Re: Recent wildfires

Are there some statistics available that show how the recent spate of wildfires in the western USA compares to trends in years past?

Basically, are we actually experiencing a wildfire-splosion lately or is it just people noticing it more since there’s fewer uninhabited wild areas now?

I found these two exceedingly technical papers: Climate and Wildfire in the Western United States and Long-term perspective on wildfires in the western USA
and one article that’s geared more towards the layman: Sobering Future of Wildfire Dangers in U.S. West, Researchers Predict

As I understand it, we’ve been successfully suppressing wildfires for the past 100 years or so with the result that there is a lot of vegetation built up. The climate is getting hotter and droughts are more frequent and severe. There have been some serious insect infestations in recent years, which has left a lot of dead, dry trees standing. These factors in combination are resulting in a lot of really huge, devastating fires. The wildfires that occurred more than 100 years ago were very frequent, but they tended to be less severe and more self-limiting, leading to thinner, less fire-prone forests.

I’m sure this is an over-simplification, but that’s my understanding of the data. I’m sure there are people here who have a better grasp of all the factors in play.

Wildfires are now more frequent, thanks to environmentalism. You can’t cut the trees, and you can’t remove the undergrowth either.

Lucky that US does not have eucalyptus forests otherwise many people will be burnt alive to death, like what happened in Australia.
“Environmentalists blamed for Australia’s Bush Fires”

Environmentalists are nothing but murderers, who value the earth more than the people.

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griffon502, political jabs are not permitted in GQ. This is and official warning. Do not do this again.

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That’s exactly what I had heard, and I appreciate you digging up that specific information to back it up. Thanks for a damn good GQ post!

You amply demonstrated your lack of understanding of evolutionary science in this thread, now you’re showing your ignorane of forestry and land management as well.

As a matter of fact…the particularly devastating wildfires now occurring in the Western U.S. are due primarily to two things; A) rampant exploitation (clearcutting, over-harvesting, over-grazing, etc. which has served to increase fuel loads, and B) higher temperatures and drought conditions brought about by anthropogenic climate change. Couple these with the outward expansion of the urban/wildland interface and the appalling lack of sense shown by developers and homeowners in re. their lack of protective measures and you’ve a recipe for ready-made disaster. “Environmentalists” (whoever they are - I’ve known environmental activists, habitat preservationists, conservationists, tree-huggers, but don’t think I’ve ever met one o’ them "environmentalists) have had nothing to do with this particular conflagration. The blame rests squarely on the land managers, land owners, and the extractive industries that have traditionally controlled them.

Right now the most significant contributor to fire danger in the western US is the pine bark beetle epidemic. I blame global warming. Winters have not been getting cold enough to kill the bad bugs.

A lot of our western forests look like the photo in the linked article. Wide swaths are entirely dead. Dead trees burn much more readily.

Yes, absolutely true. I was driving through the Rockies last year and it was horrible to see all the endless square miles of dead and dying trees. Each tree was killed by an environmentalist squeezing it to death. Shame, really.