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More garbage science about wildfires and global warming from Nature

Nature: the science journal that no longer does real science
The science journal which no longer
understands how real science is done

The once highly respected science journal Nature continues its descent into propaganda and bad science, all because it bows unskeptically before the altar of global warming and leftist science fantasies.

Today’s example is an article this week entitled “You’re not imagining it: extreme wildfires are now more common,” describing a new Nature paper that attempted to use satellite data to prove that the intensity of wildfires has increased in the past two decades.

For the current study, published in Nature Ecology and Evolution on 24 June, Cunningham and his colleagues scoured global satellite data for fire activity. They used infrared records to measure the energy intensity of nearly 31 million daily fire events over two decades, focusing on the most extreme ones — roughly 2,900 events. The researchers calculated that there was a 2.2-fold increase in the frequency of extreme events globally in 2003–23, and a 2.3-fold boost in the average intensity of the top 20 most intense fires each year.

We’re all gonna die! As is usual for these crap climate-related studies, the entire goal is to drum up some manufactured new crisis that justifies the claim that the climate is warming. This study is no different, as the article eagerly notes:

Although the study doesn’t directly connect the fire trend to global warming, Cunningham [the study’s lead author] says “there’s almost certainly a significant signal of climate change”. Research has shown that rising temperatures are drying out ecosystems — such as coniferous forests — that are naturally prone to fire. This provides fuel that can boost the fires’ size and longevity. The latest study also found that the energy intensity of the fires increased faster during the night-time over the past two decades than during the daytime, which aligns with evidence4 that rising night-time temperatures are contributing to fire risk.

Not surprisingly, the New York Times immediately jumped on the bandwagon with its own article that accepts the conclusions of this research with utter naivety.

What junk. First, Cunningham fails to note this minor fact mentioned in the abstract of his own paper:

the total area burned on Earth may be declining

More important, to link the increase in wildfire intensity to rising night-time temperatures is such a stretch that any creditable scientist would not make it, at least not as the first cause.

The dishonesty of this report is also illustrated when you put it in a larger context. Below is a graph of the total wildfire acreage burned by year in the United States from 1926 to 2019, created by meteorologist Anthony Watts of the website Watts up with That. I have superimposed a graph provided by the Nature article, showing the increasing intensity of top 20 fires each year, from 2003 to 2023.

Comparing wildfire graphs

Though the two graphs are measuring different things (acres burned versus fire intensity), the lack of context in the Nature graph discredits it immediately. By only showing data going back to 2003, and ignoring the longer term trends, it gives the impression that the threat of wildfires is increasing wildly, when in fact the long term record suggests this increase in fire intensity for the top 20 fires is merely a blip that could simply be explained by random fluctuations.

In fact, the data is so weak this research proves nothing at all. Based on the long term trend, one might actually conclude that global warming is reducing the threat from wildfires, not increasing it.

That last conclusion however is as bogus as the claims by Cunningham. The truth is that the global climate temperature simply hasn’t changed enough in the past few centuries to matter at all when it comes to wildfires. More important has been the rise of forest management worldwide to control and manage fires so they don’t burn out of control.

That fire management, especially by brainless government bureaucrats, is also a major and likely factor in the recent increase in fire intensity, as measured by this new paper. As the New York Times itself admitted in 2021,

Before the modern settlement of the American West, forested land in the region burned naturally from lightning or else was intentionally burned by native communities as a form of forest maintenance. But for the past hundred years, most Western states have suppressed fires. That has led to increasingly dense forests and ample brush on the forest floors.

The problem of increased brush and dense forests has been amplified by the effort of state and federal agencies to block all logging and brush clearance, even under controlled circumstances. In fact, these government agencies often gather dried brush into piles that can sit in the forest for years, because they can’t get their act together to have the brush removed, and also forbid private citizens and logging companies from doing it for profit.

Thus, when these forests are hit by lightning and fire starts, it naturally burns more intensely because of that extra brush and density.

That wildfires today appear to be a greater threat to homes and urban areas is not because there are more fires caused by global warming, but because the areas where homes are now built has expanded in recent decades into forests where fires occur. That these obvious facts are ignored by these scientists as well as by Nature also illustrates the biases that poison this research and the reporting about it.

No one however should think that anything will change because I or anyone in the conservative press notes these facts. When belief and passion and political agendas overule the scientific method and the honest search for truth, science dies. And it has certainly died at Nature.

Genesis cover

On Christmas Eve 1968 three Americans became the first humans to visit another world. What they did to celebrate was unexpected and profound, and will be remembered throughout all human history. Genesis: the Story of Apollo 8, Robert Zimmerman's classic history of humanity's first journey to another world, tells that story, and it is now available as both an ebook and an audiobook, both with a foreword by Valerie Anders and a new introduction by Robert Zimmerman.

 

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11 comments

  • TL

    Thanks for this one. I’ve spent about three decades working in the IT side of the forest products industry so this is one of my pet peeves. Traditionally a forest can either be unmanaged where it gets frequent small fires to clear out the brush, or it can be managed where that brush is removed manually and all fires are suppressed. Starting in the 1980s environmental groups became successful in suing to prevent not only logging, but management activities in publicly owned forests. This includes any sort of harvesting or thinning out the hundreds of thousands of acres of dead trees in western Canada killed by the Norwegian Pine Beetle and other invasive species. The result has been a new third option where small fires are suppressed, but no tinder is removed because of continuous lawsuits. So we rarely have medium size forest fires on the west coast anymore. Professional foresters have been talking about the issue for 30+ years. Nobody listened and now popular press blames it all on Climate Change.

  • TL: What infuriates me is the level of laziness and dishonesty from climate scientists in pushing these absurd arguments for political reasons, the dishonesty of journals like Nature that go along with it eagerly, and the laziness and ignorance of journalists who do no research and accept what they are told and parrot it mindlessly.

    I am no climate scientist. All I have done is spend a little bit of time educating myself about these issues so when I see an article like this one, I can spot its holes and lies quickly. If only more journalists today had the will to do the same. Almost none do.

  • Mike Borgelt

    Wildfires may indeed be more intense. Mad greenies prevent any sensible management of the undergrowth and even selective logging. Forestry is a well understood sustainable industry that has been completely wrecked in Australia by greenies and their stupid political allies.
    In some of our National Parks access was denied to the firebreaks and former logging trails. Dirt bike folk used to use these and remove fallen logs etc, now the trails are often blocked when needed by firefighters.

  • Mitch S.

    Been thinking about the laziness/ignorance and click-bait fever of the press as I see the accumulating stories about the “astronauts stranded on ISS”.
    NY Post: “Lost in space How SpaceX could end up rescuing stranded astronauts if Boeing’s Starliner can’t be fixed”
    Independent: “Boeing Starliner has left its astronauts stranded on the International Space Station. Now what?”
    MSN/Daily Mail: “NASA astronauts ‘stranded’ in space due to flawed Boeing Starliner”

    I keep coming here to be sure nothing significant has changed.

    Inside the articles they often have real info but as they used to say “If it bleeds it leads” (maybe it should be spelled “ledes”)

  • Mitch S: The coverage of the Starliner situation has been routinely terrible. Often they focus on the helium leaks, when that issue is a relatively minor one. Often they exhibit absolutely no understanding of the thruster issues, and confuse that with the helium leaks.

    Worst, they simply don’t report the facts as known, and make up problems that don’t exist. For one, the astronauts are absolutely not “stranded” on ISS. Everything NASA and Boeing officials have stated, in very great detail, makes it clear that they have no worries about using the capsule for return, and in fact right now consider it a lifeboat in case of emergency.

    My prediction: With the spacewalks canceled because of the spacesuit issue, I suspect this will force NASA to schedule the Starliner return in conjunction with what it decides to do about the spacesuit situation. Starliner could actually return sooner because of this.

  • James Street

    It’s not about clean air and clean water, it’s about communism.

    When the godless commies found the west wasn’t buying what they were selling they repackaged it as leftist causes like environmentalism and racism.

    The funny thing is communist countries are environmental disasters, while western countries are clean. In China 80% of their water is polluted with toxins, carcinogens and heavy metals. And they drop toxic rockets on people.

  • pzatchok

    For years the Soviet union had millions of dollars to give to the American communist activists who handed it out to any group who would oppose the US military machine.
    It was a cheap investment that gave them a chance to keep up with us.
    They spent the same amount to gain technical knowledge from all of their enemies. Just look at their great aircraft advancements.

    Now China is doing the very same.

    And we have to allow it because our laws allow it.

    Our enemies have even reached as far as to be legally able to spend cash in presidential campaigns. In the last 30 years they have changed enough of the laws to do this.
    Now they are actively working on making it fully legal for non citizens to vote in our elections. The only nation on the planet that allows this. Its already allowed locally and now they want to expand it to state wide and then nationally.

    Our enemies are many and manifest. Both inside and out.

  • pzatchok

    Our enemies have financed this environmental baloney for years not to save the planet but to cost us, the west, time effort and money.
    We are the only nations keeping our environment clean and healthy and they are taking advantage of our need to.
    A million from them forces our companies and the western nations to spend billions.

    The reason the west and the US especially spends so much money on the military and healthcare is because we follow our laws and do not regulate our economies as much as communist nations do. We can not just force our workers to take less pay and force our landlords to take less rent and in fact build government housing and give it to our cheap workers instead of a better paycheck..

  • Pzat:

    The patriarchy must be destroyed!

    It is all a part of the same package.

  • Andrew Winter

    What is truly SAD about Nature Magazine is that they were the ones who broke the story about the fact that most of the “Scientific” articles published in their own magazine aren’t even science! This is what the “Replication Crisis” is all about!

    The Story just stopped! It broke, no one cared, and the problem is still in place. Nature needs to make money, and people will BUY garbage. No one is doing anything about this.

    This was not the first article: I can’t find that one anymore. I bookmarked this one from MAY of 2016
    https://www.nature.com/articles/533452a
    Then there was this one in 2018. Since then nothing much. But that one does have a lot.
    https://www.nature.com/collections/prbfkwmwvz

    Wikipedia has these two:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Replication_crisis
    and
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Why_Most_Published_Research_Findings_Are_False

    There it is folks. Nature is ignoring their own research which is showing that over half of what NATURE publishes isn’t even science at all since it can’t be reproduced.

    Essentially it isn’t Junk Science! It’s just plain lying through their teeth using statisicaly methods.

  • Max

    This article is a couple years old now, but we need reminding from time to time how crazy these people are.

    “Yale Carbon Containment Lab, as part of a broader carbon removal announcement. That grant will support a pilot effort to bury waste biomass harvested from California forests in the Nevada desert and study how well it prevents the release of greenhouse gases that drive climate change.”
    https://www.technologyreview.com/2022/12/15/1065016/a-stealth-effort-to-bury-wood-for-carbon-removal-has-just-raised-millions/

    If they want to see how well it works to bury biomass, go to any landfill who must burn off the methane on a continuous basis. Or study coal mines of carbon buried for millions of years. (Burying in California trees, funded by Bill Gates of course)

    What’s the elephant in the room? Carbon makes up 1/10 of the crust of the planet! If they’re going to bury all the carbon, I would start with Mount Everest.
    Nature is the most efficient at sequestering carbon, plankton in the ocean harvest carbon continuously to form their bodies which eventually end up on the bottom of the ocean becoming lime stone… due to oil exploration and core drill‘s, it has been determined the average thickness of carbon to be roughly 2000 feet. Covering most of the ocean floor of 3/4 of the planets subsurface. Heat and pressure from continental drift turns this lime stone (calcium carbonate) into oil and volcanoes and recycles it into the air to make life thrive. without carbon, the earth would die. Conclusion;
    This is the true goal of the environmental death cult.

    Everyone needs food and water to survive, you make resources scarce and everyone must come to you for their survival. To make these resources more abundant using the same logic, people must die.

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