New Abnormal: Climate Change Fuels Worsening Wildfires and Smoke

New Abnormal: Climate Change Fuels Worsening Wildfires and Smoke

Introduction of ‘New Abnormal’ Climate Change Fuels Worsening Wildfires and Smoke :

The increasing prevalence of wildfires and the accompanying smoke has become an unmistakable reminder of a world grappling with climate change. People like Emily Kuchlbauer and Ryan Bomba, residing in areas far from traditional fire-prone regions, now find themselves experiencing the impacts of wildfires firsthand, highlighting the far-reaching consequences of a warming planet.

The ‘New Abnormal’:

Scientists strongly reject the notion of a “new normal,” emphasizing that the phrase implies a steady and predictable pattern of extreme events. Instead, they describe the current situation as a “new abnormal,” where conditions continue to worsen. The ongoing warming of the planet sets an ever-moving baseline for increasingly severe wildfires and smoke events.

Reevaluating the Terminology:

As wildfires become more frequent and intense, scientists suggest reevaluating the term “wildfire” itself. These fires are no longer purely natural phenomena but rather a consequence of human-induced changes. By acknowledging our influence in making these fires more likely and intense, we can better understand the urgent need to address climate change.

The Growing Threat:

The scale and intensity of wildfires in North America have been steadily increasing due to the effects of climate change. Droughts, exacerbated by global warming, dry out vegetation, creating more fuel for fires. Additionally, the rise in lightning strikes, coupled with warmer temperatures, contributes to longer fire seasons and more extensive fire activity.

Living with Fire and Smoke:

Living with fire and smoke has become the new reality. Fire seasons are longer, air quality is reduced, and communities are increasingly exposed to harmful smoke. As the warming trend continues, fire and smoke events are projected to worsen unless significant greenhouse gas emissions reductions are achieved.

New Abnormal: Climate Change Fuels Worsening Wildfires and Smoke

Expanding Impact:

Wildfires in Canada, which have reached unprecedented levels, serve as a warning for other regions. Eastern parts of North America, typically less fire-prone, may also face similar challenges in the future. The influence of climate change is erasing previous geographical boundaries and turning wildfires into a global concern.

Reversing the Trend:

To mitigate the worsening impacts of wildfires and smoke, urgent action is required to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Despite international efforts and goals, emissions remain high, necessitating a concerted global response to address climate change effectively.

Health Consequences:

Smoke from wildfires poses severe health risks. Exposure to unhealthy air from wildfires leads to respiratory issues, cardiovascular problems, and increased mortality rates. The toxicity of wildfire smoke particulate matter is a growing concern, potentially surpassing that of vehicle emissions.


The intensifying wildfires and smoke events witnessed today are not an anomaly but a result of climate change. Urgent measures are needed to combat the warming trend and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. By acknowledging the ‘new abnormal’ and working collectively to address the root causes, we can strive for a safer and healthier future, where the devastating impacts of wildfires and smoke are mitigated.

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