Activists use California wildfires to push warming narrative

By |2017-12-07T15:03:46+00:00December 7th, 2017|Climate|8 Comments

As a massive wildfire torches vast swaths of land across southern California, climate activists are pushing claims the devastating fires are linked to global warming.

Climate Signal sent an email Wednesday claiming the Thomas wildfire “is fueled by conditions consistent with the trends driven by climate change,” followed by links to information connecting wildfires to global warming on their website.

“Higher temperatures, drier conditions, increased fuel availability, and lengthening warm seasons—all linked to climate change—are increasing wildfire risk in California,” the email reads.

The email also included contact information for experts “who can further explain the connection between fires and climate change.” Climate Signal is a project of Climate Nexus, a non-profit organization under the fiscal sponsorship of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors.

Climate Signal promotes a growing fad in climate science called “attribution,” whereby scientists use models to guess how much more likely an extreme weather event was made by global warming.

“From 1979 to 2015, climate change was responsible for more than half of the dryness of western forests and the increased length of the fire season,” the email claims. “The fingerprint of climate change has been found in past wildfire activity in California.”

Already, news coverage has emerged, connecting wildfires to man-made warming. E&E News reported “Scientists See Climate Change in California’s Wildfires” and InsideClimate News published a piece on “4 Questions on the California Fires and Climate Change.”

While climate scientists expect global warming to play a bigger role in future wildfires, experts tend to see land use and management as a major driver behind the recent uptick in fires.

In fact, the most recent report of the U.S. government’s National Climate Assessment looked at the connections between global warming and western U.S. wildfires and found “low to medium confidence for a detectable human climate change contribution” in the region.

The report defines low confidence as being based on “inconclusive evidence,” and medium evidence as based on “Suggestive evidence” but with “a few sources, limited consistency, models incomplete, methods” and “competing schools of thought.”

The NCA report actually found a slight decrease in the number of large wildfires across Mediterranean California — which ecnompasses California’s coastal region from the south to about mid-state.

Late-year wildfires are nothing new for California. The Sacramento Bee noted that 12 of the “20 most devastating fires in California history, as measured by the number of buildings destroyed, have started on Oct. 1 or later.”

California is a warm and dry state, so winter and spring rains bring an abundance of plants, which dry out throughout the year when rainfall is scarce. When the Santa Ana winds come, they bring hot, fast-moving airflow that helps fires spread.

Add to that, massive increases in population, which means more buildings are being built in wildfire-prone areas — most fires are caused by humans. Those tend not to engage in prescribed burns and other thinning techniques necessary to keep fuel loads low.

That’s not to take away from the devastation of the fire currently raging in Ventura County. The Thomas Fire has been raging for days, destroying 150 structures and forcing thousands to flee.

California saw its deadliest fire on record in October when fires in the northern part of the state killed 42 people and damaged thousands of buildings. Thousands were forced to flee only to come back to smoldering homes.

Record rainfall in winter spurred plant growth across California. As the year wore on, plants dried up and created the perfect tinderbox for wildfires.

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This article originally appeared in The Daily Caller


  1. MikeW December 8, 2017 at 11:59 AM

    Global Warming of Doom leftists use wildfires and other disasters to call for more funding for their governmental and academic agencies. Then they use the GWOD myth to mis-allocate existing government funds to worthless climate studies, while under-funding the very programs that could actually help the situation, such as proper land management and underbrush control.

    • MichaelR December 17, 2017 at 8:56 AM

      This is a complicated issue for sure but the studies that have been done show with a high degree of confidence that changes in rain patterns are relevant to this problem.
      It’s not a settled area of science though because it’s just so hard to have controls in place for the studies so there aren’t studies yet that can show with statistical significance that they rainfall patterns are causing the fires.
      But as cshorey points out, it’s consistent with climate change predictions. Another data point. I am not saying the causal link has been shown but u would put money on it being shown pretty soon. There is no sign of these fires abating. Until there is heavy rain they will just keep going. It’s kinda horrifying to conceive of these near permanent fires going on for months and spanning years…

  2. cshorey December 8, 2017 at 10:04 PM

    I remember reading a Nature article in the early 2000’s that predicted that western fire season would get longer and more severe. And even Smagorinsky and Manabe in the 70’s predicted California would get precipitative stress. Don’t let the secret out that another prediction of actual respected and published climate scientists is coming to pass. Wouldn’t feed the CFACT disinformation campaign well.

    • pkwz December 9, 2017 at 12:05 PM

      Obviously you’ve never been to LA. The fires have nothing to do with GloBull Warming.

      • cshorey December 9, 2017 at 12:51 PM

        Sure I have been there, and know the fire season is usually done by now. This in December is the prediction of longer fire season coming to pass.

  3. pkwz December 9, 2017 at 11:57 AM

    The fires around LA are so destructive because people keep putting wild fires out! The hills around the 405 in Bel Air haven’t burned in over 30 years and were densely overgrown with chaparral. When you build right to the edge of a tinderbox, it’s just a matter of time before you get burned.

    Global Warming has nothing to do with these fires.

    • cshorey December 11, 2017 at 1:34 PM

      You’re right on the first part. But yes, there is definitely a climate aspect with the heavy rains early in the year, back to drought and low humidity more recently, and current high winds.

  4. cshorey December 11, 2017 at 1:32 PM

    Not only is the fire another datum pushing the longer fire season, but one of the fires has landed in the top five for size.

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