We have all been experiencing the poor air quality in the northeast over the past few days. The issue is mainly being caused by wildfire smoke that is driven by current winds into the region. While there have always been wildfires, there is also a connection between climate change, air quality and wildfires that is aggravating the current situation and also making it more likely to occur again in the future.
The Wildfires in Canada have started early this year, are burning faster and causing a significant amount of air pollution. There is a scientific consensus that the cause of the early fire season is directly related to our rapidly changing climate. These changes can lengthen fire season, expanding the window for conditions like we are seeing now. It also can impact how dry the conditions are leading to increased likelihood of ignition and also providing more suitable material for combustion. This, in turn, can lead to fires that burn hotter, cover more total area and last for a greater duration.
As climate change continues to get more severe, it is not unreasonable to think so too will the relationship between air quality and wildfires. There is significant evidence that we are recreating what paleontologists call the Thermal Max which occurred in the Cretaceous period…it appears to be recurring in 1/10th of the time today.
So, while I wrote about the problems associated with extracting rare earths last week…and the need to think holistically about how we develop technology is a REAL issue…(more to come on this)….We have an urgent issue to deal with on emissions….We need to act today…
These fires, and the poor air quality are just the beginning. You can check for your local air quality…and you can protect yourself today if you have the means to do so…but as they say, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
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The best air quality index apps to check wildfire smoke near you