriage, 67, as he surveyed the burned grass on Ms. Taylor Mills’s property. “You’re a part of it. And fire is a part of it.” “

On the same theme, an article in The Conversation entitled The biggest estate on Earth: how the Aborigines made Australia. Excerpts:

“Aboriginal people worked hard to make plants and animals abundant, convenient and predictable.

By distributing plants and associating them in mosaics, then using these to lure and locate animals, Aborigines made Australia as it was in 1788, when Europeans arrived.

“No fire” because a conscious decision not to burn also regulates plants and animals. They judged equally what to burn and what not, when, how often, and how hot. They cleared undergrowth, and they put grass on good soil, clearings in dense and open forest, and tree or scrub clumps in grassland.

Put simply, farming peoples see differently. Like our draught horses, we wear the blinkers agriculture imposes. Australia is not like the northern Europe from which most early settlers came. Burn Australia’s perennials and they come back green; burn Europe’s annuals and they die.

Again, you can predictably lure and locate Australia’s animals because there were almost no predators, whereas Europe’s many predators scattered prey, so the notion of using fire to locate resources was foreign there.

But above all we don’t see because farmers don’t think like hunter-gatherers. For us “wilderness” lies just beyond our boundaries; for them wilderness does not exist. Until Europeans came, Australia had no wilderness, and no terra nullius.”

Living in harmony with nature

We need to do a better job at living in harmony with nature.  One of the most thought provoking thinkers and journalists on this topic is Dutch filmmaker Marijn Poels.  Marijn has a new documentary forthcoming entitled Return to Eden.  I’ve watched it, it is really good.  STUNNING cinematography.  This is mostly about agriculture and how different cultures relate to the land (and how top-down policies mess things up).  The interviews were fascinating, my favorite was growing food in the Sinai Desert.

Online release is Sept 17

While you’re at it, also watch his previous two climate-related films:

  • The Uncertainty has Settled
  • Paradogma

Post-normal science

If there was ever a case for post-normal science, this is it.  I know, a lot of you get upset because you erroneously confuse ‘post-normal’ with ‘post-modern’ or ‘post-truth.’

Well, ‘normal’ science (such as it is) tells us manmade global warming is causing the fires, with the inference that the solution is to stop burning fossil fuels.

The extended peer communities associated with post-normal science welcomes input from stakeholders and non-traditional experts such as the Aborigines.  American Indians should be a good source of wisdom on fires also.

The saga of Oregon politics surrounding fire reinforces that a broad range of stakeholders need to be involved in policy development and decision making.

There is also much to be learned from the farmers and innovators interviewed in Return to Eden.

CFAN’s fire forecasts

My company CFAN is in the process of rolling out our new Fire Weather Forecast Tool for the U.S.  Here is brief blurb, describing the new product [Fire weather tool overview].  Check it out.



143 responses to “FIRE

  1. Climate is Self Correcting
    In the Tropics, cooling is by IR out from the surface and evaporation and precipitation and IR out from the clouds with the chilled ice and water returned to cool the surface. The IR out is a function of temperature to the fourth power of the surface and a function of the evaporation and precipitation with IR out from the clouds. Increased heat trapping could possibly change temperatures but any increase in temperature would increase IR out by a factor of four plus more cooling by precipitation. The tropics do not vary much when climate changes between warm periods and ice ages. Cooling by water evaporation has been used by nature forever. Cooling by water evaporation has been used by man forever. Human normal temperature is the same in the tropics as it is in polar regions. Water evaporation makes this possible.

    In Polar Regions, sea ice is the thermostat control and the temperature that sea ice forms and thaws is the thermostat setting. Ice on Greenland and Antarctic depend on snowfall that depends on thawed ocean evaporation. When oceans are warmer and polar oceans are thawed, the ice accumulation in ice core records is much more. Ice accumulation continues to be more until temperature drops. Sea ice forms when the oceans are colder, ice accumulation decreases by a huge amount when sea ice is covering the polar oceans. When oceans are colder and polar oceans are frozen, the ice accumulation in ice core records is much less. Ice accumulation continues to be less until temperature increases.
    Over the most recent ten thousand years, Solar-In has decreased in the Northern Hemisphere at sixty degrees and above by almost 40 watts per meter squared.
    Over the most recent ten thousand years, Solar-In has increased in the Southern Hemisphere at sixty degrees and below by almost 40 watts per meter squared.
    In this time there has been thermostat control of the temperatures. Northern Temperatures should have gotten colder and Southern Temperatures should have gotten warmer. That did not happen, the temperatures in both hemispheres stayed in the same bounds.
    Natural self correcting factors increases or decreases the cooling by thawing ice that is dumped into the polar oceans.
    I do not know if you are just saying things that you know are false or if you really do not know, or even suspect, what really causes natural climate change.
    The temperatures in both polar regions are clearly controlled with cooling systems that have thermostat control. The polar sea ice is the thermostat control and the temperature sea ice forms and thaws is the thermostat setting. The amount of ice that is piled up to be dumped into the oceans is increased when the polar oceans are thawed and the sequestered ice is depleted during times the polar oceans are frozen. Ice Core Data proves this is true in both hemispheres.
    The climate got colder as continents moved and blocked tropical ocean currents that flowed around the earth near the equator and forced warm currents into polar regions. The climate got colder as more ice was sequestered on land to be dumped into the oceans. The coldest times are when the largest area of sequestered ice plus the largest volume of ice bergs and ice shelves are all thawing and causing cooling. Climate science ignores cooling by thawing ice, they can never get the right solution to any climate problem until they properly understand ice, until they understand the ice water cycles.
    I am listening to the extreme alarmist daily news and hearing how all the fires in the West are caused by one molecule of CO2 added to ten thousand molecules in the atmosphere.
    Fires in California, Oregon and Washington states were causes by liberal extreme policies that prevented burning or cleaning the forests.
    Fuel increases in forests until the fire is just a question of when and Not A Question Of IF.
    Today, I watched the news and heard Trump say about the science of climate change related to the fires in California: Trump said, “I DON’T THINK SCIENCE KNOWS”

    The Climate Change is Natural but Man Made these Fires so Deadly.
    The money and resources that were wasted promoting renewable energy could have best been spent on cleaning up the fuel that is burning now.

  2. The two dozen major fires burning across Northern California were sparked by more than 12,000 lightning strikes, a freak weather occurrence that turned what had been a relatively mild fire season into a devastating catastrophe.

    Fires started by lightning is not a freak occurrence. That is how nature takes care of thinning the forests.

    Our house was hit by lightning in 2004 and about half the house was damaged by fire and some more by water that put the fire out.

  3. This sounds very much like a rerun of the non AGW reasons for the Australian fires but without added koalas and I assume without the highly inflammable Eucalyptus trees.


  4. “Living in harmony with nature” can’t mean burning it down or “thinning it” (a euphemism for logging) or logging it (destroying it) for the sake of humans. Animals, trees and plants live there are are necessary for a healthy forest. Their needs must be considered too in a harmonious relationship.

    I think what we should do is back out of some selected parts of the forest (and other ecosystems) and put them totally off limits to humans — ideally something like E.O. Wilson’s Half-Earth Project, where half the Earth’s land and sea is placed off limits to humans and given to animals and plants. (We can contain fire on our edges; inside the fire is left to burn, as it always did.) It’s doable. There was just a report that human activity has caused the world to lose two-thirds of its wildlife since 1970. We all know what the status quo means for the future of wildlife. We can’t be brain-dead and greedy any longer; it has to stop.

    • David
      Fragmentation of wild ecosystems is particularly damaging, since even if the islands of wild are pristine, the populations of especially larger animals are genetically isolated and too small, and deteriorate genetically leading to extinction. Perhaps the ideal goal should be islands of human habitation in a world of wild, rather than islands of wild on a planet of the humans? Sometimes narrow corridors are sufficient to link wild areas, including tunnels under highways.

      • Phil, those are good points and suggestions. Islands of wildlife seems unlikely to work.

        Half (or whatever) space for wildlife won’t be easy and it will take some adaptations by humans. I’m not at all sure there can be the will to do it, even at the grass roots. But I found the wildlife trend to be utterly shocking.

    • Living in harmony with nature can’t mean putting wildfires out, or prohibiting removal of dead wood for the sake of spotted owls.

    • The situation is the past fire suppression. Now go from there. Make the thinning decision from where we are. Not from where we would’ve been. If we don’t log it, it will burn. We need to stop fire suppression. And we can checkerboard log. Every 4th square if you like. You’ll have your nature, and we will have low intensity fires.

      These people need point defenses. Defend your home by clearing around it and having a metal roof with a water source and a power source. I don’t see why with low intensity fires, that’s my problem. But we created high intensity fires. So since government was incompetent, it is my problem.

      It’s the tragedy of the commons. They turned what is burning into a commons. With the typical results. Private ownership is the answer as it always was. Mother Nature is not mad. Lady Liberty is mad.

      “Megafires, individual fires that burn more than 100,000 acres, are on the rise in the western United States — the direct result of unintentional yet massive changes we’ve brought to the forests through a century of misguided management. What steps can we take to avoid further destruction? Forest ecologist Paul Hessburg confronts some tough truths about wildfires and details how we can help restore the natural balance of the landscape.”

      From 2017, BTW.
      As usual, ignored due to pressure from “environmental” groups.

  5. David

    I agree, we can’t expect all of nature to bow to our commands. It doesn’t help that there is such a large and growing population who like to live in places that perhaps they shouldn’t be, , in England it is on flood plains and in other places it could be the forest or as with las Vegas a desert that needs continual water to satisfy the human foothold.

    In the met office library in England I like to read the US weather review that dates back to around 1850. The weather seems the same then as now but the difference is the exponential rise in the population over that period.

    I don’t know the maximum size of the population that California can accommodate whilst still retaining its natural areas but it surely cant continue to increase in the way it has over the past century.


    • The 1900 population of California was 1.5 million. It’s closing in on 40 million, the most populous state, although the 2019 growth rate was .13%, much less than the 3,4,5%+ pre 1960.

      • Ceresco kid

        In 1950 the population of England was 39 million, today it is 56 million. Too many people. If California wants to retain its wide open spaces presumably it’s already got enough people? I did read that because of politics, the fires, taxes etc the population is arguably falling


    • Tonyb, I completely agree with you about population growth.

    • I also posted the link to my blog on California fires and Gov Newsom’s cliams to the Weather West (Daniel Swain’s website). He quickly removed the post and blocked me. My blog post showed a century of maximum temperature changes at the location where California’s major fire happened. Those trends show max temperatures have not exceeded the 1930s. Swain posts that it is extreme temperature promoting the big fires. It is sad how alarmists like Swain prevent honest debate supported by facts, to enforce their catastrophic climate change position

    • Jim

      Just the latest of a series of excellent posts about wildfires (and other subjects). I’ve learned valuable information from every one of them. Thanks for your contribution to the debate.

    • Jim Steele – Thanks for calling attention to Daniel Swain’s excellent blog. Here’s what he really says about wildfire in the West and climate change. It’s a good read, and belongs with Judith’s “more intelligent articles”.

  6. A fire, even one intentionally set, presents a danger. For example, the Cerro Grande fire outside Los Alamos, New Mexico was a prescribed fire. Authorities lost control and it burned about 430 homes.

    And the political consequences of the government setting a fire that inadvertently destroyed homes or ranch buildings would be immense, especially if someone was killed.

  7. Reblogged this on Climate Collections.

  8. Cheatgrass, an invasive weed, covers >100 million acres in the west. “And it can be hard to muster political will to spend money on addressing an invasive species that typically fuels wildfires in remote areas, far from major towns and cities.”

  9. Let’s not forget that in the American West, at least, 90% of the fires are considered to be human-caused, either by accident or carelessness or deliberately.

    Moreover it appears that many of the fires out west are due to arsonists. For example, at the 11-minute mark in this video we hear of people staging gas cans for later use and cutting down power lines in an attempt to start fires:

    And although national news is a bit late to pick this up, many local news sources have reported arsonists attempting or actually staring forest fires, such as these:

    There are many such reports.

  10. > The mantra from global warming activists that manmade global warming is causing the fires,

    Gee. That’s odd. Because what I’ve seen is mostly people saying that manmade global warming contributes to make the situation worse, increasing the severity and frequency of the fires, etc. – not that it is “causing” the fires.

    And on the other hand, I see folks like Trump, Tucker, and Rush ridiculing the idea that climate change is a concern regarding the fires.

    Of course, I must be wrong because whatever Judith describes as “the mantra” must be the mantra.

    • “This has nothing to do with climate change, it has nothing to do with man-made climate change,…”

      Mark Levin.

      • Joshua

        I will try to post that brexit stuff I promised on the political thread tomorrow.


      • “This has nothing to do with climate change, it has nothing to do with man-made climate change,…”
        Mark Levin.

        Impact of anthropogenic climate change on wildfire across western US forests
        John T. Abatzoglou and A. Park Williams,
        PNAS. October 18, 2016 113 (42) 11770-11775

        Evidence for declining forest resilience to wildfires under climate change
        Camille S. Stevens‐Rumann et al, Ecology Letters, 12 December 2017

        Observed Impacts of Anthropogenic Climate Change on Wildfire in California
        A. Park Williams, Earth’s Future Volume 7, Issue 8, 15 July 2019

      • joe - the non climate scientist

        Appell – nothing like cherrypicking data to support the claim of climate change causing increased fires.
        The abatzoglou & williams study uses a starting point of 1977. total of 50 or so years.

        Why not start with the the last 150 years .

        Why not start with the last 1500 years ie the early part of the MWP.

        The current uptick since the 1970’s especially the last few years remains well below the historical average.

        Several tree ring studies show lots of fires during the MWP, though funny how those never were including in the temp reconstructions Mhb 98. mann 2003, pages 2k, etc.

    • Levin is correct. It has nothing to do with climate change as I have pointed out with much evidence.

      Appell counters with a reference to Abatzoglou and Williams but their studies only show a correlation with forests and temperatures but NOT with the coastal regions of California because grass and chaparral are already hot and dry by the end of a typical summer drought that any added heat from global warming is irrelevant

      Studies that measured temperatures of paper fire show that temperatures reach 1600 F. Likewise grass and shrub fires and the fire-generated heat dries out the surface fuels as it approaches. 2F of global warming is insignificant relative to1600 F

      Global temperatures are likewise irrelavant. It is the local maximum temperature that that determines how temperatures are affecting the location of ignition. WRCC data shows local maximum temperatures at the point of ignition of California’s largest fires has cooled since the 1930s

      • Try reading. Abatzoglou and Williams was about forests, not grass, shrubs and chaparral.

      • Tell me how much of currently burning fires are grass, shrubs, and chaparral.

      • > Scientific evidence reveals there has been no climate effect regards California’s wildfires! None! The data below proves it beyond all doubt.

        Looking aside an apparent lack of understanding regarding scientific evidence and “proof”

        > About 70% of California’s 2020 burnt areas have been in grasslands and dead grass is so dry by the end of California’s annual summer drought that dead grasses are totally insensitive to any added warmth from climate change.

        So apparently your logic is that there’s no potential association between warmer and drier weather, or rainfall, and increased “grasslands” or landscape that approaches a “grassland” status (assuming that the designation of “grassland” is not a binary designation) as it encroach into woodlands or shrublands.

        Also, apparently, you have ruled out ANY possibility that climate (including temps and rainfall) might affect the composition of grasslands, which in turn might affect the susceptibility of grasslands to fire damage.

      • Jim,
        “It is the local maximum temperature that determines how temperatures are affecting the location of ignition.”

        “averaging minimum and maximum temperatures is inappropriate.”

        Hmm… let me see if I can demonstrate why that is so wrong:

        5am: 60F
        7am: 65F
        9am: 70F
        11am: 80F
        1pm: 90F
        3pm: 95F
        5pm: 100F

        5am: 70F
        7am: 75F
        9am: 80F
        11am: 90F
        1pm: 95F
        3pm: 98F
        5pm: 100F

        Both A and B have the same maximum, but B has the higher min/max average.

        In your opinion, there is no way the higher average could increase a forest’s fire danger?

        What if those temperatures patterns lasted for several weeks? Would the temperature difference have no bearing on the forest moisture content?

      • @Jim Steele
        I’m sure you already know this stuff, possibly taught it, but as a reminder, this is an overview of how temperature can increase the aridity of a forest:

        “Plants transpire more rapidly at higher temperatures because water evaporates more rapidly as the temperature rises. At 30°C, a leaf may transpire three times as fast as it does at 20°C.”

        “A plant cannot continue to transpire rapidly if its water loss is not made up by replacement from the soil.”

        “The volume of water lost in transpiration can be very high. It has been estimated that over the growing season, one acre of corn (maize) plants may transpire 400,000 gallons (1.5 million liters) of water. As liquid water, this would cover the field with a lake 15 inches (38 cm) deep. An acre of forest probably does even better.”

        The process doesn’t start, suddenly, when the day’s high temperature is reached. Temperatures throughout the morning and afternoon affect the rate of transpiration, thereby affecting the rate that a forest loses moisture.

      • Bob Wrote:
        Plants transpire more rapidly at higher temperatures because water evaporates more rapidly as the temperature rises.

        How about this fact:
        Increased CO2 makes plants more water efficient and they transpire more slowly than when CO2 was lower.

      • Besides that, it is the dead plants that are the biggest fire danger. Increased CO2 has made plants more tolerant of dry conditions.
        Increased CO2 has actually helped keep green plants alive to lower the risk of fire longer,

      • No link?

        “Normalized” against what?

        How do you go from “global” to California?

        Have you controlled for confounding variables?

  11. Climate change, manmade climate change, due to one more molecule of CO2 per ten thousand molecules is supposed to have caused dangerous warming that has killed people and it is supposed to get worse. None of this has been proved. Billions and trillions of dollars have been spent to prevent something with no proof that the measures taken have not done more harm than done, clearly more harm has been done.
    The fire threats are immediate, actually new history as of now. No money or effort has been spent to prevent these immediate, more severe, fire threats. Promote a controlled burn or clear dead wood, NO, they spent that money on another windmill, no matter if the power goes off when the wind does not blow or if a storm shuts down the wind farm or if a fire destroys the generation facility or the necessarily long transmission lines.

    • Herman A (Alex) Pope commented
      Climate change, manmade climate change, due to one more molecule of CO2 per ten thousand molecules is supposed to have caused dangerous warming that has killed people and it is supposed to get worse. None of this has been proved.

      What you mean is that you don’t know the proof. How hard have you tried to find it?

      • David wrote:
        How hard have you tried to find it?

        I have studied the climate and natural causes of climate change almost every day since attending a lecture about Ewing and Donn Climate Theory of ice cycles in April 2008. That was hard.

        There is data and history that supports that climate changed due to natural causes. This new manmade trace of CO2 has not been around very long, climate is still inside boundaries documented in data and history.

        What proof do you have that anything is outside historical boundaries? What proof do you have that one molecule per ten thousand molecules has caused more than 1/10000 of a degree change? How hard have you tried?

  12. Geoff Sherrington

    I have very severe reservations about the quantity and value of alleged Australian aborigine wisdom and tradition about fire management. Aborigines had no significant written means to transfer experience through generations. The accounts that we have today, originally verbal, have been through layers of academic and bureaucratic re-writing that, IMO, is the true source of the alleged wisdom and tradition. That is, false wisdom and tradition.
    The wisdom part of fire management is really no more than doing what seems sensible and rewarding to those lighting the fires at the time. I have never seen native groups getting together to discuss how to weave tradition into the next burn, though my window of observation is not broad enough, so I stand to be corrected.
    If modern society intends to adopt Aboriginal fire management methods, then there has to be citation of the source material, as in a peer review process. It could well be the case that most traditions have not been preserved beyond living memory. It would therefore be rather wrong to conduct modern policy solely on romantic notions like the Noble Savage concept and vague arm waving about 40,000 years of splendid, thoughtful isolation which was really a rather squalid day to day survival exercise at somewhat basic level.
    I saw at close hand how some of those academics wrote the tales now attributed without shame to the Aborigines in the Top End of the Northern Territory. Some of this activity is on record still, as in transcripts of various commissions of inquiry.
    My comments have no personal feelings to the detriment of aborigines. If I have adverse feelings, they are towards the unethical, untruthful actions of some people prominent in making a quid from the Aboriginal exploitation industry. Geoff S

    • Primitive societies usually burn forests and scrub to make way for agriculture. Did aborigines do that? Was aboriginal fire management intentional? Was it systematic? Or did they light something up and hope the wind direction didn’t change unfavorably? My guess is that running like hell was their basic fire management plan. Follow the kangaroos and hope they know where they are going.

      • Geoff Sherrington

        Sometimes I wonder how much the style of fire was affected by the lack of shoes for ancient aborigines and the need to chase fast-moving game through the embers. Should we moderns model our fire management on the aboriginal one, but adjusted to allow for boots that reduce the pain? The process of “adjustment” is not unknown in climate work.

    • Some forests are properly managed and they do not have wild, uncontrolled, unexpected fires.
      Some forests are not properly managed and they do have wild, uncontrolled, unexpected fires.
      When outsiders moved to Australia, they found no evidence of wild, uncontrolled, unexpected fires.
      That seems enough evidence to believe their stories.

    • Private forests vs state managed forests.



      Cool burns and firebreaks.

  13. Is confirmation bias a feature of post normal science?

  14. The “entertaining” part of all of this “global warming is causing the forest fires” is that it stops at the 49th parallel.

    True believers simply can’t admit that “it’s weather.”

  15. Global fires have decreased, according to NASA. They still manage to put a negative spin on it of course, but there are fewer fires. Period.

    • jimmyv1965 wrote:
      Global fires have decreased, according to NASA. They still manage to put a negative spin on it of course, but there are fewer fires. Period.

      But you have to read more closely to understand.

      “Agricultural expansion and intensification were primary drivers of declining fire activity.” (from the Science paper)

      “Still, the impact of a warming and drying climate is seen at higher latitudes, where fire has increased in parts of Canada and the American west. Regions of China, India, Brazil and southern Africa also show an increase in burned area.” (from the NASA article)

      • But the fact is fires have decreased. There are many complex reasons why fires have increased in first world nations with misguided fire suppression programs dating back 50 years. It’s interesting that the increase in fires is restricted to the west coast of North America and Australia. Wonder why.

  16. So what percentage of the trees found in Californian Forests produce seeds which only germinate in response to fire conditions?

    It is well known that nature rejuvenates old and unhealthy stands of trees by burning them down, allowing young descendents to take their place.

    A lot of humans have totally lost sight of how nature, left to its own devices, actually works.

    Volcanoes refertilise areas by providing a rich bed of minerals in lava flows, on top of which very rapid plant growth emerges. Just look at what happened after Mt St Helens erupted. So in the round, volcanoes are extremely valuable resources.

    Extreme rainfall events aid the recharge of groundwater supplies, even if there is flooding in the short term. The stronger the vegetation where the rain falls, the less erosion takes place and the more water goes underground to groundwater. The fact that humans chopped most of the trees down the past 300 years does not change how nature operates, it just means we stopped it operating the way it found very favourable. I wonder quite how much of the groundwater supplies of California were created by the Great 1861/2 flooding event?

    Strong winds promote wildfires in arid areas and this is the means for renewal of tree stands. Studies have been done which shows that unhealthy trees are more susceptible to fire destruction than healthy ones. Nature filtering out the unfit and weak again…..and limiting seed germination to post fire timelines controls the density of trees in an appropriate way.

    Spring snowmelts can promote flooding of arable regions downstream, which provides the moisture necessary for rapid plant growth in late spring through summer. Without that flooding, many areas would be simply too hot and too dry to promote agriculture. Of course, then you might find drought-resistant species taking over and more natural ecosystems returning, but perish the thought that Americans could not control their entire destiny, eh?

    I have little doubt that 300 years of settlement by Europeans in California has changed the ecosystem radically and dramatically.

    What was California like in 1600 and was it just as susceptible to forest fires back then or has 400 years of removing the natural ecosystem just promoted a greater propensity toward fires??


    The primary effect of climate change is increased plant growth in arid land. Increased soil health. Increased resilience of plants and soil to dry conditions. This leads to less frequent fire/more time between fires, and higher growth of fuel load during that time. This makes land and fuel management all the more important, yet climate change distracts from proper management.

    • aaron commented:
      The primary effect of climate change is increased plant growth in arid land.

      Really? It has no effect on hydrological cycles? Droughts and extreme rainfalls? Declining snowpacks? In the US west, warmer temperatures have meant the pine bark beetle can now reproduce twice a year, increasing their population and devastating forests in the Rocky Mountains, which are now full of dead trees, just waiting to be burned. Climate change increases the length of the fire season. And much more. Read some papers. Start on Google Scholar.

    • Geoff Sherrington

      Wrong, Aaron.
      The change of plant growth is from the greater amount of fertilizer, this time as CO2 from the air.
      This is separate to climate change.Most agriculture has not had to leave its homeland and go elsewhere because of this climate change stuff. Effects have been to small to bother about. Read up on Koppen climate zones. Geoff S

  18. Geoff Sherrington

    “Ask an Australian”.
    Well David, I am one Australian with more than 70 years of observation and experience finding that the most plausible, observed and measured change in our fire problem has been fuel build up. In my widespread mineral exploration work, I walked through the scrub for years and noted that it was getting thicker overall. It even was getting harder to drive a Toyota 4WD through it here and there. Landscape photos taken years apart support this, casually.
    Green policies about clearing have become more restrictive and must be considered as a cause – but then, there were plenty of bad fires in decades before then. In the 1980-90 era I attended monthly management meetings of one of our subsidiary companies that was about the largest forestry company in Australia. I cannot recall fire management ever being on the formal agenda because it was controlled by professional people with experience and was pretty much a non-issue. There was often side gossip about the mismanagement of national parks and reserves that allowed fuel loads to increase on government land along with pests and weeds. But, that is more plausibly a product of land management more than a product of climate change. I have not yet seen CO2 fertilization causing forest growth quantified to the required detail, but it might be a factor.
    Personally, I have encountered not a single factor about which I can say for fires or in general that “This is climate change in action.” Nothing climatic has changed enough to be noticed. The main change in the climate topic has been the quantity of poor science that has led to silly claims that we are in a climate crisis etc.
    Now, show me wrong. Try re-writing history. Geoff S

    • Dryland greening is our most significant and robust evidence of climate change.

      • Geoff Sherrington

        No Aaron, it is not.
        Not if you are talking about dryland greening due to fertilization from increased CO2 in the air.
        We do not say, after spreading urea over our farms, that the increased yield is from climate change. We say that it is from urea fertilizer. Geoff S

  19. “We need to do a better job at living in harmony with nature”.

    And, of course, this includes pumping tons of CO2 into the atmosphere. It’s our nature, right?

    • It’s our nature, right?

      Is it? The Homo sapien species is about 300,000 years old. It’s been emitting CO2 for about 150 years. That’s 0.05% of its lifetime.

      • David

        This is Kent’s Cavern a mile from my home

        It was occupied some 400,000 years ago by some of the earliest humans in Europe who were using fires emitting Co2. The ancients cleared forests using fire, used peat, made charcoal and have been emitting co2 for as long as there has been man

        I do fully agree with your broader sentiments. We dominate Nature and misuse it partly as a result of our sheer number


      • “Harmony with nature” means to me that that we make little or no impact on natural processes.

        A argument could be made, I think, for greater impact if the impact is well-understood, controlled, and not disruptive of most natural processes. It would be a judgment call to some degree based on our best understanding.

        To quibble some with your 150 years number, we have probably been emitting CO2 through most of the Holocene through forest clearing and agriculture. In the last 150 years, it’s reached a qualitatively different level.

      • ““Harmony with nature” means to me that that we make little or no impact on natural processes.”

        Because humans are unnatural?

        We’ve been hearing that reducing anthro CO2 emissions is “urgent” for 32 years now and the international community has been working “tirelessly” on it since Rio in 1992 (28 years) – the result is an significant increase in global CO2 emissions focused on all the places where the international community explicitly encouraged it. Accompanied by an incoherent movement in western nations to abandon the only functional emissions-free power production in favor of “Easter Bunny solutions.”

      • Almost all of humanity chooses to live in harmony with industrialized civilization. There are but a few screwballs who prefer roughing it in the woods, off the grid. Nothing personal, davey.

      • Actually, Don, most of the world doesn’t live in industrialized countries.

        It’s closer to 5 times as many people live in industrialized countries as live in the industrialized one.

      • Actually, Don, most of the world doesn’t live in industrialized countries.

        Meant this:

        It’s closer to 5 times as many people live in non-industrialized countries as live in the industrialized one.

      • Keep trying, jimmy. I made no claims as to where people actually live. Do you think those gazillions of unfortunate people choose to live in s—hole non-industrialized countries? I will help you: nah.

    • Nature seems to like CO2. It doesn’t like us stripping the forests of wood like some poor countries do so that their people can cook their meals and heat their homes. I am not sure it’s all that fond of wind turbines and solar panels taking up of space. Nature prefers us to have pipelines more than it does to ship fuel by train, truck or big boat owned by Exxon.

  20. UK-Weather Lass

    “We have a culture, and our society, that make it difficult” to return fire to its proper place in the Sierra, he said. “I can’t tell you how many times we had burns and had to shut down a campground and people were upset because we were ruining their vacation,” he recalled. “We had to explain we are trying to make this a place to come back to in the future.”

    I believe this quote encapsulates the whole society we presently have that is not concerned with long term planning but simply thrives on short term (apparent) largely financial opportunity. I also believe this is a key part of the mess we have made of pretending to deal with fossil fuel – we had nuclear as a very clean alternative but with many concerns around safety and security which could and should have been mitigated via technological innovation. Instead of playing the nuclear card we have decided to cripple ourselves in multiple other ways and all because someone has to make money out of stuff.

    • Nuclear power requires the government in many ways. Fossil fuel companies that are not pursuing nuclear power will push governments to make it difficult to build and operate nuclear power plants. It’s not just the Greens doing this. This nuclear power fiasco belongs at the feet of the Republicans. They’ve surrendered to France. What good are they?

  21. First principles … You can’t have big fires without big fuels.

    We let the fuels accumulate thru poor land management practices. The majority of poorly mitigated lands in the west are federal lands. Congress has chronically underfunded the federal land management agencies responsible for mitigation of public lands.

    There are lots of contributing factors impacting wildfire size but the primary problem is excess fuels.

    Excess fuels are a self correcting problem. Unless we want more of the same with respect to annual wildfire conflagrations, we must mitigate to the point that fires are smaller and manageable.

    Misguided environmental policy discouraged mitigation. That policy coupled with the Smokey Bear strategy of putting out all fires while they are small got us where we are today. We were very successful in suppressing fires and managed to catch something like 97% of all the fires. That exacerbated the excess fuels problem so the 3% that got away have resulted in big fuels feeding really big fires.

  22. Dietrich Hoecht

    When viewing the fire map observe that the borders against Canada and Mexico essentially show a fire break, with no significant burns in those adjacent provinces. Does this look like an organized arson campaign in the US? 20 times the acreage burned compared to last year. Here are numbers given by a Canadian newspaper (One hectare equals 2.47 acres).
    “In Alberta, 614 wildfires have burned 1,450 hectares; last year by this time, 950 fires burned 850,000 hectares. In British Columbia, 610 fires have burned around 13,000 hectares. In 2018, when 2,117 wildfires raged across the province, more than 1.3 million hectares burned.
    In California alone, there are some seven dozen fires burning, with a record-breaking 2.2 million acres burned. That’s 2,000 per cent higher than the roughly 118,000 acres that burned by this time last year, according to a tweet from the state’s fire service earlier this week.”

  23. “Minimum temperatures are often low enough to drop below the dewpoint at which time fuel moisture increases.”

    “Only local maximum temperatures determine the dryness of surface fuels during every fire.”

    – Jim Steele

  24. Judith,
    “More importantly, even if global warming is having some fractional impact on the wildfires….”
    “This image is from the Oregon Department of forestry. Click on the diagram to blow it up, you can see the influence of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO).”

    By what means do you think the PDO is able to influence wildfire?

  25. Thank you for the new post. And for letting us discuss things.

  26. Dr. Curry –
    I was unaware of Marijn Poels and his work until I read your comments regarding him in your blog post.
    I have subsequently viewed a couple of his documentaries; I am very impressed.
    And I look forward to viewing Return to Eden when it becomes available tomorrow!

    • Ed, glad you are watching is films, he is very very good

      • Thanks for the tip. Managed to follow half of it. Towards the end I could not help recalling that we have heard that before – several times-.

        As to the reference to Academia and its output – very critical but not so unjust. However there is valuable output. Maybe its the pigeon-holing in the dogmatic dove-cote that is a problem. Trail-blazers have no peers.

  27. Pingback: Wildfires Not Related to Global Warming | wryheat

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  29. I am waiting for the increased greening of the planet causes more wildfires paper.

    • From the pingback,

      “But now, controlled burns and clearing brush are politically incorrect.”

      I am part owner of a home in Central Oregon. Clearing small trees and brush from the property has been mandatory for at least a decade. Haven’t heard a single complaint, other than towards those who fail to comply. Everyone gets it.

      Controlled burns – even longer. The main complaint has nothing to do with political correctness – it is the thick smoke. Exacerbated by the relatively damp fuel being burned. Damp fuel, because the danger of the fire getting out of control is increased when the fuel is dry.

      Other than the smoke, and the great expense, I have heard nothing but support for controlled burns.

      Historically, fires in the US were suppressed because trees were viewed as a commodity, and the government/timber industry did not want to see the asset go up in smoke.

      • A forest that has a dangerous accumulation of fuels on the ground, will typically also have way too many small trees. The problem with setting them both on fire, in a controlled burn, is that the small trees act as a fire ladder, exposing the crowns of taller trees to flame.

        The solution? The small trees are felled, one by one by chainsaw. then dragged onto giant piles for burning when conditions are safe.
        This process is labor intensive and therefore expensive.

        This, at least, is what I’ve observed in Central Oregon.

      • You wrote:
        “But now, controlled burns and clearing brush are politically incorrect.”

        I am part owner of a home in Central Oregon. Clearing small trees and brush from the property has been mandatory for at least a decade. Haven’t heard a single complaint, other than towards those who fail to comply. Everyone gets it.

        The fires that are burning now do prove that many people in high places that you elected, did not really get it.

      • Herman
        “The fires that are burning now do prove that many people in high places that you elected, did not really get it.”

        Hard to argue with that.

  30. Pingback: Wild fires: Is everything a single variable problem? | Coldstreams Business and Tech

  31. I really appreciate this post. I was thinking along similar lines. Thought there might be something wrong with me. At least there are a few others that are damned as much as me.

  32. thecliffclavenoffinance

    Since most fires are started by humans, rather than lightening, I can understand how a warmer climate could lead to more fires. Warmer weather makes people less comfortable and leads to more crime, more protests, more riots, more looting and more arson. Just a few tenths of a degree of warming, and the fear of a coming climate catastrophe, has a strong correlation with trouble making. Thst can turn a normal soft spoken young man into a masked thrower of molotov cocktails at police, or a looter of high end stores, or a crazed arsonist.
    And this is based on the science of human behavior, when heat causes humans to behave like wild animals.

    • This Is by no means an all encompassing stat, but FWIW, of the 20 deadliest wildfires in California history (modern record), only one was found to be the result of arson: the Rattlesnake Fire of 1953.

      Four others are listed as unknown:
      Griffith Park, 1933
      Hacienda, 1955
      Loop, 1966
      Canyon, 1968

  33. It’s not rocket science. Cold season low intensity mosaic burning.
    Australian aborigines are by far the oldest continuous human culture in the world and long ago tipped much of the continent over into a fire adapted landscape. Much of the world and its wildlife – including California – are similarly adapted to human behaviours.

    “The world exists only in change and change occurs at all time scales. Humans are part of the changing Nature and can themselves trigger change—but (fortunately) they cannot take full control of change. Moreover, change is hardly predictable in deterministic terms and demands stochastic descriptions. The Hurst-Kolmogorov stochastic dynamics is the key to
    perceive multi-scale change and model the implied uncertainty and risk.”

  34. In case you missed it…

    Cliff Mass did an assessment:

    Downslope easterlies were extreme.

    They were associated with an intense cold air mass, the one that brought early September snow to Colorado.

    Models of climate change with increased CO2 indicate fewer such wind events!

    Not only was this not related to climate change as modeled,
    it means that climate change should lead to fewer of these events!

    • Eddie
      I didn’t miss it, and always appreciate his work, including the models.
      Sort of expecting Judith or WUWT to feature the assessment, so waiting to comment there.

  35. donald whiteley

    When Bill Clinton was elected President in 1992 one of the first things he did was to meet his tony environmental supporters from LA, Frisco, Portland and Seattle and promise them that he would shut down logging in the western National Forests. He kept that promise. I should add that the US Gov’t owns the majority of land in the Western USA, and most of the forest lands. Tens of thousands of loggers, catskinners, logging truck drivers, planner mill operators, lumber graders, etc were laid off in the western states, including lots of Native Americans. I know, my town of Oroville, Calif. lost its lumber mills. The mill in Feather Falls, CA which was east of Oroville up in the Feather River watershed was moved to Oroville in the 1960s when the Oroville Dam was built. When the lumber mills were in operation there were thousands of men who cut down diseased trees in the forests. They also built thousands of miles of roads into the forest areas making it easy to get back into the woods to fight fires in the outback. They also had tons of equipment that you could use to fight forest fires: caterpillar tractors, graders, fire trucks, chairsaws, helicopters. Along with incoherent Forest Service policies that oscillated between fighting every fire and lettin’ er burn, the forests have been mismanaged for many, many years. So, to the Frisco eco-freaks out there, thanks! You have just burned up most of the ancestral lands of the Maidu and Konkow Indians, and your beloved Spotted Owl is now flame roasted at about 1200 deg F. Enjoy.

    • Donald –
      “When Bill Clinton was elected President in 1992 one of the first things he did was to meet his tony environmental supporters from LA, Frisco, Portland and Seattle and promise them that he would shut down logging in the western National Forests. He kept that promise. I should add that the US Gov’t owns the majority of land in the Western USA, and most of the forest lands. Tens of thousands of loggers, catskinners, logging truck drivers, planner mill operators, lumber graders, etc were laid off in the western states, including lots of Native Americans. I know, my town of Oroville, Calif. lost its lumber mills.”

      The Roadless Rule, signed by Bill Clinton in 2001, only applied/applies to about 3% of the forests Oroville. Meaning about 97% of the forests were unaffected.

      Who told you otherwise?

      The forests nearest Oroville are not part of the USNF system, which is what the rule covers. And in the Plumas National Forest, for example, the rule only covers 6%.

      • The forest nearest Oroville is privately owned –

        Mostly timber companies and a variety of smaller, private land owners.

      • In fact, the State of California owns less than 3% of California’s forests.

        Timber companies own about 13%

        Another 27% are also privately owned, but mostly by individuals with less than 50 acres.

      • So who is Trump really talking to when he says California needs to keep their forests swept?

        – The Federal Government
        – Private land owners

        But who does he blame? – Gavin Newsome.

  36. UK-Weather Lass

    I was spellbound by the Marijn Poels documentary which really does highlight how simple and working solutions can be found to improving the way we interface with nature. Thank you for highlighting this 100 minutes of hope and harmony.

  37. Pingback: Incendies californiens : encore un coup du Grand Réchauffement ! | Hashtable

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  40. There are a few relevant pages on cultural burning here – including video and text. The indigenous led Firestick Alliance are looking for $25m to spend on a modern cultural practice. A drop in the bucket. It takes knowledge, organisation, love of land and wildlife, a passion for ecological conservation and restoration and respect.

  41. We are in a warmer period. In wrmaer periods Hadley Cells expand.
    There are droughts in S Africa, N Argentina, S Brazil (where I live) with wildfires in the Pantanal wetlands, Turkey, Spain E China.
    These all seem related to areas of high pressure that now reach further into the mid latitudes – Hadley Cell expansion.
    This causes an decrease in pressure over the southern seas, which releases more CO2 (per Henry’s Constant). It is no surprise to see that CO2 levels on Mauna Loa carried on rising even during the max lockdown. Not a blip.
    How much the sea is giving back from athro generated carbon is another issue.