Tag Archives: Forest Fires

California Wild Fires Bad

My only remaining Republican friend, Paul Douglas, provided this information.

Considering the top 20 most destructive California fires from Cal Fire’s database, 6 of those have happened in the last 10 months.

The worse so far is the Tubbs Fire last October, and that was HUGE. Nearly 6,000 structures were burned, 22 people were killed. The sixth on the list is the Carr fire, with just under 1,500 structures burned and six killed as of this writing, but that fire is still burning.

I’ll just add this. There was a moment in time between about 2 and 3 years ago, when it was apparent to me and many others that fires were getting worse. But the data was just coming in. There were studies that stopped their data roughly a year or a year and a half earlier that showed no statistically convincing increase. The delay in data range is normal. You get your data, clean it up, then Reviewer three adds eight months to the publication process, etc. so most studies are one or maybe two years late. Anyway, I was being told over and over again that I was wrong whenever I talked about fires. Much of that came from those who were sufficiently in the game to pretend they were not denying climate change, but who chose to get into the contrarian game despite the huge moral cost of doing so.

Well, we were right. We told you so. Shame.

Eventually, of course, the wildfires will stop. Like the surgeons say, the bleeding always stops. Eventually. One way or another.

Are we having more forest fires in the US?

I’m not sure about the NUMBER of fires. That might be hard to count. If five small fires emerge and are put out, there are five fires. If five fires emerge, join into one configuration, and wipe out a handful of mountain villages in the Rockies, that’s one fire. It might be better to look at acreage burned per year.

My friend John Abraham has used the data supplied by National Interagency Fire Center to make a graph of acreage burned per year since 1960. The graph is a 10-year running mean of millions of acres burned in the US.

Here is the graph:

Acreage Burned in US Forest Fires since 1960
The annual rate of acreage burned in forest fires in the US seems to be increasing, presumably related to global warming.

Looks like a bit of an upswing.

For comparison, here is a section of a graph from this source showing temperatures (blue line) in the US Lower 48 for the roughly equivalent time period:

US temperature increase since 1960
Increasing temperatures in the contiguous (lower 48) US states.

Fire Photo Credit: T i q s © via Compfight cc