New Climate Summary Destroys Wildfire Myths

Wildfires throughout the United States have become much less extensive in recent decades as the climate has warmed, reports a new climate summary at the website Climate at a Glance.

Climate at a Glance is designed to provide policymakers, educators, students, and the general public compelling one- or two-page summaries destroying common global warming myths. Each summary begins with a few short bullet-points to concisely summarize the topic, followed by one or two explanatory paragraphs and an illustrative graphic.

According to the new summary on U.S. wildfires:

  • Wildfires are far less frequent and severe than was the case throughout the first half of the 20th
  • Occasional upticks in current wildfire activity still result in far less land burnt than was the case throughout the early 20th century
  • Even the worst recent wildfire years burned only 1/5thto 1/2 as much land as typical wildfire years during the early 20th century
  • Drought is the key climate factor for wildfires. As shown in Climate at a Glance: Drought, the United States in recent decades is benefiting from strikingly small amounts of drought.

A full lineup of Climate at a Glance summaries is available here. The U.S. Wildfires summary is available here.

James Taylor
James Taylor
James Taylor is the President of the Heartland Institute. Taylor is also director of Heartland's Arthur B. Robinson Center for Climate and Environmental Policy. Taylor is the former managing editor (2001-2014) of Environment & Climate News, a national monthly publication devoted to sound science and free-market environmentalism.

Related Articles


  1. You missed the most important factor of the forest fire issue; fuel load. In the western U. S., most of the forested land is under federal ownership. We quit harvesting in the 1980s but the forests have continued to grow, enhanced by some CO2 fertilization. We have 60% more merchantable timber in the U.S. today than we had in 1952, to say nothing of the sub-merchantable volumes. Therein lies the biggest problem in the forest fire issue.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Must Reads

Latest Publication