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Prediction FactCheck: ‘Global Warming Will Lead to More Forest Fires’

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Does the empirical evidence support the belief that human CO2 emissions released into the atmosphere will directly cause an increase in forest fires from global warming?

As the above plots show, whether it’s the U.S. national forests or the state owned properties in fire-prone California, the number of fires incidents has significantly declined starting with the 1980s. This has taken place during 50 years of the largest growth of atmospheric CO2 levels – the largest possibly for millions of years.

The chart plots are from the recent extensive peer-reviewed study published by forestry researchers.

“Both USFS and Cal Fire protected lands had the lowest number of fires in the early record but ignitions began to increase in the1960s and peaked between 1970 and 1990, subsequently declining on both USFS and Cal Fire lands. … Major fires are dependent on the juxtaposition of such weather events with anthropogenic ignitions. Future fire regimes will be less affected by global warming than by other global changes, in particular population growth, because over 95% of ignitions are due to humans. As populations increase we expect a greater chance of ignitions during severe fire weather conditions.”

In addition, the subject of forest fire devastation was recently re-analyzed using entirely different data. And further back, ‘C3’ and others have published multiple examinations of the available empirical evidence – hereherehereherehereherehere.

Prediction FactCheck Verdict: Fail

The expert and climate model predictions of CO2 and global warming wreaking fire havoc upon forested areas is absolutely without convincing empirical evidence. All facts point to an overall improvement in the count and extent of forest fire destruction since the peak destruction experienced during the early decades of the 20th century.

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