In the twentieth century, there were a lot more wildfires in the early part of the century, before there could have been much man-made global warming. From the Issues and Insights Editorial Board at issuesinsights.com:
It’s that time of year again, the season of headlines routinely screaming about “record” amounts of acreage burned from out-of-control wildfires caused by, of course, “climate change.” But is it true? Is global warming driving a surge in wildfires? The answer is no.
The media started again this week with the release of the United Nation’s latest dire climate change report, based on the same faulty models and filled with more apocalyptic predictions that won’t come true.
Recent screaming headlines tell the tale:
Wildfires rage across the world as U.N. releases damning climate change report — Yahoo News
Why the Dixie Fire won’t stop burning — Mashable
Dry, hot, windy: Explosive wildfires in Northern California could burn until winter — USA Today
Greek wildfires are the ‘harsh reality of climate change,’ experts warn — NBC News
We could go on. It’s become an annual summer mantra from the media, this time driven by large wildfires that happen to coincide with the release of the U.N. report.
The truth is, in the U.S. we are not at a “record” for wildfire burning by a longshot. As the charts below show, wildfire burns were far worse in the early- to mid-20th century, with massive amounts of acreage charred before there was any significant global warming to speak of.
So based on 20th century history, the most recent fires are way below the levels in the 1920s and 1930s, when more than 50 million acres burned in some years. (The chart ends at 2017; more recent data show that from 2018 through 2020, wildfires averaged just under 7.9 million acres burned each year).
Further underscoring the spurious correlation between wildfires and climate change is a related chart presented to Congress several years back during testimony by David B. South, an emeritus professor of forestry at Auburn University. It too is enlightening, because it’s one you’ll never see in the mainstream media. It shows the same wildfire data charted above against CO2 increases back to 1926.