Fire in the Minds of (Climate) Men

“Fire in the minds of men” is a phrase from Dostoyevsky’s great novel about revolutionary madness, The Possessed, and certainly it appears the climatistas are possessed by a panic that proceeds from their monomania. Once again last night I saw a segment on one of the network news broadcasts about how the Amazon “rain forest”—the “lungs of the earth,” don’t you know!—are burning up! With a record area on fire! There are pictures! And satellite photos. Surely this is proof that carbon dioxide will cause catastrophic warming 80 years from now.

There’s just one problem with this story: many of the main claims aren’t true, or are grossly distorted. (I know what you’re thinking: Gee, this never happens.)

Consider this assessment:

Natural fires in the Amazon are rare, and the majority of these fires were set by farmers preparing Amazon-adjacent farmland for next year’s crops and pasture. Much of the land that is burning was not old-growth rain forest, but land that had already been cleared of trees and set for agricultural use.

What climate denier said this monstrous thing? Oh, right, it was the New York Times last Friday.

Then there’s this headline:

Stop Sharing Those Viral Photos of the Amazon Burning

[T]here’s a big problem with this viral campaign: Most of the photos claiming to show the fires are fakes. . . many of the viral images that purportedly show the blazes are actually from different fires. . .

[One] depicts a forest fire in California and was uploaded to the US Department of Agriculture’s Flickr account in 2013. The second does depict a fire in the Amazon, but dates back to 1989, according to the Guardian.

And which “climate denier” points this out: Mother Jones. Freaking Mother Jones, people!

There’s also this update from the Mother Jones story:

Update, 1:15 p.m. Friday, Aug. 23: Emmanuel Macron, the president of France, included one of the misleading viral photos in a tweet Thursday. It has been retweeted more than 40,000 times and was embedded in a New York Times article about the fire.We learned since originally publishing that the photo was taken by Loren McIntyre, who died in 2003.

It would be fabulous if Trump used this as an example of “fake news” to Macron in the G7 summit currently under way.

As usual, it is good to check in with Reason‘s Ron Bailey for a reasonable analysis of the matter:

Interestingly, when NASA released the satellite image [of the Amazon] on August 21, it noted that “it is not unusual to see fires in Brazil at this time of year due to high temperatures and low humidity. Time will tell if this year is a record breaking or just within normal limits.” . . .

It is routine for farmers and ranchers in tropical areas burn their fields to control pests and weeds and to encourage new growth in pastures.

What about deforestation trends?  Since the right-wing nationalist

While problematic deforestation is still taking place in the Amazon region, a 2018 study in Nature reported that the global tree canopy cover had increased by 865,000 square miles from 1982 to 2016. As Brazilians become wealthier, the deforestation trend in the Amazon will likely turn around toward afforestation, as it already has done many other countries.

Do read the whole thing if you have a moment. (See also Michael Shellenberger’s great column on the issue, too.”

But you get the point: Nothing can extinguish the fire in the minds of the climatistas, who will rush to distortion and alarmism about nearly everything.

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