Did you ever hear or read anything so ridiculous . A Former Canadian Ambassador breaks the law, but recognized it in hindsight and as far as we know received no money for assistance offered and consented to the law breaking, so
Just stop talking to nine Government people for a year.
That ‘s the penalty when you have people in high places .
Nine people ???
How many senior people are there in the Canadian Public Service . So I talk to one of the nine’s deputies . I receive compensation in kind not in money as is the norm in such cozy relationships —etc, etc.
Other that highlight the law was broken —-our Conflict of Interest Laws are a joke.
Here it all is from the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner ‘s Website:
‘Order under Section 41
Issued under the Conflict of Interest Act
41 (1) If the Commissioner determines that a former reporting public office holder is not complying with his of her obligations under [Part 3], the Commissioner may order any current public office holder not to have official dealings with that former reporting public office holder .
(2) All current public office holders shall comply with an order of the Commissioner made under subsection (1). Paragraph 51(1)(e) of the Conflict of Interest Act states that the Commissioner shall maintain a registry for
examination by the public, which includes public declarations and any other documents that the Commissioner considers appropriate.
WHEREAS Mr. David MacNaughton was appointed by the Governor in Council to the position of Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Canada to the United States on January 15, 2016, thereby making him a public office holder for the purposes of the Conflict of Interest Act [Act];
AND WHEREAS Mr. MacNaughton had direct and significant official dealings with numerous public office holders during his last year in public office;
AND WHEREAS following Mr. MacNaughton’s last day in public office on August 22, 2019, he became a former reporting public office holder and subject to the Act’s post-employment rules;
AND WHEREAS Mr. MacNaughton, following consultations with the Office of the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner, was named President of Palantir Technologies Canada [Palantir] effective September 4, 2019;
AND WHEREAS, pursuant to section 37 of the Act, a former reporting public office holder who, in the year following their last day in office, has any communication referred to in paragraph 5(1)(a) of the Lobbying Act or arranges a meeting referred to in paragraph 5(1)(b) of that Act shall report that communication or meeting to the Commissioner;
AND WHEREAS Mr. MacNaughton reported, in accordance with section 37 of the Act, that between March 2 and May 1, 2020, he had communicated with or arranged multiple meetings with several public office holders for the purpose of offering pro bono assistance on behalf of Palantir in respect of the Government of Canada’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, as described in Annex A attached hereto;
AND WHEREAS section 33 of the Act prohibits former public office holders from acting in such a manner as to take improper advantage of their previous public office;
AND WHEREAS Mr. MacNaughton has acknowledged, with the benefit of hindsight, that these communications and meetings, to the extent they could have furthered the interests of Palantir, were contrary to section 33 of the Act;
AND WHEREAS the offers of pro bono assistance did not result in any contract being awarded to Palantir;
AND WHEREAS, in light of the foregoing, I have determined that Mr. MacNaughton has contravened section 33 of the Act;
AND WHEREAS Mr. MacNaughton has consented to this order;
THEREFORE ORDER, pursuant to subsection 41(1) of the Act, all current public office holders who are listed in Annex A attached hereto not to have official dealings with Mr. MacNaughton for a period of ONE YEAR following the date on which this order is issued.
September 16, 2020
Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner’
‘On September 16, 2020, Commissioner Dion issued an order under subsection 41(1) of the Conflict of Interest Act to nine regulatees to restrict their official dealings with former reporting public office holder and ambassador David MacNaughton.
This order is listed under the name of each of these individuals in the public registry and will remain in place for one year. The related annex in the public registry contains details on the communications and meetings that led to the issuance of this order on official dealings. ‘
Last night, many of us were discussing the terrible loss of one of the greatest icons in American law: Ruth Bader Ginsburg. In the coming days, there will be much debated about the timing and the merits of any replacement on the Court. However, the trauma of this moment for millions is the fact that we know that there really is no replacement for this inspirational and brilliant jurist. My column on Ginsburg was posted this morning in The Hill newspaper.
For my students (liberal and conservative alike), there are few better models in life than Ginsburg whose strength and quiet resolve helped shape the law and the country for decades. On a Court where many justices evolved and found a voice, Ginsburg came to the Court with a powerful and clear voice. While selected as a presumed moderate, she was unabashedly liberal in her interpretation of the Constitution and remarkably consistent in her votes. She was the rock on the left of the Court to which countless opinions were tethered.
Ginsburg was one of the smartest justices to ever sit on the Court. From the minute she walked into law school, her intellectual skills were overwhelming. She tied for first in her class at Columbia and had the distinction of serving on both the Harvard Law Review and Columbia Law Review. She was the gold standard for a nominee to the Supreme Court.
I had the honor of speaking with Ginsburg on many occasions over the years from conferences to private dinners. She always displayed that same wry and penetrating humor. She could deliver a haymaker in a whisper. Some disagreed with her jurisprudence but we should all be able to celebrate her brilliance and her life. She faced open discrimination as a woman in our profession despite her stellar credentials. She refused to be deterred or discouraged by such ignorance. She stood her ground and, when she did, this diminutive figure with her signature lace gloves became a giant in the law. She was a force to be reckoned with and she left a country changed as a result of that unbending resolve.
The Climate Intelligence Group (CLINTEL) represents 900 scientists, engineers and other professionals from 33 countries in climate and related fields.
One of the questions we are working intensively on is climate sensitivity – how much global warming is natural and how much is caused by our enterprises and industries. Contrary to what current theoretical models project, we have concluded that the actual climate sensitivity to doubled CO2 is far from alarming, in fact at less than half of the IPCC value. Our conclusion fits with all observations that have been made in the past 60 years.
With all respect, your statement that climate change could be worse than the current pandemic, follows the multitude of ‘copy-cat’ statements by the climate catastrophe consensus claims. The proclaimed “climate crisis” exists in the computer models only. Many scientists have already shown that the most often referred to doom scenario RCP 8.5 is extremely unlikely. Latest insight and observations clearly confirm that there is no climate catastrophe. Why scaring school kids to death with your frightening stories? Instead, you need to inspire them!
CLINTEL invites you to consider scientific questions such as these:
How much – or how little – global warming does mankind really cause on top of the natural contribution?
Why does projected global warming exceed observationally-derived warming by more than 200%?
Have the large benefits of more CO2 in the atmosphere been properly accounted for?
Does the cost of attempting to abate global warming exceed the benefit in the avoided cost of adaptation?
What of the tens of millions who die every year because they cannot afford expensive “renewable” electricity and are denied affordable, reliable alternatives?
Has history not shown us repeatedly that adaptation to change presents a powerful survival and evolutionary strategy?
The world needs to follow a prudent multi-decadal adaptation and energy strategy that is technically feasible, economically affordable and socially enhancing (particularly in the developing world). I attach several links to CLINTEL’s own position on climate change.
In addition, CLINTEL is just finalizing a ‘No Regret Energy Policy’, which demonstrates that without the utopian role of sun and wind ‘there does exist an attractive green substitute for how the industrial economy runs today’. We would be very happy to facilitate a fruitful dialogue between your climate team and a selection of our world-class scientists.
On behalf of CLINTEL’s 22 ambassadors, I send you our best wishes,
When You Misrepresent The Deficit, Can 36 Pages of Goggly Gook Be credible?
The BC Government is in a rush.
Never let a tragedy go to waste. Especially something like the Wuhan virus.
A new , really, not so new, BC’s Economic Recover Plan of Thirty Six Pages has been released to the Public.
Something for everyone . But can it be believed?
Just a few days ago the Public Accounts of the Province for the year 2019/2020 were presented . And true to form with past financial accounts , the Government disguises the financial picture of the Province.
It continues to mischaracterize the budget —-past years it was showing a surplus when there was a deficit. Now it is showing a modest deficit when there is a hugh deficit.
You see , just about everyone on this left coast has bought into the Government’s notion that a budget is just the operating account.
It is not !!
The budget is the operating account and the capital account. The Federal Government acknowledges this reality and budgets itself accordingly.
So , many surpluses of the past were deficits and the deficit of this past year is much, much larger than advertised.
The Public Accounts records an operating deficit of $321 millions for 2019/2020.
Then the taxpayer supported capital spending is recorded as $4.7 billion .
That gives a total of $5,1 Billion —$4.7 billion +$321 million.
That is the DEFICIT FOR YEAR 2019/2020.
We ( Through The Provincial Government ) have to borrow this amount.
But wait, that’s not all .
There is self supporting debt of the Province . If one of the Provincial Government entities that is now paying for their debt gets into trouble the Province will have to pick up the tab.
And this is $4. 2 billion.
So the total financial liability of the Province this past year 2019/2020 year is
$5,1billion + $4.2 billion. = $9.3 billion..
Meanwhile , the BC Ministry of Finance in its press release of August 31 announcing the release of the Public Accounts for 2019/2020 says
“ The fiscal year ended with a deficit of $321 million——‘.
Freedom of speech is designed to promote the marketplace of ideas. It is not a license for giant media companies to deliberately and maliciously defame citizens, even public figures.
So when CNN made a decision to doctor a recording so as to deceive its viewers into believing that I said exactly the opposite of what I actually said, that action was not protected by the First Amendment.
So I am suing them for a lot of money, not in order to enrich myself, but to deter CNN and other media from maliciously misinforming their viewers at the expense of innocent people. I intend to donate funds I receive from CNN to worthy charities, including those that defend the First Amendment.
Every American will benefit from a judicial decision that holds giant media accountable for turning truth on its head and for placing partisanship above the public interest.
Alan Dershowitz is suing CNN for doctoring a recording so as to deceive its viewers into believing that he said exactly the opposite of what he actually said during this year’s Senate impeachment proceedings. Pictured: Dershowitz speaks in the US Senate during impeachment proceedings, on January 27, 2020. (Photo by Senate Television via Getty Images)
I love the First Amendment, I support the First Amendment, I have litigated cases defending the First Amendment. I have written and taught about the First Amendment. And I was a law clerk for the Supreme Court when it rendered its landmark 1964 decision in New York Times v. Sullivan, which “protects media even when they print false statements about public figures, as long as the media did not act with ‘actual malice.'”
But I also understand the limitations of the First Amendment. Freedom of speech is designed to promote the marketplace of ideas. It is not a license for giant media companies to deliberately and maliciously defame citizens, even public figures. So when CNN made a decision to doctor a recording so as to deceive its viewers into believing that I said exactly the opposite of what I actually said, that action was not protected by the First Amendment. Here is what CNN did.
I was asked to present the Constitutional argument against President Trump’s impeachment and removal to the United States Senate this past January. For an hour and seven minutes, I argued that if a president does anything illegal, unlawful, or criminal-like — if he commits treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors — he satisfies the criteria for impeachment under the Constitution. But if a president engages in entirely lawful conduct motivated in part by the desire to be reelected, which he believes is in the public interest, that would not constitute grounds for impeachment. Everybody seemed to understand the distinction I was drawing. Some agreed, others disagreed. But the distinction was clear between illegal conduct on the one hand, and lawful conduct on the other hand.
Two days later I returned to the Senate to answer questions put to the lawyers by the senators. The first question to me came from Senator Ted Cruz. He asked whether a quid pro quo constituted an impeachable offense. My response was consistent with my argument two days earlier: I said that what “would make a quid pro quo unlawful is if the quo were in some way illegal.” If it was, it could constitute an impeachable offense. But if it wasn’t illegal or unlawful, the president’s political motives could not turn it into an impeachable offense. That was quite clear. Indeed, the next question from the senators was directed to the Democratic House Manager who was asked to respond to my answer. Congressman Adam Schiff, disagreed with my answer, but understood the distinction between lawful and unlawful. So did CNN. When they first showed my answer, they showed it in full, including my statement that a quid pro quowould not be impeachable so long as it was not “in some way illegal.” I then went on to say that if a president was motivated in part by his desire to be reelected, which he believes was in the public interest, that motive would not turn a lawful act into an impeachable offense.
But then CNN made a decision to doctor and edit my recorded remarks so as to eliminate all references to “unlawful” or “illegal” conduct. They wanted their viewers to believe that I had told the Senate that a president could do anything — even commit such crimes as “bribery” and “extortion” — as long as he was motivated by a desire to be reelected. That, of course, was precisely the oppositeof what I said. And that is precisely the reason by CNN edited and doctored the tape the way they did: namely to deliberately create the false impression that I had said the president could commit any crimes in order to be reelected, without fear of impeachment.
CNN then got its paid commentators to go on the air, broadcast the doctored recording and rail against me for saying that a president could commit crimes with impunity. Joe Lockhart, former White House Press Secretary under President Clinton, said that I had given the president “license to commit crimes” and that:
“This is what you hear from Stalin. This is what you hear from Mussolini, what you hear from authoritarians, from Hitler, from all the authoritarian people who rationalize, in some cases genocide, based what was in the public interest.”
No one corrected him by pointing out that I said exactly the opposite in the sentence that CNN had edited out. Nor did anyone correct Paul Begala when he wrote:
“The Dershowitz Doctrine would make presidents immune from every criminal act, so long as they could plausibly claim they did it to boost their re-election effort. Campaign finance laws: out the window. Bribery statutes: gone. Extortion: no more. This is Donald Trump’s fondest figurative dream: to be able to shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and get away with it.” (Emphasis added)
CNN is, of course, responsible for the decision to edit and doctor the recording to reverse its meaning and they are also responsible for how their paid commentators mischaracterized what I said.
So I am suing them for a lot of money, not in order to enrich myself, but to deter CNN and other media from maliciously misinforming their viewers at the expense of innocent people. I intend to donate funds I receive from CNN to worthy charities, including those that defend the First Amendment. Every American will benefit from a judicial decision that holds giant media accountable for turning truth on its head and for placing partisanship above the public interest. So I will continue to defend the First Amendment as I have for the last 55 years (I am now consulting with Julian Assange’s legal team). But I will insist that giant media not abuse their First Amendment rights in the way that CNN did.
Alan M. Dershowitz is the Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law, Emeritus at Harvard Law School and author of the book, Guilt by Accusation: The Challenge of Proving Innocence in the Age of #MeToo, Skyhorse Publishing, 2019. He is the Jack Roth Charitable Foundation Fellow at Gatestone Institute.
Diane Francis: China’s waging a global tech war, but our political leaders seem unaware
It’s embarrassing that Huawei hasn’t been banned outright already, given the fact Canada was one if its first casualtiesAuthor of the article:Diane FrancisPublishing date:Sep 17, 2020 • Last Updated 21 hours ago • 3 minute read
The Canadian government continues to pussyfoot around China, failing to join its allies that are taking action to halt Beijing’s manipulation of the international trading system and its failure to abide by the rule of law. More importantly, Canada’s political leaders seem unaware of the global tech war that’s underway.
Canada is the only member of the Five Eyes intelligence alliance that hasn’t banned Huawei, China’s telecom giant, from building 5G infrastructure. By failing to take action, the government is ignoring public opinion: four out of five Canadians want Huawei barred and other concrete measures taken against China.
Diane Francis: China’s waging a global tech war, but our political leaders seem unaware
A report this week claimed that Huawei had drawn up a “no-spying” agreement to comfort its Canadian customers, but this is about as trustworthy as Beijing’s deal with the United Kingdom to retain democracy in Hong Kong until 2047.
It’s embarrassing that Huawei hasn’t been banned outright already, given its involvement in the global tech war, and the fact that Canada was one of its first casualties.
“This is a challenge to all free people and open economies of the world,” said Rajeev Chandrasekhar at a recent Hudson Institute conference on the “geo-tech wars.” “This is not just about technology but about trade and economics. The biggest driver for economies in the future is technological innovation.
Chandrasekhar is a tech entrepreneur and a member of India’s Parliament who led that country’s ban on Huawei and hundreds of Chinese software products, which has escalated since its military confrontation with China. He said that China’s misdeeds are also at the top of the agenda of the Quad, a military alliance that includes India, Japan, Australia and the United States.
Huawei has positioned itself as a global leader in fifth-generation cellular networking equipment, which promises to provide the backbone for a hyper-automated future that will be filled with trillions of internet-connected devices. For the past two decades, Huawei — through unfair subsidies, takeovers and guile — has eliminated all but two of its rivals in this space. As a result, a majority of countries around the world are in the process of adopting some or all of Huawei’s networking technologies.
The Quad and the European Union are concerned that Huawei’s infrastructure will be used to spy on, and exert control over, Western governments, businesses and societies — especially given that it is being implemented alongside China’s massive Belt and Road Initiative, which is designed to control essential physical infrastructure, and governance, in strategically important countries.
Canada’s failure to take action against Huawei, or work with its allies to counter the Chinese threat, is inexcusable considering that Nortel, the Canadian company that was a pioneer of cellular technologies, was Huawei’s first target. As a Bloomberg investigative piece — headlined, Did a Chinese Hack Kill Canada’s Greatest Tech Company? — documented in July, there is now a large body of evidence that Huawei stole intellectual property from the once-mighty Canadian telecom giant, and drove it out of business.
Fortunately, the United States pushed back after a 2017 report that concluded: “Chinese theft of American (intellectual property) currently costs between $225 billion and $600 billion annually.”
Besides impeding Huawei and imposing tariffs to stop price cheating, Washington has banned the Chinese from procuring any American technologies and has forced the sale of TikTok and other apps. It has also removed Hong Kong’s special status, following the Chinese government’s abuses there.
Canada, on the other hand, stands idly by, despite China’s incarceration of two Canadian businessmen for two years because Huawei’s chief financial officer is being held in Canada on a U.S. extradition request. China has also ripped up billions of dollars worth of agricultural export contracts with Canada.
It’s obvious that Canadians realize what their government does not: the Chinese government is a trade bully, it’s abusive and it’s engaged in a global war for dominance over telecommunications and other high-tech industries. Canada must take a stand.
Americans can’t let Twitter noise overwhelm political reality.
I have been watching a truly curious phenomenon over the past few days.
It seems there is suddenly a movement in media to silence anyone who speaks out against George Soros—and, specifically, his funding of radical prosecutors seeking to change the criminal justice system by simply ignoring certain crimes.
This happened to me personally this week while I was being interviewed on Fox’s Outnumbered. When I brought up Soros’s plan to get pro-criminal, anti-police prosecutors elected across the country, two of the show’s participants interrupted me and forcefully asserted that Soros was not involved.
Host Harris Faulkner, it seemed, was stunned by the interruptions, and did her part to move the show forward after some awkward silence. The next day, she addressed the strange moment during the show and condemned censorship.
Immediately after the show, Twitter and other social media went crazy. People were alleging that any criticism of Soros’s political involvement is automatically false, anti-Semitic, or both.
There are plenty of specific examples of Soros’s work in action.
Dallas County District Attorney John Creuzot, who campaigned on the promise that he would not prosecute a host of crimes—including thefts—admitted his campaign was largely funded through Soros or his groups. He has been so dismissive of crime and police that Texas Governor Greg Abbott has had to send in the Texas State Patrol to police large swaths of Dallas.
Soros gave $333,000 to the Safety and Justice PAC in 2016 to support then-Cook County District Attorney candidate Kim Foxx in Illinois—who is currently presiding over terrible violence and mayhem in Chicago, where murders are twice what they were in 2019.
Soros and his organizations spent $1.7 million to help get Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner elected in 2018. Before being elected, Krasner earned a name for himself by suing the Philadelphia Police Department 75 times. Since he took office, dozens of experienced prosecutors have either been fired or resigned. Criminal prosecutions have plummeted and crime has risen. Philadelphia now has the second-highest murder rate among large cities in the country.
Former Hugo Chavez advisor and current San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin was also funded by Soros and his groups. Boudin has called prison “an act of violence” and has refused to prosecute a slew of illegal acts, from public urination to the public solicitation of sex, which he deems to be “quality of life crimes.” By the way, Boudin is the foster child of Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn, of terrorist group Weather Underground fame. His birth parents were convicted and imprisoned for their involvement in an armed robbery-turned-homicide.
One of Soros’s favored PACs spent $402,000 to support a failed San Diego County District Attorney bid by Geneviéve Jones-Wright.
In 2016, a Soros-funded super PAC donated $107,000 to benefit Raul Torrez in his Bernalillo County District Attorney primary—which he won by a 2-to-1 margin. In fact, Soros’s huge funding prompted the Republican running to bow out because it was just too expensive to run against Torrez.
Soros-backed George Gascon is currently challenging Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey, who has been targeted and systematically harassed by Black Lives Matter supporters.
I’m not overly surprised to see the Twitter mob embrace a sudden, near-universal denial of these facts. I am alarmed to see that the force of this groupthink on social media appears to be strongly influencing professional media.
I think the heart of this mass denial is that Democrats and the Left are watching the terrible human cost of their misguided, pro-criminal, anti-police justice policies, and they are beginning to worry that the American people will realize who is responsible for them.
Rather than deal with something difficult—or admit they were wrong—the activists of the radical Left are trying to find some way to scream “racist” and get the media to follow suit.
America will suffer if our professional media continue to be overruled by our social media.
Newt Gingrich is the former Speaker of the United States House of Representatives.
Humans have, and always have had, a major impact on wildfire activity, which is expected to increase in our warming world. Andela et al. use satellite data to show that, unexpectedly, global burned area declined by ∼25% over the past 18 years, despite the influence of climate. The decrease has been largest in savannas and grasslands because of agricultural expansion and intensification. The decline of burned area has consequences for predictions of future changes to the atmosphere, vegetation, and the terrestrial carbon sink.
Fire is an essential Earth system process that alters ecosystem and atmospheric composition. Here we assessed long-term fire trends using multiple satellite data sets. We found that global burned area declined by 24.3 ± 8.8% over the past 18 years. The estimated decrease in burned area remained robust after adjusting for precipitation variability and was largest in savannas. Agricultural expansion and intensification were primary drivers of declining fire activity. Fewer and smaller fires reduced aerosol concentrations, modified vegetation structure, and increased the magnitude of the terrestrial carbon sink. Fire models were unable to reproduce the pattern and magnitude of observed declines, suggesting that they may overestimate fire emissions in future projections. Using economic and demographic variables, we developed a conceptual model for predicting fire in human-dominated landscapes.
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Fires play an integral role in shaping ecosystem properties (1) and have widespread impacts on climate, biogeochemical cycles, and human health (2–4). Frequent fires are essential for maintaining savanna ecosystems (5), whereas more episodic events in temperate and boreal forests create a mosaic of habitats in different stages of postfire succession (6). Introduction or exclusion of fire from the landscape may lead to rapid shifts in vegetation structure and composition (5), carbon stocks (7), and biodiversity (8). Globally, fire emissions are responsible for 5 to 8% of the 3.3 million annual premature deaths from poor air quality, and fire is the primary cause of elevated mortality from air pollution across much of the tropics (3). Fires affect global climate through changes in vegetation and soil carbon (7), surface albedo (9), and atmospheric concentrations of aerosols and greenhouse gases (10). Climate feedbacks on fire activity are complex and vary by biome and level of fire suppression (11). Given projected increases in fire risk from climate change (12), fire management will be increasingly important for maintaining ecosystem function, air quality, and other services that influence human well-being (13).
Climate is a dominant control on fire activity, regulating vegetation productivity and fuel moisture. Over short time scales, rainfall during the dry season suppresses fire activity, whereas over longer time scales, fuel build-up during wet years in more arid ecosystems can increase burned area in subsequent years (11). The redistribution of precipitation in response to El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and other climate modes therefore has a large and sometimes contrasting effect on the interannual variability of biomass burning across continents (6, 14, 15). Oscillations in Pacific and Atlantic sea surface temperatures also influence trends in fire activity on longer time scales (6, 15). Climate change may increase fire risk in many regions (12, 16), given projected warming and drying in forests and other biomes with sufficient fuel loads to support fire activity. Ultimately, the interactions among climate, vegetation, and ignition sources determine the spatial and temporal pattern of biomass burning (17).
In addition to natural processes, humans have shaped patterns of global burning for millennia (4), and human activity is now the primary source of ignitions in tropical forests, savannas, and agricultural regions (14, 18). Human influence on fire dynamics depends on population density (17), socioeconomic development (19), landscape fragmentation (18), and land management (15), as people introduce or suppress fires (4) and manipulate the timing and fuel conditions of fires in human-dominated landscapes (11, 14). During the past two decades, human population increased by about 25%, or 1.5 billion (20), and agricultural production increased by more than 40% (21). Today, about 36% of the world’s land surface is used for pasture or croplands (22), directly affecting the way fire is managed within these ecosystems. Earlier work has demonstrated that cropland expansion or deforestation rates are closely linked to regional fire trends (14, 15), and, for many regions, changing fire activity in recent decades extends a long-term transition from natural to human-dominated fire regimes (23–25). However, global implications of changing agricultural management and the mechanisms that regulate fires in human-dominated landscapes remain poorly understood. Even in areas dominated by human sources of ignition, variations in precipitation and other weather conditions may modulate year-to-year variations in ignition efficiency, fire spread rate, and fire size. The interactions among fire weather, fuels, and ignition therefore make it challenging to separate climate and human controls on fire dynamics at regional and global scales. Nevertheless, this separation is necessary to build and improve predictive fire models.
Satellite-derived burned area data provide a consistent global perspective on changing patterns of fire activity. Here, we analyzed long-term trends in burned area from 1998 through 2015 using the Global Fire Emissions Database version 4 product that includes small fires (GFED4s) (26, 27). We conducted several analyses to assess the drivers and implications of long-term trends in burned area (28). First, we estimated the influence of precipitation on burned area variability and trends in each 0.25° grid cell using a statistical model to separate climate and human contributions to fire trends (fig. S1). Second, we separated burned area into contributions from the number and size of individual large fires using 500-m-resolution burned area data from NASA’s Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) sensors (29) during 2003 to 2015 (fig. S2). Third, we compared observed trends with prognostic fire model estimates from the Fire Model Intercomparison Project (FireMIP), with the aim of understanding limits to fire prediction. Fourth, we examined spatial and temporal relationships between burned area and socioeconomic data to investigate patterns of human influence on fire activity. On the basis of these data, we developed a conceptual model of fire use that considers the roles of land management and socioeconomic development. Finally, we assessed the impact of the observed decreasing burned area trend on ecosystem structure, the magnitude of the terrestrial carbon sink, and atmospheric composition in biomass burning regions. Together, these analyses underscore the pervasive influence of human activity on global burned area, including the potential for further declines in savanna fires from ongoing agricultural development across the tropics.
Trends in burned area
Global burned area declined by nearly one-quarter between 1998 and 2015 (–24.3 ± 8.8%, or –1.35 ± 0.49% year−1). Large decreases occurred in tropical savannas of South America and Africa and grasslands across the Asian steppe (Fig. 1). Globally, decreases were concentrated in regions with low and intermediate levels of tree cover, whereas an increasing trend was observed in closed-canopy forests. Declining trends were robust when assessed with different burned area data sets and time intervals (Table 1 and fig. S3). Burned area from GFED4s and the 500m MODIS product showed a similar decline during 2003 to 2015 (–1.28 ± 0.96% year−1 and –1.15 ± 1.21% year−1, respectively), and satellite-based active fire detections from MODIS provided an independent confirmation of the patterns of decreasing global fire activity (fig. S4). Regional increases in burned area were also observed, but areas with a significant decline (P < 0.05) in burned area outnumbered areas with a significant increase in burned area for all continents except Eurasia (fig. S5). For tropical savannas and grasslands, declines outnumbered increases by 3:1. Within individual continents, strong contrasting trends were observed between northern and southern Africa, and between Central America and temperate North America (table S1).
Table 1Relative trends in burned area, number of fires, and mean fire size for different regions of the world.
Trends are shown for different time periods, as indicated, to directly compare burned area estimates from different sources. All trends were calculated by using fire season estimates of burned area, with the exception of the FireMIP data, which were produced per calendar year (28). Increases (regular type) and decreases (bold) in burned area are indicated for each region and time period; significant trends are denoted by asterisks (*P < 0.1, **P < 0.05, and ***P < 0.01).View this table:
Rainfall patterns explained much of the interannual variability in burned area but little of the long-term decline (Table 1 and Fig. 2A). Building on previous work (15), we developed a linear model to adjust for the influence of precipitation variability on burned area (28) (fig. S6). Long-term trends were more significant after reducing precipitation-driven variability. For example, the global decline in burned area of –1.15 ± 1.21% year−1 (2003 through 2015, P < 0.1) in the 500m MODIS time series strengthened to –1.23 ± 0.44% year−1 (P < 0.01) after adjusting for precipitation (Table 1). Regionally, precipitation-adjusted burned area time series showed significant declines in Central America, Northern Hemisphere South America, Europe, Northern Hemisphere Africa, and Central Asia (table S1).
A decrease in the number of fires explained most of the global decline in burned area with a smaller contribution from decreasing mean fire size (Fig. 2). The relative contributions from fire number and fire size to observed trends varied considerably among regions (Table 1 and fig. S7). In northern Africa, the number and mean size of fires contributed nearly equally to the net decline in burned area. By contrast, a decrease in the number of fires was the primary factor causing a decline in burned area in South America, Central America, and Central Asia (table S1). Regional and interannual variability in the size distribution of individual fires provided new information about the combined influence of climate, landscape fragmentation, and management on burned area; this information is essential for improving representation of fire in Earth system models.
Current global fire models were unable to predict the magnitude or spatial pattern of the observed decline in global burned area (Fig. 3 and figs. S8 to S10). During 1997 to 2013, FireMIP models (n = 9) predicted a mean trend in global burned area of –0.13 ± 0.56% year−1, compared to the observed trend of –1.09 ± 0.61% year−1 for this interval (28) (Table 1 and table S2). Focusing on the three models that account for human contributions to the number and size of fires (table S3), two models predicted a small decline in global burned area, but often poorly simulated the spatial structure of trends across different continents (Fig. 3 and fig. S8). Despite including land use and population as input variables, several models predicted increasing burned area (28) (table S4), consistent with global trends in fire weather (16). These model-data differences highlight the importance of human activity in reducing burning despite growing climate-driven fire risk.
Humans as a driver of the long-term trend
Population, cropland area, and livestock density were important factors constraining landscape patterns of burning, yet the sign and magnitude of the spatial correlation coefficient between these variables and burned area varied across biomes and along gradients of tree cover (Fig. 4). All three indicators had negative spatial correlations with burned area in savannas and grasslands. Although these three variables had similar global structure, we found that the distribution of agricultural activity clearly modified burned area beyond population alone. For example, widespread agricultural waste burning in large parts of Asia generated a strong positive correlation between cropland and burned area. Similarly, livestock density and burned area were negatively correlated in the Brazilian Cerrado, as livestock may directly suppress fire activity by reducing fuel loads or altering fire management decisions. In tropical forests, population density and cropland were positively correlated with the spatial pattern of burned area, as humans have introduced fires for deforestation and agricultural management (7, 27). In boreal forests, we found a stronger positive relationship between population and burned area in Eurasia than North America, consistent with past work documenting high levels of human-driven fire activity in Russia (30). Trends in agricultural production and fire activity were also consistent at the national scale. The largest relative declines in GFED4s burned area occurred in countries with the largest increases in agricultural extent and production value (fig. S11).
We developed a conceptual model of changes in burned area with increasing development based on spatial patterns of burned area, land use, population density, and gross domestic product (GDP) data (Fig. 5). Our analysis showed that the evolution of human-dominated fire regimes follows predictable patterns, with the transition from natural to managed landscapes in forest and savanna regions generating markedly different burned area trajectories (28) (figs. S12 and S13). For humid tropical forests, frequent fires for deforestation and agricultural management yielded a sharp rise in fire activity with the expansion of settled land uses, providing quantitative evidence for rapid ecosystem transformation during early land-use transitions described in previous work (31, 32). However, in semi-arid savannas and grasslands, the transition from natural landscapes with common land ownership to agriculture on private lands generated a nonlinear decrease in fire activity, even in areas without large-scale land cover conversion. The reorganization of land cover and fire use on the landscape also altered the contributions from different fire types to total burned area (Fig. 5). For both forested and savanna regions, the most rapid changes in both land cover and total burned area occurred for transitions at very low levels of per capita GDP (<$5000 km−2year−1, figs. S12 and S13).
With an expanding human presence on the landscape, increasing investment in agricultural areas reduced fire activity in both savannas and forests (Fig. 5). In highly capitalized regions, burned area was considerably lower, likely as a consequence of both mechanized (fire-free) management and fire suppression to protect high-value crops, livestock, homes, infrastructure, and air quality (13) (Figs. 4 and 5 and fig. S11). Livelihoods change drastically along this trajectory of fire use, as does the perception of fire and smoke (23). Regulation to improve air quality has significantly reduced cropland burning in the western United States (33). By contrast, fire activity increased in some densely populated agricultural regions of India and China (Figs. 1 and 4), suggesting that without investments in air quality management, agricultural intensification may increase fire activity in regions where crop residue burning is the dominant fire type. Agricultural expansion and intensification are likely to continue in coming decades (21), with the largest changes expected in the tropics, as development shifts vast areas of common land or extensive land uses toward more capital-intensive agricultural production for regional or global markets (21, 32). These changes in land use suggest that observed declines in burned area may continue or even accelerate in coming decades.
Successful prediction of fire trends on decadal time scales requires a mechanistic description of fire use during the different phases of development shown in Fig. 5. Considering the observational constraints described here, we identified three primary reasons why the FireMIP models were unable to reproduce the observed decline in global burned area. First, all FireMIP models underestimated the magnitude of burned area declines in areas with moderate and high densities of population and per capita GDP (fig. S14), suggesting that the models were not sensitive enough to the influence of economic development on fire activity. Second, although many of the FireMIP models included pasture area as a variable describing human modification of land cover, burning in pasture areas was often treated the same as burning in grasslands (table S3), and in many tropical countries, most land areas available for grazing had been converted to pasture by the 1970s. The relative saturation of changing pasture area during the past two decades contrasted sharply with very large increases in livestock density (fig. S15), highlighting the importance of better integrating drivers of land-use intensification within prognostic models. Third, fire models overestimated burned area in semi-arid tropical ecosystems and underestimated burned area in mesic and humid tropical ecosystems (fig. S14). This bias in the spatial distribution of burned area may have weakened the models’ overall sensitivity to human development drivers, because population and wealth changes were more pronounced in areas with higher levels of rainfall. Whereas the spatial pattern of burned area has been widely used as a target for fire model development in past work (34) (fig. S9), our analysis highlights the importance of using trend and fire size observations to constrain scenarios of future fire activity (fig. S10 and table S5).
Implications of declining global fire activity
The observed large-scale decline of burned area in the world’s grasslands, savannas, and tropical land-use frontiers had broad consequences for vegetation dynamics, carbon cycling, air quality, and biodiversity. Fires play an important role in regulating the competition between herbaceous and woody vegetation (5). In grid cells where burned area was equal to or exceeded 10% year−1, we found that the spatial pattern of trends in both dry season enhanced vegetation index (EVI) and vegetation optical depth (VOD) was negatively correlated with trends in burned area, consistent with woody encroachment in areas with declining burned area (28) (table S6 and fig. S16). However, further analysis of higher-resolution satellite imagery is necessary to quantify the magnitude of encroachment in areas with observed fire trends, as well as other mechanisms that may influence vegetation indices.
Less-frequent burning also allowed biomass, litter, and soil organic matter stocks to accumulate, contributing to a 0.2 Pg year−1 carbon sink by 2015 in tropical and temperate savannas and grasslands (28) (fig. S17, 40°N to 40°S). Placing this estimate in the context of the global carbon cycle, declining savanna and grassland fires accounted for about 7% of the contemporary global net land flux (35) and were likely an important driver of the large and variable terrestrial carbon sink previously reported in semi-arid ecosystems (36). Our estimate of the fire contribution to the terrestrial carbon sink is likely conservative because the biogeochemical model we used did not account for burned area changes prior to 2001, declining emissions in deforestation zones, or woody encroachment in regions with declining fire frequency (27, 28).
Analysis of satellite observations of aerosol and carbon monoxide concentrations provided independent evidence of declining fire emissions. Declining fire emissions lowered aerosol concentrations in the major tropical biomass burning regions during the fire season (fig. S4b), leading to improved air quality and regional changes in radiative forcing and atmospheric composition. Although atmospheric transport distributes fire emissions across large areas, we identified a strong local effect of declining burned area on aerosol absorption optical depth in frequently burning grid cells (correlation coefficient r = 0.26, P < 0.01, table S6). Similarly, declining fire activity also lowered regional carbon monoxide concentrations (r = 0.11, P < 0.01, fig. S4c), suggesting that decreasing biomass burning emissions may have partly offset other drivers of increasing atmospheric methane (37).
Declining fire frequency supports climate mitigation efforts but may run counter to conservation objectives in fire-dependent ecosystems. Frequent fires are a key aspect of many ancient grassland ecosystems that support a range of endemic species (38) and a large portion of the world’s remaining wild large mammals (39). The magnitude of habitat and biodiversity losses from declining burned area in savanna and grassland ecosystems may equal or exceed other human impacts in the tropics (Fig. 1), but these impacts have been largely neglected by the international community (40). Challenges for conserving savanna ecosystems abound; trade-offs among conservation, climate mitigation, human health, and agricultural production will ultimately determine the balance of fire activity in savannas and grasslands (Figs. 4 and 5 and figs. S4, S16, and S17).
The strong and sustained burned area declines in grasslands and savannas documented here represent a first-order impact on the Earth system, with consequences for ecosystems and climate that may be comparable with those of other large-scale drivers of global change. A shift toward more capital-intensive agriculture has led to fewer and smaller fires, driven by population increases, socioeconomic development, and demand for agricultural products from regional and global markets. Together, these factors influence fire use in predictable ways, with a strong inverse relationship between burned area and economic development (Fig. 5). The pervasive influence of human activity on burned area was not captured by state-of-the-art fire models; improving these models in the future may require a more sophisticated representation of land-use intensification and its influence on fire dynamics. Despite potential increasing fire risk from climate change (12, 16), ongoing socioeconomic development will likely sustain observed declines in fire in savanna and grassland ecosystems in coming decades, altering vegetation structure and biodiversity. Fire is one of the oldest tools for human landscape management, yet the use of fire is rapidly changing in response to the expansion of global agriculture. Achieving a balance between conservation of fire-dependent ecosystems and increasing agricultural production to support growing populations will require careful management of fire activity in human-dominated landscapes.
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Acknowledgments: N.A, Y.C., and J.T.R. received funding from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation (grant GBMF3269). D.C.M. was supported by NASA’s Interdisciplinary Science and Carbon Monitoring System Programs. G.R.v.d.W. was supported by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO), S.H. by the EU FP7 projects BACCHUS (grant 603445) and LUC4C (grant 603542), F.L. by the National Science Foundation of China (grant 41475099), and C.Y. by the European Space Agency Fire_CCI project. We thank M. N. Deeter for helpful suggestions on the CO analysis. The authors declare that they have no competing interests. Data used in this study are available at www.globalfiredata.org, https://reverb.echo.nasa.gov/, http://gpcp.umd.edu/, www.fao.org, and http://web.ornl.gov/sci/landscan/and are described in more detail in the supplementary materials. FireMIP model simulation output is archived with the supporting information, and full data sets are available on request.
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The British government is “actively” considering opening a second migrant camp to house some 250 alleged asylum seekers in Wales, as the illegal boat migration crisis in the UK deepens.
Following the revelation that the Home Office has taken over a former army barracks in Kent to hold some 450 migrants, the Welsh Secretary of State and the MP for South Pembrokeshire and Carmarthen West, Simon Hart, confirmed that the government is considering opening a second camp in a Ministry of Defence facility the small Welsh village of Penally just outside of Tenby.
Mr Hart claimed that the proposed migrant camp would have “minimal impact” on the community, according to Wales Online.
“I have now spoken to the Home Secretary, who is exploring (with a range of partners and Government departments) opportunities for further Covid-19 compliant accommodation for those seeking asylum,” Hart said.
“Following the submission of a request, the Ministry of Defence have commenced scoping options across the UK. One of the sites under active consideration is Penally Training Camp,” he confirmed.
Hundreds of residents in Penally disagreed with Simon Hart’s claims that the facility will have “minimal impact” on their community. Over 200 members of a group called the ‘Penally Camp Protest’ gathered outside the proposed migrant camp on Tuesday. The group has over 2,200 members on Facebook.
A spokesman for the group, Darren Edmundson, told the Western Telegraph that the group is “concerned for the safety of our family and our children, as we don’t know the background of the asylum seekers”.
“It has been confirmed that (it) is just 250 men. Why not women and children as well?” he questioned.
“We wanted to know the facts etc. It was so disappointing to not see the council or any MPs turn up to answer any questions,” he said, adding: “Simon Hart should have been there.”
Mr Edmundson said that they feel the facility would be better suited to help the local homeless people, saying: “We feel that the camp should have been used to benefit the community.”
Local councillors have also spoken out against the decision. County Councillor Jon Preston accused the government of choosing the location without understanding the local context, an exercise he characterised as “pushing pins in maps without any knowledge of the area.”
According to the latest figures from the National Audit Office (NAO) report, there are some 48,000 supposed asylum seekers receiving support from the British taxpayer as of March of this year. The number is more than double than that recorded in 2012.
The report estimated that the British taxpayer will be on the hook for at least £4 billion by the end of the decade in support payments to the migrants. However, this will likely be much higher in light of the record numbers of illegal boat migrants entering the UK.
Axios reports riot damage is the most costly in history.
The damage from riots and looting across the U.S. following the death of George Floyd is estimated to be the costliest in insurance history – between $1 billion and $2 billion.
Insurance Information Institute (or Triple-I) compiles information from a company called Property Claim Services (PCS), which has tracked insurance claims related to civil disorder since 1950, and other databases. It provided reports to Axios that the damage from unrest between May 26 and June 8 will be the most expensive in the nation’s history, surmounting the Rodney King riots of 1992 in Los Angeles.
The price tag could be as much as $2 billion and possibly more, according to Triple I. But the protests related to Floyd differ from others the database has tracked – never before have they been so widespread.
The insurance industry is bracing for possible unrest following the November election. “There could be riots that lead to significant losses that would meet our reporting thresholds,” Tom Johansmeyer, head of PCS, said. The company classifies anything over $25 million in insured losses as “a catastrophe.”
Riots and peaceful protests against police brutality have not only ripped through America’s major cities but also its rural areas – from Lancaster, Pa., to Kenosha, Wis.
Civil unrest, compounded by rapid-spreading wildfires, have been nearly constant in cities on the West Coast. Two deputies were shot in Los Angeles, and protesters reportedly showed up at the hospital where they were being treated shouting slogans like “Death to the police!” The LA County Sheriff’s Department wrote on Twitter that the protesters were blocking the emergency room entrance.
In Portland, protesters clashed with police for over 100 straight days, before Oregon declared a state of emergency and over 500,000 were forced to flee their homes due to fires.