So what is the total financial cost we are experiencing? Often the non monetary cost is bigger than the millions spent on the blazes.
The smoke haze for example has more than a physiological effect. Yes for some it can be a source of depression, for many it is a respiratory concern. Especially for those with COPD, including asthma, emphysema. Workers in construction have to cope with smoke and eye irritations, allergies, earlier than normal fatigue and dehydration.
Heavy smoke is not good for children either which means their outside playtime is reduced. One issue that is becoming more emphasized is foreign workers medical , being exposed to smoke over a longer period of time. Yes domestic farm workers and farm owners are effected too. The reason I have separated the two categories here is the foreign worker programs have not had prolonged smoke as a condition of work prior to now. Those issues and anything surrounding it will be part of an international agreement for the first time and those findings and decisions will apply to all worker in the final analysis.
There are other unseen costs as well. Photographers are hard pressed to get those once in a lifetime memory photos with the constant haze. Weddings, reunions, political and business outdoor gatherings are being effected in terms of personal decisions to attend for health reason.
Tourists in many cases are under the impression the Valley is under evacuation running from the fires which is not true at all. This effects the business cycle in peak season.
The Okanagan is the source of many great crops and products produced in our own back yard as it were. Wine, soft fruits like cherries, apricots, peaches and plumbs. Not to mention a variety of apple crops. For some the smoke right now in a heat wave is a blessing and for others it is a curse.
Wine grapes are susceptible to a variety of conditions, too much water, not enough water, excessive heat, and cold springs. Growing wine grapes is a delicate balance that is a major factor in the final taste of the product.
Apples are subject to sunburn at higher temperatures. A layer of smoke keeps the suns intensive rays from burning the fruit.
It is true millions of dollars are spent fighting the fires and the immediate trauma faced by those in the fires path are costly to us from medical outcomes to insurance claims. However the suffering is not confined to those directly effected by fire and smoke.
Lost revenue for hotels, restaurants, festivals, and outdoor camping adventures, and a host of other activities are victims of the layer of smoke that greets us each day.
We are all affected in some way by the events of Mother Nature. Some say get used to it, its the new norm. I would rather see us educate ourselves and take appropriate steps to mitigate the future effects of fire and smoke damage that not only has consequences for the environment but to the economic and social well being of our society. If we are unwilling to except this outcome as normal what change of behavior is required to change the outcome?