Fight fires with facts – not fake science

“Some recent fires could be called “historic” or “unprecedented” – especially if monster fires of a century or more ago are left out of the calculation; or if conflagrations elsewhere are not included.”
– Paul Driessen with Duggan Flanakin

Many articles have been written recently about wildfires in Australia and California. This column by Paul Driessen with Duggan Flanakin, however, provides a lot of information, analysis and common sense that has not received much attention. In the end, it all comes down to controlling the two factors lead to big fires: ignition to start them and fuel to sustain and build them. If arson and other human causes can be minimized, fewer fires will start. If forests are thinned, dead trees are removed, and  brush and grass levels are reduced, fires that do start won’t have enough fuel to turn into deadly, habitat-destroying conflagrations.

California forests have over 129 million dead trees. Australia has also let fuel levels build up to dangerous levels. Neither has sufficient response capabilities. Both resort to copouts, by trying to blame “global warming” or “manmade climate change” for the fires.

Fight fires with facts – not fake science

Eliminate fuel, prevent ignition, stop arson, end irresponsible land management policies

Paul Driessen & Duggan Flanakin

“We are all born ignorant,” Benjamin Franklin once said, “but one must work very hard to remain stupid.”

Greens are incensed over suggestions that anything but fossil fuels and climate change might be turning green California and Australian ecosystems into black wastelands, incinerating wildlife, destroying homes and killing people. The notion that they and their policies might be a major factor in these fires gets them so hot under the collar that they could ignite another inferno. But the facts are there for all to see.

PG&E certainly failed to maintain, upgrade and repair its transmission lines and towers, leading to sparks that caused multiple fiery cataclysms. However, California now has over 129 million dead trees in its forests – and a long history of refusing to thin them out, clear brush or permit others to do so. Fuel levels in Aussie forest, brush and grasslands areas have likewise climbed to near-historic levels in recent years.

The total area burned in New South Wales and Victoria is now approaching the area burnt in Victoria back in 1851, Australian scientist Dr. Jennifer Marohasy notes. 2020 summer temperatures in Australia may get as hot as they did back in 1938-1939. US climatologist Dr. Roy Spencer agrees.

In both California and Australia, people bemoan the loss of eucalyptus trees in fires. But many don’t want them removed or even thinned out. They don’t know (or won’t accept the fact) that fallen eucalypt leaves and bark create vast expanses of flammable material, while their spicy-smelling oil is highly flammable. A spark can ignite an explosive firestorm in air laden with gasoline-like vapors, followed by horrific crown fires among the trees and ground fires in the dead leaves and bark.

Rainy winters in both places cause rapid, lush plant growth that is aided by rising levels of atmospheric plant-fertilizing carbon dioxide. Long, hot, dry summers – or prolonged droughts – can follow, drying out the trees, brush and grass, and setting the stage for catastrophic wildfires.

Environmentalists, politicians, regulators and judges say removing trees and brush will damage habitats. But when the inevitable conflagrations hit, habitats are cremated and obliterated, down to soil organisms and organic matter. Subsequent downpours and snowmelts wash the remaining soil away. What habitats?

NOT “historic” or “unprecedented

Some recent fires could be called “historic” or “unprecedented” – especially if monster fires of a century or more ago are left out of the calculation; or if conflagrations elsewhere are not included. Few people know about the Great Peshtigo, Wisconsin Fire of October 8, 1871, even though it killed 1,200-2,500 people, many of them turned into little piles of ash. The Peshtigo debacle was overshadowed by another big fire that day: the Great Chicago Fire, which burned 98% less land and killed far fewer people.

Yet another fact demolishes the all-too-typical claim that recent Australian fires are due to manmade climate change. Many (perhaps most) of those fires were caused by humans – some accidentally, but many deliberately. More than 180 alleged arsonists have been arrested since the start of the 2020 bushfire season, with 29 blazes deliberately lit in part of southeast New South Wales in just three months!

At least two dozen people have died in Australia’s fires, along with thousands of sheep and cattle, over 2,000 koala bears, and several hundred million other animals. US wildfires have likewise exacted horrific death tolls. A few years ago, Duggan hosted a benefit concert for the families of the Fallen Nineteen, the 19 City of Prescott firefighters who died battling the 2013 lightning-ignited Yarnell Hill Fire in Arizona.

Now, the Washington Free Beacon reports, “a media outlet affiliated with ISIS has been instructing the group’s radical adherents to set forest fires in the United States and Europe to cause mass ecological disasters, according to posts on an internet forum dedicated to the terror group.” The Middle East Media Research Institute has flagged four posters published in the pro-ISIS Quraysh media outlet. The first said (English translation): “Oh monotheists [followers of ISIS], ignite fires in the forests and fields, and we are addressing especially those who live in Europe and America, for the fires are painful to them.” The fourth poster got more specific: “Ignite fires in the forests of America, France, Britain and Germany, for they are painful to them.” Might some ISIS follower have viewed Australia as equally deserving of ecotage?

A recent report by Pulitzer Prize winning Los Angeles Times reporter Bettina Boxall may make greens even hotter under the collar: “Human-caused ignitions spark California’s worst wildfires but get little state focus,” the headline reads. Her key point is damning: “It doesn’t matter how dry the vegetation, how fierce the winds or how high the temperature; if there is no ignition, there is no wildfire.”

Noting that the 2019 California fire season was far less deadly than that in 2018, when the notorious “Camp Fire” destroyed the town of Paradise and killed 86 people, Ms. Boxall attributes the comparatively mind 2019 fire season to actions PG&E took to shut down power to many Californians, often for days. She quotes Stanford University researcher Michael Wara, who testified before a Congressional committee that Pacific Gas & Electric’s inspections of wind damage to its lines and equipment made it clear that, without preventive shutdowns, “we would have had a significant number of utility-caused fires” in 2019.

Boxall found that all of California’s 20 most destructive wildfires were human-related, with half due to power line or electrical problems. She also noted that a study of US records from 1992 to 2012 found that human activity (power lines, carelessness and arson) was responsible for 84% of wildfires and 44% of acreage burned nationwide. That’s the ignition factor. Two other factors are equally important.

Even if there is ignition, if there is insufficient fuel, there will still be no wildfire – at least not monstrous, deadly conflagrations. Thin the forests, remove dead trees, control brush and grass levels, especially in dry seasons and arid regions. It’s basic, intelligent land management; the Boy Scout motto: Be prepared.

Preparation also means maintaining fire breaks and access roads into forest, brush and grass lands; building and maintaining sufficient escape routes and warning systems, and making people aware of them; ensuring that each family and community has an escape plan; and having enough trucks, airplanes, helicopters, other equipment and personnel to respond to average fires and worst-case scenarios. It means educating children and adults about how to prevent fires, put them out, and get out of their path.

(California public schools offer multiple courses on climate change. Cool California lists even more. But as long as politicians and even industry leaders keep spreading the false gospel of climate change as the principal cause of wildfires, the need for personal and political responsibility will be ignored.)

Third, actual response to a fire means ensuring the political, social, financial and institutional support to get sufficient personnel, equipment and water to a fire before it turns into an uncontrollable inferno.

Do all that, and the recovery phase – rebuilding homes, businesses, habitats, wildlife numbers and shattered human lives – will be far less extensive, costly and traumatic. Difficult recoveries will also be minimized by not wasting scarce time and money on fashionable, politically correct, “woke” issues like how many fire fighters are of a specific ethnic or sexual identity group. People and animals in the path of a roaring inferno care only that first responders are prepared, equipped and on time. So should politicians.

Every one of these vital matters is within our power to control – if we can muster the political willpower to take appropriate action. None of them involves climate change.

It doesn’t matter if Earth’s or California’s or Australia’s average annual or summer temperature is 0.1 or even 1.0 degrees warmer. Or that a drought is a day, month or year longer than X. Or whether the climate and weather fluctuations are driven by human or natural forces. Or that America, Australia, Britain, China, India or Indonesia is “not doing enough” to curb fossil fuel use and carbon dioxide emissions.

Climate change did not cause 129 million trees to die in California – or prevent the state and feds from removing the dead trees, thinning the forests, and clearing overgrown brush and grass. Ditto for Australia.

We must play the hand we have been dealt. That means acting responsibly and intelligently to prevent and respond to wildfires under whatever climate, drought, diseased and dead trees, or other conditions exist, wherever and whenever we live. Ben Franklin would be proud of us.

Paul Driessen is senior policy analyst for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow ( and author of books and articles on energy, climate, environmental and human rights issues. Duggan Flanakin is CFACT’s director of policy research.

16 thoughts on “Fight fires with facts – not fake science”

  1. Until this fall I lived in California for 13 years. The last few winters have been the wettest I saw while I was living there. In fact, the winter of 2018-19 was the wettest that anyone I talked to had ever seen. There were old timers there in their 90’s who had lived there their whole lives and had never seen anything like it. It rained almost continuously from November until around April. The rains didn’t completely stop then either. It kept raining here and there for another month and a half. Combine this with the typical drought conditions seen the rest of the year and you’ve got yourself a tinderbox. No, global warming had nothing to do with the extreme nature of these fires. It was just a few unusually wet winters, same as occurred in the late 80’s if I’m not mistaken. This stuff is cyclical.

    Some other things to note about the wildfire problem in California. Most fires start on or near public lands, most of which are nature preserves with vast uninterrupted tracts of fuel. The ones that go through populated areas spread the same way, yet on a smaller scale through the canyons, most of which are city-owned, and again, nature preserves with piles of fuel.

    Why are people living so far away from the cities you might ask? Well, it’s due to regulations like open space easements, nature preserves and height/density limitations that prevent builders from providing adequate housing near the population centers. Instead, people have to move out into the boonies among the wildfire-prone open areas. One of the many reasons why I left, since my home was in the path of the fires at one point. I couldn’t afford to live any closer to the city.

    • I left California because of a wildfire… (the Cedar fire, 2003 in San Diego County). I was living in Alpine at the time, for similar reasons as yourself (cheaper rent and close enough to my job in San Diego it was commutable… plus a very pretty town).

      The state has crazy rules. like not allowing people to clear brush near their homes. They prosecute people for doing that…

      For perspective on drought vs. excess rains in CA (among other things), I like reading John Steinbeck. I believe it was in “East of Eden” where he describes the cycles of drought in the state in depth and how it affects families.

  2. “historic” or “unprecedented”
    These words have been sprouted in Australia over the last few months relentlessly and it has become so frustrating. Australia’s fires this season have amounted to the loss of around 17 million hectares, yes a substantial amount. But the left-wing media in our country, which have been the predominant users of these terms, fail to understand or care about the history of fires in Australia. An example of this is the bush fire season of 1974/75 when there was a loss of 117 million hectares, 15% of Australia’s landmass. These people are pathetic CC alarmist pushing what they want blind to the facts.

  3. Another man-made (“woke” man-made) cause of death was the changing of roadways in certain areas – to discourage the use of cars and help fight climate change.

    Narrower roads and planned blockages prevented people from escaping fires in 2018. And none of the social engineers were even criticized (let alone prosecuted) for causing these deaths.

    • John, Agenda 21 is now called Agenda 2030 that explains much about the long ago planned eugenics based engineered agendas that are playing out as you are experiencing and Jean S. above with much of the beta testing being tried first on the left coast. Fukushima, PG&E, zoning, bureaucracy, “odd” crazy overly hot fires (incendiary weapons are often made from “aluminium, is usually introduced in the form of powder or fine flakes”), ’nuff said. Rosa Koire – 5G anyone? There’s also Adapt 2030/Ice Age Farmer with great commentary and interviews that combine geophysics/agendas/politics/agriculture/food with a fairly good understanding of the “big picture” (the cross pollination of “Ice Age” sites with the geo/eugenics/ranching connection seems to be progressing “naturally” but none to this level). Been a “cross pollinator” of ideas, information and proven techniques between companies my whole career – never imagined Winston was going to be able to escape Room 101 for a while at least. Most importantly this is the only site with this level of professional near real-time reporting of extreme record breaking weather and geological events under the moderation/eyes/ears/wit of the person who authored, “two of the most important books written in this century”… both me and my daughter concur with Guzzo. Imagine an astro/geophysics front row seat to the “greatest show on earth… the Birkeland currents/sun/earth/mag poles making major cosmic cyclic shifts again… during our lifetimes… how fortunate, eh?…while at the elbow of “the” current eathly contemporary geological Pythagoras/Socrates/Plato (they never taught to this level in school. “It’s a cycle” in a solar/geological/geomagnetic Electroverse.
      H.G. Wells: “The Time Machine” traveller would have been fortunate to have had Robert’s books to take with him when he “took off”. Coincidentally I was taking volcanism and glaciation in school in 1980 at the exact same time Mt. St. Helen’s erupted in perfect harmony with our lectures and coincidentaly I also discovered Robert’s books at the perfect time while I was researching everything I could about “eugenics”…so if all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail… What are the odds? GSM/geophysics and eugenics have gone hand-in-hand through every solar/geo event in history/prehistory. Would be great if everyone held to the principles: In the information age, ignorance is a choice. Condemnation without investigation is the height of ignorance.

      Note the partial review quote below. Luckily for us Rationalwiki is doing us a favour… so as they say: “Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake”

      “For the truth about what is happening the world over and the extraordinarily serious weather conditions, I am once again moved to recommend that people in the U.S. and everywhere else in the world look to the truth about what is happening in two of the most important books written [by RWF] in this century.” – Lou Guzzo
      Cheers, Winston

      RWF, just so you know I don’t ever care that any of my blabber gets printed – whatever, when ever, if ever or how much of anything fits your narrative – already had more than a few laughs, just glad to pass along some links or make fun or help out when anything is even remotely relevant to the conversion. Do what thou wilt is always the whole of the law – seeing the Rowdy Roddy and (((They Live))) links on a site at your level was like hearing the paul Williams “That’s enough for me” lyric in my head. You are the sysop – edit or leak out or pass along any info links you like at will – would be just as happy if Winston was totally incognito offline – up to you Bobert. Cheers, RWB

  4. “Men will not accept truth at the hands of their enemies, and truth is seldom offered to them by their friends”
    ― Alexis de Tocqueville

  5. “To Argue With A Person Who Has Renounced The Use Of Reason Is Like Administering Medicine To The Dead.”

    Thomas Paine

    • Herr Robert, Deb and John the 1st, the willfully ignorant continue to reject your timely blessings. Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa. Et cum spiritu tuo;). Muchas gracias, for everything you do, mi amigos hermoso.

      It really is the Same Old Game, but maybe there really are some good AI computers – very nice to meet you. Nanu Nanu

  6. I remember during an Australian Pacific bus tour (Perth-Albany) in 1993 the tourist guide emphasized that we should not disturb deadwood in the forests, which would cause stress to the worms and insects inhabiting the deadwood. The same applied for shells on the shores of Coral Sea islands.

    It seems that I am not the only one that considers deliberate arson as the cause of most bushfires. IMO the arsonists are mainly environmentalists promoting the Global Warming propaganda.

    • Well the Cedar fire (San Diego County 2003) was started by an illegal alien. He was tried and acquitted after claiming he started a campfire because he was out hunting and got “scared”. After his trial he later admitted he started the fire intentionally… but because of double jeopardy rules they could not accuse him of manslaughter or anything.

      15 people died, almost 4000 homes burnt to the ground and caused just over $1.3 billion in damages. At the time it was the most destructive fire ever to hit California. I was in that fire; 1/3 of my town (Alpine) was destroyed. I ended up leaving CA because of it.

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