Fear, falsehoods and conspiracy theories ignite amid Canada’s wildfires

By Hina Alam
Vancouver Sun
August 25, 2023
Category: Forestry
Region: Canada, Canada West

Canada’s current wildfire season is devastating evidence of the effects of climate change, scientists say, but for some conspiracy theorists, the thousands of square kilometres of burnt ground isn’t enough to convince them. Instead, space lasers, arsonists and government plots to restrict people’s movement are some of the causes of the fires, according to fringe online circles. …these theories are widely circulated and boosted by social media algorithms. …Kawser Ahmed, professor at University of Winnipeg, said almost all conspiracy theories have a spark of truth but are distorted to attract attention. Forest fires, he said, are spectacular events that draw attention before the full facts come to light, and conspiracy theories fill in the gaps. But such theories harm those who are fleeing the fires and those who are fighting the blazes, he noted. …Kennedy said conspiracy theories can cause diminishing trust among people, which could reduce compliance with evacuation orders.

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