Europeans don’t understand Canadian forest fires

Canada is on fire, huge fires are destroying forests in many provinces of the country, with unpredictable consequences. Human activities have also contributed greatly to this phenomenon and the situation is likely to worsen in the future.

Fires are spreading at an alarming rate in Canada, forcing large numbers of people to flee their homes. Pollutant particles from the province of Quebec also reached New York, significantly reducing air quality and shrouding the metropolis in a horrendous smog.

The European Union has already sent firefighters to control the blaze. A total of about 2,000 fires have been recorded in the North American country since the beginning of the year, with about 400 fires still burning. Since January, three-quarters of Hungary’s forests have been lost in western British Columbia and Alberta and eastern Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Quebec and Ontario.

According to experts, this year will be the worst fire season in Canadian history.

As a result of global warming caused by our species and thoughtless forest management, it is feared that events similar to those currently considered extreme will become common in the future.

Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry / AP / MTI The forest fire in Chapleau, Ontario, Canada on June 4, 2023, in this photo released by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry.

Unquenchable flames

Scores of experts are now battling to put out the fire, with the military even helping.

If someone in New York is wondering why there’s smoke, it’s because the flames here are inextinguishable

said For the New York Times Fabrice Mosse French fire chief. At the beginning of June, about a thousand French specialists arrived in the northern part of Quebec, and they were the first foreign reinforcements.

In Canada Mosse and his comrades faced unimaginable fire in France. The fact that boreal vegetation is highly flammable and large in scope is beneficial to the flames, and a European firefighter is unlikely to see anything like this in his life. Situations require a unique approach, often they try to stop the spread without vaccinating.

“For us, it is absolutely impossible to light the fire,” he declared Eric Flores, head of the French delegation. Flores is from the Hérault department in southern France, where wildfires happen often, but not like this one. “There is no fire in my district that is not 10 kilometers away from houses and people. If we let it continue to burn, it will become uncontrollable,” he added.

French firefighters are working in the Obedjiwan area, which is sparsely populated by indigenous people. Local residents, often completely amateurs in T-shirts, jeans and training shoes, also participate in the vaccination, which according to many experts is dangerous. The protection of settlements becomes difficult as many communities live in isolation without contact with the outside world. As the fire got closer, hundreds of elderly people and children were evacuated from the area.

BC Forest Fire Service / AFP

An unprecedented event

Ivan Villaverde CanosaPhD student at the University of Leeds Conversation It shows Canadian forest fires on its surface. In the course of his research, the expert focuses particularly on fires in the northern, arctic and surrounding boreal regions and among local populations.

According to Villaverde Canosa, in western Canada, fire is a common and natural phenomenon in forest ecosystems that play an especially important role in ecological life. Flames help regenerate forests, remove debris and undergrowth, open the canopy to sunlight, kill pathogens that damage trees, and provide valuable nutrients to the soil. There are many native trees in the area that grow back quickly after a fire.

A special feature of this season is that the otherwise wet and cold eastern provinces are also heavily affected.

The size and timing of the fires is a record, with the amount of area burned by wildfires in the past seven weeks reaching the 10-year average for the entire season, April to October. Much of the fire season still remains.

This spring has been particularly dry and warm across Canada, creating favorable conditions for the flames. This May, for example, saw less than half the normal monthly rainfall in Nova Scotia, and Squamish, north of Vancouver, recorded a high of 32.4 degrees Celsius on May 13.

A similar situation occurred in Siberia in 2020. By August of that year, the fires burning in the region were larger than any fire in the world at the time.

In persistently hot and dry weather, vegetation such as trees, grasses, and peat dries up. These can then easily ignite as fuel, feeding and spreading flames.

Canada is changing

As Villaverde Canosa highlights, there is no doubt that climate change is playing a role in current wildfires. Since the mid-20th century, Canada has warmed faster than most of the world, with average annual temperatures rising by 1.9°C between 1948 and 2022, more than double the global average.

Alberta Wildfires / EPA / MTI Smoke rises from the Sturgeon Lake Cree Nation wildfire in Alberta, Canada, on June 8, 2023, in this photo provided by Alberta Wildfires.

As a result of climate change, not only are average temperatures increasing, but severe heat waves and droughts are becoming more frequent. Because of such conditions, as we can now see with our own eyes, fire seasons are more intense and longer. Interestingly, a hot environment favors lightning, which increases the risk of ignition.

However, global warming is not the only man-made factor. Canadian tribes have used controlled fire to treat forests for thousands of years, and their method has long been effective and contributed to the health of nature.

Over the past century, however, efforts to suppress burning have been made in many parts of the country, disrupting the natural fire cycle and encouraging undergrowth and debris accumulation.

Forest conditions were further worsened by the introduction of less fire-resistant trees such as balsam pine and gray spruce.

Toxic air

Smoke in Canada isn’t the only contributor to local air pollution, warnings were issued June 7 for about 75 million people in the eastern United States — a total of about 100 million in North America. The smoke caused a huge uproar, including cancellation of flights and outdoor events.

Dr. Lena WenDoctor at George Washington University to CNN Although air quality has improved in many areas, the air in many areas is still full of harmful substances, he said. Those most at risk are young children, the elderly, pregnant women and people with underlying diseases, especially chronic lung and heart diseases.

In the short term, inhaling pollutants can cause, among other things, a sore throat and cough, and worsen existing respiratory ailments. “Studies have also shown a surprising link, namely the link between wildfire smoke and serious cardiovascular events, including heart attacks and heart attacks,” the expert said, adding that, based on some studies, fire, fever, and even flu frequency increase.

Effects can be caused by fine particles that can enter the lungs and even the bloodstream.

These substances cause inflammation and stress in the human body.

David Dee Delgado/Getty Images North America/Getty Images/AFP Smoke from a Canadian wildfire blankets the New York area on June 7, 2023.

Long-term exposure can have more serious effects, such as an increased risk of cancer and reduced lung capacity, but it can also affect cognitive abilities. As the intensity and frequency of fires increases over time, many people will experience harmful smoke more often.

Unintended consequences

However, he writes that the negative effects of wildfires go beyond air pollution Pure Technica. On the one hand, the flames wreak havoc on local settlements, and on the other hand, they also radically change the world they live in. About a quarter of Canada’s land area is still forested today, and fires affect many protected areas and species.

Healthy forests are essential for people and, among other things, they contribute to the drainage of sudden rainfall. That’s why an overturned fire season can also increase the chances of flooding and landslides.

Forests generally play a role in reducing erosion and keeping rivers clean. Because trees also participate in the water cycle, deforestation disrupts the local cycle, and large amounts of carbon dioxide are released from burning vegetation, exacerbating climate change.

Finally, fires also cause economic damage. Fires can directly put forestry companies in a difficult situation, but due to restrictions on air traffic, for example, tourism and airlines can also suffer losses. Meanwhile, diseases caused by air pollution are burdening the health sector and causing labor losses.

Although Canada is one of the richest countries in the world, climate change has not spared the region.

Almost half of the country’s land area is covered by forests, which are particularly sensitive to changes, so efforts must be made to adapt and conserve them. Recognizing this in some areas, they have already started using the old tribal forest management practices, but it seems that more intensive interventions will be needed.

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