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Canada wildfires: blazes intensifying due to climate crisis, says Kamala Harris; Trudeau accuses opposition of inaction – live | Wildfires

Canada wildfires: blazes intensifying due to climate crisis, says Kamala Harris; Trudeau accuses opposition of inaction – live | Wildfires

US vice-president Kamala Harris: fires intensifying because of climate crisis

In a tweet on Thursday, US vice-president Kamala Harris said that the Canadian wildfires and subsequent smoke haze shrouding many east coast states “are intensifying because of the climate crisis”.

Millions of people are experiencing dangerous air quality due to wildfires across Canada, which are intensifying because of the climate crisis.

Our Administration is working closely with Canada, and state and local officials to respond. For all communities experiencing smoke…

— Vice President Kamala Harris (@VP) June 8, 2023

She added that the Biden-Harris administration was working closely alongside Canadian officials in response to the crisis.

With Canada currently fighting hundreds of wildfires in multiple provinces, the Guardian took a look at the small village of Lytton in British Columbia which in 2021 broke Canada’s highest temperature ever at 49.6C.

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Two days after the temperature skyrocketed to nearly 50C, a wildfire scorched the entire village.

Here is the documentary the Guardian produced on Lytton and how its residents have been relying on a collective spirit to heal:

Here is footage of the wildfires currently raging across British Columbia, Canada:

Canada: wildfires rage across British Columbia – video

With hundreds of forest fires spreading uncontrollably across the country, 3.8m hectares (or 9.4m acres) have already been burned, according to government ministers.

New York City’s health advisory has been extended until 11.59pm on Friday, 9 June, Mayor Eric Adams announced on Thursday.

“Please continue to limit your outdoor activities and mask up,” he said.

Massachusetts Democratic senator Elizabeth Warren has also chimed in on the climate change discussion as smoke from Canada’s wildfires continue to spread across the US.

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“Extreme weather. Drought. Massive wildfires that destroy our air quality. Evidence of a climate crisis is all around us and Northeasterners can look no further than out their own windows to find it,” Warren tweeted.
“We need to address this crisis head-on—there’s no more time to waste,” she added.

Extreme weather. Drought. Massive wildfires that destroy our air quality. Evidence of a climate crisis is all around us and Northeasterners can look no further than out their own windows to find it.

We need to address this crisis head-on—there’s no more time to waste.

— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) June 8, 2023

New Yorkers appeared to poke fun at the apocalyptic aesthetic that has engulfed the city in a dense yellow as a result of smoke drifting from Canada’s wildfires.

In one video posted onto Twitter, one resident appeared to carry a speaker blasting the soundtrack of Denis Villeneuve’s 2021 movie Dune, a science fiction epic set in a galactic desert.

if i had no idea what dune was and i heard that shit blasting from god knows where in the middle of some apocalyptic smog i’d shit myself several times over https://t.co/Rej0mEVTv6

— red (@95IMPULSE) June 7, 2023

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“I’d think it was the end of the world if I didn’t know abt dune,” one person replied.

Another person wrote, “certified dune moment in New York rn.”

New pictures are coming through on the newswires of the wildfires currently burning across Canada’s multiple provinces including Nova Scotia, Ontario and Quebec:

In this image released by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, the Sudbury 17 wildfire burns east of Mississagi Provincial Park near Elliot Lake, Ontario, on Sunday, June 4, 2023 handout photo. Photograph: AP
A handout photo made available by Alberta Wildfire showing a firefighter at one of scores of wildfires burning across multiple Canadian Provinces in Sturgeon Lake Cree Nation, Alberta, Canada, 08 June 2023.
A handout photo made available by Alberta Wildfire showing a firefighter at one of scores of wildfires burning across multiple Canadian Provinces in Sturgeon Lake Cree Nation, Alberta, Canada, 08 June 2023. Photograph: Alberta Wildfire Handout/EPA
A handout photo made available by Alberta Wildfire showing burning vegetation as firefighting efforts at one of scores of wildfires burning across multiple Canadian Provinces in Sturgeon Lake Cree Nation, Alberta, Canada, 08 June 2023.
A handout photo made available by Alberta Wildfire showing burning vegetation as firefighting efforts at one of scores of wildfires burning across multiple Canadian Provinces in Sturgeon Lake Cree Nation, Alberta, Canada, 08 June 2023. Photograph: Alberta Wildfire Handout/EPA

Mark Fischer, 58, an IT project manager from Royersford, Pennsylvania has shared with the Guardian the ways that the smokey haze has affected him.

Fischer wrote:

“I’ve been fairly lucky that I’ve been able to stay in the house since yesterday, apart from feeding the birds and taking out the trash. I’ve only been outside for minutes at a time, but it was enough to irritate my eyes this morning. Not my breathing so much, because I kind of held my breath. I didn’t want to risk it.
“I’ve remained inside since yesterday. I’m thankful we still have electricity and gas. This morning the sky had a surreal light salmon color, not as dramatic as the burnt orange from yesterday’s NYC photos. But the sun is breaking through now.”

We’d like to continue hearing from our readers in Canada and the US about the impact of wildfires and smoke. Please feel free to share your story below:

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Mary Yang is speaking to protesters in DC who oppose the Mountain Valley pipeline:

Protesters outside the White House said the wildfires are an example of why dirty energy projects must not go ahead.

Demonstrators said they were especially disappointed in Biden, who last week signed into law the Fiscal Responsibility Act to avert a first ever national default in a deal that included fast tracking the controversial pipeline.

“I feel like he stabbed us in the back, said Don Jones, who has lived in Southwest Virginia for 65 years and was sued by the company for refusing to allow construction on his family’s land.

Jones and his wife have been “fighting” against the pipeline since 2015, when they say construction began on their farmland in Giles County, Virginia. While no longer in use, the land has been in his family for seven generations, and Jones said he feels a need to protect it.

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Protesters at the White House
Don and Yvette Jones, of Salem, VA, were among protesters at the White House on Thursday June 8 2023 demonstrating against the Mountain Valley pipeline Photograph: Mary Yang/The Guardian

Jones, who voted for Biden in 2020, said he no longer trusts the president and wouldn’t vote for him again. “Unless he fixes this.”

“It might be rural country, Appalachia, dirt people, whatever they might think of us,” Jones said. “But there are some pretty smart people. They’ve worked the land, they respect the land, they’re stewards of it.”

Jones said the pipeline, which is set to cross streams and rivers, will harm access to clean water.

“It’s in the ground,“ said Jones, of the pipeline. “But We’re hoping gas will never be able to fill it.”

“We have to fight for the water,” Yvette Jones, his wife of 38 years, added. “If you don’t have water, you don’t have life.”

A small group of the demonstrators have moved to the sidewalk (blocking it is not allowed) and they expect to be arrested.

“Hey Joe, get off it; Put people over profit,” they are now chanting. (Unclear Manchin or Biden) pic.twitter.com/oU52VH3LXb

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— Mary Yang (@MaryRanYang) June 8, 2023

Pipeline protest begins outside White House

Mary Yang is reporting from a protest in Washington DC about the Mountain Valley pipeline:

A couple hundred protesters gathered in front of the White House Thursday afternoon, most from Southwestern Virginia and West Virginia, who say they were impacted by the route of the Mountain Valley pipeline.

As they gathered, the air quality in Washington was “very unhealthy” according to the site airnow.com, due to smoke from the Canada wildfires.

“Humanity has reached a breaking point,” one speaker said, addressing the group, adding that it was fitting that the earth was currently “on fire.”

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Protestors also called on Biden to declare a climate emergency, calling the hazy air “toxic dust.”

I’m outside the White House where a couple hundred protesters, many from Southwest Virginia and West Virginia, are demonstrating against the #MountainValleyPipeline, OK-ed via last week’s debt ceiling deal.

Air quality “very unhealthy” rn — many masked up pic.twitter.com/UtE4donaiV

— Mary Yang (@MaryRanYang) June 8, 2023

US president Joe Biden announced that he has dictated a national inter-agency fire center response to Canada’s request for further assistance in fighting its wildfires.

“I’ve dictated a national inter-agency fire center response to Canada’s request for additional fire fighters and the fire suppression assets such as air tankers. We already have 600 American firefighters on the ground,” he told reporters on Thursday.

Biden said that he will also send “fire suppression assets, such as air tankers” to help fight the wildfires.

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Joe Biden responds to Canada’s wildfires with national inter-agency fire center response – video

New York Republican representative Marc Molinaro told Fox News that it is too soon to start “lecturing” about climate change as the smoke from the wildfires continue to shroud numerous east coast states.

Speaking on Fox and Friends, Molinaro said, “There is little question that Canada needs to obviously focus on forest management but this isn’t the moment to start lecturing people about the science of climate change. Right now it’s about putting out a fire and keeping people safe.”

Republican Rep. Marc Molinaro on Fox & Friends: It’s too soon to politicize the smoke by lecturing about climate change (sound familiar?) pic.twitter.com/2v3TnIXQwC

— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) June 8, 2023

A Code Purple air quality alert has been issued for Washington DC on Thursday.

Code purple means that all groups should stay indoors for as much as possible and that those that must work outside should reduce their work if possible and also wear a high-quality mask such as an N95 or N95.

A Code Purple air quality alert has been issued for DC today, June 8. During a Code Purple alert, the air quality is very unhealthy. Residents are encouraged to take the following precautions and visit https://t.co/vvMM9EJ0ph for the latest air quality data. 1/2

— Alert DC (@AlertDC) June 8, 2023

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A cyclist rides under a blanket of haze partially obscuring the US Capitol in Washington, DC, on June 8, 2023.
A cyclist rides under a blanket of haze partially obscuring the US Capitol in Washington, DC, on June 8, 2023. Photograph: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images
Leyland Cecco

Experts in Canada say the country is increasingly forced to grapple with two wildfire peaks as climate conditions continue to shift.

“Typically, the peak of the wildfire season is often in the middle of the summer, not now. But we’ve had more area burn than any year since we’ve been keeping records. This has been an extraordinary start to the year,” said Paul Kovacs, the executive director of the Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction at Western University.
“But most years after this point in the year, it gets much worse, the fires really take off. And should that be what’s coming next. We’re very much on edge.”

More than half of the 414 fires burning from coast to coast are determined to be out of control said emergency preparedness minister Bill Blair.

In Quebec, where more than 160 fires are burning and the smoke has pushed down into the United States prompting dozens of air quality warnings, the province’s premier pleaded with residents to follow evacuation orders.

“Don’t put your life in danger,” premier François Legault said. “When we ask you to evacuate it’s because there’s a real risk.”

Already more than 11,000 people have been displaced by the wildfires and a record 457,000 hectares have burned.

“In the history of (the agency) – nearly 50 years – we’ve surpassed the worst year on record,” Quebec natural resources minister Maïté Blanchette Vézina told reporters. “It’s a situation that’s unprecedented.”

In this image released by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, the Chapleau 3 wildfire burns near the township of Chapleau, Ontario, on Sunday, June 4, 2023.
In this image released by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, the Chapleau 3 wildfire burns near the township of Chapleau, Ontario, on Sunday, June 4, 2023. Photograph: AP
Alfie Packham

Alfie Packham

Readers in Canada and the US have got in touch to describe how they have been affected from the smell of smoke to breathing particles in the air.

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‘There’s a lot of gunk in the air’

I live right on the border with Ontario. The fires are in an adjoining county, Pontiac county. We were told to stay indoors and keep the windows closed, and if you must go out, be very careful and not exert yourself. This is a first in this area; I’ve lived here for 29 years. My general feeling is that this is going to be the new normal actually. They say that wildfires are increasing throughout the whole world. And this is just one aspect of it. This has brought it home to us.

Blue has returned to the sky but for the past few days, it’s been like pure grey, a slate grey, and extremely depressing. And there’s a lot of gunk in the air. I was wearing my mask outside. David Mills, Gatineau, Quebec, Canada

Here is a satellite image depicting plumes of wildfire across North America:

A satellite image shows wildfire plumes over North America.
A satellite image shows wildfire plumes over North America. Photograph: Simon Proud/RAL Space/NCEO/NOAA

“Weather satellite data showed the plume travelling in a South-Easterly direction on the 6th and 7th of June. On the 7th, thunderstorms along the US Eastern Seaboard lofted smoke and gas into the stratosphere, while on the 8th the smoke itself prevented clouds from forming – meaning that New York has a cloudless day even though visibility was extremely poor,” write Simon Proud, a scientist affiliated with the UK’s National Centre for Earth Observation.

US vice-president Kamala Harris: fires intensifying because of climate crisis

In a tweet on Thursday, US vice-president Kamala Harris said that the Canadian wildfires and subsequent smoke haze shrouding many east coast states “are intensifying because of the climate crisis”.

Millions of people are experiencing dangerous air quality due to wildfires across Canada, which are intensifying because of the climate crisis.

Our Administration is working closely with Canada, and state and local officials to respond. For all communities experiencing smoke…

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— Vice President Kamala Harris (@VP) June 8, 2023

She added that the Biden-Harris administration was working closely alongside Canadian officials in response to the crisis.

Speaking to reporters yesterday, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said that the wildfires burning across Canada and the smoke spreading into the US is “yet another alarming example of the ways in which the climate crisis is disturbing our lives and our communities.”

“I know for many communities out West, this is nothing new. They experience this every year, but it is certainly getting worse. It is yet another alarming example of the ways in which the climate crisis is disturbing our lives and our communities.” —@PressSec on air quality pic.twitter.com/47RIl3My2l

— Climate Power (@ClimatePower) June 7, 2023

US saw record toxic air pollution from wildfire smoke in recent history

Oliver Milman

Oliver Milman

The US experienced its worst toxic air pollution from wildfire smoke in its recent recorded history on Wednesday, researchers have found, with people in New York exposed to levels of pollution more than five times above the national air quality standard.

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The rapid analysis of the extreme event, shared with the Guardian, found that smoke billowing south from forest fires in Canada caused Americans to suffer the worst day of average exposure to such pollution since a dataset on smoky conditions started in 2006.

“It’s the worst by far, I mean, Jesus, it was bad,” said Marshall Burke, an environmental scientist at Stanford University who led the work. “It’s hard to believe to be honest, we had to quadruple check it to see if it was right. We have not seen events like this, or even close to this, on the east coast before. This is an historic event.”

US Michigan representative Rashida Tlaib has called on Michigan residents to check on each other as Michigan continues to be shrouded in a thick layer of smoke.

“Thinking about all of our children and residents living with asthma + respiratory illnesses. This is so dangerous for them & all of our communities who already live with poor air quality. This is going to make it worse. Please take time today and check in on your neighbors,” she tweeted.

On Wednesday morning, Detroit ranked second in the world for worst air quality, according to IQ air quality index.

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On Thursday morning, Detroit ranked 12th, with New York coming in at number one.

Tlaib went on to tweet, “None of us should have to fight to breathe clean air. It’s our right,” adding that last week’s debt ceiling deal which reduces environmental protections “makes this worse.”

Detroit currently has the second-worst air quality in the country, behind New York City.

None of us should have to fight to breathe clean air. It’s our right.

Last week’s deal to reduce environmental protections + fast track a pipeline makes this worse. https://t.co/56hOFwrV5h

— Rashida Tlaib (@RashidaTlaib) June 8, 2023

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Maya Yang (now); Fran Lawther (earlier)

Published: 2023-06-08 21:13:15

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