Less Fire on World’s Land Since Early 2000s

(p. A15) One of the most common tropes in our increasingly alarmist climate debate is that global warming has set the world on fire. But it hasn’t. For more than two decades, satellites have recorded fires across the planet’s surface. The data are unequivocal: Since the early 2000s, when 3% of the world’s land caught fire, the area burned annually has trended downward.

In 2022, the last year for which there are complete data, the world hit a new record-low of 2.2% burned area. Yet you’ll struggle to find that reported anywhere.

. . .

This summer, the focus has been on Canada’s wildfires, the smoke from which covered large parts of the Northeastern U.S. Both the Canadian prime minister and the White House have blamed climate change.

. . .

In the case of American fires, most of the problem is bad land management. A century of fire suppression has left more fuel for stronger fires. Even so, last year U.S. fires burned less than one-fifth of the average burn in the 1930s and likely only one-tenth of what caught fire in the early 20th century.

When reading headlines about fires, remember the other climate scare tactics that proved duds. Polar bears were once the poster cubs for climate action, yet are now estimated to be more populous than at any time in the past half-century. We were told climate change would produce more hurricanes, yet satellite data shows that the number of hurricanes globally since 1980 has trended slightly downward.

. . .

Surveys repeatedly show that most voters are unwilling to support the very expensive climate policies activists and green politicians have proposed. Overheated headlines about climate Armageddon are an attempt to scare us into supporting them anyway, at the cost of sensible discussion and debate.

For the full commentary, see:

Bjorn Lomborg “Climate Change Hasn’t Set the World on Fire.” The Wall Street Journal (Tuesday, Aug. 1, 2023): A15.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date July 31, 2023, and has the same title as the print version.)

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