• Steve Anderson

Counterintuitive | Wildfires Globally Declining

Wolfgang Knorr of Sweden’s Lund University has written that the fire-reducing impact of changing land use generally outweighs the effect of rising temperatures as a cause of wildfires.

What he is talking about is that despite the attention and devastating damage done by fires in California in October and November, and in Portugal and Greece where 200 people were killed in 2016, the wildfires across the globe fell by 24% from 1998 to 2015 according to Niels Angela of NASA. The reason is that most fires occurred in developing countries where they are now declining due to increasing adoption of land for agriculture as is land ownership. Simply said, the growth of modern farming is helping to keep sweeping fires from starting. Dividing the land in different uses such as pasture and cultivated fields reduces need and the inadvertent spread of wildfires.

Today, wildfires cause 330,000 premature deaths a year from their smoke, according to a report by The Economist magazine.


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