Is Climate Change to Blame for New York City's Eerie Smoke-Filled Skies?
New York City is experiencing dangerous levels of air pollution due to Canadian wildfire smoke. Experts say climate change played a role.
Wildfires have been a hot topic in recent years. In 2022 alone, wildfires scorched 7.6 million acres nationally, with record-breaking blazes devastating many parts of the United States.
This week, the aftermath of the Canadian wildfires was seen in New York City as smoke drifted south and covered the entire area in an orange haze. As of Wednesday, the city reached an Air Quality Index (AQI) of 342, which is considered "hazardous" for residents. Baseball games have been postponed, flights have been canceled, and many citizens who couldn't stay indoors were seen wearing face masks.
So what's behind this next-level smoky haze? In a press briefing, New York City Mayor Eric Adams named the culprit: climate change.
"While this may be the first time we've experienced something like this of this magnitude, let's be clear, it's not the last," Adams said. "Climate change has accelerated these conditions. We must continue to draw down emissions, improve air quality and build resiliency."
In the past, Park Williams, a bioclimatologist at Columbia University, explained the connection between climate change and worsening wildfires.
"Warmer temperatures dry out fuels. In areas with abundant and very dry fuels, all you need is a spark," he told the New York Times. "Nature creates the perfect conditions for fire, as long as people are there to start the fires. But then climate change seems to also load the dice toward more fire in the future."
With more than 75 million Americans currently under air quality alerts due to the cloud of smoke sweeping the East coast, there's no better wake-up call that change needs to happen. And it needs to happen now. So take small steps every day to reduce your carbon footprint, urge your local leaders to take action, and spread awareness about climate change. Together, we have the power to shape a significantly brighter future for the world around us.
Featured Photo: PBS News Hour
Wildfires Are Blazing in the United States and Beyond—Here’s How You Can Help
Record-breaking wildfires are devastating the world. Here's what you can do to help, from hosting a family to providing a hot meal.
Based in California? Here Are 5 Ways to Prepare for Wildfire Season
In California and beyond, some realities of climate change are unavoidable. Here are five ways to prepare for wildfire season.
Not All Wildfires Are Bad: How Controlled Burns Can Be Medicine for the Land
Deborah Landau, the Director of Ecological Management at The Nature Conservancy, has worked on more than 100 prescribed burns. Here's what she has to say about the beneficial Indigenous practice.