Putting Politics Aside – We have a Republic to Save


Only You Can Prevent Forest Fallacies

Estimated Reading Time: 4 minutes

Like most of the mainstream newspapers, the Wall Street Journal regularly runs stories about global warming.  On January 10, 2024, they ran a piece, “Last Year’s Global Temperatures Set a Record.”

We will ignore for the moment the questionable utility of “global temperature”, and that they have hit record highs, Rather, we wish to focus on one part of their coverage – forest fires. They of course mention the large Canadian fires and the fires that devastated Maui. This past summer my wife and I were witness to choking smoke from Canadian fires that all but ruined our trip to Glacier National Park.  Many in the Pacific Northwest were witness to this issue, lending credence to the impression of record-breaking fires.

The article does mention warmer oceans but makes no mention of undersea volcanoes and the role they play.  Nor do they mention the variances in the power of sun or forest management mishaps.Rather the article contains this simplistic logic chain:  man releases CO2 in his activities, this causes temperatures to rise (there never can be any other causes), and this causes a greater amount of forest to burn.

Well, how do you measure the destructive (some argue constructive) impact of forest fires?  Is it the number reported or the acreage burned?  We note “constructive” because fires are natural and old-growth forests generally do not support as many life forms or absorb as much CO2.  Not all fires are bad.

However, we are willing to say the destruction of the forest by fire beyond normal natural reasons, is a bad thing.We think that the area “destroyed” is likely the best measure since many reported small fires are not likely a problem.  It is the total area that is most important.

Since both fires in the US in Canada made headlines last summer what does the data look like?

While this data goes back to only 1980, you can see that both the number of fires reported and the acreage destroyed in Canada have been in decline, while the reported CO2 level has been rising. True, last year saw a sharp increase from 2016, but compared to history, it is not as spectacular as assumed by the press.  There appears no correlation between CO2 levels and fire activity. Nor does there seem to be much of a relationship with the temperatures the WSJ reports.  The logic chain of man causes rising CO2, which causes temperatures to rise, which causes more fires, simply is not supported by the data, is it?

What about the US?

This chart of area burned goes back much further, back to 1927.  Notice the high number during the “Dust Bowl” era of the 1930s. Unlike the Canadian chart, we have had more area burned in the last decade than in the 1980s. But compared to earlier periods, it is not remarkable.  We wonder if more recent trends have more to do with bad forest management philosophy (don’t let the loggers thin the forests!) than “global warming.”

It is a marvel that some people feel a tree destroyed by fire or bark beetles is a better “natural outcome”, than having it harvested by loggers and putting those resources into a home for a young family. What is the standard by which we should measure such outcomes?  Is it what is best for people or what is best for the amorphous concept of “earth.”

In our system, representatives that legislate and make policy have legitimacy based on the consent of the governed.  For those who speak for “the earth”, did the earth give its consent?  Or has this role as defender of the earth simply been assumed or seized by a small group of unelected people with an almost religious point of view?  That important point aside, how is a burnt tree better for the earth than one turned into lumber?

In any event, both in the US and Canada, fires are substantially down, not up as presumed by so many and the article in question.  So, the implication of this story, and so many others like it, is to perpetrate a falsehood on the reader.

Finally, most articles we have read on this subject never bring up the problem of arson.  This is not a small problem.  According to the US Forest Service, “Wildland arson makes up the majority of fire starts in some parts of the United States and is the second leading cause of fires on Eastern United States Federal forests.

Arson was involved in 11 major California fires, 667 fires in Greece,  over 90 fires in Spain, and many in Australia.

In researching this article, we were unable to find tables that adjusted the number of fires and acres destroyed either by arson or even negligent reasons. However, the number we know is significant and not the fault of ‘global warming’.

Even so, the damage done by wildfires is decreasing, which is counter to the environmental activists’ narrative.

Now, we at The Prickly Pear are “citizen journalists”.  We don’t get paid salaries, don’t have research facilities, and don’t have “professional editors.”  Yet, with an open mind and the internet, it did not take weeks of labor to get the facts.

This is simply another illustration that mainstream media cannot be trusted as a source of information.  They fail to do their due diligence and instead promote narratives and agendas mostly for political reasons.

In the end, only you can prevent the spreading of forest fallacies. 

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