Guest Piece by Bill McKibben

Author, Educator, Environmentalist
Image: The view in Washington DC, as smoke pours south from Canadian wildfires.

All that anyone in the northeast corridor is thinking about today is the smoke in the air. It’s oppressive – New York has the worst air quality on the planet.

In a day or two, though, the jet stream will shift and the center of world power will be back more or less in the clear. Whereas climate change – and the fossil fuel burning that causes it – is the stuff of daily life for most of the planet. So it’s probably useful to have New Yorkers and Washingtonians breathing bad air for a few days.

Wildfires are on the rise because of climate change – but really, it’s combustion that’s the problem. Mostly we burn not forests but ancient forests, in the form of coal and gas and oil. And that’s what kills nine million humans a year – one death in five on this planet. So this week those of us who inhabit the eastern megalopolis also get to inhabit the rest of the planet.

Intrigue’s take: Bill is one of the world’s leading writers and thinkers on climate change. He’s had so much impact, biologists even named a woodland gnat after him! (Megophthalmidia mckibbeni). So we’re chuffed he shared the above with us.

Bill goes into further detail on the current wildfires over at his brilliant (and free) newsletter, The Crucial Years. It’s a must-read. Be sure to check it out here.