The World Today for June 19, 2023


Hot Stuff


In an example of climate change arousing an international effort, firefighters from around the globe have rushed to help put out the Canadian wildfires that have burned 13 million acres of forest and choked the US Midwest and Eastern seaboard with smoke in the past month, reported France 24.

The smoke even moved over Greenland and Iceland and was expected to hit Norway.

“From Northern Hemisphere to Southern Hemisphere, from one region of the world to another, the fire seasons aren’t always aligned and that allows for a traveling of resources that is part of how we’re going to make sure we’re protecting communities all around the world,” said Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, according to the Canadian Press.

Canada has been battling more than 400 fires in nine provinces and two territories, Deutsche Welle reported. More than half of those are out of control.

In Quebec, the fires have displaced thousands of people and disrupted services and businesses, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation reported.

The adverse health effects of the smoke, meanwhile, led a medical analyst to advise CNN readers that they should purchase air filters and keep “go bags” in case they need to evacuate an area due to toxic conditions.

While it can be difficult to directly draw a cause-and-effect relationship for a specific fire, scientists told the BBC that wildfires around the world have become more severe due to climate change. The United Nations, furthermore, recently warned that the next five years will be the hottest on record, foreshadowing potentially worse fires, the Hindu wrote.

Accordingly, as the smoke subsided but the fires continued to burn or flare up – the Washington Post cautioned that they could worsen – Trudeau and other leaders warned that the current ecological and health crisis was a taste of the future, reported Reuters.

More heat and therefore more wildfires are the new normal, quipped the New York Times. Humans have been burning untold quantities of coal, oil, and gas for more than 150 years. That’s not stopping anytime soon. International efforts to limit global warming to a rise of 1.5 degrees Celsius from the preindustrial era have also come up short. Temperatures on the planet are now expected to increase by more than 2 degrees Celsius by 2035.

A Canadian Forest Service fire scientist, Morgan Crowley, explained to Vox that hotter temperatures dried out the trees and the underbrush, creating a tinderbox that has a greater chance of igniting. The Canadian government, he said, was launching a satellite designed specifically to observe wildfire patterns and behavior.

This particular cycle of fires occurred because Eastern Canada was unusually hot and dry in May, added Scientific American. Lightning provided the spark to kick off the conflagration.

The forests surely contain a plethora of reasons why they might burn.

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