Wildfire smoke from Canada is now blanketing the East Coast, creating some of the worst air quality in the world. The official explanation for these strange conflagrations — lightning strikes across unusually dry forests, igniting more than 100 out-of-control blazes in Quebec alone — hits many smooth-brained denizens of the internet as a LiTTle. tOo. CoNVenIEnT.
Indeed, the tinfoil-hat brigade has already ginned up myriad conspiracy theories to cast this disaster, not as an act of God, but part of a nefarious plot — or two, or three. So what really caused those fires? Was it space lasers? Antifa arsonists? The deep-state cabal? Aliens?!
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Below we break down the latest FUBAR theories about why Canadian forests are ablaze, Americans are hunkered down in their houses, and the smoke has blotted out the sun.
The “Directed Energy Weapons” Theory
Why buy into lightning strikes when you can believe in “directed energy weapons?” Stew Peters is a far-right media host and conspiracy monger, infamous for his unhinged film claiming Covid-19 is caused by synthetic snake venom. Peters used his Telegram account on June 5 to blame the wildfires on government weaponry.
“Watch ALL of SE Quebec catch on fire at the EXACT SAME TIME,” Peters wrote, linking to a viral TikTok video of satellite imagery. “Statistically impossible to happen by accident,” Peters claimed without evidence. “Clearly our governments are targeting us with Directed Energy Weapons (DEWs).”
We’re not sure if DEWs are related to the infamous Jewish Space Laser that Congress’ resident Q-Anon queen, Marjorie Taylor Greene, previously implicated in a wildfire outbreak. But it’s clear this theory has juice. On Twitter, users are blaming an evil ruling class known as “the cabal” for deploying DEWs “both from planes and high-altitude satellites.”
“Looks like the storm has arrived,” wrote one user invoking a QAnon trope about a coming battle with the powerful forces of the Deep State. “Cabal is going scorched earth.”
The “Flame Thrower Drone” Theory
Consistency is the hobgoblin of little conspiracy theorists, but big players like Peters are ever eager to embrace the newest insanity. On June 6, Peters posted a new video, of what looks like a remote-controlled helicopter drizzling napalm on a forest. “It seems Canada isn’t sophisticated enough to use Directed Energy Weapons (DEWs),” Peters wrote. “Looks like they opted for a drone with a flamethrower instead.”
Normies replying to the post tried to offer a reality check, that the video actually depicted a fire-fighting drone engaged in “back burning” — “common practice to control/manage forest fires.” (For more on the reality of fighting fire with fire read here.)
But other conspiratorial commenters were undeterred. “That is Terrorism on our own soil,” insisted one. “These fsuks [sic] need to be arrested. Any helicopter with this equipment needs to be destroyed and the pilot hung.”
The “Antifa Arsonist” Theory
Probably the laziest misinformation collected here holds that antifascists are setting the fires. Why? Because they’re antifa, stupid. Anything can be blamed on those who would oppose militant far-right ideology, so may as well try it. “Antifa pyromaniacs are getting started early this year,” one user commented as the fires started to burn in May, in a typical post on the QAnon forum Great Awakening. “As this thing unwinds, look for wildfires to increase exponentially as the cabal burns everything down.”
The “Wildfires Are the New Covid” Theory
A variety of conspiracy theorists see the fires as part of a plot to limit freedom anew, now that the restrictions of the Covid pandemic have been largely eliminated. A Telegram account calling itself “GreatAwakening.World – Q + Trump” posted conspiratorially that: “They sets [sic] the Quebec and Ontario on fire” as part of a “globalist climate change scam.” The account warned: “Climate change lockdowns are starting.”
As anyone with lungs in an affected area can already tell you, smoke from the fires poses an obvious health risk. And N95 face masks — originally designed for people working in proximity to noxious particulate matter — are helpful safeguards for those who need to venture out into the choking haze.
N95s — hmm, where have we heard about those? Oh, right, we were supposed to wear them to minimize the spread of the coronavirus. And, just as in the early days of the pandemic, officials have warned people to stay home if possible. Coincidence? No such thing to the paranoid cranks among us.
“As many of us have noticed from the start, many of the covid zealots also push climate crisis shit,” a redditor wrote Wednesday on r/CoronavirusCirclejerk, criticizing people who recommended masking up until the air has cleared. A member of r/conspiracy was more explicit: “Wildfires are the new Covid,” they declared. “Stay indoors, wear a mask, fear pushed by the news, it will only be two weeks… Is anyone else felling [sic] déjà vu?” Commenters agreed, saying, “Climate lockdowns are coming” and “the hype is starting, NYC mayor just recommended masks lmao.”
Exactly what the new world order hopes to achieve by keeping us masked and mostly inside by torching vast swaths of wilderness is not so clear. But perhaps, as another redditor hypothesized, this latest disaster — if it was indeed “coordinated” — is a “small test run” for “other ‘climate’ events.”
“Places like New York are advising [people] to stay inside, go outside for only essential errands and to wear a N95 mask if they go outside,” they wrote. “Are they seeing how many people will follow their recommendations voluntarily?” Ah, yes. Naked authoritarianism for its own sake. A perfect reason to poison the atmosphere.
The “We Are About to Be Hit on Several Fronts” Theory
If there’s not a UFO angle, is it really even a conspiracy?
For some on the fringes of the internet, the notion that climate lockdowns are the new Covid lockdowns is directionally correct — but misses the big picture. A Gab user known as RusticMan thinks he’s got the real intel, that the fires are just the beginning of a cascade of unnatural disasters. “We are about to be hit on several fronts. Anther plandemic [sic], climate emergency, illegal invasion, and UFO invasion,” he wrote. “Sound crazy? Get ready. It’s coming. It’s happening NOW!”
Others have been quick to embrace extraterrestrial explanations. They blame the raging infernos on “space debris” or to connect the fires to the path of the notorious surveillance balloon and other unidentified aerial phenomena. Are we being firebombed by Chinese spycraft, lit ablaze by crashing UFOs, or is someone creating a massive smokescreen so that we can’t find out the truth about what’s in the skies? Finding answers, it seems, is a lot less entertaining for these folks than tossing out the craziest of questions.
The “Forced Migration to 15-Minute Cities” Theory
Urban planners trying to improve quality of life with “15-minute city” designs — reducing car use by ensuring people are just 15 minutes’ walking or biking distance to anything they might need — have been bedeviled by conspiracy theorists who claim they want to imprison people in tiny residential districts. Now it appears that a few of those alarmists are drawing baseless connections between the concept and the Canadian fires, suggesting that they are a pretext for forced migration to (where else!) these dystopian citadels.
A number of Facebook posts advances this narrative. One man in Quebec said the forest fires were intentionally set as “the perfect prelude to 15-minute cities,” while an Ontario woman who bought into the idea that the fires were all begun simultaneously argued that they were meant to “assist in destroying rural homesteaders” and “prove that those ‘15-minute cities’ will help ‘save’ the world.” On Truth Social, David “Nino” Rodriguez, a former heavyweight boxer at one point ranked among the top in the world, amplified similar claims to 33,000 followers. “The fires in Canada are being used for nothing more than to displace families, ruin homes and migrate people into 15-minute cities,” he warned. Just one example of the kind of thing you might say after being punched in the head too many times.
The “Blotting Out the Sun” Theory
Fans of The Simpsons will never forget the time Mr. Burns built a giant mechanical shade that plunged the town of Springfield into eternal darkness, making the citizenry all the more dependent on electricity from his nuclear power plant. It was a pretty convoluted plan when you consider that he could have simply set fire to a nearby national forest so that smoke blanketed the town, achieving the same effect.
Yes, a solar blackout is the goal of whichever nefarious organization kicked off this disaster, according to a handful of true wackos. “Does anyone else have a sneaking suspicion that these Canadian fires are meant to blot out the sun and kill crops?” asked a QAnon believer who shared an air quality map on the Telegram QAnon channel, “Great Awakening.” This fear was of course immediately confirmed by a fellow traveler: “The main thing that comes to mind is cloud seeding with smoke particles,” the commenter wrote. “It could possibly keep people from planting or make seeds too wet to germinate. So yes same goal, kill the crop production.”
On Telegram, the QAnon channel GreatAwakening.World — which boasts nearly a quarter million followers — has labeled the wildfires a “psyop” and man-made “apocalypse.” Multiple posts suggest this operation is in part an effort to block the sun. “BREAKING: The Sun is no longer visible in Binghamton, New York,” read the caption on one picture of orange haze hanging over the upstate city. “They just did it. They covered up the sun. No more vitamins.” You know what? Maybe it’s a good thing the sun is hidden for now — otherwise these dopes would probably be staring right into it.
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