Showing up among the top Google News results today under “climate change” is a letter published by the New York Times titled, “Protecting Forests From Climate Change.” The subtitle of the Times letter is, “A conservationist argues for a more proactive approach in the face of decline.” The problem is, forests are not declining. As atmospheric carbon dioxide levels rise and the climate warms, objective data show forests are expanding, not shrinking.

The letter, written by Jad Daley, president of the activist group American Forests, claims “climate change is fueling our wildfire crisis” and that “management [is needed] to make existing forests more climate resilient, and quickly replant forests that have been lost.”

Climate at a Glance: U.S. Wildfires shows that the annual amount of land typically burned by wildfires in recent decades is less than one quarter what was typically the case during the first half of the 20th century. So much for Daley’s claim of a “wildfire crisis.”

Also, there has been no “decline” or net loss in forest lands during recent decades, despite the false claims of Daley and the Times. The percentage of U.S. land covered by forests bottomed out in 1920. Substantially aided by the transformation of a wood-fired energy economy to a coal-fired energy economy, pressures on forests have declined even as the U.S. population more than tripled since 1920. The U.S. federal government reports “Forest area has been relatively stable since 1910, although the population has more than tripled since then.”

Reporting on U.S. Forest Service data, the website ThoughCo reports, “Tree volumes since 1950 have increased and, most importantly, not dropped. The U.S. now grows more wood, in the form of living trees, than in the last 60 years.”

So, wildfires are less frequent and severe. Also, the amount of land covered by forests is increasing. That, according to the Fake News media justifies claims that climate change is causing a “wildfire crisis” and a need to “quickly replant forests that have been lost.”

Sorry, logic and facts are not buying that….

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.


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