Though conditions had improved considerably as of press time, Rocky View County recently experienced the return of smoky grey skies and poor air quality, due to smoke wafting in from wildfires burning in adjacent provinces.
The smoke that drifted into Alberta – first from British Columbia and then Saskatchewan – made it difficult to breathe, particularly for more vulnerable residents with pre-existing respiratory conditions, like asthma.
The conditions were bad enough that Environment Canada issued a special air quality statement for most of Alberta on July 17. The following two days were particularly nasty, with Air Quality Health Index (AQHI) scores of 9 and 10 recorded in parts of Rocky View County on July 18 and 19. Sporting events were cancelled and social get-togethers – finally allowed again after more than a year of COVID-related restrictions – moved mostly indoors.
Health authorities provided advice to those impacted by the worsened air quality, such as keeping doors and windows closed, limiting exposure to the outdoors and ensuring their ventilation units don’t take in air from outside.
Unfortunately, poor air quality has become an annual part of Rocky View County’s summers in recent years. As climate change continues to impact the world, we can only expect air pollution from nearby wildfires to continue putting a damper on our summers in the years to come.
If anything, the smoke-filled skies that arrive on our doorstep every summer provide a stark reminder of the need to address climate change. While some people may not like to acknowledge it, evidence of climate change’s impact is everywhere. If not the smoky skies in our own backyards, the recent floods that devastated parts of Germany and China are also examples of what a changing climate can do to our planet.