[Originally published as Despite What You Have Read, Wildfires are NOT on the Rise]
One of the more common myths associated with “climate change” (aka global warming) is the idea that wildfires are on the rise. Consider, for example, the article entitled, “How do we know wildfires are made worse by climate change?” It states:
In 2019 Australia was burning. In 2020 Siberia and California were burning. These are only the more recent examples of dramatic extreme wildfire. People are asking if forest fires are linked to climate change.
The experts tell us that yes, the growing extent and increasing severity of wildfires are indeed driven by climate change.
There is only one problem with such nonsense: wildfires are most definitely NOT increasing in severity. How do we know this? The European Space Agency has been using satellites to track global wildfires. At first, their data sets started in the year 2000, and those data sets show that over the past 20 years, there has been a slight decrease in the amount of land that was burned by wildfires.
However, they recently used historical satellite images to increase the length of time covered by their datasets. We can now trace the amount of land burned by wildfires all the way back to 1982. Thus, we have nearly 40 years worth of data that cover the entire world. What do the data show? Check out the graph above. As you can see, there is no discernable trend. The amount of land burned by wildfires changes from year to year, but the average remains remarkably constant.
Like much of what you read about “climate change,” then, the idea that wildfires are becoming more severe or more frequent is just patently false. Unfortunately, no amount of data will stop this false claim from being promulgated, because most people writing about this issue care more about their agenda than they do about science.