Scenes of Californians fleeing their homes and Greeks swimming out to sea have fueled alarm about climate change fueling deadly wildfires, but recent studies show that such destructive blazes are on the decline worldwide.
A September 2017 report in the journal Science found that global burned area dropped by about 25 percent over the previous 18 years, a finding consistent with a May 2016 paper published by the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences.
“[G]lobal area burned appears to have overall declined over past decades, and there is increasing evidence that there is less fire in the global landscape today than centuries ago,” said the study by British researchers at Swansea University.
Even in California, which for years has wrestled with fire devastation, a study in the International Journal of Wildland Fire found that the number of wildfires burning more than 300 acres per year has been tailing off since a peak in 1980.
“The claim commonly made in research papers and the media that fire activity is increasing throughout the western USA is certainly an over-statement,” the authors, Jon E. Keeley and Alexandra D. Syphard, said in The Orange County Register.