California Governor Jerry Brown blamed global warming for recent wildfires in California, but objective data show a decline in wildfires as our planet modestly warms.
2013 was one of the quietest wildfire years in U.S. history, according to data from the federal government’s National Interagency Fire Center. The 47,000 wildfires last year may seem like a very large number – and it certainly gives global warming alarmists like Brown plenty of fodder for misleading claims – but the 47,000 wildfires was less than half the average number of wildfires that occurred each year in the 1960s and 1970s. Earth was cooling during the 1960s and 1970s when so many more wildfires occurred.
The unusually quiet 2013 fire season continued a long-term trend in declining wildfires. From 1962 through 1982, for example, at least 100,000 wildfires occurred in the United States every year. Since 1982, however, not a single year has registered 100,000 wildfires. During the past decade, an average of 73,000 wildfires occurred each year. During the 1970s, by contrast, an average of 155,000 wildfires occurred each year.
The 2014 wildfire season, moreover, has been relatively quiet so far. The total number of wildfires is well below the 1962–2013 average and is even below the average for the past decade. Even so, the below-average 22,000 wildfires so far this year give alarmists plenty of opportunities to mislead the public about the facts.
Droughts and wildfires have always occurred and will always occur. While global warming is reducing the frequency of droughts and wildfires, warming will not completely eradicate droughts and wildfires. They will continue from time to time despite their long-term decline.