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Sidwell Friends School's Student Newspaper Since 1974


Sidwell Friends School's Student Newspaper Since 1974


Sidwell Friends School's Student Newspaper Since 1974


Firefighters on High Alert as Wildfires Ravage Canada

Wildfires ravage Canada, destroying millions of acres and releasing carbon dioxide into the air. Photo: Wikimedia.

Since late April, wildfires have ravaged Canada, displacing nearly 120,000 Canadians and destroying 33 million acres of land, according to The Washington Post. The effects of the fires extended outside the Canadian border, with wildfire smoke creating critical air quality alerts and warnings for the Midwest and East Coast of the United States. 

According to AP News, all 5,500 of Canada’s firefighters and an additional 1,800 from the U.S. and France are “tirelessly tackling the flames.” To access the myriad of remote fires, water scooper planes skim bodies of water and drop their load of water on the forest in efforts to extinguish the flames.

While small fires are common in Canada, the strong winds experienced this year increased the severity. “These country-wide fires only occur approximately every 100-200 years,” said Quinn Barber, a fire science analyst at the Canadian Forest Services, in an interview with NPR. 

Studying the trees affected by the fires, ecology researcher Miguel Montoro Girona found numerous burnt rings among the hundreds of logs, revealing that these massive wildfires were an anomaly since they were more common in prior centuries. 

Environmental journalist Nathan Rott explained, “We’re still in the range of variability [of fires] for boreal forests, even if it seems unprecedented to us.”

According to the New York Times, the infernos have grown large enough to produce giant thunderclouds over 100 times this summer. These thunderclouds, known as pyrocumulonimbus, inject smoke high into the atmosphere that can travel long distances. 

These storms, aided by strong winds, have caused smoke to spread across the U.S., leading to dangerous air quality.

North Carolina State University (NCSU) natural resources professor Jennifer Richmond-Bryant explained that the smoke can irritate the eyes, nose and throat and be “associated with respiratory health effects, neurological effects and cancer.”

According to NCSU), Canadian wildfires are due to climate change, with Canada warming twice as fast as the rest of the world. The rapid temperature increase has caused heat waves and droughts in over 60% of the country. 

We’re still in the range of variability [of fires] for boreal forests, even if it seems unprecedented to us.

— Nathan Rott

NCSU has also found that the wildfires have released more than 600 metric tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere since May, creating a positive feedback loop that contributes to more wildfires. 

Additionally, the country is on track to produce more carbon emissions from the burning of forests than all of its other human and industrial activities combined, explained David Wallace-Wells in The New York Times.

“Jack and lodgepole pine tree cones are covered with a resin that must melt for the cone to release seeds and burnt landscapes create nesting and feeding areas for mule deer and woodpeckers,” explained National Geographic Staff.

Despite the positive impact on nutrient recycling, firefighters are hopeful that what the Canadian government describes as “Canada’s most severe wildfire season on record” fires will subside as they enter November.

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