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Are forest fires as bad as they seem?

September 6, 2019

By Paul Homewood



h/t Joe Public



What’s this? A factual piece on the BBC?




As South American countries meet in Colombia to discuss the fires in the Amazon basin, other parts of the world have also been ablaze.

Vast tracts of forest in Russia, Asia and Africa have been burning.

The extent of the fires has sparked outrage around the world.

But is the scale of these fires unprecedented, or have there been years in which they have been more extensive?

With the help of satellite data we have looked at four areas – Brazil, Siberia, Indonesia and Central Africa.

And we have concluded that although fires this year have wrought significant damage to the environment, they have been worse in the past.

Amazon ablaze

Around 60% of the Amazon rainforest is in Brazil.

The number of fires between January and August 2019 is double that of the same period last year, data from the Brazilian National Institute for Space Research (Inpe) suggests.

A record-breaking number of fires across Brazil was initially reported. However, this claim did not reflect all the historical data available.

Although it is the highest number of fires (for the year to 27 August) for almost a decade, it is actually lower than for most years in the period 2002 to 2010.

There is a similar pattern for other areas of Brazilian forestry that are not part of the Amazon basin.


Full story here.

As the BBC go on to show, the story is just the same in Siberia, Indonesia and Africa. Nothing unprecedented, and mostly just average years.

As the expert states at the end:

"Fires are very important landscape management tools and are used to clear land for planting crops," says Lauren Williams, a specialist in Central and West African forests at the World Resources Institute.

Required reading for Mr Harrabin, I would suggest!

  1. jack broughton permalink
    September 6, 2019 10:49 am

    Sadly, Mr.Hazbeen, like other fervent believers will not consider any “inconvenient truths”.

  2. tim leeney permalink
    September 6, 2019 10:51 am

    Well, Hallelujah!

  3. GeoffB permalink
    September 6, 2019 10:55 am

    This must have slipped through the lefty green looney brigade at the BBC. They are all too busy reporting the brexit chaos. Maybe it’s a start of factual reporting on the climate, I wonder who are members of the “reality team”. They should sack Harrabin and put them in charge of climate reporting.

  4. dearieme permalink
    September 6, 2019 10:57 am

    I was amused by “reality check team”. Perhaps they haven’t understood that their duty is to check reality, in the sense of stopping it impinging on the Beeb. The dole beckons.

  5. Mack permalink
    September 6, 2019 11:01 am

    Looks like the BBC ‘Reality Check Team’ will shortly be checked into a re-education programme for the heonous crime of using facts and historical data as opposed to feelings and melodrama in a scandalous attempt to buck the doomster narrative. Nice to see there is still one corner of sanity left in the BBC newsroom.

  6. September 6, 2019 11:13 am

    You will be seeing a change in scare tactics by the BBC. The subject of “Climate Change” has been their prime scare story for several years now but it is fast loosing credibility. Their NEW horror story will be, “We have to change how we live, give up motor cars, live in grass huts, cease ownership of all assets & pleasures (except for David Attenborough, Greta Thingamajig, members of Extinction Rebellion and Lord Hall) and generally revert to living a Stone Age lifestyle munching on magic mushrooms”.

    They will still mention “Climate Change” every time it drizzles or thick Roger stubs his toe but without the sheer panic we are accustomed to.

    • Ben Vorlich permalink
      September 6, 2019 11:27 am

      Scares have to be continually upgraded, once the upgrade can go no further they have to be modified. The Arctic Ocean sea ice has refused to disappear in the time frame predicted by Al Gore so other ice has become the focus. Droughts and heatwaves has come and gone, floods have come and gone, heatwaves have come and gone so damage to the environment, some real some imagined are now combined with climate change and will eventually overtake the nonexistent climate emergency.

  7. September 6, 2019 11:19 am

    Reblogged this on Climate-

  8. Trevor Shurmer permalink
    September 6, 2019 11:30 am

    My question is, given the stories already reported in the BBC about the Brazilian rainforest in particular, will it be headline news on the 6 o’clock news tonight, or Newsnight later? I very much doubt it.

  9. john cooknell permalink
    September 6, 2019 12:36 pm

    We stopped burning stubble after Jimmy Saville told us not to!!!

  10. Gerry, England permalink
    September 6, 2019 1:51 pm

    A lie is halfway around the world before the truth has got its boots on. The legacy media never will admit that they are wrong, just like politicians. You could hardly invent two more stupid groups.

  11. It doesn't add up... permalink
    September 6, 2019 1:56 pm

    I did my own fact checking when the story originally broke by looking at the EOSDIS website. Wasn’t hard to conclude that the furore was wildly exaggerated. Then again, when you have EU leaders trying to wiggle out from a trade deal they don’t like, and the opportunity for some climate propaganda, what can you expect?

    I’m still waiting for the BBC to give me a proper response to my complaint about their misleading cost of offshore wind propaganda. It’s the first time I’ve bothered to register a formal complaint in a few years.

  12. September 6, 2019 3:16 pm

    Honest ??
    Does the story go with the alarmist narrative ?
    The actual conclusion is that this years Brazi fires are not that bad
    Does the first glance show that ?
    No, cos the framing is to
    #1 Use an alarmist pic
    #2 Have a title suggests that it could be true “Forest fires bad”
    instead of having a title like : This years Brazil fires were not exceptional

  13. Bernard Taylor permalink
    September 6, 2019 3:25 pm

    There is one good program on the BBC and that is radio 4’s ‘More or Less’. They looked at claims that the Amazon Rain Forest is the ‘lungs of the planet’ and that it ‘produces 20% of the Oxygen we breathe’. They thoroughly debunked these claims.

    • September 8, 2019 9:47 am

      Bernard Taylor, I also listen to this largely most excellent radio production. I have noticed that they are remarkably silent on most of CC stuff, but still almost grudgingly toe the line. I have a few times respectfully lobbed a fact question to them on the subject of CC numbers, to no response

  14. Nancy & John Hultquist permalink
    September 6, 2019 3:29 pm

    In the USA West, about 84% of wildland fires are started via the presence of people — as a result of their activities, their built infrastructure, and so on, including actually and deliberately starting a fire. Our most recent local fire was because of an auto accident that ended in the grass along the road.
    Most fires now get immediate attention. Local, state, and federal crews move fast. Thus, while “the West” is having lots of fires, most do not grow into big ones.
    The equipment (trucks, planes, helicopters, …) and crews are impressive.
    Search with ‘ DC10 Air Tanker ‘ and ‘ fire fighting helicopters ‘.

    This takes wealth and organization. The countries written about in this post are no so lucky.

    • September 6, 2019 3:57 pm

      Also in the United States, California had a milder fire season than since 2017 with no major fires. Additionally, California gave the bankrupt Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) (whom caused the 2 largest fires) permission to start shutting off power in areas deemed at risk due to winds or other factors, not even requiring there to be a actual fire.

    • Broadlands permalink
      September 7, 2019 1:39 pm

      The correlation between people (population) and wildfires is very strong. Most are caused either directly or accidentally by people.

      About 20 years ago: “A common perception is that most wildfires are caused by acts of nature, such as lightning. The inverse is true, said Dr. Joel Levine, a biomass burning expert at NASA Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va. “What we found is that 90 percent of biomass burning is human instigated,” said Levine, who was the principal investigator for a NASA biomass burning program that ran from 1985 to 1999.”

  15. A C Osborn permalink
    September 6, 2019 4:00 pm

    Wow, is this some kind of mistake?
    how can the BBC debunk a whole weeks worth of scary news in one program?
    Wierd to say the least.

  16. eternalOptimist permalink
    September 7, 2019 3:12 am

    I have travelled the world on road trips, NEurope to the far north, USA, Canada, Australia, Alaska.
    I have been caught in several major fires but got through, luckily, unharmed. I have the video.

    In any event, anecdotally, the worst damage, by far that I witnessed, was in the far NW of Canada and in Alaska.
    Hundreds after hundreds of miles of burned out forests

    and not a smigin of agw or climate disruption in sight

  17. MrGrimNasty permalink
    September 7, 2019 11:33 am

    “What’s this? A factual piece on the BBC?”

    The fires aren’t directly related to climate change and that was clear from the outset.

    The contradictory information was already ‘out there’ and the BBC had to change stance.

    Their initial wildly inaccurate/biased reporting is not undone in the minds of people by a belated reality check that few will see.

    Remember the BBC is facing a challenge over impartiality and accuracy, they will undoubtedly use this rare example as evidence of their integrity!

  18. September 9, 2019 12:40 am

    Reblogged this on Climate Collections.

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