In a world where global warming alarmists want to regulate every molecule of CO2 in our atmosphere they encounter a massive problem. The evening news always highlights large forest fires. They are dramatic and frightening. Of course you recall that the Sierra Club insisted that National Parks allow forest fires to run their course unless homes were threatened.
Who can forget the 1988 Yellowstone fire that was allowed to “run its course.” The fires began in June and were allowed to continue to burn until November when winter snows extinguished the last blazes. Over the course of that summer and fall the flames scorched about 1.2 million acres across the greater Yellowstone area.
One can argue the merits of wild fires. But let us look at the inconsistencies this raises for global warming alarmists. According to their prognostications global warming results in an increase in forest fires. Ecologically they should be left to burn because fire is important in forest restoration. But forest fires release vast amounts of CO2 which would increase global warming leading to more forest fires that must be left to burn which leads to more forest fires which must… well, I am confident you see the descending loop to the Ninth Circle of Hell.
But Dr. Filly, what do you mean when you say forest fires release “vast amounts of CO2,” ask you? Well, I mean VAST, answer I.
In 1997, a fire consumed 8,000 square kilometers of mostly peatland in Borneo. Researchers estimated 0.2 Gt (that’s gigatons or 0.2 billion tons of carbon as CO2) were released from just that one fire in that year. If one estimates the result of all the fires in Indonesia alone that year it comes to a massive amount of CO2 – somewhere between 0.8 and 2.5 billion tons — or “13 to 40%” of the size of global human fossil fuel emissions.
What to do? What to do? The answer, is to hire an accountant! In carbon accounting, fires are “an act of God” (non-anthropogenic), and are considered neutral because the trees will grow back. (It seems that global warming alarmists have forgotten that man (the “anthro” in “anthropogenic”) is also an “act of God” – Genesis 1:27. And we also “grow back.”)
Other researchers, der Werf et al 2004, estimated the CO2 emissions from fires around the world during the El Nino year. They concluded that a hefty 2.1 Gt of carbon was released — which explained 66% of the extra CO2 emitted globally that year. Bowman et al estimate that fires produce emissions that equal 50% of the size of human emissions. Importantly, for the 97% of scientists who “believe” in global warming, these references are from the journals Science and Nature – the two most prestigious science journals. (China produces 2.5 Gt annually – so if we just regulate forest fires we nearly subtract China from the global warming equation!!!!)
I will now take my tongue out of my cheek and simply say that human production of CO2 must be viewed in relation to natural sources (and I didn’t even mention VOLCANOES).