We’re pretty smug about wildfires here in the Northeast, where it’s generally cool and damp enough to save us from Western-style conflagrations. But that smugness is wearing thin.
The wildfires in equally cool and damp Quebec and Nova Scotia have emphasized the way that climate change is removing our protective environment. As a recent report from Dartmouth (here it is) notes, however, we don’t really know how vulnerable we are:
The tipping point for wildfire in eastern North America is not well known given the lower intensity of wildfires compared to the West. Scientists do not have a great sense of how sensitive wildfire is to temperature versus precipitation changes in eastern North America, nor how this sensitivity is shaped by decades of fire suppression practices and declines in ecosystem health due to pests and tree disease.
You can see how unusual big are in Canada by the fact that they had to bring in wildfire-fighting teams from other countries, including South Africa. There’s a clip on YouTube of them singing as they arrived in Edmonton.