Quebec Wildfires, June 2023, NASA

Media Wrong Again about Quebec wildfires

By Robert Girouard

Canada has been plagued by numerous forest fires in recent weeks. Almost all provinces, including Quebec, have been affected. True to form, mainstream media has been quick to associate these terrifying and spectacular natural events with (anthropogenic) climate change. Let’s look at the facts.

According to Canada’s Department of Natural Resources, natural disturbances such as forest fires, insect infestations, droughts, and floods have been part of the natural forest cycle for thousands of years and most often contribute to their regeneration. They release valuable nutrients contained in the litter and create openings that allow light to reach the forest floor, stimulating the growth of new trees. Fire is also essential for the reproduction of certain species, such as the jack pine, whose cones covered in wax only open under very high temperatures.

The boreal forest is particularly vulnerable to fires because it is mainly composed of resinous trees, which have a high flammability index compared to deciduous trees. Spring is also a season particularly conducive to forest fires because once the snow melts, the fuel accumulated on the ground quickly dries out. It should be noted that this is also the time when human activities responsible for 50% to 75% of vegetation fires resume.

Forest fires are part of the natural history of Quebec’s territory, just like snow, ice, and long winters. Since the Laurentide Ice Sheet melted ten thousand years ago, Quebec has likely burned hundreds of times.

Historian Stephen J. Pine, in “My Country is Fire – Quebec, Canada, Forests, and Fire” published in the International Journal of Quebec Studies, reports that immediately after the creation of Canadian Confederation in 1867, Quebec experienced a significant wave of forest fires, particularly in Gaspésie and the Lower North Shore. Then, a “Great Fire,” likely ignited by settlers’ slash-and-burn practices, devastated the Lac-Saint-Jean region, and nearly a quarter of the resident population required immediate government assistance. In March 1869, the government appointed a special commission to investigate, and it was in the wake of this commission that the first legislation and measures to protect forests were introduced. In 1901, it was the turn of the Abitibi-Témiscamingue region, recently opened to colonization, to be ravaged by flames. The year 1923 was one of the most devastating, with over three million hectares burned. After the severe droughts of the early 1930s, the number and extent of fires began to decrease, except in certain exceptional years.

According to a document from the Ouranos experts’ firm, based on dendrochronological studies, “the fire cycle in Quebec has lengthened since the mid-19th century, corresponding to the end of the Little Ice Age. In the boreal forest of Abitibi and central Quebec, the fire cycle changed from 70 to 80 years before 1850, from 90 to 150 years between 1850 and 1920, and from 190 to 330 years between 1920 and 1999. This decrease in fire activity is mainly attributed to a reduction in drought periods and possibly to the use of better methods and greater investments in fire control.”

However, a fire erupting in a forest that has not burned for 100 years will generally be more intense than fires that occur every 20 or 30 years, due to the densification of vegetation cover and the accumulation of fuel.

That being said, 2023 is on track to be an exceptional year in Quebec, especially compared to the past ten years, which have been rather less than ordinary in terms of forest fires, despite being “the hottest years ever recorded.”

As of June 5, the Society for the Protection of Forests against Fire (SOPFEU) has recorded a total of 417 fires since the beginning of the year, compared to an average of 199 fire incidents for the past ten years. Furthermore, a total of 160,342 hectares have been affected, compared to an average of only 247 hectares for the past ten years.

The year 2022 was particularly calm, with only 26 fires and an insignificant area of 34 hectares. Yet, we were in the midst of a “climate crisis” according to the UN. It goes to show that one should never play with fire when making inflammatory statements.

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June 7, 2023 2:39 am

Come on, nothing is more unnatural than natural cycles!

Bob Weber
Reply to  FarmerBrett
June 7, 2023 1:04 pm

More like natural occurrence. Canada has been under a low-density ozone bubble for a month, allowing stronger sunshine in, warming/drying the fuel load, sparking fires. Today’s total column ozone blue areas in central Canada are the worst areas for high UV & heat indexes.

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This could continue past the solstice, getting worse, if cloud cover doesn’t invade the bubble.

The only connection I would’ve made to emissions is the higher fire fuel load via more CO2.

Bob Weber
Reply to  Bob Weber
June 7, 2023 4:55 pm

Actually, that info isn’t as applicable to the Quebec fires as it was to the B.C., Alberta, and Saskatchewan fires.

Allan MacRae
Reply to  FarmerBrett
June 9, 2023 1:08 pm

In my recent interview with Laura Lynn, I speculated that some of the Alberta fires were deliberately set. I observed that numerous heritage churches in Western Canada were torched in recent years and nobody was prosecuted.

These news stories appeared soon thereafter.

Man charged with arson in 10 fires in northern Alberta | CTV News
More on arsonists:
Media blames ‘climate change’ for Canadian wildfires despite arrest of multiple arsonists – LifeSite (

and more:

Smith pledges arson investigation into 175 wildfires with no known cause | True North (

It is apparent that leftist groups are deliberately setting these fires to promote their false climate agenda. The timing suggests it was intended to influence the recent Alberta election.

The left lies about everything – that is their core competence.

June 7, 2023 2:42 am

More on fires from the US National Park Service … this about Yellowstone Park.

FireFire has been a key factor in shaping the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE). Several native plant species evolved adaptations so they survive and, in some cases, flourish after periodic fires. Fire influences ecosystem processes and patterns, such as nutrient cycling and plant community composition and structure. Fire regimes in the western United States changed with the arrival of European and American settlers. Most naturally occurring fires were suppressed to the extent possible. The National Park Service (NPS) aims to restore fire’s role as a natural process in parks when and where this is feasible.

June 7, 2023 4:00 am

“Media Wrong Again”

That comes across to me as if in some weird way they tried to get it right.  

They’re in the lived-experience, feelings trump facts business of pushing a narrative. Evey thread of the narrative informs them that their very existence is threatened. More so, it tells them they are ‘killing’ the planet.

Just last night the BBC’s Springwatch pewkfest ran a piece on poachers etc killing raptors and other ‘pest birds’. It was all very emotional… “look at this poor birds wing…” etc. The numbers were dwarfed by the unmentionable bird menace – the wind turbine. I should have known that bat/bird kill at windfarm sites – on and offshore – would get a net zero mention, they’ve forgotten all about that shocking incident with the very rare ‘white-throated needletail’

“About 30 birdwatchers travelled to the island to see the unusual visitor, which has only been recorded five times in the UK since 1950. However, they then saw it die after colliding with the wind turbine.”

Ordinarily, the death of such a rare visitor would result in wall to wall coverage in today’s emotional response fuelled reporting, but because a wind turbine was involved….


Reply to  strativarius
June 7, 2023 11:43 am

And did they mention the avian massacre brought about by feral and domestic felines???

Reply to  barryjo
June 7, 2023 4:17 pm

Plus stoats and other mustelids

Gunga Din
Reply to  barryjo
June 8, 2023 7:28 am

What are you trying to say?
Because cats and stoats kill birds, it’s OK that wind turbines kill birds?
Because cats and stoats kill birds, wind turbines don’t kill birds?

Rich Davis
June 7, 2023 4:04 am

We had an eerie orange light yesterday afternoon in Connecticut several hours before sunset and there was a whiff of smoke in the air. The waning gibbous moon resembled a total lunar eclipse this morning until you realized that it was not full.

I suddenly decided that there is a Climate Emergency ™ after all. There were never forest fires before now. Oh my God, we’re doomed, doomed I tells ye!

Reply to  Rich Davis
June 7, 2023 5:43 am

Red sky at might, sailors delight.
Orange afternoon sky with haze, Canada is ablaze.

I noted the overly yellow light in the morning yesterday, where I am presently in New England. By afternoon, sitting outdoors, my eyes were sore, so I went indoors, closed all the windows, and turned on the air purifiers.


Reply to  Bob Tisdale
June 7, 2023 6:29 am

In NJ last evening it got very smokey and sun went to a dull red, temperature dropped quickly too. Still smells smokey this morning.
Current forecast for Quebec is for a few rainy days so that should help.

Reply to  Phil.
June 8, 2023 9:30 am

Air quality index here was 407 last evening, currently 183.

Reply to  Bob Tisdale
June 7, 2023 6:48 am

The orange started Tuesday morning in SE PA.
Not quite as bad today, but they say it will be here until at least Thursday.

Tom Abbott
June 7, 2023 4:32 am

From the article: “That being said, 2023 is on track to be an exceptional year in Quebec, especially compared to the past ten years, which have been rather less than ordinary in terms of forest fires, despite being “the hottest years ever recorded.”

Here is a Tmax chart of the United States. It shows that current temperatures are *not* “the hottest ever recorded”. It was just as warm in the recent past.

Canada shares the same temperature profile as the United States.

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Reply to  Tom Abbott
June 7, 2023 4:48 am

A graph of Tmax to 2012 isn’t very useful to show 2023 temps.

Reply to  DMacKenzie
June 7, 2023 6:42 am

It does show that “the past ten years” started off with the third highest monthly Tmax, perhaps Bob will update his graph.

Peta of Newark
June 7, 2023 7:04 am

I’m puzzled here….
I took off to Google Maps and went for a mosey in that part of the world..

I found some random road (QC113) about 250 miles north of Ottawa and what I found looked sooooo familiar to a forest that was/is on my old doorstep in Cumbria north west England
It looked exactly like Kielder Forest – also Kershope Forest a bit to the west of Kielder

OK Kielder’s at 55° latitude and where I landed would be about 50° latitude.

But Kielder and Kershope never catch fire so why does an identical forest in Canadia do so?

Then Google map showed: the sites of a couple of wildfire – Chapais being one of them.
So I went there and look what I found…..
=an insane tangle of 3-phase (11kV) power lines running alongside the road and right next the trees, sometimes engulfed by the trees,

You Lazy No Good Buck Passing Muppets – trim those **#!!#**effing trees!!!!
burn baby burn – you get what you deserve.

Chapais Wildfire road.jpg
Reply to  Peta of Newark
June 7, 2023 8:59 am

  why does an identical forest in Canada do so?

It rains fairly often in Cumbria would be my guess. Forest fires after 10 days of dry weather are highly correlated…..and it barely matters how many arsonists are around if the forest it too wet to catch on fire.

Smart Rock
Reply to  Peta of Newark
June 7, 2023 11:55 am

You may think that boreal forest in Canada looks like a managed forestry plantation in the UK because you see a lot of coniferous trees in a google earth view. Come and take a leisurely stroll through the boreal forest and you will find that it isn’t quite the same. A leisurely stroll isn’t really possible when every second step involves clambering over dead trees, or having to force your way through dense tangles of undergrowth. Or you may come to an area that’s been burned and is renewing itself, where you often find 20-year old jack pines so close together that you need to use a machete to clean off the lower limbs to make any progress at all.

The difference doesn’t end there. The boreal forest doesn’t have tracks throughout, and people on the ground every day for whatever reason, who might notice a fire before it gets out of hand. Most fires in northern Canada aren’t noticed until they show up on satellite imagery. I haven’t been to the Kielder Forest, but I have been in managed forests in the UK, and I’ve spent a good chunk of my life in the boreal forest. There really isn’t much similarity, other than the fact that they are both full of trees.

Most of the boreal forest is in a natural state without much human intervention. Fuel accumulates until a fire comes along and cleans it off again – that being a natural cycle. Interfering with natural cycles by suppressing fires (which typically happens when fires are close to habitations or infrastructure) just increases the fuel load to the point where fires become more intense and harder to fight when they do occur.

It’s hard to judge from your photo, but power lines in forested areas are almost invariably kept clear of trees on a regular basis. I can’t recall seeing a power line with trees growing over the wires. When a line runs through a bit of forest, e.g. to cut off a bend in the road, it always has its own right-of-way cleared of trees.

The great majority of fires in Canada are caused by lightning. In 2001, I saw lighting strike a tree on a hilltop, and it grew to a 10,000 hectare fire in a couple of days. I had to evacuate my crew, driving down the only road out, with flames on both sides of us. Not the cheeriest day of my life.

Plus, the climate in most of Canada is a lot drier than it is in a hilly island on the down-wind side of the Atlantic Ocean.

Speak not of that which thou knowest little.

Reply to  Peta of Newark
June 7, 2023 2:56 pm

I don’t know if things have changed lately in California but when there was a great deal of smoke from all the fires there a few years ago, and great blame was being placed upon PG&E for not maintaining its transmission lines, there was a report that the activists inspired regulators had long prevented utility companies from doing enough trimming to prevent the problems of trees close enough to the lines to interact during high winds and trees close enough to the lines to catch fire easily if a line went down from other reasons..It isn’t natural, you know, to cut limbs off of trees.

More Soylent Green!
June 7, 2023 7:32 am

Lots of haze from the Canadian forest fires down here in the Ozarks. Yep.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  More Soylent Green!
June 7, 2023 10:53 am

Live shots of New York City look like Los Angeles looked in the early 1970’s.

But it wasn’f forest fire smoke in Los Angeles. They have made vast improvements since that time.

Reply to  Tom Abbott
June 7, 2023 4:24 pm

yes, Before the 70s the smoke haze was probably masked by the ever present smog from cars and the high coal usage outside of power plants
There were significant events in 1950s and 1960s
Satellites were in their infancy and didnt show the fires in Quebec and the smoke drift contribution like they do now

Dave O.
June 7, 2023 7:52 am

Isn’t it about time for Canada to outlaw matches?

Reply to  Dave O.
June 7, 2023 9:28 am

And the Zippo lighter

Reply to  strativarius
June 7, 2023 3:03 pm

A major reduction in people should have a beneficial result, and then there should be great restrictions on travel to keep the remaining people away from the trees. Both actions will reduce the danger to trees of matches and other man-made fire sources.

Rich Davis
Reply to  Dave O.
June 7, 2023 2:09 pm

Sensible match control legislation?

Matches don’t start forest fires, people do!

June 7, 2023 8:00 am

I am curious, why did you leave off the last sentence of the quoted paragraph from the Ouranus document? “Since the 1970s, alongside a warming temperature trend (Girardin et al. 2007, Ouranos 2015), there has been an observed increase in burned area in Canada (Girardin et al. 2007).”

Reply to  SilverLion44
June 7, 2023 9:14 am

Because it’s false for Québec… As indicated by official statistics from SOPFEU, the last ten years have seen almost no wildfires. Also, the long-term trend since the end of LIA shows a decrease in wildfire activity. Generally, there are more wildfires when the climate is colder because it’s drier. But thanks for the question.

John Hultquist
June 7, 2023 8:58 am

I remember this one of 1950. I was in Western Pennsylvania.
Chinchaga fire – Wikipedia

The entry claims this is the single largest recorded fire in North American history.

See the section: “Great Smoke Pall”
CO2 at the time was about 311 ppm.

June 7, 2023 11:28 am

This sort of thing happens on a regular basis. This happened to me when I was very young.
‘The year the island burned’: The wildfires in central Newfoundland are the worst since 1961, but nowhere near as widespread | SaltWire

It had been decades since there was a major forest fire in Newfoundland. Underbrush built up and the above took place. I was five at the time, and my recollection is that the air was indeed full of smoke for weeks. The Newfoundland Railway was closed for at least some of the worst of this. The TransCanada Highway was not yet finished; the paving was only complete in 1965.

Reply to  cgh
June 7, 2023 4:26 pm

Good catch
The Chinchaga fire produced large amounts of smoke, creating the “1950 Great Smoke Pall”, observed across eastern North America and Europe. As the existence of the massive fire was not well-publicized, and the smoke was mostly in the upper atmosphere and could not be smelled, there was much speculation about the atmospheric haze and its provenance.”

John Hultquist
Reply to  Duker
June 7, 2023 4:57 pm

Where I was the sky went completely dark after the reddening sun disappeared. Speculation regarding the end-of-times was common until the news of the fire caught up with the smoke.

June 7, 2023 1:41 pm

Here’s a site where you can see wildfires in real time;,-94.2,5z/overlays=heat,fires

June 7, 2023 10:06 pm

What about the contribution of earthworms to changes in the makeup of the humus layer of the soil in Canadian boreal forests?
As strange as it may sound earthworms we’re eliminated from the areas of North America covered by glaciers. They have only returned in the last 300 years with European settlers. There had been a thick layer of organic material on the forest floor which the earth worms destroyed. I was wondering if the absence of his material would make the forest more susceptible to dry weather as a fire hazard. Maybe Jim Steele has a viewpoint about this.

June 8, 2023 3:01 am

The forest floor in Canada is being altered by invasive earthworms. All earthworms in Canada were eliminated by glaciers during the last great ice age. The earthworms were reintroduced when Europeans arrived over the last 300 years. The earthworms have been munching their way through the forest floor in the boreal forests of Quebec. This alters and removes the layer of organic material which had been covering the ground. I wonder if this allows the ground to get dryer during warm weather and thus increase the chance for wildfires.

Gunga Din
Reply to  RMoore
June 8, 2023 7:36 am

All earthworms in Canada were eliminated by glaciers during the last great ice age. The earthworms were reintroduced when Europeans arrived over the last 300 years. 

You’re blaming Europeans? What other critters and plants naturally expanded their range once the ice was gone?

Reply to  Gunga Din
June 8, 2023 8:21 am

Actually they blame anglers who discard worms not used and thus promote the spread of worms.

Gunga Din
Reply to  RMoore
June 9, 2023 8:08 am

If the anglers were using worms but there were no worms in Canada, where did they get them?

Reply to  Gunga Din
June 9, 2023 12:50 pm

Bait shops.

Gunga Din
Reply to  RMoore
June 9, 2023 4:48 pm

Imported worms?

Reply to  Gunga Din
June 11, 2023 8:45 am

Yes. They are all imported one way or another.

June 8, 2023 4:05 am

Sounds like they need to approve more lumber production.

Bruce Cobb
June 8, 2023 4:25 am

It is like clockwork. Any natural disaster, and the bigger the better of course, brings cries from the Climate Cluckers and Caterwaulers of “See? SEE? CLIMATE CHANGE! And it’s OUR FAULT! By now, we should be beating ourselves and adorning ourselves with sack cloth and ashes. Because shame on us for living (or trying to) relatively comfortable modern lives. I see Bill McKibben has chimed in with the usual nonsense. Maybe the Canadian smoke will make him weep again.

June 8, 2023 7:03 am

We should see a large increase in fire simply from the increase in the size of the biosphere since CO2 emissions became substantial, however, we don’t.

CO2 increases water availability and retention making plants and soil more resilient to fire, overwhelming any small potential increase in fire weather.

However, that does mean fires will be less frequent and more growth between fires can mean more fuel is available when conditions are right.

CO2 fertilization makes the land better at handling water at both
ends of the distribution (extreme wet & extreme dry).

Plants modulate soil water & transpiration.

We have grown the biosphere by more than 50Gt C since the 60s. That’s a lot of water handling capacity.

Land is retaining an additional 77km^3 of moisture per year according to gravimetric analysis.

Timo- Not That One
June 8, 2023 8:51 am

All of the fires in Quebec started at the exact same time.

What can cause that?

Alastair Brickell
Reply to  Timo- Not That One
June 8, 2023 2:39 pm

Haven’t got time to watch any videos but maybe widespread thunderstorms with big natural sparks?

June 8, 2023 12:50 pm

Canada has record high wildfires and record high carbon tax. Solid proof that the carbon tax is causing the wildfires.

June 9, 2023 3:37 pm

Interesting commentary in the National Post, about forest management, and Canada’s wildfires.
– – – – – – – – –

Kenneth Green: Canada’s burning because of bad forest policy, not climate change

A call for more sane real-world real-time management of fire risk

Unless you’ve been living in an underground cave, you’re aware that there’s been a massive explosion of forest fire activity across Canada that’s sending clouds of smoke south to our American neighbours. Not surprisingly, they’re not happy — the orange skies are more than a bit reminiscent of Hollywood post-apocalyptic movies.

Here at home, our usual opportunistic climate alarmists including Prime Minister Trudeau, Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault and the irrepressible Elizabeth May blame the flames on climate change (and not their leadership in Canadian forest policy). And the only cure is to end fossil fuel use.

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