The Voice of America Babbles Nonsense About Climate Change and California’s Wildfires…

Guest ridicule by David Middleton

I miss the good old days when it was Radio Free Europe.

From today’s Real Clear Energy headlines, totally unrelated to energy…

Climate Change Fuels California Fires

September 12, 2018

Mike O’Sullivan


California has experienced record heat waves and catastrophic fires in recent years, and climate experts say it is likely to get worse.

report released Aug. 27 by the state of California, the fourth in a series of assessments, puts the blame squarely on climate change.


The Trump administration, however, has pledged to overturn emissions curbs and has promised to withdraw from the 2015 Paris climate agreement, an accord of nearly 200 countries that requires national targets for emission cuts but which lacks enforcement powers.

President Donald Trump said the pact is ineffective and kills jobs. Climate experts say something must be done to slow the climate shifts that are underway.


Deep State (Voice of America)

Why do you call VOA Deep State?

Voice of America (VOA) is a U.S. government-funded international radio broadcast source that serves as the United States federal government‘s official institution for non-military, external broadcasting.



Deep State… ¿Comprende?

The “report released Aug. 27 by the state of California” is just a pamphlet, published by “a European financial services company headquartered in Munich, Germany“.

“Climate change” appears in the pamphlet six times:

  1. Natural Catastrophes and Climate Change both ranked in the top ten of global risks in the 2018 Allianz Risk Barometer, the annual corporate risk survey based on insight from more than 1,900 risk management experts from 80 countries.
  3. China may be the climate change winner, as areas previously untenable for wine production will become more suitable
  4. Deutsche Welle, How climate change is increasing forest fires around the world, June 19, 2017
  5. Euro News, Climate change blamed as EU’s forest fires more than double, October 16, 2007
  6. Union of Concerned Scientists, Western Wildfires & Climate Change, 2013

Mr. O’Sullivan cited a pamphlet that wasn’t a report, wasn’t from the State of California and documented no relationship between climate change and fires.  He then goes on to babble…

If nothing or little is done, the reports say to expect temperature rises of 3 to 5 degrees Celsius (5.6 to 8.8 degrees Fahrenheit) by 2100…

Nothing in the pamphlet says this.  Nor is it even possible outside the bad science fiction of RCP8.5 scenarios “to expect temperature rises of 3 to 5 degrees Celsius (5.6 to 8.8 degrees Fahrenheit) by 2100”.  Temperatures are tracking below RCP4.5, a strong mitigation scenario,

Original image from Climate Central, HadCRUT4 shifted to 1970-2000 baseline.

Mr. O’Sullivan then goes on to quote the Father of all hockey sticks…

“I think we’ve reached the point where the impacts of climate change are no longer subtle,” said Michael Mann, who directs the Earth System Science Center at Pennsylvania State University.

Mann was not involved in the study, but said he thinks its finding are, if anything, conservative.

“We are literally seeing them play out in real time in the form of record heat waves, floods, droughts and wildfires,” he said.

Mann was not only “not involved in the study,” but probably oblivious to the fact that it wasn’t a study and it didn’t connect California wildfires to climate change.  For that matter, NOAA concluded that the worst drought in California history (2011-2014) was not due to climate change.  So,,, If the droughts aren’t due to climate change, the fires can’t be due to climate change.

California Climate Change 1895-2018


The worst drought in California history was 2011-2014, and NOAA concluded it was not due to climate change.

That takes care of climate change and California droughts.  Now let’s look at a historical perspective of wildfires in these tangentially United States.

Recent History of Wildfires in the U.S.


Fire is a major influence on the dynamics of most forest ecosystems in the United States. The frequency and occurrence of fires has been influenced by humans living in or near these forests for about 12,000 years. Brose and others (2001) present a graphic representation of fire history of Appalachian oak forests and show three profoundly different fire regimes (Figure 5). This model generally applies to all of the fire dependent forest ecosystems in the United States. During the first the period prior to European settlement, indigenous tribes used fire to prepare sites for planting; drive game; encourage fruit and berry production; create open forests, prairies, and savannas desired for early successional wildlife and to maintain a network of trails to facilitate travel. These fires were periodic, low intensity surface fires.

Following European settlement, early settlers adopted the burning practices of the indigenous people. However the low intensity fire regime was replaced by high-intensity, stand replacement fires caused by the onset of extensive logging and mining activities and the introduction of steampower for transportation and processing of raw materials. This resulted in fires of increased size and intensity, often burning over vast areas. The massive wildfires of the late 1800s and early 1900s contributed to a nationwide movement that identified fire as an undesirable, destructive force that must be controlled.

Following the massive wildfires of 1910 in the Northern Rocky Mountains, fire protection improved and eventually reduced destructive wildfires by more than 90 percent: from 20–50 million acres per year to 2–5 million acres (Frederick and Sedjo 1991, Powell and others 1994) (Table 3, Figure 6). This third phase resulted in virtual exclusion of fire from many ecosystems, causing significant changes in the character of the vegetation and fuel conditions. These forests are now susceptible to intense, stand replacement fires. Foresters and ecologists have begun to recognize the role of fire in these ecosystems and are re-introducing prescribed fire as a vegetation management tool.

US Forest Service, 2003

PDF of Fire  Historical Perspective

Prior to European settlement, periodic low-intensity surface fires cleared the forest floors of fuel.  Coming Soon: This conceptual model with global temperatures and CO2 overlaid… It’ll be a HOOT!

The fire protection programs of the mid-20th century left the forests “susceptible to intense, stand replacement fires, which began to increase in the 1980’s, particularly in the west.  This is supported by numerous recent studies.

Area burned in 11 Western States, 1916-2000.

For the overall contiguous U.S., fire was far more severe in the early 20th Century than it is today, particularly in the South RPA…

Area burned by RPA region, 1938-1978.

Average number of fires and area burned by decade, 1919-1999.

And the relationship between fires and climate change is comical, at best…

Area burned form NIFC, Law Dome CO2 from MacFarling-Meure et al., 2006 and MLO CO2 from NOAA via Wood For Trees.

While some areas of the West have experienced slightly worse drought conditions lately, compared to the early 20th Century, there are no statistically significant trends…

PDSI in 4 western regions, NOAA.

NOAA Climate Regions Map

And the Lower 48 States exhibit no trend at all…

Palmer Drought Severity Index, Contiguous United States, 1895-2018, 13-month rolling average (NOAA NCDC).


Who the HELL is Mike O’Sullivan? And what qualifies him to babble nonsense about California fires and climate change… as the Voice of America?  According to his LinkedIn page, he has a PhD in Religion and Social Ethics from the University of Southern California.  On his way to becoming West Coast Bureau Chief for Voice of America, he doesn’t appear to have ever had a real job:

Previously LA Correspondent, VOA, 1983-90. Associate Professor, Gunma Prefectural Women’s University, Japan, 1992-1995. Assistant Professor, San Diego State University, 1981-1983. Various poorly paid public radio/freelance gigs prior and in between. Part-time college teaching at various campuses in the Cal State University system.

What qualifies me to ridicule the Voice of America?  The ability to look things up… A major part of my education in geology. So… Dr. or Rev. or Mr. O’Sullivan…


via Watts Up With That?

September 13, 2018 at 09:20AM

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