Media outlets are already linking a massive wildfire in Alberta, Canada, to global warming.
CBS News ran a piece, “Raging Canadian wildfire points to global warming” and quoted the website of the left-wing environmental group, the Union of Concerned Scientists and Glen MacDonald, a geography professor at University of California, Los Angeles, to make its scientific case. CNN made a similar argument connecting the wildfire to global warming as did the progressive outlet Mother Jones. Higher temperatures from global warming cause accelerated springs and drier conditions, triggering fires.
The wildfire began May 1, southwest of Fort McMurray, Alberta, but the blaze has spread to cover an area roughly the size of Rhode Island. A state of emergency has been declared and at least 1,600 structures have been destroyed. The fire forced the evacuation of 90,000 people, the largest evacuation in Alberta’s history, and could cost insurers up to $9 billion.
Scientists who study global warming and fire behavior are skeptical of claims often advanced by environmentalists that the warming is driving more wildfires. The same climate models which predict global warming also predict it will make many areas a lot more moist. Global warming is also making Canada’s forest grow faster and more healthy, making them less vulnerable to fire.
University of Colorado global warming specialist Roger Pielke Jr. says that media and environmental groups who blame wildfires on global warming have engaged in “noble-cause corruption” to make a political, rather than scientific, case against global warming. Pielke says attributing wildfires to global warming goes against the findings of scientists.
Studies from the the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the U.S. Forest Service management plans have shown thinning, controlled burns, and other management practices would prevent the most catastrophic wildfires — not fighting global warming.
The Obama administration has a long history of attributing wildfires and other disasters to global warming based on dubious evidence. A report by the president’s task force attributed wildfires to global warming and did not once mention thinning, controlled burns, or other methods of land management as preventative measures.
Environmental groups such as the Natural Resources Defense Council have used legal action to prevent these management efforts. The group has repeatedly tried to link global warming to wildfires and even calculates the health risk of wildfire smoke they help create. Of particular note is litigation preventing dead trees from being removed after fires, a simple technique which would make new fires do far less damage and make them easier to contain. Environmental groups oppose removal because the practice has an unclear impact on several species of beetle, despite objections from the U.S. Forest Service.
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