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#GettingWorse: Global wildfires edition

15 May 2024 | Science Notes

In advance of the Northern Hemisphere forest fire season let’s clear our throats and practice reciting the ominous headlines we know are coming. Climate-driven wildfires out of control globally. Scientists warn this year’s wildfires only a taste of what’s coming in a warming climate. As the planet burns, experts warn time is running out to turn the crisis around. How did we do? With a bit more practice we could probably get a job writing heds at the New York Times. In advance of the actual copy. As long as we’re not asked to provide any evidence to back up the hype. Because the data show that on every continent, and for the world as a whole, wildfires are not #gettingworse, they’re getting better.

Wildfires have been trending down globally and on every continent so far this century. Here, from OurWorldinData are the numbers, as collected by satellites:

Well sure, you might say, but what do they know? We’re not gullible. We trust governments and only governments, so show us the NASA data, man.

OK. Here it is:

And in case anyone is tempted to claim that the downward slope is an illusion due to less agricultural land burning, and that forests are going in the other direction, don’t, because the trends are the same across land types:

So that’s the picture. The headlines, politicians and online trolls will predictably declare the opposite, but wildfires are not #gettingworse.

2 comments on “#GettingWorse: Global wildfires edition”

  1. Yup,they've already started.Media everyday giving the latest on the latest wildfires near Fort McMurray.The media will cherry pick,say worst fires ever
    in (insert location) region.While ignoring the many regions where wildfires decrease.Like last year in the US.

  2. So if long term climate change is affecting wildfires it’s decreasing them, just like hurricanes, droughts etc.
    The opposite of hair on fire headlines.
    At the same long time frame the earth is greening, the global areas of green are expanding.
    So climate change is making the earth greener and burning less of it at the same time which means fuels are accumulating so when inevitable dry years happen the fires are bad
    Like last year in canada.
    But of course the USA was 1/3 of average.
    Why the disparity?
    Weather of course.
    Science and logic are your friend, if you have the capacity to use them.

    John you should tie these two observations together for a tasty tidbit

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