Matt Pearce wrote an article for the LA Times in which he makes it sound as though the wildfire situation in the western U.S. is no big deal. He does so by pointing out that most of the area burned in the U.S. this year is in Alaska. I guess according to Matt Pearce, Alaska either isn’t part of the U.S. or it just doesn’t matter.
He even found a “professor” who “downplayed the situation across the West.” “Is it unusual? I don’t think so,” he said. I suggest Matt Pearce should talk to some firefighters. Ask them whether or not it’s unusual.
I suggest Matt Pearce should talk to firefighers in Washington state — certainly not Alaska, do they even matter up there?
I suggest Matt Pearce should look at the latest (not out-of-date) statistics from NIFC (National Interagency Fire Center), including for the last decade or more, so he can compare the average yearly total acres burned in Washington state since 2002 (the data I found), to the acreage from fires burning in Washington state RIGHT NOW:
Yes, the area scorched by fires burning in Washington state RIGHT NOW is more than their average annual total. Not “so far this year.” Not including what burned this year and they’ve already extinguished. Certainly not the fires that are yet to come (fire season ain’t over yet). RIGHT NOW.
I suggest Matt Pearce should look at the trend in wildfire acres burned per year — you know, the trend that going up and is statistically significant.
I suggest Matt Pearce should read some of the science about the issue. I suggest he start with Westerling et al. The one titled “Warming and Earlier Spring Increase Western U.S. Forest Wildfire Activity.”
I suggest Matt Pearce should seriously consider the meaning of, and the consequences of, irresponsible journalism.
And while we’re at it, I suggest the LA Times fire Matt Pearce.