In Spokane, No Fans of Canadian Forest Fires

Some people in Spokane, Washington recently raised their voices by proposing to turn their fans on. The smoke of hundreds of forest fires from British Columbia had wafted over the border, blanketing the city.

As the BBC reported, “They calculate that if each resident places at least five fans on the roof of their home, the city of 550,000 people could blow the smoke back.”

Spokane is 125 miles south of the border, so presumably the “high” setting on the fans will be chosen.

The wind turbine industry should realize they have a role to play as well. Powered by wind from Canada, U.S. turbines could drive the wind north.

One can only applaud Spokane’s efforts. Ever since 1776, and possibly even before that, Canada has been the source of some terrible weather for the Lower 48. As someone who grew up in Buffalo, NY, I know only too well the arctic blasts of Canadian air that arrive regularly, dumping piles of snow.

While the Canadians consider these “acts of nature,” they were nice enough to help Buffalo clean up after the Blizzard of ’77, sending trucks that actually melted the snow. Or perhaps they realized that having made the mess, they should be the ones to clean it up.

I can already hear the Canadians saying that we don’t seem to mind the cool breezes they send us in the summer. Or the rain that grows our crops and fills our reservoirs. They may even claim that they have no control over weather patterns, especially the record heat and droughts brought about by climate change.

The BBC also reported that the event’s organizers weren’t entirely serious about blowing the smoke back. But they were serious about raising money for Canadian charities, including the British Columbia SPCA and food banks, for people and animals affected by the wild fires.

This is just the kind of cross-border amity I was worried about. It signals a loss of resolve on the City of Spokane’s part. They see our Canadian neighbors as friends to be supported in times of need, like Canadians supported Buffalo when the city was snowbound. Hey, wait a minute—that approach makes perfect sense. That’s what neighbors are supposed to do, borders or no borders.

The fires are still burning in British Columbia. It’s their second worst fire season ever—last year was the worst. Fortunately, no one has died, although many people have lost their homes. California, with its own terrible fire season, has not been so lucky. Megafires, once rare, have also hit Nevada and Colorado. In Sweden, forest fires burned above the Arctic Circle. A fire in Greece killed more than 90 people.

The idea of fans is an clever way to draw attention to a dangerous situation and get people to donate funds to help. It also demonstrates that as our world changes, we’re all in this together.

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