Thanks, The Wall Street Journal, for the Quiet Wildfire Season in the West – Watts Up With That?

from climateREALITY

Via Linnea Lueken

A recent article in The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) describes the 2022 wildfire season as relatively quiet, as the drop in number of fires is attributed to increased rainfall, cooler temperatures, and efforts by fire organizations.

Posts, “Wildfire season in the western US ends with fewer fires, less damage,” explained that this year there were fewer serious fires than in previous years.

Jim Carlton, writer at the WSJ, writes:

One of the slowest wildfire seasons in years has come to an end in the West thanks to well-timed rain and cooler temperatures, bringing relief to a devastated area. many destructive fires in the past few years.

The break is providing an opportunity for firefighters to focus on prevention efforts such as thinning forests that can reduce forest fire damage in the future, according to officials.

While rain and cool weather are certainly contributing factors to extinguishing fires, one factor that cannot be overlooked or ignored is the presence of flammable materials. The WSJ article notes the important role that tree thinning, if allowed, can play in preventing fires and reducing their severity when they do occur.

“[T]The Washburn Fire in July threatened the Giant Sequoias’ Mariposa Forest in Yosemite National Park, but The trees escaped the damage after the fire slowed down Carlton writes.

Before Climate realism described a problematic situation that arose when environmental activist group, Earth Island Institute, sued Yosemite National Park to block a plan to thin the trees in the park. They argue that the density of dead trees is “unrelated” to forest fire prevention. Professional junglers, park managers, and most other rational people know this is wrong.

Wildfires require ignition sources, oxygen and fuel. Dry invasive grass, as discussed in a Climate realism articles, often burn fuel. Dry dead trees and dry bushes are an even more common source of fires spreading further and burning more intensely.

The logging industry once maintained forests throughout the West; build roads used by firefighters to access hard-to-reach forests before seasonal wildfires can spread to residential areas, thin out dead and dying trees, and control low bush. However, after the spotted owl was listed as endangered, logging was almost completely stopped on many federal lands in the western United States and severely restricted elsewhere. . Proposed forest fire trends a strong correlation between the decline in active forest management, largely due to logging, and the closing of thousands of miles of forest roads, and the recent increase in wildfires in the West. (see picture below).

Figure 1: Data aggregation chart for Confederation lands showing acres harvested versus burned acres, in million acres. Data from the US Forest Service and the National Interagency Fire Center. Graph by Anthony Watts.

The WSJ article reasonably downplays any link between climate change, this year’s relatively slow wildfire season, or the larger wildfire seasons of previous seasons, because there are no link proof increased carbon dioxide levels and wildfire activity. Recent years have not been the time when forest fires have occurred the most. Historical data shows that at the beginning of 20order century, a hundred years ago of global warming, wildfires were much more widespread than in recent years.

Wildfires are common enough to have a season named after them. All it takes is the right combination of conditions. This year, as the WSJ correctly reported, the conditions were not favorable. The hope portrayed in the WSJ story is that this year’s dry season allows forest managers time to reduce fuel emissions significantly to prevent future major wildfires, even if the weather conditions are poor. favorable for large-scale forest fires.

Linnea Lueken

Linnea Lueken is a Research Fellow with the Arthur B. Robinson Center for Climate and Environmental Policy. As a Heartland Institute intern in 2018, she co-authored the Heartland Institute Policy Brief “Unmasking Four Persistent Myths About Hydraulic Fracture”.


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