The fires ravaging California have caused heart-rending devastation.  Forty-one people have lost their lives and damages are now estimated to top $3 billion.

Never ones to let a “serious crisis go to waste,” Green pressure groups are shamelessly attributing the fires to global warming and claiming that this year’s fires ravaged the largest area ever recorded.

“But that is because the National Interagency Fire Center curiously – and somewhat conveniently – only shows the annual burnt area back to 1960, when fire suppression indeed was going strong, and hence we had some of the lowest amounts of burnt forests ever,” explains Bjørn Lomborg, President of the Copenhagen Consensus Center.

“Yet, the official historical data of the United States tells a different story. Look at the Historical Statistics of the United States – Colonial Times to 1970,  There we have statistics for area burnt since 1926 and up to 1970. Reassuringly, the data for 1960-1970 ‘completely overlap.’  This is the same data series.”  Professor Lomborg shared the graph above.

Global warming campaigners want us to believe that history started yesterday; the better for them to “cherry pick” the starting point of a data series to create the false impression that natural phenomena are worse today than in the past.  Their claims don’t survive fact checking.

Senior Policy Analyst Bonner Cohen reminds us at CFACT.org that humans did indeed have a hand in making the California wildfires worse, but not because we drive cars or use electricity.  Recent years have seen bad forest management.  Banning responsible harvesting of timber has resulted in overgrown forests laden with dead trees and brush.  Fire breaks are insufficient and fire fighting policy inadequate.

Moreover, Cohen explains, “restrictive zoning laws in cities like San Francisco and San Jose have put home prices out of reach for people of upper-middle, middle, and lower income. Unable to afford homes in high-end urban areas, many people are forced to live in distant suburbs, which puts them closer to areas where fire are likely to break out.”

Let us stand with the people of California in word and deed.  Work for better forest management to limit future damage, and arm ourselves with the facts that expose those exploiting this tragedy to push the global warming narrative as the propagandists they are.

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  • Craig Rucker is a co-founder of CFACT and currently serves as its president.