This story, “Wildfires may be linked to global warming,” moved this morning in The Associated Press wire. Here’s an excerpt:

The increase in the number of large western wildfires in recent years may be a result of global warming, researchers say.

analysis of data going back to 1970 indicates the fires increased
“suddenly and dramatically” in the 1980s and the wildfire season grew
longer, according to scientists in Arizona and California.

increase in large wildfires appears to be another part of a chain of
reactions to climate warming,” said Dan Cayan, a co-author of the paper
and director of the climate research division at Scripps Institution of

If the AP
reporter showed any skepticism about this alleged causal relationship,
it is not evident in the story. And, apparently, AP reporters and
editors have short memories. Remember the forest-clearing debate of
2002, when Tom Daschle authored a bill to exempt only his state from
environmental regulations that prevented forest clearing, which
resulted in increased forest fires? Other senators from Western states
attempted to amend Daschle’s narrow bill. This from a 2002 news story, easily found via Google:

Offered by Larry Craig (R.-Idaho) and Pete Domenici (R.-N.M.), the
amendment would temporarily suspend the National Environmental Policy
Act (PL 91-190) so that lawsuits by environmentalist cannot stop the
underbrush clearing and tree cutting that is needed to reduce the
number of fires in national forests. The amendment was modeled after a
provision that Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D.-S.D.) got enacted
two months ago, but that applies only to some of his own state’s
national forests. Daschle, however, is resisting any application of
that policy consistently on a national scale. (Critics contend that
Daschle pushed through his narrowly drawn amendment just to help the
re-election chances of his South Dakota Democratic colleague Tim