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Wildfires, hazardous air, and what Christians can do — a note from Presbyterians for Earth Care

Presbyterians for Earth Care Moderator Bruce Gillette responds to the wildfires in Canada and the hazardous air being experienced in North America.

Wednesday’s news is “Wildfire Smoke, Unhealthy Air Envelops Large Parts of North America.” Air pollution warnings were in effect across Canada and the United States because of Canadian wildfires. In Binghamton, 20 minutes from where I live in New York State, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service said the city “looks like Mars” and “smells like cigars.”

The Washington Post reports: “Canada’s government expects “higher-than-normal fire activity” to continue throughout the wildfire season – which typically lasts between April and September – due to a combination of ongoing drought conditions and hot temperature forecasts. Smoke and haze from the Canadian wildfires have also affected the United States, leading authorities from New York to Minnesota to issue public health alerts and urge people to stay indoors and wear masks to protect themselves from potentially toxic fine particles in the air.” Earlier this week, the headline proclaimed, ‘ About 200 wildfires are burning across the country, and more than half are out of control.”

This natural disaster offers Presbyterians for Earth Care (PEC) members an opportunity to act:

Pray for everyone impacted – those who are losing loved ones, homes and jobs in the wildfires, those putting their lives at risk fighting the fires and those who have to work outside. Pray for government leaders and churches to act boldly to support efforts to counter climate change now. Ask for such prayers for your church’s prayer chain, email communications, prayer and Bible study groups, and worship services.

Keep up on the news: Here is a link to a New York Times article on the wildfires that is being updated frequently (no subscription needed). Keep track of your local air quality (https://www.airnow.gov/ is an excellent resource done by top government agencies).

Support those who have to work outside. We are giving out K95 masks and water to construction workers who did not realize how hazardous the conditions were for them.

Share ideas on how to counter climate change with family, friends, church members and others in your area. Ask your presbytery to share these ideas in their weekly newsletter. This free resource by Christian Century should be shared widely. PEC webinars are posted on YouTube and many other resources are online. Explore your church becoming an Earth Care Congregation. Encourage everyone to register now for PEC’s national hybrid conference, “The Climate Crisis & Empowering Hope,” September 20-23, 2023.

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