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Climate Health


This coverage is made possible through a partnership with Grist and Interlochen Public Radio in Northern Michigan.

Wildfires in western and central Canada spread rapidly this week, forcing thousands of people to evacuate, with smoke sweeping into the Midwest and triggering air quality alerts in several states, a reminder of last year’s smoky conditions.

“You looked outside and buildings more than a couple blocks away were starting to look smoky,” said Matt Taraldsen, the supervisory meteorologist at the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency based in St. Paul. “You could definitely see the smoke outside, you could smell it, you could even taste it in the morning. It was really gross.” 

Climate change is a major contributor to longer and more frequent wildfire seasons and worsening air pollution due to smoke. 

Dry conditions and high winds are driving these fires, following Canada’s warmest winter on record. Some are “zombie fires” that began last season and smoldered undergro... Read more

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