As wildfires engulf parts of eastern Canada’s forests, the orange haze that remains continues to trickle down the American East Coast. New York City and New Jersey have notably been affected by the fires. Eerie post-apocalyptic looking images continue to come out of the region, with scientists declaring the area to currently have the worst air quality in the world.
A New York Times study additionally confirmed that this week marks the worst air quality in New York City history. The fires began near Lytton, British Columbia, where the hottest day in Canadian history was recorded last month. Temperatures reached 121º Fahrenheit, tying only with California’s Death Valley.
Today’s climate conditions are shocking to East Coast dwellers, who typically experience a damper, hurricane-prone environment. The internet is reacting with cautionary tales of environmental disaster, advice from Californians (who have long lived through the consequences of wildfires), and memes to get by.
The Internet’s Reactions
Given the initial shock of the situation and the very real danger it proposes, many are attempting to cope through memes. The constant barrage of historical threats to the global climate and tumultuous political events that have occurred throughout the lives of Gen Z internet users have long led them towards this popular coping mechanism.
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Many jokingly blamed Canada for starting a fire that now engulfs a significant portion of the U.S.. A popular reaction meme depicting a smoke-off at a Pride month event is jokingly circulating as the American “revenge plot” against Canada.
plotting revenge on canada pic.twitter.com/U65uNLokWV
— alex (@alex_abads) June 7, 2023
A notorious scene of James Franco‘s character from “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs” has also been trending on timelines everywhere today. In the scene, Franco sarcastically says “first time?” The scene is being paired with mentions of Californians who have dealt with hazardous air quality as the result of fires for the past several years.
The West Coast: pic.twitter.com/FErtKlg2JB
— Derek (@mister_pnw) June 7, 2023
Additionally, some joke that the sepia-tone of the sky matches up with the color grading on several Mexican and South American centered films.
New York State looking like Mexican cartel movie pic.twitter.com/vPntQ2HfcW
— Mohamed Al-Ameen (@1M_alamin) June 7, 2023
Others recognize the impact this will have on day-to-day life for New Yorkers.
going out for a coffee in new york pic.twitter.com/Ikdr1HAcph
— zach silberberg supports the WGA (@zachsilberberg) June 7, 2023
Elsewhere, some recounted this infamous Timothee Chalamet interview moment about the doomsday energy of today.
pov: you just looked out the window in new york pic.twitter.com/p1MHlJcnJF
— 𝐋𝐚𝐫𝐢𝐬𝐡𝐚 (@bylarisha) June 7, 2023
The True Impact
Meanwhile, others take a serious approach to the fiery skies engulfing East Coast cities and towns today. Many share first-person accounts of the strange, nearly apocalyptic energy in New York City today.
The vibe in NYC today is very weird. Everyone is kind of looking at each other, and at the sky, just sort of silently acknowledging how fucked up the situation is. I’m sure it’s similar in other East Coast cities. The resignation to a horrifying future is bleak
— Lolo (@LolOverruled) June 7, 2023
One of the biggest consequences of climate change is a rise in temperatures and changes in rainfall patterns. These in turn lead to wildfires.
my friend sent me this and said you can just see everyone in other buildings staring out the windows and her office is passing out respirators pic.twitter.com/5NESh9LbAT
— a bitch that SHITS (@thatcherhater) June 7, 2023
Politicians share informational articles on the fire and encourage voters and fellow elected officials to act. Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, who is from New York City, shared a call to action on his social media accounts.
Right now, 98 MILLION people on the East Coast are under air quality alerts from Canadian fires and, last night, NYC had the worst air quality in the world. Climate change makes wildfires more frequent and widespread. If we do nothing, this is our new reality. It's time to act.
— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) June 7, 2023
Angelenos offer words of advice to New Yorkers today on how to stay safe amid the unprecedented conditions. Some feel that the regional issue was not given the same amount of national attention, leading to a lack of awareness surrounding emergency protocol.
East Coast friends, some wildfire tips from a Californian: Stay inside if at all possible. If you must go outside, N95 masks help a lot. Avoid strenuous exercise, I know it's boring but you're not doing your body any favors rn. Drink more water than you think you need, 1/?
— Megan O'Keefe 🚀(The Blighted Stars out now!) (@MeganEOKeefe) June 7, 2023
New York City Mayor Eric Adams announced an air quality advisory through Thursday at midnight at this time.
We're in the worst of the conditions, but the Air Quality Health Advisory has been extended until 11:59 pm Thursday — which our teams have been anticipating.
Mask up and limit your outdoor activities.
— Mayor Eric Adams (@NYCMayor) June 7, 2023
President Biden additionally announced that the U.S. government has sent aid to Canada to attempt to contain the fires.
We've deployed more than 600 U.S. firefighters, support personnel, and equipment to support Canada as they respond to record wildfires – events that are intensifying because of the climate crisis.
Here at home, we’re in close touch with state and local leaders to ensure they…
— President Biden (@POTUS) June 7, 2023
Officials recommend K95 masks be worn outdoors at all times if you are in an affected area. Local officials also recommend city dwellers to remain indoors, and use air filters if possible.