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Expect more smokey air ahead from Canada’s wildfires

Jun 15, 2023


As of June 14, according to the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre, Canada had 461 active fires burning — and about half of them (236) are considered “out of control.” Combined, the wildfires in Canada have burned about 15 times the normal area for this time of year and officials warn it’s only going to get worse. Wildfires usually peak in the hotter months of July and August so the U.S. may see more dark haze and smoky skies ahead.

What’s going on? Straight Arrow News contributor Peter Zeihan explains how dry land, windy weather and frequent lightning are contributing to the crisis.

Excerpted from Peter’s June 14 “Zeihan on Geopolitics” newsletter:

Let’s just say that our old friend Smokey Bear wouldn’t be too happy with the Canadians this past week. And these fires are likely only the beginning of a very long summer of low air quality.

We’re getting hit with the trifecta right now. Wildfires (which are as essential a part of BC’s natural ecosystem management as they are to California’s chaparral) in Northern Alberta and Eastern BC, fires (which happen very rarely) in Quebec and the Maritime provinces, and agricultural fires (yearly slash and burns) in Mexico. These are all large enough to cover a vast swath of the US with smoke individually; adding insult to injury, the smoke from multiple fires is overlapping at different elevations.

So can any of this be attributed to climate change? I’m going to say yes…because it’s only June. Some of these fires started in MAY. Barring an unprecedented wet summer, we’ll be dealing with this for months to come.

It may be time to upgrade those filtration systems if you haven’t already.

Hey, everybody, Peter Zion here coming to you from cloudy Colorado. Today we’re going to talk about this horrible smoke that is hitting most of the country. Basically, if you are east of the Front Range, your experience it in some way, but particularly dense clusters in places like the American North East, I hate to say it, folks, but this is just going to be the beginning of a very, very, very long summer of low air quality.
We’ve got three things happening at the same time that which have never happened together before. The first which is something that happens every few years is we’ve got forest fires in northern Alberta and northeastern British Columbia, which is generating a significant amount of smoke that is currently hitting the Great Plains in the Midwest. Second, and this is something that happens very rarely. We’re getting extensive fires in both Quebec and in Canada’s maritime provinces, which is generating most of the smoke that is hitting the American northeast. And then third, something we get every year is we’re at that part of the season where the Mexicans are doing a slash and burn preparation for certain types of fields. So we’ve got more smoke coming up from the south, which is primarily hitting Texas right now. Anyway, all three of these are big enough that they had the potential to have a huge swath of coverage for the continent. And in a lot of cases, we’re seeing overlapping layers. Now smoke and fires not automatically translate into poor air quality, because it really matters what the elevation is. Oftentimes, a few days after the smoke leaves the source of the fire, it drifts up. And when it does, that, it still makes you the skies kind of crappy, but you’re not dealing with those PMI issues. Because we’ve got three different sources in three different geographies, we’re getting smoke at multiple elevations, which is making it more of a problem. So really, all we’re waiting now for is for the Californians to have smoke. But luckily, they have had the wettest year on record so far. So the chances of me going backpacking in Yosemite this year are very low, there’s still 40 feet of snow on the ground at high elevation. And so they’re probably going to have a relatively wet and therefore not fire fire filled summer.
For those of you who are concerned about climate change, is that part of this, I’m gonna have to say yes, for the simple reason that it’s only June and the Albertan in the Quebec fires, you know, started in May, we’ve never had wildfires on this scale this early in the season. Which means barring some really a typical summer precipitation in the great white north, we’re going to be dealing with this smoke and these fires all through June and July and August and September until we get snow. We learned that over and over and over again with the California fires you basically have to wait for Christmas for this stuff to get put out completely. So if you haven’t put a filtering system for your home ah back in your Amazon cart now might be the time if you’re living in an apartment or you don’t have a traditional h h HVAC system. There are a number of models of standalone air filters you might want to consider investing in those because this is going to be kind of a crappy summer. If you’re east of the Front Range. I can see the smoke from my neighborhood. But luckily the mountains are provided enough of a bulwark that I’m okay here of course I am going to Canada here in a few hours and then all bets are off. Alright, that’s it for me. You guys. Take care. Stay safe.

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