According to the "union of concerned scientist" who sees dire scenarios everywhere... YES. but it all depends on how you interpret the data.
Here' what they publish that the public accept without questions.
Look at the details of this nice graph.
- They used "Science connections"
- This look very serious, based on science...right!
- They made sure to add CLIMATE CHANGE
- How is this working exactly... not clear here, but the general public will think automatically that the more "human CO2" we put in the atmosphere, the more wild fire there is... the graph show it clearly! Right?
- They then state "Western US".
- This is the first cherry picking of the data
- What about the whole US
- Then they say: Average number of LARGE wildfires per year
- This is the second cherry picking of the data... LARGE overt 1000 acres.
- What about all wildfires
- What about the numbers of firefighters, the money they have to work or any other reasons.
- Then you compare 3 time periods. First and second is 9 years, third is 2 years... This is statically false, you cannot do that. In high school, you would fail an exam for doing this. This is the UNION of SCIENTIST doing this, nice job!
- They should have split the data set in 3 equal part, from 1989 to 2012 or 3 equal parts of 7.7 years or so. At least go by months.
- Then they talk about average length of season starting in 1970!
- Why in the 1970 when the other data starts in 1980 and up? Cherry picking again?
As you see, you need a lot of cherry picking and data manipulation to draw a conclusion and even there, what are you saying? Increase Human CO2 causes more fires? We need to cut our consumptions of fossil fuels to cut CO2? All this is not said on the published graphs, but its CLEARLY the message that is pushed forward here.
So how much more warm is the US since 1980? The closest I can find related to this "study" is the RSS TLT for continental US. This shows a temperature change of 0.175K/10 years or around 0.5 K for the 32 years covered. But when look closely at the average monthly temperature, we have today around the same "swing" of high and low as in 1980. So for temperature, not much change that would explain this.
What about More WET or DRY... again, not much change here on data available
Ok what about DROUGHT? From available data... not much correlation.
Now, what if we check the data source and plot all fires size and number of acres burned. I had to extract the data from here and plot it myself, since it was not available. The other thing is, that data starts in 2004 up to today. So from this, you can see that there's a down trend on both Acres burned and number of fires.
From the NIFC, we can find the same data used by the union of concerned scientist on large fires but only from 1997. Sorting through this and calculating trend, you can see this the following. So yes there seems to be a upper trend of total Acres Burned, but only on large fires and over that time frame, from 1997 to 2012. When you look closely, you see that the 2012 bar is around the same as 2004, 2006, 2007and the 2011 bar is lower that 2002. Not sure we can come to any clear conclusion based on this data and even less certain that we can link human CO2 to more forest fires.
Always be very skeptical when you see "organization" jump to conclusions. Check the data, ask yourself lots of questions. And above all, always remember that correlation does not mean causation.
For sure, forest fires are bad, people lose their properties, people are killed. Many have their lives changed forever. We definitely need more resources to this issue but jumping to conclusions that climate change is responsible for this and that we only need to cut fossil consumption and everything will be all nice and good, is not only misleading but irresponsible and only serves some agenda.
Remember this related to human CO2 (from my twitter feed)
#CO2 residence time is only 5 years. Amount of fossil-fuel CO2 in the atmosphere is max 4% http://t.co/tVi79X60Im So Human CO2 is 16PPM only
— Simon Filiatrault (@SimonFili) December 15, 2013