Klamath Drought Scare Contradicted by Facts

Alarmists are spreading fear that global warming will cause a rapid degradation of forests in the Klamath region of northwestern California and southwestern Oregon. An examination of real-world facts and the scare’s underlying assumptions reveal there is little basis for this latest global warming scare.

According to a newly published paper gaining the attention of the media, global warming is likely to “disrupt the mechanisms promoting forest stability.” Specifically, the paper argues, global warming will cause more drought, which will lead to more forest fires. After the anticipated increase in forest fires, the authors predict shrubs and hardwood chaparral will increasingly replace the mature, slow-growth evergreen forests in the Klamath region.

At the beginning of the paper, the authors state matter-of-factly that “climate change is expected to increase the occurrence, extent, and severity of fires in forested systems.” The asserted reason for more wildfires is an increase in the frequency and severity of drought. All the predictions that follow are dependent on this underlying assumption. Real-world data, however, show climate change is not increasing the occurrence, extent, or severity of forest fires.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration tracks the percentage of the country that is very wet or very dry. The data show drought is not increasing at all. In fact, the United States is currently undergoing its longest period in recorded history without more than 40 percent of the country experiencing very dry conditions. It has been over 35 years since more than 40 percent of the country experienced very dry conditions. The previous record was less than 20 years. (See https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/temp-and-precip/uspa/wet-dry/0#data-select).

Meteorologist Anthony Watts, moreover, has posted an excellent webpage (see https://wattsupwiththat.com/2017/12/14/is-climate-change-really-the-culprit-causing-californias-wildfires/) documenting that global warming is having minimal impact, at worst, on wildfires. Data show that wildfires burn far fewer acres of forest than was the case during the first half of the twentieth century, when temperatures were cooler. The authors of the Klamath alarm paper themselves acknowledge that Klamath forests are currently unusually dense and mature as a result.

It should be apparent by now if global warming causes increasing drought and wildfires. Objective evidence shows that is not the case. Consider the Klamath forest degradation scare another debunked global warming myth.

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CFACT defends the environment and human welfare through facts, news, and analysis.