Trend That Is Not A Trend: Wildfires (At Least Not This Year)

From the White House:

click to enlarge

From the Federal Government's National Inter-agency Fire Center wildfire tracking page today

click to enlarge


The White House letter demonstrates the behavior that drives me crazy and caused me to start this feature in the first place.  They point to 14 fires in California and imply that this proves some kind of trend.  But how can an individual data point say anything about a trend?  In fact, as you can see above, there almost 50,000 wildfires by this point each year.  So what does the existence of 14 mean, one way or another, in establishing a trend?

Just to show that I don't underestimate the impact of fire, one of these two fires referenced in the White House letter is actually threatening my business near Burney, California and has caused us substantial losses due to lost revenue (for some odd reason people don't like to come out to a park when the air is filled with smoke and ash -- go figure).



PS -- There is an upward trend in the data vs. the 1950s and 1960s which is likely tied somewhat to climate but also somewhat to forest management practices.  Academics have had trouble separating the two.



  1. Noumenon72:

    Didn't you write an article about how the wildfire agency overruns its budget every year, which the government takes as reason to increase its budget? I just can't find it on here.

  2. Daublin:

    I know that standards are low nowadays, but isn't it especially bad for a blog to post things that are factually incorrect?

    As best as I can tell, here is the original link that the above screenshot comes from.

  3. mesaeconoguy:

    It’s extremely professional when dispatches from the leader of the free world begin

    “Hey, everyone – “

    Then they go on to lie in the body of the correspondence, beginning with a false premise (“The science is definitive” etc.)

    These leftists are easily the Dumbest People in the World right now…