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While Alberta Burns Premier Smith Flames Another Conspiracy Theory

Experts link Canada's fourth-worst wildfire season to climate change, but some politicians deny the connection

This year has been an unprecedented wildfire season, and experts have linked it to climate change. So far, there have been 616 wildfires in Alberta, almost half last year’s total. 

During an interview on Real Talk, host Ryan Jespersen asked Premier Danielle Smith about her government’s energy policies and their connection to the extreme fire season.

Jespersen mentioned that experts have pointed out the significant role of climate change in making us more vulnerable to wildfires.

“Every expert that we talk to indicates the significant factor that climate change is playing on our susceptibility to wildfire and on the conditions that lead to these massive blazes that are happening earlier and earlier in the season,” said Jespersen.

a vast green forest with massive clouds of smoke in the distance with a giant fire burning in the background
A wildfire near Evansburg | Alberta Wildfire

In response, Smith expressed concern that some of the fires might be caused by arson. She now plans on bringing in investigators to determine the cause of nearly 175 fires that currently have no known origin.

Scientists have stated that climate change is making fires larger, more intense, and burn longer, often lasting throughout the night.

Jespersen further emphasized that the hot and dry conditions, which allow fires to spread, are connected to climate change.

Smith did not directly acknowledge the link to climate change, but instead focused on building fireguards around communities to prevent fires from reaching towns and cities.

“You have to make sure when a forest fire begins that it doesn’t jump over into a town or a city because that’s when you end up with real trouble,” said Smith.

Since March, Alberta has experienced an unprecedented start to the wildfire season, with fires affecting over 10,000 square kilometres of forest.

Xianli Wang, a fire research scientist with the Canadian Forest Service, reaffirmed that climate change is a major contributing factor to wildfires.

He explained that climate change leads to longer drought periods, an early start and late end to the fire season, and drier fuel in forests, making fires burn more intensely and cover larger areas.

The extent of land burned in 2023 has already surpassed 40,000 square kilometres, making it the fourth-worst fire season in Canada’s history, even before the official start of summer.

Climate Change Or Conspiracy?

Some politicians have attempted to downplay the connection between climate change and the numerous wildfires in Canada.

These wildfires have even led to air quality alerts in cities like New York and Washington, D.C.

Premier Doug Ford of Ontario suggested that the issue was being politicized when asked to acknowledge the link between this year’s fire season and climate change.

new york city in a dense orange fog due to wildfires in canada
A photo of NYC blanketed in a dense smoke due to wildfires in Canada | Peter Forister | Twitter

Maxime Bernier, leader of the People’s Party, accused Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of lying on social media after Trudeau stated that climate change is contributing to the increase in fires in Canada.

“I bet a good portion of the wildfires raging across the country were started by green terrorists who want to give their climate change campaign a little boost,” said Bernier on Twitter

Last year, 60 percent of Alberta’s wildfires were caused by humans. But according to Alberta Wildfire, unless lightning is involved, fire is classified as human-caused. This does not exclusively mean arson.

“There are a lot which are caused by humans, but these are almost always accidents,” said Karine Pelletier from Quebec’s Forest Fire Protection Agency.

Karine also notes that recent lightning strikes were to blame for many of Quebec’s wildfires. But conspiracy theorists have been quick to link Canada’s devastating wildfires to politically motivated arsonists. 

Meanwhile, thousands of Canadians are losing their homes and livelihoods. Whether or not Canada’s wildfires are caused by climate change or arsonists, this is the time to show compassion to our fellow Canadians.

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