Fire in Canada, smoke in the US

There is no other topic of conversation in New York, and this is not an exaggeration, than the curtain of soot, orange atmosphere and smell of socarrimada.

Oliver Thansan
Oliver Thansan
08 June 2023 Thursday 11:10
5 Reads
Fire in Canada, smoke in the US

There is no other topic of conversation in New York, and this is not an exaggeration, than the curtain of soot, orange atmosphere and smell of socarrimada.

"In the conspiracies they say they've thrown smoke bombs," one twenty-one-year-old man tells another as they cross Broadway Avenue on the third day of impact from the wave of active fires in Canada, some 400 that burn uncontrollably. About a hundred are concentrated in the province of Quebec.

The President of the United States, Joe Biden, and the Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau, had an emergency conversation. Biden expressed his full support in the face of the devastating fires. He assured that he has given the order to send all available federal assets to fight the fire. 600 firefighters had already been dispatched and many more are expected.

Trudeau remarked that this destruction is increasing "due to climate change". In an article in The New York Times, David Wallace-Wells pointed out that "while the smoke darkens the sky, the future becomes clearer". It looks like a dystopia.

This strange effect, which experts call "atmospheric dispersion", can be seen in every corner of the country's largest metropolis and beyond, in practically every territory north of the East Coast of the United States.

About 120 million citizens are in a state of environmental alert due to poor air quality, from Minneapolis to Washington DC and to Philadelphia and Boston. And it moves to the south. New York has been transformed into a sepia-colored city, as if the present were a photo of the past.

There is a clear impact on everyday life, and not just as a topic of conversation, as evidenced by the White House's announcement that Thursday's gay pride event will be postponed until Saturday. due to poor air quality.

From the promontory of a building under construction in the south of the Bronx, a worker points in a direction and assures that "under normal conditions" the famous Manhattan skyline can be observed. As if it were cast in black, or rather a shade of brown with orange tints, on the horizon of this theoretically sunny day nothing can be seen, as if an extraordinary being had swept away all the skyscrapers and there left an abyss

New Yorkers, like millions of Americans, are this week confused by this phenomenon, which, they confess, they have never seen, even the most veterans. It smells like a “barbecue”, says the construction worker, or like a burning tire. It's even hard to breathe. The city had the worst air quality index in the world on Wednesday, with an IQair scale record of 342 (unprecedented since the 1960s), double the chronic pollution of Dubai (168) and Delhi (164).

In fact, the covid masks, which had almost disappeared, are being recycled for the occasion. During the time of the pandemic, the Big Apple seemed like a ghost town due to the physical emptiness. Now that feeling is back. People, less than usual, are still on the street, there are far fewer of them on restaurant terraces, but with a strange feeling and a bit of uncertainty. How can it be that the forest burns in Canada and the effects are felt more than 1,000 kilometers away? The world is a handkerchief.

Question of the magnitude of the disasters, encouraged by global warming, the direction of the wind and the low pressures. This situation affects visibility, which complicates traffic and flights or outdoor activities, which is why major league baseball games are canceled. It has caused the suspension of school activities or the recommendation to close windows and, if possible, stay at home due to the possibility of respiratory illnesses.

"Maybe it's a preview of what the Apocalypse can be," comments a smiling woman on a visit to the Bronx, where just leaving the subway you notice a much higher temperature than in Manhattan. "In Les Sagrades it is stated that it suddenly became night", he continues in his irony. Which it is, although it does not hide a certain fear.

New York has weathered hurricanes, tragic floods, multi-day crippling blizzards, but this circumstance is unheard of. The question arises: what is happening to us?

On Wednesday night, meteorologists showed maps on television that predicted a sunny Thursday. Then they superimposed other graphics with the smoke screen effect in which the sun disappeared in fog. The foggy phenomenon will continue, at least until Friday, although it is predicted that the whole summer may be this way.

Is it like that. Thursday wakes up brighter, although the sun is getting cloudy. And the smell of socarrim and the danger posed by air quality remain, despite the slight improvement.