Canada’s Wildfires Emit MORE Pollution Than 647 Million Cars

While you might think the world’s biggest worry when it comes to global warming is the number of cars in the world, as well as big countries like China, a new report is pointing to something a lot closer to home.

Infernos of 2023

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Wildfires in Canada last year pumped out more carbon dioxide than all the planes in the world combined. Yes, you read that right – wildfires in one country alone were responsible for emitting four times the amount of pollution than the entire aviation industry produced worldwide. 

Apocalyptic Scenes?

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Let’s go back to 2023 when Canada was in the midst of some of the worst wildfires the country had ever seen. At the time, people claimed they were nothing short of apocalyptic – and recent research has added a serious level of truth to that statement.

A Carbon Catastrophe

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According to a new report by scientists at the World Resources Institute (WRI) and the University of Maryland, these fires unleashed a massive 3.28 billion tons of CO2. 

Carbon Emissions Soar

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To put that in perspective, that much CO2 is the same as the emissions from 647 million cars. That’s over double the amount of cars that are registered to drivers in the entirety of the U.S.

Forests Go Up in Flames

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If you’re wondering how that’s even possible, the scale of destruction was immense. Millions of acres of forests went up in flames, releasing all their stored carbon into the atmosphere. 

CO2 Surge from Canada’s Blaze

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“Forests remove a lot of carbon from the atmosphere, and when they burn, all that stored carbon gets released back into the air,” explains James MacCarthy from WRI’s Global Forest Watch.

Trees Turn to Ash

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Scientists analyzed the wildfires and found that an area larger than West Virginia, or 29,951 square miles, was completely torched. This is six times more Forest than Canada typically loses from 2001 to 2022. 

Forests Go Up in Flames

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Canada, which is usually responsible for about 6% of global tree cover loss, spiked to a huge 27% last year. 

Cities Choked by Smog

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The impact wasn’t just environmental, as cities across Canada and the U.S. choked under thick smog. 

New York’s Smoky Summer

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You might remember New York City’s hazy 2023 summer – that was thanks to thick forest smoke traveling across the continent. According to the data, over 200 communities and about 232,000 people in Canada had to evacuate their homes.

The Toll on Air Quality

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“Because of these catastrophic fires, air quality in populated areas and cities was affected last year,” says Alexandra Tyukavina, a geography professor at the University of Maryland.

The Scale of Destruction

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According to fire expert Mike Flannigan of Thompson Rivers University, the burned area might be even larger than reported – potentially twice as big. He called 2023 an “exceptional year in any time period,” suggesting that while we might not see this level of devastation every year, it’s becoming increasingly likely due to climate change.

Heatwave Havoc

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Climate change is a huge factor here. Warmer temperatures mean longer fire seasons, more lightning strikes, and drier vegetation – perfect for fires. 

Record Highs

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The average temperature in Canada from May to October last year was almost 4 degrees Fahrenheit hotter than normal. In some places, it was 14 to 18 degrees higher than normal. “I expect more fire in our future, but years like 2023 will be rare,” notes Flannigan.

Regrowth Challenges Ahead

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Recovering from such devastation is no small feat. While forests will eventually regrow, it will take decades for trees to reabsorb the carbon that was released. In the meantime, the CO2 released is adding a lot to global warming. “The loss of that much forest is a very big deal, and very worrisome,” says Jacob Bendix, an environmental expert from Syracuse University.

Long-Term Carbon Consequences

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The instant result is a huge jump in the amount of carbon in the atmosphere, which makes the Earth heat up faster than normal.

Repercussions Beyond Borders

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If we had one statistic to measure how serious this situation is, it might be this: the research, which was published in the Global Change Biology journal, shows the fires emitted more CO2 than India did through fossil fuel use in the same period. The fires were not just a Canadian issue – they were a global environmental disaster.

Global Warming’s Fiery Fingerprint

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But what’s the takeaway from this fiery mess? It’s clear that we’re not just dealing with natural disasters but the escalating consequences of climate change. 

Global Response Needed

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Although forests can bounce back over time, the carbon dioxide released during these wildfires can stick around in the atmosphere for years. Governments will need to act fast to reduce the impact of global warming.

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The post Canada’s Wildfires Emit More Pollution Than 647 Million Cars first appeared on EcoHugo.

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The content of this article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute or replace professional financial advice.

For transparency, this content was partly developed with AI assistance and carefully curated by an experienced editor to be informative and ensure accuracy.

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