On forest fires climate activist aren’t just insensitive, they are also wrong

As anyone with any awareness of Canadian events knows, the City of Fort McMurray has undergone a complete evacuation because of an out-of-control wildfire. The news has kept me with one eye locked on my media feed as I have marveled at the resilience and dignity of the people of Alberta in this hour of need. As many have suggested, this is not a time to worry about the politics, but rather one to worry about and pray for the people displaced by this natural disaster. From a political perspective our leaders have shown admirable gravitas with Prime Minster Trudeau treading the cautious line dealing directly with the wildfire without using it for political advantage. At one point in the day, it looked like Green Party Leader Elizabeth May might have decided to attempt to make political hay from the fire, but she quickly issued a correction and has since shown the calm and restraint we expect from our leaders in times like these.

Unfortunately, while Canadian political leaders have performed well, many climate activists out there have tried to use this natural disaster to score points. As I noted  above, Ms. May’s first press conference sought to link the fire to climate change although she later prepared a press release saying:

“No credible climate scientist would make this claim, and neither do I make this claim. Rather, we must turn our minds in the coming days to the impact of increased extreme climate events, and what we can do collectively to respond to these events.” 

The claim in question being that the fire was directly related to climate change. That being said some far less socially aware people have decided that a human disaster is exactly the right time to push their political agendas. The most obvious case being a post at Slate written by Mr. Eric Holthaus titles: Wildfire Rips Through Canadian City, Forcing 80,000 to Flee. This Is Climate Change which I have seen re-tweeted more times than I can count.

Before I go any deeper into this discussion, I’d like to clear up a few points. As anyone familiar with Alberta geography knows, the City of Fort McMurray is located in the southern edge of the Canadian boreal forest. As any forester will tell you the boreal forests  are hard-wired for fire. As Natural Resources Canada puts it forest fire:

is as crucial to forest renewal as the sun and rain. Forest fires release valuable nutrients stored in the litter on the forest floor. They open the forest canopy to sunlight, which stimulates new growth. They allow some tree species, like lodgepole and jack pine, to reproduce, opening their cones and freeing their seeds. 

Forest fires are simply a way of life in the boreal forests and interface fires (fires that jump from wild lands into neighbouring communities) are a particular concern for any town that has been carved out of the boreal forest.

As for climate change, the science on that topic appears to be equally clear. The climate change models tend to agree that climate change will likely result in increasing severity and intensity of future forest fire regimes. The problem lies when activists, not satisfied with what the models project; decide instead to over-egg the sauce in order to score petty political points. As an example, let’s consider Mr. Holthaus’ article in Slate.

The first section of the article is nondescript as it repeats what has been reported in any number of articles elsewhere. Climate change is not mentioned until almost half-way though the article. This seems odd to me since the title of the report specifically insists that “This is Climate Change”. One would expect a lot of meat justifying this rather definitive statement. In actuality rather than meat all Mr. Holthaus provides is some very weak tea. The only paragraph that has anything to do with climate change appears right in the middle where he writes:

One thing that is certain is that this fire has a clear link to climate change. Canada’s northern forests have been burning more frequently over recent decades as temperatures there are rising at twice the rate of the global average. A 2013 analysis showed that the boreal forests of Alaska and northern Canada are now burning at a rate unseen in at least the past 10,000 years. The extreme weather of recent months is also closely linked with the ongoing record-setting El Niño conditions in the Pacific Ocean, which tends to bring a warmer and drier winter to this part of Canada. Last month, Canadian officials mentioned the possibility of “large fires” after over-winter snowpack was 60 to 85 percent below normal and drought conditions worsened.

Now the first sentence is unreferenced and frankly unsupported. The second sentence presents a statement that confusingly, is directly contradicted by the reference provided in the text presumably to support it. The citation leads to a Natural Resources Canada (NRC) page that says the following:

This complex combination of influences makes it difficult to identify clearly whether any measurable changes in the patterns of wildland fire over the last few decades can be linked directly to climate change. Nevertheless, pattern changes do appear to be underway.

In Canada’s northwestern boreal regions, for example, the annual amount of forest area burned by wildland fires rose steadily over the second half of the 20th century. Some of this increase has been attributed to climate change.

By contrast, in Canada’s southern boreal forest, the annual amount of area burned seems to have decreased during the 20th century. This trend might be the result of climate change causing greater amounts of precipitation over time in these regions.

However, analyses of fire history suggest that it is the effect of climate variability on precipitation regimes that is the primary reason for the decreasing fire activity in southern regions.

The NRC statement clearly says that it is difficult to identify whether climate change is to blame. Yet Mr. Holthaus states the opposite that “there is a clear link”. I’m not sure how Mr. Holthaus squares that circle. Moreover, the NRC clearly points out that in the southern boreal forest (i.e. where Fort McMurray is situated) the annual amount of area burned seems to have decreased and then attributes that decrease to climate change? But Mr. Holthaus uses that same citation to support a completely different (and contradictory) claim.

At this point I can only guess that maybe Mr. Holthaus is unfamiliar with Canadian geography. My suspicion is further reinforced by reading his next sentence about the 2013 study. Now being a scientist I am prone to linking to the actual study in question  rather than a ThinkProgress.org  (Climate Progress) report on the study. Looking that the actual study (and not the slanted reporting of it), I discover that it deals exclusively with the upper northwestern portion of the sub-arctic boreal forest (in Alaska). This would represent the “Northwestern Boreal region” in the NRC quote above. It has absolutely nothing to do with the boreal forest around Fort McMurray, it is irrelevant to the discussion at hand. You see people forget that the boreal forests are huge covering up to 55% of Canada’s land mass and that this land area cannot be treated as if it was one single unit.Put another way, central Alberta and central Alaska are a long ways apart and experience very different climatic conditions.

The final few paragraphs of this section of the article further link the forest fire to the recent El Nino. This is a fair comment as one clearly understood downside of El Nino is reduced precipitation and an early fire season for Northern Alberta and the BC Peace District.

Looking at the supporting information provided with his article, it is clear that Mr. Holthaus failed to link the fire to climate change. Rather, the references he provides in his piece actually make it clear that climate change is not a likely major contributor to this fire. Rather the fire is a natural occurrence that may have been hastened by the effects of the recent El Nino. It is hard how anyone could realistically read those references and conclude: “This is Climate Change”.

Now I suppose I could end this piece here, but as I indicated above, I firmly believe that climate change will eventually result in increased incidence and size of wildfires in the west and so I was wondering if any signal was yet evident of that trend. Being a scientist, I decided to get the data and see what it had to say. Specifically, I downloaded the NRC National Forest Database, Forest Fires Tables- Statistics by Province. Because the files are not spreadsheet ready I had to fix them up and then I ran them through a statistical software package for environmental applications (called Pro-UCL) that I happen to have on my computer. Specifically, I looked at the data for area burned (in hectares or ha) in the Province of Alberta from 1990 through 2015. What I found was a dataset with a lot of variation.

The mean area burned for the 26 year period was 170,961 ha while the standard deviation was 229,086 ha. Any statistician looking at those numbers would recognize that we have a messy set of data with a huge difference between the lowest value (1961 ha in 1996) and the highest value (806,055 ha in 2011). Looking at that information, the 2015 value (491,768 ha) isn’t even particularly high for this dataset. To see if any trends existed in the data I ran some Mann-Kendall tests on the data. A Mann-Kendall is a test used to try and identify trends in data where you have no basis for believing the data fits a known distribution. The results of the Mann-Kendall analysis was that the number of hectares burned does not show any evidence of a significant increasing or decreasing trend over the time period covered (1990-2015). When I shortened the time period covered to start at  year 2000 the p-value actually got worse (approximate p-value of 0.482). That p-value represent is pretty definitive indication that no trend exists in the recent data.

So what is the take-way from this blog post? Well the climate models indicate that in the long-term (by the 2091-2100 fire regimes) climate change, if it continues unabated, should result in increased number and severity of fires in the boreal forest. However, what the data says is that right now this signal is not yet evident. While some increases may be occurring in the sub-arctic boreal forests of northern Alaska, similar effects are not yet evident in the southern boreal forests around Fort McMurray. As for Mr. Holthaus, I would recommend that he edit his article to better reflect the citations he provides since he certainly does not do them justice in his article’s current iteration.

My final word is for the activists who are seeking to take advantage of Albertans’ misfortunes to advance their political agendas. Not only have you shown yourselves to be callous and insensitive at a time where you could have been civilized and sensitive but you cannot even comfort yourself by hiding under the cloak of truth since, as I have shown above, the data does not support your case.

This entry was posted in Canadian Politics, Climate Change, Climate Change Politics, General Politics, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

68 Responses to On forest fires climate activist aren’t just insensitive, they are also wrong

  1. Morley Sutter says:

    Thank you for your statistical analysis.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Thank you for your logical, objective, and factual report. It is truly amazing how some alarmists irresponsibly seek to make political hay out of a tragedy even while it is still ongoing.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Robert says:

    We’ve been suppressing forest fires for 50 years. This has lead to an increase in total forest biomass, and in particular a lot more fine textured fuels near the forest floor which are easier to ignite. Recent satellite data has shown an increase in forest biomass, possibly as a result of higher atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations. Forest fire intensity and total area burned are clearly more complex functions of a host of environmental variables and not simply just weather related. Mother nature is resilient though; forests that were burned to a crisp when I was a kid now look like old growth stands. Instead of wasting hundreds of millions on fire suppression every summer, we should be spending money managing fine fuels during the spring and fall in interface areas near communities like Kelowna and Fort MacMurray to prevent future disasters.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Bob Zybach says:

      This isn’t a “fine fuels” problem, Robert, nor does it have anything to do with “climate change” or fire suppression. People aren’t being driven from their homes by flash fine-fuel fires — it is the over-abundant, large, pitchy trees that are the real problem. The Indians used timely seasonal fires to mitigate this problem (“fight (wild) fire with (prescribed) fire”); loggers and ranchers used the fuels for other products before they became engulfed in flames; now the so-called environmentalists and their legal and political teams have directly contributed to the current situation in both Canada and the US via “wildlife habitat” and “natural fire regimes.” Because that’s what the taxpayers wanted them to do. Politics. 98% certain of that opinion, too.


  4. Dr. Forester . says:

    The same thing happened with the Pine Beetle outbreak. So much screaming & media hysterics about global warming being the cause that voices of reason in the Forestry community about the outbreak following a cyclical pattern of ageing trees and occurs with or without some warmer winters.

    The Boreal forest aging cycle is around 70-90 years. As the forest ages, trees die from disease and huge amounts of fuel aggregate on the forest floor. Fires that in young forest would have stayed small turn into monsters because of fuel on the floor and breaks in the canopy from dead trees that lets in light and wind.

    The problem isn’t forest fires and if they increase by 1% or whatever if the current warming period continue nudes. It s building cities in the boreal forest and not demanding metal roofs, sufficient distances in fire breaks, houses with ridge line sprinkler systems, forest floor fuel mitigation programs etc.

    We know what to do and how to do it. Maybe if $$$Billions was not squandered pandering to Green hysterics and cheerleading politicans who support uber stupid wind and solar energy, there would be enough money to mange the forest interface, subsidize fire proofing houses and buildings and behaving rationally,not emotionally.

    Liked by 6 people

  5. Reg Curren says:

    Thank you for providing a balanced and contextual look at this very complex issue. Sadly, it will be mostly lost on the narrow minds of the climate change crowd.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Stan Stuber says:

    I totally agree with Reg Curren’s comment.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Pat H says:

    Thank you for your thoughtful, clear and Scientifically correct article as well as reminding people to be sensitive to the people of Ft Mac and what they are going through.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Gordon M. Bullivant says:

    Wonderful and intelligently written. Very much appreciated!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Shawn Blais says:

    I don’t understand your logic. If we agree Climate Change will lead to more intense and frequent fires, what is wrong with pointing at an intense fire and saying “This is climate change”?
    You’re literally interpreting it as “this is caused by climate change”, when clearly, the intellectual argument being put forth is: this is the sort of reality we will deal with, as we continue to ignore climate change. These are the real reprecussions that we will feel as we continue to warm our planet.

    For many people climate change is too abstract to care. Or they just don’t care about 3rd world countries most impacted by rising sea levels. So maybe, just maybe, if they see their white, middle class peers go through something like this, they will gain a little insight in the table that they are setting for their great-grand kids in 50 yrs.

    This is the ugly horrible face of the repercussions of climate change. We should all be looking at it hard, and seriously considering the morality of our current economy and way of life.


    • Blair says:

      Had they written, “this is a forewarning about what climate change may entail”, I would not have had an issue. But that is not what they wrote.
      Generally I like to use the analogy of the fable about the boy who cried wolf. Too many times the activists have cried “this is climate change” to items that are clearly not climate change. As a consequence the public has started to tune them out as the recent McGill survey showed. In the fable, the wolf eventually arrives but no one believes the boy because he called wolf too many times.
      We are trying to build the consensus necessary to make huge changes and you don’t build consensus with tall tales and misrepresentation. Tell the people the truth, and only the truth and they will begin to believe you. Exaggerate or mislead them and you will lose them and with them any hope of making a real difference.

      Liked by 5 people

    • markawbolton says:

      “If we agree Climate Change will lead to more intense and frequent fires, what is wrong with pointing at an intense fire and saying “This is climate change”?” Because this way we get to avoid being critisised for crying wolf but we still get to make the “wolf” signal. This isnt about Climate change but really it is.
      You might like to consider a counterfactual that forrest management and fire suppression have been a contributing factor. If you have ever had any dealings with forrest fires you would alredy have a feel for that.


  10. Mike Bromley the Kurd says:

    As soon as one references Think Progress, they have stopped thinking and begun to regress.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. K Morgan says:

    ive seen people saying that the fires in Fort macmurray are karma for oil extraction. Anybody with a sound mind should realize that these statements are ridiculous. Obviously the residents of Fort Mac aren’t solely responsible for climate change and to say that they deserve to have there homes burnt down is ludicrous. At the same time, man made climate change IS real, and although this event can’t be said to be directly caused by climate change it is the type of event we can expect to become increasingly more common as the temperature of the planet rises. That being said, when I see people saying that “this is not the time” to discuss the environmental consequences of man made climate change I have to strongly disagree. What better time than when an unusually hot and early spring weather pattern encourages a massive fire that displaces more than 80,000 people. This event is a tragedy. Last year there was major droughts all over western Canada and it looks to be the same again. There was the largest fire evacuation in saskatchewans history when we had a similar massive fire in la ronge. It isn’t reasonable to blame people or celebrate disaster but it also isn’t reasonable to try silence a discussion that is rooted in self preservation and the benefit of humanity and the planet in general.

    Liked by 2 people

    • The climate models haven’t proven to be accurate predictors of future climate states. IPCC AR5 WG1 states that 111 out of 114 climate models projected greater warming between 1998-2012 than was observed. So 97.4% of the climate models exaggerated the warming for this period. The IPCC itself states that future climate can’t be “predicted” because climate is a non-linear, coupled and chaotic system. Current climate models are simplistic and primitive and have no predictive skill.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Historically there have been other such fires of this magnitude for as far back and the forest history has been recorded by white man. In this particular case there happened to be a city in the way and some bad practices like fire suppression. This forest is made to burn and burn it will. To claim there is something special about climate change/cliate disruption in this one particular case is just plain wrong. And Alberta is infamous for bizarro weather, heat waves in winter and snow in summer so to call this anything other than “an unusually hot and early spring weather pattern” button that is within the normal variations commonly seen in this reason is also just plain wrong.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Corrections for typos especially autocorrect: Historically there have been other such fires of this magnitude for as far back as the forest history has been recorded by white man. In this particular case, there happened to be a city in the way and some bad forestry practices like fire suppression and lack of controlled burns. This forest is made to burn and burn it will. To claim there is something special about climate change/climate disruption in this one particular case is just plain wrong. And Alberta is infamous for bizarro weather, heat waves in winter and snow in summer so to call this anything other than “an unusually hot and early spring weather pattern” that is still within the normal variations commonly seen in this region is also just plain wrong.


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  13. TCollins says:

    Looking up at the sky (jetstream behaviour) at present provides the evidence for direct attributability. http://youtu.be/yg3Jt5wnsO4

    The fact is that as our understanding of processes involved advances, our ability to be certain on this improves. Obviously Mr. Holthouse is also drawing on considerable knowledge beyond those citations.

    Shaming people for drawing a link here and now is wrong. Lives are lost and destroyed every day because of climate destabilisation, but because they aren’t rich white ppl there is no interest. This is why crises like now must be used as SciCom opportunities (unfortunately). As soon as the danger falls away, so will any willingness for AB to change.

    The infrastructure WILL be built bigger and better than before. The poor and future generations who will get their own #ymmburning or flooding etc. won’t be present at that meeting. The oil companies sure will be.

    Fort Mac burning is undeniably symbolic.
    The people who should be getting shamed right now are the AB oil cos profiting and breathing a sigh of relief from higher prices as a result, those who clogged evac routes and used gas resources getting their equipment out, and already scheming to use this as an opportunity to get social license.


    • Shaming people for drawing a link here and now is wrong because the attribution is wrong. The only ones who should be shamed now are hypocrites who benefit every single day from the products produced by Fort McMurray while condemning them WITHOUT ANY EVIDENCE for a climate change scenario not of their making. These lying hypocrites, who put dogma before facts, should be very ashamed of themselves.

      Liked by 3 people

  14. N. Wayne Liston says:

    Comprehensive meteorological data for the last 25 yrs at Fort McMurray are here: http://fortmcmurray.weatherstats.ca/ The temp history is particularly striking for its total lack of any trend. http://fortmcmurray.weatherstats.ca/charts/temperature-25years.html

    As just confirmed by BC fire officials, almost all BC fires are human caused. Anyone want to put their hand up for Fort McMurray? Anyone?….anyone? http://earthfirstjournal.org/newswire/2015/10/30/massive-fire-at-monsanto-facility-likely-arson-says-investigators/

    Liked by 1 person

  15. gordonfulks says:

    Level headed discussions are always appreciated. Thank you.

    As to predictions from the Climate Crowd, they clearly do not impress anyone as level headed. The easiest way to see that they are far off the mark is to look at their predictions for the Global Temperature Anomaly (GTA) compared with robust satellite and radiosonde observations. Their predicted trend runs hot by a factor of 3.5 in the all-important tropical mid-troposphere. Their models clearly fail, and we should not give them ANY credence.

    Canadians face a far greater threat from Global Cooling, if our climate turns cooler due to a flip in the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) and the spectacular decline in solar activity (sunspots), then Canada will not be able to grow crops like wheat that sustain her today. It will take less than a one degree Celsius decline in the GTA to reduce Canadian agriculture substantially. And that decline is inevitable anyway, when we begin a descent into the next Ice Age, due this millennium.

    Yes, it is hard to imagine a colder future when Alberta is unusually hot, dry, and burning today. But many scientific arguments say that is exactly where we are headed.

    Gordon J. Fulks, PhD (Physics)
    Corbett, Oregon USA

    Liked by 3 people

    • I agree there is more evidence for global cooling than for global warming but I am not prepared to extrapolate in either direction. I do agree global cooling will be far more harmful to Canada than any global warming could ever be.

      Liked by 1 person

  16. Goose says:

    Climate change is real but not the cause of all that goes sideways. Natural occurrences are just as much to blame and are just that, natural. We can’t change our independence on oil by simply saying, ‘Let’s stop producing it and go solar’, nor can we stop natural occurrences.
    How about this? Have compassion for those who have had their lives turned upside down (or lost their lives) caused by fires, floods, tornados, tsunamis, earthquakes, etc. and step up to help our fellow species? Currently, we the only animal on this planet that can’t seem to help each other without bickering, fighting, deception and political agendas.
    Let’s continue to look for future sources of sustainable energy so we’re ready and able to faze out our dependency on fossil fuels. Let’s use our ‘intelligence’ to move forward; it’s what’s needed to save our species. If we don’t, we’re sure to end up like the dinosaurs…

    Liked by 1 person

    • As a scientist with far more training in statistical analysis than most scientists and certainly the majority of the public I simply do not accept the accuracy of the climate change models in extrapolating what might happen in 50 or more years time. The extrapolations are already far enough from the mark to make it possible for me to say “They are obviously wrong”. I applaud your call for compassion and ending the fighting deception and political agendas.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Ikemeister says:

        It goes without saying that all models are wrong … to some degree. Yes a 50 year extrapolation will have an error associated with that. But what do the statistics show? What’s the likeliest scenario? What’s the 90% worst/best case range?


      • In my day the rule was “Don’t extrapolate.” Period. End of statement. No if buts or ands or exceptions. Just don’t. Extrapolation is the most dangerous thing you can do in science because you just don’t know about incoming variables, changing scenarios, the completeness of your model, and so forth. As an example, we can extrapolate all we like about what the future climate will be like on Earth in 100 years and then a major volcanic eruption can change the entire picture.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Oh and the rule about “don’t extrapolate” goes double for chaotic systems.

        Liked by 1 person

      • And another rule is “be wary, very wary, of specious associations”. Example: If you look at Australia’s birth rates, nine month’s after a heat wave there is a slight dip in births. Therefore one can assume more heat equals less sex. Therefore one can assume that if climate change means a hotter earth, this means less babies. Therefore one can assume climate change = less sex for men. I wish I was kidding but this was touted in the media as yet another reason to pay our carbon taxes. I’ve got a confounding factor that would change the entire specious association. “As it gets hotter more people will install air conditioning.” Yet the insanity goes on.

        Liked by 1 person

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  18. Craig Austin says:

    It is unnecessary to prove climate alarmists are wrong on each false claim, the are just wrong on everthing they say and misguided in everything they do. They live in bizzarro land, they want reduce the population by 90% and they are going to do it by “saving lives “, I guess I makes bad fundraising propaganda to tell the truth, “Give to GreenPeace! We have 6 billion people to get rid off, donate now avoid pesky grandchildren! “. This is the group tells us about our polar bear population going from 5,000 in the ’70s to 35,000 currently, is in struggle for survival, and a population death spiral. They don’t need to worry about the magnitude of an issue they can’t even get the sign correct.


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  23. upinvermont says:

    I enjoyed your perspective and particularly enjoy rigorous discussion/debate of scientific method and evidence but your rhetoric is as political as any — apparently categorizing those with whom you disagree as having a “political agenda”. This is little different than pro-gun advocates, immediately after a shooting, crying “politics” when ‘gun laws’ are called into question. It’s a logical fallacy that changes the premise of an argument from the efficacy of laws to the prejudice of politics.

    To that extant, your post becomes no less political than theirs and the political motivation of your own assertions have to be addressed. Saying that X isn’t the time to discuss Y because it’s “insensitive” is itself a political argument and a logical fallacy — an appeal to emotion and an appeal to motive that has nothing to do with the evidence purportedly at the heart of your article.

    Whether or not individuals make scientific claims in a political context is irrelevant. Claiming they have a political agenda and appealing to motive is also irrelevant (from a scientific and evidentiary standpoint). And so, to the extent that your article is as political and opportunist as any I’ve read, I’m forced to read your scientific assertions with a healthy dose of skepticism.

    From the scientific perspective, the question isn’t whether science is being politicized (which again is irrelevant) but whether it’s correct.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Blair says:

      Were I to re-write my post today, I would have done a better job separating the “insensitive” points from the misleading science. My insensitive comments were directed at the activists who were saying the the people of Ft Mac were getting karmic payback and were getting what they deserved. At the time I did not want to pile on as many of those people were already getting hammered on social media. In retrospect it would have improved the post.

      Liked by 2 people

  24. Carl Lechat says:

    Nice reasoned article. I have yet to see a single scientific article on the homeostatic response to climate change. Does not increasing temperatures mean more evaporation and cloud cover ? How about all the those arctic trees with stunted growth due to cold temperature climates ? Won’t they start to soak up the excess CO2 when the warmer climate gives their growth a boost ? Ditto for algal blooms ?


    • Ikemeister says:

      Indeed, however the additional CO2 and CH4 increases resistance to radiant cooling thus forces the equilibrium temperature higher at which point the added CO2 absorption and cloud cover negative feedbacks will limit further temperature increases. Of course there are also positive feedbacks like additional CH4 releases and increased irradiant solar absorption due to lowered polar reflection, that will drive temperatures higher. Such positive feedbacks introduces a lot of uncertainty and concern about our effects on the Earth’s climate because of our activities that is introducing huge amounts of carbon captured over the eons into the biosphere.


  25. John Peate says:

    The article is a callous and cynical disgrace. If there is an “agenda” here it is the political and scientific one. There is not any doubt as any actual scientist will explain, that this is directly linked to climate change. No snow: no rain: searing heat: early end to winter. These are not the effects of an El Nino. An El Nino would have a modest impact. This fire is like none in the recorded past and it is one of many: of the many more than has been known in this country.

    It is happening across Canada> Canada that is heating up at almost double the global of the world average.


    • Bob Zybach says:

      Dear John Peate:

      I am an “actual scientist.” My PhD from Oregon State University, USA, is in Environmental Sciences, of which Forest Science was my primary field and catastrophic wildfires were my principal research focus. My work is online if you are curious.

      This fire is very similar to many in the recorded past of North America and everyone was very fortunate that so little loss of human life has been experienced. This has nothing to do with “climate change” and everything to do with normal (“within the range of historical documentation”) weather patterns, unnecessary forest fuel buildups, and poor vegetation management in urban environments. Probably something to do with building codes, too.

      The climate is always changing and always will. Whether people can control or modify that change via rain dances, light bulb purchases, or taxes on critical life elements is the question. As a scientist I am both skeptical and incredulous. And my opinion is that you are mistaken in your beliefs and why unsolicited advice is to focus your concerns and energies on things that actually can be controlled — such as urban tree and building codes and better management of our common forests.

      Liked by 1 person

      • originalsandwichman says:

        You may be a scientist, Bob, but so are the folks who build the climate models. Your reference to “rain dances, light bulb purchases and taxes on critical life elements” indicates a bias. I am skeptical of the motives of “skeptics” who express their skepticism as contempt. Gordon Fulks, above is also a “scientist.” His model appears to be what ever fact he can cherry pick that fits his priors.

        It may turn out that the AGW hypothesis is wrong. I don’t suspect that is likely. But if it is found to be wrong, it won’t be as a result of cherry picking data that doesn’t fit the models or gloating over inconsequential “gotchas”: or snide remarks.


      • Bob Zybach says:

        Originalsandwichman: I generally try and make it a practice to not respond to people who use pseudonyms — and particularly when they are presuming to lecture me on any given topic, much less website etiquette. Mostly because they almost always turn out to be insecure and unaccomplished trolls. No idea who you are or why you cloak your implied superiority in a facade of invisibility, but I’m guessing you have your reasons. On the surface, though, it comes across as cowardly and fearful and not much worth paying attention to for those reasons alone.

        I responded to John Peate because I figured that was likely his real name and he at least had the cajones to stand behind it when it came to his opinions. For your information, I first wrote about Global Warming models — and their strengths and limitations — in 1991, when I delivered this paper to an international symposium on climate change and conifer forests, which also included a number of prominent (at that time) Canadian forest and fire scientists: http://www.nwmapsco.com/ZybachB/Reports/1993_EPA_Global_Warming/index.html

        Here is a subsequent interview on that paper, and that — even though it is focused on Oregon’s conifer forests — provides insights into the current problems and potential mitigating strategies in the forested areas of Canada: http://www.nwmapsco.com/ZybachB/Interviews/2007-2015/20070405_KGAL/index.html

        Liked by 1 person

      • originalsandwichman says:

        Thanks for your revealing reply, Bob.You “win”.


  26. Pingback: Sliding Into a Cooler, Wetter Pattern - Light Frost Up North Next Weekend? - PAUL DOUGLAS

  27. Doug Mackenzie says:

    Here are weather stats for Ft. Mac for the last 25 years. Not really a hub of global warming…


  28. Pingback: Data vs. Models #3: Disasters | Science Matters

  29. carol says:

    It has been announced that a gas line in a construction area had been ruptured and caused the fire, nothing to do with climate change….


  30. Tune says:

    I like BOb


  31. Russell Mack says:

    Bob, I appreciate your commitment to exploring and discussing scientific truth. For the average person, like myself, who has spent a lifetime trusting and believing the “experts”, I have found, in recent years, that AGW and ACC must be questioned. It is very refreshing for me to have found your blog. Our society has been brainwashed (or greenwashed, as I like to say) by alarmists that seemingly base their position on half truths and misinformation. That our economic future is at risk is very concerning to me, especially when I see that most laymen believe this deception. Many thanks, sir.


  32. Pingback: We Can’t Blame Climate Change For The Fort McMurray Fires | News Alberta

  33. Pingback: We Can’t Blame Climate Change For The Fort McMurray Fires | News Manitoba

  34. Pingback: We Can’t Blame Climate Change For The Fort McMurray Fires | News British Columbia

  35. Pingback: We Can’t Blame Climate Change For The Fort McMurray Fires | News Maritimes

  36. Pingback: We Can’t Blame Climate Change For The Fort McMurray Fires | News Québec

  37. Pingback: We Can’t Blame Climate Change For The Fort McMurray Fires | News Ontario

  38. Pingback: We Can’t Blame Climate Change For The Fort McMurray Fires

  39. Pingback: On the profound illogic of the “attack-first” climate activists | A Chemist in Langley

  40. stewgreen says:

    Monday BBC Radio 4 had an item. They didn’t do us the coutesy of telling us the news that the fire had stopped growing 30 hours earlier.
    Seems to me their logic is to get a CAGW ‘Global Warning, scary, scary’ item on, cos otherwise they’ll get an angry phone call from Harrabin the BBC’s czar of climate alarmism
    – The interviwed expert didn’t hype up this fire, but was concerned about a pattern of INCREASING fires over the last 50 years
    ..potential future decrease in CO2 absorbing areas ……..(Yeh maybe)
    Nor did they context this fire by comparing it to previous bigger fires.

    ( producer sighs ..box ticked R4TodayProg has met its quote of global warming scare stories, so won’t be getting another phonecall from Angry Harrabin )


  41. John Macdonell says:

    Quoted from above article:

    “As for climate change, the science on that topic appears to be equally clear. The climate change models tend to agree that climate change will likely result in increasing severity and intensity of future forest fire regimes.”

    Quote from a recent Edmonton Journal article:

    “Experts say that climate change is increasing the wildfire threat, some aspects of which are already measurable with longer fire seasons and more extreme weather. As a result, the risk of wildfires, and the threat they pose to lives, homes, communities, and industry is increasing.”

    – The proper way to view it. Climate change doesn’t directly cause the fire. It sets the stage. Along with aging forests, increased human proximity, etc., You can expect more of these now and in the future.

    They are costly. Moral: prepare accordingly.


  42. Pingback: We Can’t Blame Climate Change For The Fort McMurray Fires | The Global Warming Policy Forum (GWPF)

  43. Pingback: Why the ‘We’re All Responsible’ Line is a Climate Change Cop-Out – Enjeux énergies et environnement

  44. Pingback: Why the ‘We’re all responsible’ line is a climate change cop-out | East End Against Line 9

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