It was a beautiful sunny day in the northeast—except it wasn’t.

Haze from Canadian wildfires turned the sky a macabre orange/grey and the pungent smell of burning wood was everywhere. It was a grotesquely unnatural sight—and a deeply disquieting feeling—to see the air thick with smoke and smell the remnants of wildfires from so far away as they silently descended, casting abnormal shadows that resembled special effects in a Grade-B horror movie.

As The New York Times reported, “The sky in New York City rapidly darkened on Wednesday afternoon, as a plume of smoke from Canadian wildfires approached the nation’s largest city and sent the air quality index soaring past 324, the worst since the Environmental Protection Agency began recording air quality measurements in 1999.”

NPR added: “Some of the worst air quality was recorded in the Great Lakes region and in Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey and the Washington, D.C., metro area. But authorities from New England to as far south as Georgia were warning people to beware of poor air quality and the health problems that can result from breathing in too much smoke.

“The Federal Aviation Administration issued a full ground stop at New York’s LaGuardia Airport early Wednesday afternoon, citing low visibility. The ground stop was later lifted, but average delays of nearly 2 hours were reported. In addition to reduced visibility and a smoky smell, public health experts warned that poor air quality could be especially harmful to people with heart and lung disease, the elderly and young children.”

That we would have such devastating fallout from faraway fires so early in the season is yet another startling reminder of how we have disrespected the planet. And yet, the world keeps on turning. In the midst of this latest version of climate chaos, we were reminded this week that the 2024 Presidential race is quickly heating up (pun intended). Three more Republicans—Mike Pence, Chris Christie and North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum—have all officially entered the race this week. (Is this a repeat of 2016 when so many Republicans entered the race that Donald Trump split a divided field and won the nomination?)

One thing is for sure, the haze we see coming from the wildfires will be a minor irritant compared to the political haze that will descend upon us between now and next November. With the addition of factors that were not present then—artificial intelligence, deepfakes, the war in Ukraine, provocations from China, multiple indictments, and the unrelenting divisiveness in our country, it promises to be a wildly unpredictable season—not unlike the arbitrary directions the wind is blowing ash-filled air across our land.   

Those of you who regularly follow these blogs may recall that in last week’s post, I described the personal impact from the Canadian fires, specifically in Nova Scotia where burned acreage is fifteen times—fifteen times—that of a normal year. And it is only June. Our family has a home in the evacuation zone for the largest wildfire in Nova Scotia history. Satellite footage shows it burning merely yards from our family homestead. Officially, the fire is still not under control and the evacuation order is still in place. Roads are closed and getting accurate information is difficult. We will travel to Nova Scotia later this week and determine the extent of any damage. I will report back as soon as I am able.

One thought on “Wildfire Haze, Political Haze

  1. The coming political haze indeed! Holy smoke! (Couldn’t resist).. We read of the danger to your family getaway in Nova Scotia but any word yet on whether it survived the blaze?

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