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Diminished Air Quality in New York is a Glimpse of our Future

New York has been completely engulfed by smoke coming down from the hundreds of wildfires in Canada, causing the city’s air quality to reach “hazardous” levels last week. Residents have been advised to stay indoors, to avoid the health dangers of the otherworldly scene. 

By 4 p.m. last Wednesday, the air quality index (AQI) was 413 for the city – historically high levels that haven’t been seen in decades for NYC. To put this into perspective 201 to 300 is considered “very unhealthy” causing a health alert for all citizens. The AQI reached on Wednesday is so hazardous that the entire population of New York as well as the central and north-eastern states would most likely be affected, according to the EPA. 

Wildfire smoke releases fine particulate matter, called PM2.5. It can cause health issues such as asthma and bronchitis if it enters the lungs. 

A sea of “code red” air quality alerts as far south as the Carolinas are prompting fear and causing disruption for tens of millions of Americans. 

The smoke created a haunting scene in NYC, where skyscrapers and the Statue of Liberty were blanketed by a thick orange haze. Mayor Eric Adams recommended people to wear masks outdoors and cancelled the city's outdoor events, even flights into LaGuardia Airport were forced into a temporary halt due to low visibility. 

This week NYC has officially logged some of the worst air quality of any major city on the planet. Civilians have described the smoke as throat-burning, unsettling, and sharing a resemblance of Mars. Six-year-old Mikhail Williams missed recess after it was cancelled by his school in the District. Mikhail and his father, Duane Williams, played tag in a downtown park, where they noticed the effect of the smoke. 

In an interview, elder Williams stated, “It’s like when you swallow sand, I can feel the phlegm building up in the back of my throat.”

In Binghamton, N.Y., the National Weather Service office tweeted about the dimming sky just before 10 a.m. “Sun is no longer visible, everything’s orange, the parking lot lights have come on,” it read, alongside a photo of the eerie scene. 

Michael Norton, a Canadian Forest Service official, told reporters earlier this week “Climate change is increasing the frequency and intensity of wildland fires and creating longer fire seasons in Canada,” further explaining, “Historical averages are increasingly not reflective of what we might see in the future, and that is why the word ‘unprecedented’ is increasingly being used.” 

Scientists are warning that intense fires could become a more common occurrence in our warming world. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, some of the planet’s leading researchers, has said that without an immediate and radical reduction in the burning of fossil fuels, wildfire seasons will grow longer, and more areas will burn, making this current scene a part of our world’s new reality. 

“While these events have been really rare historically, I think all evidence suggests they’ll become less rare in the future as the climate warms,” he said. “So, this is something we need to learn to prepare for.” 

Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer expressed “This smoke and fog over New York and the rest of the Northeast is a warning from nature that we have a lot of work to do to preserve the destruction of climate change.” 

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Tags: #environment #climatechange #climatecrisis #NYC #trendingnews #newyorkcity #canadianwildfires


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