District Aims to Reduce Risk of Wildfires by Scheduling Prescribed Fires for Hillsborough County

Biden Administration Plays With Fire Data, To Make A Political Point

If liberals wonder why “climate deniers” abound among us, and why people are suspicious of ridiculous pseudo policies like the ‘Green New Deal’ perhaps they should consult Anthony Watts.

Watts, a senior fellow on environmental issues at the conservative think tank The Heartland Institute, noted in a recent op-ed that the Biden administration is tinkering with wildfire data to make it appear climate is getting worse.

In his piece, Watts notes that the National Interagency Fire Center has tracked wildfire data, in terms of the number of blazes and scorched acres, back to 1926.

That data, Watts maintained, has been publicly available for decades.

But, he added, “in a blatant act of cherry picking, NIFC ‘disappeared’ a portion of it, and only show data from 1983.”

“By disappearing all data prior to 1983, which just happens to be the lowest point in the data set for the number of fires, NIFC data now show a positive slope of worsening wildfire aligning with increased global temperature. This truncated data set is perfect for claiming ‘climate change is making wildfire worse,’” Watts wrote.

Yet the current data is flawed for lack of context.

“The full data set shows wildfires were far worse in the past,” Watts noted.

Watts recalled that the issue dates back to December 2017, when he wrote an article questioning whether climate change made California wildfires worse. He had cited the NIFC data in arguing that it didn’t.

Watts said the Trump administration suddenly added a caveat. The pre-’83 data could not be confirmed as its sources were unknown. And while it suggested not comparing the numbers, it did not take them down.

That’s where the Biden administration went further.  

Watts pointed out the Biden administration has replaced the pre-’83 data with the following statement: “Prior to 1983, the federal wildland fire agencies did not track official wildfire data using current reporting processes. As a result, there is no official data prior to 1983 posted on this site.”

They just took it down, as if it never existed.

In his recent op-ed, Watts wrote:

“This attempt to rewrite official United States fire history for political reasons is both wrong and unscientific. NIFC never previously expressed concern its historical data might be invalid, or shouldn’t be used. NIFCs data have been relied upon by peer-reviewed research papers and news outlets in the United States for decades. Without this data, there is no historical scale for the severity of wildfires, nor is there a method to compare the number of wildfires in the past with the numbers today.

“Wildfire data are fairly simple to record and compile: count the number of fires and the number of acres burned. NIFC’s revision of wildfire history is essentially labeling every firefighter, every fire captain, every forester, and every smoke jumper who has fought wildfires for decades as being untrustworthy in their assessment and measurement of this critical, yet very simple fire data.

“The reason for NFIC erasing wildfire data before 1983 is not transparent at all. NIFC cites no study, provides no scientifically sound methodological reason to not trust the historic data that previously the agency publicized and referenced. Indeed, NIFC provides no rationale at all for removing the historical data or justifying any claim that it was flawed or incorrect.”

“The NIFC decision to declare data prior to 1983 ‘unreliable’ and removing it is not just hiding important fire history, but cherry-picking a data starting point that is the lowest in the entire record to ensure that an upwards trend exists from that point,” Watts concluded.

“It seems NIFC has caved to political pressure to disappear inconvenient wildfire data. This action is unscientific, dishonest, and possibly fraudulent. NIFC is no longer trustworthy as a source of reliable information on wildfires.”

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