“This morning, our nation’s capital — and much of the northeast, including almost the whole of my state, New York — woke up once again under a veil of smog,” Schumer said during floor remarks on Wednesday. “As we speak, wildfires of unnatural strength continue blazing in Canada, sending toxic air and smoke over the border and over American cities.”
Wildfires are often started by human activities, such as campfires or explosives, but climate change facilitates environments where fire thrives. For example, California's dry climate and light rainfall exacerbate fires in the state annually.
Quebec has experienced an record heat this year, contributing to drought and dry conditions. Over 100 wildfires in the province have been deemed out of control, prompting evacuations in several towns and villages.
Catherine McKenna, Canada's former climate minister, also directly cited climate change as a force behind the fires, writing in a tweet: "Climate change is real and having a huge impact on Canadians right now with forest fires burning across the country." Canada's minister for emergency preparedness, Bill Blair, the fires "are some of the most severe ever witnessed in Canada."
The Quebec fires are affecting areas as far south as South Carolina. As smoke spreads across the East coast and Great Lakes regions of the United States, air quality advisories have been issued urging residents to stay inside.
“These Canadian wildfires are truly unprecedented, and we cannot ignore that climate change continues to make these disasters worse,” Schumer continued. “Warmer temperatures and severe droughts mean forests burn faster, burn hotter, and burn bigger. And the warming is happening at a faster pace in countries with higher latitude."
He said: “None of this is coincidence.”