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The Patterns of Wildfires in Canada

How the wildfires started

Over the past six weeks, Canada has been experiencing severe wildfires, burning millions of acres and causing massive evacuations (Cara Korte, 2023). As Canada leans into a season increasing with wildfires, climate change is the main factor to blame. Two factors that have been causing the Canadian wildfires include increasing temperatures and drought (Cara Korte, 2023). As temperatures continue to increase and drought becomes more prevalent in surrounding

areas, the weather breeds more lighting strikes, which eventually start forest fires. As jet streams from the Arctic that manage cold and warm air continue to weaken as well, the regulation of air and water temperature also affect the frequency and intensity of forest fires. (Cara Korte, 2023) As a result of these wildfires, thick, blanket-like smog has been covering many parts of Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, as well as large portions in the US (Cara Korte, 2023). Many advisories were put into place, warning people about the poor air quality and the smell of smoke.

Who the Wildfires Affect

Majority of Canada’s most famous provinces such as British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario were most affected by the wildfires. Despite the fires spreading rapidly across Canada, smog has been transferred to places in the US, such as the entirety of New York City and smaller places such as Manhattan (Cara Korte, 2023). Recently however, the fires have been said to be blazing in Quebec, where about 109 French firefighters assisted more than 1,000 Canadian firefighters and soldiers in putting out the wildfires (Norimitsu Onishi, 2023). Where the boreal forests are located in Quebec are also large communities “of about 2,000 members of the Atikamekw First Nations in the reserve of Obedjiwan” (Norimitsu Onishi, 2023). As these wildfires continue to destroy natural habitat, they also greatly affect the First Nations communities living around them, depriving them of food, water and other natural resources. Some reported to have witnessed the loss of their ancestral hunting grounds, which is an aspect of Indigenous culture that is highly crucial to their communities (Norimitsu Onishi, 2023).

Consequences of Poor Air Quality

Wildfire smoke from Canada has increased air pollution to levels that may be harmful to those exposed, especially those in susceptible regions. About 150 wildfires are currently destroying 300,000 hectares of forest in Quebec. Having fires more frequently can be difficult for wildlife. Even though many species are adaptable and will recover, researchers warn that the amount of forest burning is having a detrimental impact on animals, insects, and even the boreal forest itself (Watts, 2023). Steeve Côté, a biology professor at Université Laval and its centre for northern studies says that it's far more complicated for the smaller species at the bottom of the food chain. They aren’t able to move very quickly and the fire moves too quickly for small mammals. According to him, little research has been done on animals' instincts for surviving wildfires, although some will undoubtedly die while others may attempt to bury themselves underground to avoid the heat. Animals that do manage to escape a forest fire may have difficulty surviving in their new environment. Animals will be a newcomer to an established ecosystem and will face competition for resources. If their food sources burn, they must find other ones, and for some species, this requires a lot of learning time.

How to Prevent Wildfires

The majority of wildfires are started by negligence, which are rendered more likely by the heat and dry conditions brought on by climate change. There are a variety of factors that can start a wildfire. Here are certain safeguards the Red Cross has advised us to take to ensure everyone's safety. Make sure you are in a suitable fire pit that has been cleaned of all vegetation and is surrounded by stones before lighting a campfire or bonfire. Before departing, always make sure the fire is totally extinguished with water and covered with earth. Never build a fire on a windy day and never leave one alone, especially overnight. Do not burn yard waste or garbage cans unless your municipality permits it. Anything that is highly combustible should not be burned, including oil- or gasoline-soaked paper or fabric. Have a bucket of water, a garden hose, or a fire extinguisher on hand when using fireworks. Before setting off your fireworks, you might want to moisten the nearby grass and other plants. Avoid parking a hot car or other machine on dry grass and avoid letting engine oil or fuel run onto grass or other vegetation.

(Patterns of Wildfires in Canada) References
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