The Truth Behind The Quebec wildfires: Lifting the Smoke Screen

by | Jun 16, 2023 | Investigates | 0 comments

In recent years, wildfires have increasingly captured global attention, with the latest surge being the Quebec wildfires that have engulfed vast swathes of the Canadian wilderness. Amidst a plethora of theories attempting to explain these devastating events, this article seeks to unravel the truth, dismantle misinformation, and assess the alleged role of climate change, weather conditions, and potential acts of eco-terrorism.

New York City was cast in a Martian-like hue on June 2nd due to the smoke plume from wildfires raging in Quebec, Canada. As the apocalyptic images circulated, the Internet buzzed with theories attempting to explain the cause of these fires. The left pointed to climate change while the right suggested a coordinated act of eco-terrorism by climate activists. But how accurate are these claims?

While both perspectives merit consideration, it’s crucial to discern the difference between climate change and weather. Climate change refers to long-term shifts, while weather is concerned with short-term atmospheric conditions. Or simply put, as geographer Andrew John Herbertson noted in his 1901 textbook ‘Outlines of Physiography’‘The climate is what you expect; the weather is what you get.’ Although climate change could play a role in creating favourable conditions for wildfires, more immediate, weather-related factors likely played a key role in these fires. This misunderstanding between climate and weather points to a broader ignorance and rampant ideological capture of the subject.

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Historically, radical measures have been taken by activists, such as the arson attack on Vail Ski Resort in Colorado in 1998 by the Earth Liberation Front (ELF). They carried out this act of eco-terrorism to protest against expansion plans threatening local wildlife habitats. However, conjectures should be handled cautiously. As of this writing, the official cause of the Quebec fires remains undetermined.

Echoes of Eco-Terrorism

The eco-terrorism narrative swiftly snowballed, bolstered by an array of misleading visuals and unverified accounts. Even respected figures, in the confusion, inadvertently lent credibility to this unfounded theory, often on the back of incomplete evidence. The allegations grew more pronounced when Rebel News suggested the wildfires were under investigation for arson, a sentiment that was later echoed by the Toronto Sun.

Interestingly, these claims, peddled by the aforementioned figures, were primarily disseminated as screenshots, not direct links to the original articles or the original tweets. The absence of a link to the actual source of information, such as the original Rebel News tweet—which was later corrected—meant that their followers were effectively hindered from independently verifying these claims. This approach can not only perpetuate confirmation bias but also shields an erroneous narrative from being directly challenged.

Further scrutiny applies to the TikTok video placed above, which allegedly illustrates simultaneous smoke plumes—a supposed piece of evidence favouring the eco-terrorism theory. The account that posted this video has a track record of sharing contentious, often out-of-context, or hyperbolic subjects. This challenges not only the user’s understanding of the weather tools they employ but also the authenticity and accuracy of the content they disseminate.

Closer Examination of the TikTok Video

On the June 10th episode of the Crowd Source Podcast Live, I was joined by Adrienne, host of the ScioSophia YouTube Channel, and a climate scientist and meteorologist. Known for her vocal criticism of the ‘wokification’ of academia and science, she offered a fresh perspective on the wildfires’ narrative.

Utilising the same software highlighted in the viral TikTok video, she recompiled the imagery into a video with 10-minute intervals. This refined timeline, absent from the original version, provided a more nuanced understanding of the unfolding events.

Adrienne’s recompiled video reveals that the initial TikTok video was a time-lapse of various images stitched together, lacking crucial context like the intervals between each image. Furthermore, the use of infrared imagery during the night makes it near impossible to accurately determine when these fires started due to their difficulty in detecting smoke. This analysis casts further doubt on the credibility of the TikTok video and the eco-terrorism theory it supposedly supports.

Dissecting the Climate Change Accusation

The opposing narrative, climate change, has been propagated strongly by eco-activists. However, Adrienne highlighted the common misconception about the intricate relationship between individual weather events and long-term climate trends. Attributing individual events like wildfires solely to climate change reveals a misunderstanding of this nuanced relationship. Other factors such as inadequate forest management, which can lead to wildfires, also play crucial roles.

When looking at the weather in the days leading up to the fires, it was apparent on the lightning map presented by Adrienne that there had been an unusually large concentration of strikes just one day prior to the first indication of a blaze. This therefore adds more credence to the argument that the fires were related to a weather event rather than climate change as has been asserted by eco-activists on the left.

A significant piece of the puzzle may come from her analysis of the weather data prior to the fires. She pointed out that a storm in the area had resulted in a higher-than-average number of lightning strikes, which could have sparked the fires.

In recent years, wildfires have increasingly captured global attention, with the latest surge being the Quebec wildfires that have engulfed vast swathes of the Canadian wilderness. Amidst a plethora of theories attempting to explain these devastating events, this article seeks to unravel the truth, dismantle misinformation, and assess the alleged role of climate change, weather conditions, and potential acts of eco-terrorism.

The image displayed above, meticulously prepared by Adrienne and sourced from the Weather Prediction Center, vividly illustrates the occurrence of a meteorological phenomenon known as a cold front. Cold fronts are defined by a marked transition zone where a cold air mass is replacing a warmer air mass. Adrienne further clarified that these transitions typically instigate ‘lift,’ a term referring to the vertical displacement of air in the atmosphere. This upward movement of air is a crucial element in the development of storm clouds. In this case, the demonstrated ‘lift’ signals that conditions were indeed favourable for the development of storms in the region on June 2nd.

When examined in conjunction with the lightning map, the locations of these weather events coincide perfectly with the areas that later suffered from the wildfires.

Under Canadian law, the term ‘arson’ is defined more broadly than many people realize, encompassing situations far beyond intentional acts of fire-setting. As stipulated by sections 433 and 434 of the Canadian Criminal Code, arson refers to intentional or reckless damage caused by fire or explosion to any property, regardless of whether the person causing the damage wholly owns the property. Notably, this legal definition also includes damage incurred through negligence. Consequently, unintentional human activities, such as a backfiring car or an abandoned BBQ, fall under this broad legal term. The Smithsonian Magazine has pointed out that such activities might be responsible for an estimated 84% of wildfires. However, the prevailing misconception that associates ‘arson’ exclusively with deliberate destructive intent inadvertently propels the narrative of eco-terrorism. As such, a correct understanding of this legal terminology is paramount when engaging in discussions around complex environmental phenomena like wildfires.

Piecing Together the Puzzle

A closer look at the headlines and their corresponding articles reveals discrepancies between initial claims and the article contents. The Toronto Sun’s headline suggesting that cops suspect arson was later toned down within the article. Rebel News had to correct their original tweet following the RCMP’s clarification that the referenced arsons did not cause any wildfires.

A significant piece of the puzzle may come from Adrienne’s analysis of the weather data prior to the fires. She pointed out that a storm in the area had resulted in a high number of lightning strikes, which could have sparked the fires.

While a definitive cause for the Quebec wildfires remains elusive, it’s crucial for us to resist the allure of sensationalised theories and remain committed to finding the truth. As this investigation shows, the truth often lies somewhere in between.

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