Leaders from across the worlds of politics, entertainment, and activism warned on Wednesday that the wildfire smoke blanketing the East Coast today is a sign of the climate crisis.

“It bears repeating how unprepared we are for the climate crisis,” New York congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez wrote on Twitter on Wednesday, referencing the smoke and recent soaring temperatures in Puerto Rico. “We must adapt our food systems, energy grids, infrastructure, healthcare, etc ASAP to prepare for what’s to come and catch up to what is already here.”

Fellow progressive Bernie Sanders sounded a similar note, writing on Twitter: “Right now, 98 MILLION people on the East Coast are under air quality alerts from Canadian fires and, last night, NYC had the worst air quality in the world.”

“Climate change makes wildfires more frequent and widespread,” he added. “If we do nothing, this is our new reality. It’s time to act.”

It wasn’t just Congress where high-profile figures were paying attention to the smoke.

Celebrities also weighed in, with Bravo TV host Andy Cohen writing on Instagram, “This is like the end of the world walking around here with all this smoke,” as he walked through New York City.

Scientists also said the wildfire problems were a sign of the climate crisis that’s already here, and a preview of the sorts of conditions that will come if changes aren’t made.

“Today New York City hit record-breaking Air Quality Index (AQI) levels due to Canadian wildfire smoke,” the Sierra Club, an environmental advocacy organisation, wrote in a statement on Wednesday. “We know this is what the climate crisis looks like, and, this crisis is all too familiar in other parts of the world.”

“This is what the sunrise over New York looked like today due to wildfire smoke coming over from Canada,” added Dr Lucky Tran of Columbia University on Twitter, sharing a video of an unnaturally hazy sun over New York City. “Air quality levels are at unhealthy, at over 10 times the guidelines recommended by the WHO. This is the reality of living through the climate crisis.”

The entire US Northeast is battling smoke moving south from more than 400 wildfires raging in Canada which have led to mass evacuations in the province of Quebec. Canadian officials warned that this could be the country’s worst wildfire season on record, with over 6.7 million acres already scorched.

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