Business & Media Institute 
Wednesday, July 9, 2008
It was only a matter of time before the media began using the wildfires ravaging California as a means to advance global warming alarmism.
ABC’s July 7 “World News with Charles Gibson” candidly suggested global warming is playing a role in the fires that have hit 558,738 acres in California.
“Temperatures [are] running into the 90’s inland,” correspondent Brian Rooney said. “But also what’s happening here may be part of what scientists say is a trend in wildfires occurring across the country. In recent years, scientists have said that global warming has contributed to the length and damage of the fire season.”
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Rooney’s report isn’t the first time a journalist has blamed global warming for severe weather. Alarmists and reporters have blamed climate change for bigger hurricanes, tornadoes and flooding in the Midwest. And in 2007, CNN warned of a possible “century of fires” due to global warming.
Rooney cited the growth of fires, in terms of acres affected and length of the season, as evidence the changes over the last 48 years are correlated with global warming.
“There are good fire years and bad,” Rooney said. “But back in 1960, wildfires across the country burned 4.5 million acres. Four years ago that number spiked over 8 million acres. And in the last two years, over 9 million acres burned. And the journal Science reported that since scientists started collecting statistics in 1970, the length of the wildfire season has increased by 78 days. That’s 64 percent.”
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Rooney didn’t delve further into National Interagency Fire Center statistics, which also show that in 2003 fewer than 4 million acres were burned. There were also fewer – although more severe – fires in 2007 than there were in 1960.
Rooney’s report also included a scientist from a liberal advocacy group, the Union of Concerned Scientists, to bolster his claim. A scientist from the same organization had criticized President George W. Bush on “NBC Nightly News” the previous night for not having more aggressive global warming policies.
“The science is clear regarding the trend,” Brenda Ekwurzel said. “What we see is because the earth’s average temperature is increasing, the fire season has started earlier, the soils are drying out and the season is taking, is lasting longer.”
However, Rooney and Ekwurzel ignored the dramatic population growth in California, which requires more land usage, increasing the potential for more wildfires.
“But with dry conditions and population growth into rural, fire-prone areas, the job of putting out wildfires keeps expanding in California, [Ruben Grijalva, director of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection] said,” John Woolfolk wrote for the San Jose Mercury News on June 14.
“I don’t consider us to have a fire season anymore,” Grijalva told the Mercury News. “I consider it to be a year-round threat in California. We’ve had fires in Southern California as late as November.”
According to U.S. Census Data, the population of California was 15.7 million in 1960. In 2000, the population had more than doubled to 33.8 million. Estimates put California’s population at 37 million at the end of 2007.