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Are California wildfires increasing?

If you’ve been following news about the record-setting California wildfires this summer, you may have heard that wildfires in California are increasing due to more droughts due to climate change. However, when you look at the data, the statistics are a bit more nuanced. Cliff Mass of the University of Washington has crunched the numbers, which show that the number of wildfires has decreased over time, while the total area of wildfires seems to have a slight upward trend, but with so much variability from one year to the next that a trend is hard to identify. Climate change may be contributing to the wildfires, but there are also effects from increasing population, more urbanization, and public perception of recent years skewing the media. You can read his findings on his blog at

Source: Commons Wikimedia