On June 12, the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre reported 220 wildfires that were out of control in the country, two up from late the previous week. As the haze from Canadian wildfires finally begins to dissipate across the U.S., many people are once again looking to climate change as one of the culprits. However, agencies involved in fighting these fires say that while climate change plays a role, it is a combination of several factors that caused out-of-control wildfires in Canada this year, in the western United States in previous years, and in other places around the globe, such as Australia.
In 2021, a report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change stated that fires were more likely to catch and spread in conditions that are windy, dry, and hot, which are on the rise throughout the world. Many fires begin with lightning strikes, but humans are a factor as well, and as more of them encroach on wild places along with the accompanying infrastructure, the chances of human caused fires rise. As destructive as they may be, wildfires are a natural part of many ecosystems.
Controlled burns, which were carried out by indigenous people in many areas in the past, such as Canada and Australia, can help keep larger fires from raging out of control. Agencies are increasingly looking to controlled burns as a possible solution. While foresters and governments will need to work together to determine the best solutions for managing wildfires, there is still a great deal that companies can do to reduce emissions and help slow the pace of warming, reducing one of the conditions that may be causing more widespread and uncontrolled burning.
Environmental concerns are shaping and changing many industries, from transportation to food production to many that might seem unexpected, such as elevators. Commercial elevators use a relatively large amount of a building’s power, and the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design standards issued guidelines for elevators in 2016. These guidelines affect the overall LEED score that buildings get.
For consumers who want a residential elevator and who are also concerned about sustainability at home, these residential elevators are less of a concern. They draw a fraction of the energy compared to commercial elevators and operate much more simply than one that may need to visit 20, 40, or 80 or more floors and transport hundreds or thousands of people daily. Other steps commercial buildings are taking to go greener include switching to more sustainable energy sources and green roofs, in which all or part of a rooftop can be used to grow grass and plants.
Among other benefits, these roofs can reduce heat islands in cities. There is growing concern about Maryland air quality and the surrounding states as well. Green roofs can also improve air quality, which was another issue that was highlighted across US cities in the past week.
The lingering haze across much of the Northeastern and mid-Atlantic US was exacerbated in part by a low-pressure weather system that kept the smoke in place instead of moving it on. Areas of the country that already faced air quality challenges experienced substantially worse problems than places where the air quality was usually good. With a severe fire season already underway in Canada, the beginning of June is probably not the first time that the U.S. will experience similar conditions throughout the summer and early fall.