Wildfires raging in six of Canada’s 13 provinces and territories have wreaked havoc across the country in the past six weeks, forcing mass evacuations and burning more than 3.3 million hectares of land, more larger than the state of Maryland.
As smoke now descends on the East Coast of the United States, affecting 75 million Americans, the serious threat to Canada’s forests has become clearer.
Some blame lax forest management, arguing that there is not enough prescribed burning thanks to campaigns by environmentalists.
In 2020, four scientists wrote an article published in Advances in Disaster Science in which they said that Canada was not spending enough money to manage the forests.
“Forest fire management agencies in Canada are at a tipping point,” they wrote.
“Presuppression and suppression costs are increasing, but program budgets are not.”
In July 2021, the editorial board of the Canadian newspaper Globe and Mail warned that more needed to be done to keep the burns under control and reduce the problem of out-of-control wildfires.
Smoke is seen billowing from the fire at the Donnie Creek complex, south of Fort Nelson, British Columbia, on June 3
Smoke billows upward from a planned ignition by firefighters tackling the Donnie Creek Complex wildfire south of Fort Nelson, British Columbia, Canada June 3, 2023
A swimmer in Cameron Lake in front of the Cameron Bluffs wildfire near Port Alberni, British Columbia, on Tuesday
But others say climate change is directly responsible, due to global warming.
Canada experienced an extremely dry, snowless winter, which left the 10 provinces currently facing conditions called abnormally dry, moderate or severe drought, according to the Canadian government’s drought monitoring tool.
Late last month, Canada experienced its hottest day on record when the town of Lytton, British Columbia hit 121 degrees Fahrenheit, shattering the previous record high of 113 degrees.
It tied California’s Death Valley as the hottest place in North America that day.
As a result, the wildfire season started incredibly early.
More than 1,400% of the normal amount of acres have burned for this time of year – 8.7 million acres so far in 2023, an area the size of Vermont. In an average year, 6.2 million acres will burn due to wildfires.
Dry, hot weather also breeds more lightning.
Half of forest fires in Canada are started by lightning; the other half by man.
However, fires caused by lightning are more destructive than those caused by humans: they account for more than 85% of the damage caused by forest fires.
Justin Trudeau, the Prime Minister of Canada, tweeted: “This wildfire season has already been devastating to communities across the country.
“We are taking action to keep people safe, to support those affected and to ensure that provinces and territories receive the assistance they need.”
A water bomber is seen over Port Alberni, British Columbia, on Tuesday
A helicopter water bomber drops water on the Cameron Bluffs in British Columbia on Tuesday
All 10 provinces of Canada are currently affected by abnormally dry conditions, thanks to an exceptionally dry winter
On Wednesday, Joe Biden said the United States was sending firefighters to help.
“We have deployed more than 600 American firefighters, support personnel and equipment to support Canada in its response to record wildfires – events that are intensifying due to the climate crisis,” he said. he tweeted.
Donald Trump has repeatedly blamed the wildfires on poor land management rather than viewing them as an effect of climate change.
Wildfires are not triggered by climate change and occur naturally. But climate change, with drier conditions, provides more ignition and makes their impact more severe.
Some scientists believe that rising global temperatures may affect the flow of the jet stream, making it weaker. This allows the air to stagnate longer and warm up.
The Canadian Natural Resources Agency says climate change could potentially double the area burned by the end of this century.
For Canada, this means a possible problem for the timber industry, as well as the destruction of valuable ecosystems.
The Canadian government said on Monday that the outlook for the remainder of 2023 was deeply troubling, with the fires are expected to get worse.
“Current June projections indicate the potential for continued above normal fire activity across much of the country through the 2023 wildfire season due to ongoing drought and long term forecasts. term for warm temperatures,” they said.
“For June, hot and dry conditions will increase wildfire risk across most of Canada, from British Columbia and the Yukon to western Quebec and the Atlantic region.
“In July, wildfire potential is expected to expand into the Yukon, although the eastern edge recedes from western Quebec into central Ontario.”