On November 1, 2013, President Obama issued an Executive Order to all agencies of the federal government on Preparing the United States for the Impacts of Climate Change (PICC). The new executive order states: “The impacts of climate change — including an increase in prolonged periods of excessively high temperatures, more heavy downpours, an increase in wildfires, more severe droughts, permafrost thawing, ocean acidification, and sea-level rise — are already affecting communities, natural resources, ecosystems, economies, and public health across the Nation.

These impacts are often most significant for communities that already face economic or health-related challenges, and for species and habitats that are already facing other pressures.” The government collects data on all weather (climate) events cited and it is worthwhile to examine some of their data.

The National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) < http://www.nifc.gov/fireInfo/nfn.htm > keeps records of the number of wildfires and areas covered for the United States on a daily basis. The following table lists fires for the past 10 years from January 1 to November 1. As shown, 2013 wildfires are the lowest level in the past decade and less than two-thirds the average. This is contrary to impressions given by national newspapers and ABC, CBS, NBC, and CNN on their reporting.


Year-to-date statistics
2013 (1/1/13 – 11/1/13) Fires: 42,182 Acres: 4,083,157
2012 (1/1/12 – 11/1/12) Fires: 51,811 Acres: 9,003,581
2011 (1/1/11 – 11/1/11) Fires: 63,821 Acres: 8,229,183
2010 (1/1/10 – 11/1/10) Fires: 61,338 Acres: 3,186,429
2009 (1/1/09 – 11/1/09) Fires: 75,060 Acres: 5,779,083
2008 (1/1/08 – 11/1/08) Fires: 73,704 Acres: 5,095,425
2007 (1/1/07 – 11/1/07) Fires: 77,279 Acres: 9,249,328
2006 (1/1/06 – 11/1/06) Fires: 87,060 Acres: 9,446,693
2005 (1/1/05 – 11/1/05) Fires: 57,933 Acres: 8,318,527
2004 (1/1/03 – 11/1/04) Fires: 63,412 Acres: 8,057,053
10-year average
2004-2013 Fires: 66,450


The NIFC < http://www.nifc.gov/fireInfo_stats_totalFires.html > also provides data for fires and acres burned on an annual basis for the years 1960-2012. Due to considerable October rainfall and snowfall out West, it is unlikely the number of 2013 wildfires will increase by any significant amount the rest of the year. The number of 2013 fires is the least in the past 50 years with the exceptions of 1983 and 1984.

The Fire Center does caution data before 1983 should not be used for comparative purposes with later dates. The great attention given wildfires by President Obama is due to promoting global warming from burning fossil fuels causing catastrophic events like wildfires. Paraphrasing Mark Twain on his reported death, “The news of greater national wildfires is ‘greatly exaggerated’.

President Obama mentioned higher temperatures being created in the United States. The National Climate Data Center keeps records of United States firestatstemperatures readily available on the Internet. Steve Goddard posted on Real Science a graph of lower 48 states January-October temperatures from 1930-2013 < http://stevegoddard.worldpress.com/2013/10/28/us-temperatures-declining-for-80-years-19th-coolest-january-october-since-1930 >.

As shown, the year 2013 was the 19th lowest since 1930. The data also shows a general trend of lower United States temperatures from 1930 to 2013. 2012 was an unusually warm year and the average January-October temperature is 14.6° C. This is still only about 1° C. above general average temperatures from 1930-2013 of 13.5° C. Once again paraphrasing Mark Twain, “The news of increasing United States temperatures is ‘greatly exaggerated’.”

The Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT) posted a November 4, 2013, report “Obama issues warming executive order” challenging the science behind President Obama’s Executive Order. It pointed out there has been no global warming for 15 years. In addition, global warming climate model projections President Obama uses as reasons for his actions are shown by University of Alabama-Huntsville Professor Roy Spencer to be incapable of predicting actual global temperatures.  That report includes a detailed graph of his calculations.

Other areas involving the United States on global warming threats subject to Mark Twain’s comments are recent increases in rain, drought, hurricanes, tornados, sea level rise, and lack of snowfall. On a global basis, comments subject to Mark Twain’s comments are accelerated global temperature increases, accelerating sea level rise, and record decline in sea ice extent.

There is a host of data collected by the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration and other organizations refuting exaggerations by climate alarmists on recent weather events. Climate events happening today have been happening for millennia.

President Obama is setting the nation on a course demanding unnecessary work from millions of people and costing billions of dollars due to misplaced ideas of the importance of changing climate and attempts at mitigation. Never before have such considerations been attempted. The nation is presently involved with implementing The Affordable Care Act (ACA) which was proposed and implemented by President Obama in 2010.

In 2009, President Obama said, “If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor. If you like your health care plan, you will be able to keep your health care plan.” While passing no judgment on the wisdom of ACA, these statements are now shown false. In the same vein, arguments for PICC are also shown false.

It may be hard for the public to understand, the consequences of President Obama’s plan for PICC and its follow-up of eliminating use of most fossil fuels is the most destructive policy ever inflicted on the nation. Abundant, inexpensive energy is what makes nations function. The United States’ vast reserves of coal, oil, and natural gas can provide centuries of inexpensive energy sources. Practical replacements for these sources don’t exist at this time. The reasoning for abandoning fossil fuel use is based on false premises; some discussed in preceding paragraphs.

A prosperous society provides all citizens food, clothing, shelter, and numerous educational-recreational-labor-saving entities often taken for granted. Many citizens are employed in producing these items. Energy is required in producing everything needed by society. Due to cheaper labor available outside the United States, many items of food, clothing, electronics, and transportation are produced outside the United States at cheaper costs which increases availability to our citizens. Thus manufacturing is required in areas the United States is cost competitive.

The United States is fortunate in possessing abundant energy resources in coal, oil, and natural gas and the finest agriculture practices in the world. Therefore, millions of jobs and trillions of dollars can be created by exploiting the country’s national assets for export purposes. Policies to curtail energy production of the nation’s vast energy resources deprives the country of wealth creation that allows eliminating trade deficits and provide revenue for eliminating federal deficits.

One example is an 0pinion column “How the West could be won again” in the October 27 Denver Post by Timothy Considine, Director of University of Wyoming Center for Energy Economics and Public Policy < http://www.denverpost.com/opinion/ci_24381872/how-west-could-be-won-again >. Consodine estimated freeing up federal lands in seven Western states would create 67,000 to 208,000 jobs, produce $9.5 to $26 billion in annual regional GNP, and $2.4 to $5.1 billion in annual tax revenue. Imagine the wealth created if energy production was freed in the other 43 states and farm production was limited to food instead of useless biofuels?


  • James Rust

    James H. Rust is a policy advisor for The Heartland Institute, a retired professor of nuclear engineering, and an outspoken critic of unnecessary alarmism over man-made global warming. He funds several scholarships for students majoring in chemical engineering at Purdue University. He currently is delivering a talk titled “America's Failed Energy Policies and The Reason Why.”