Smoke From Canadian Wildfires Blows South Creating Hazy Conditions On Large Swath Of Eastern U.S.

Traffic goes over the Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge as smoke from Canadian wildfires casts a haze over the area on June 7, 2023 in New York City. Air pollution alerts were issued across the United States due to smoke from wildfires that have been burning in Canada for weeks.

(Photo by Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images)

Choking on Smoke? There Are Very Specific People to Blame

These people have names like Jane Fraser, John Dugan, and Mark Mason of Citi Group

I’m writing this from my smoky apartment in Brooklyn, New York. Looking out my window, the sky is orange. It smells like an ashtray. Even though I’ve been staying indoors, my eyes are red, I have a headache, and my lungs are sore. The air quality index hit a staggering 484 on Wednesday afternoon—nearly 200 points higher than what is considered hazardous for all living beings. News outlets have reported this week that New York had the worst air pollution of any city in the world.

The immediate cause of this crisis is wildfires in Canada, the real cause is the climate crisis. Colonial land management and global climate change is making the conditions that lead to these wildfires becoming more and more common. New York is not the first place to experience dangerous air due to pollution and wildfire smoke in recent years, nor will it be the last―unless we stop extracting and burning fossil fuels, immediately.

Hopefully, this climate disaster will move people in power to act

But dirty fossil banks like Citi, which is headquartered here in New York, continue to pour money into the fossil fuel industry and have a huge part in fueling this crisis. Citi has tried to greenwash its record, making net zero commitments and renewable energy commitments. Outside of its headquarters, the company even has a proud billboard bragging about the number of plastic water bottles they’ve saved. But actions—and dollars—speak louder than words, and Citi is responsible for more than $330 billion in funding to fossil fuel companies in the last seven years.

Some people have said that the financial industry is getting a taste of its own medicine this week. It’s true that New York, which is currently being choked by smog, is home to some of the world’s wealthiest executives, including those of the biggest and dirtiest banks, such as Citi. Living here too, though, are millions of people, including unhoused people, mail carriers, deliveristas, sanitation workers, and others who have no choice but to breathe in this toxic air. Hopefully, people like Citi’s CEO Jane Fraser saw the yellow sky outside of their window yesterday and vowed to change their ways. What she may not have seen is how environmental racism, perpetuated through her bank’s years of redlining, subprime mortgage lending, and denial of credit have created a city where Black and brown people are especially vulnerable to the climate crisis she is helping to fuel every single day.

New Yorkers don’t deserve this—no one deserves this.

As I and millions of others learn how to cope living in a city where the air is literally poisonous, I’m spitting mad at the fossil fuel companies and the banks that have created this crisis. Citi is the world’s second-largest funder of fossil fuels, responsible for providing hundreds of billions in funding to companies like Exxon, Shell, Chevron, and Enbridge, companies that are continuing to build new pipelines, oil rigs, and power plants that will only make future wildfires worse.

Hopefully, this climate disaster will move people in power to act. If you’re stuck indoors, one small action you might want to take right now is emailing the executives of Citibank, describing to them what it’s like to breathe toxic smoke and urging them to stop financing fossil fuel expansion. Here are their emails: CEO, Jane Fraser (, CFO Mark Mason (, and board chair John Dugan ( Maybe if they hear from us enough, they might just see that their company is partly to blame for the fact that millions are choking on wildfire smoke.

New Yorkers don’t deserve this—no one deserves this. And we know who is to blame. People have been calling on dirty Wall Street banks to stop pouring money into fossil fuels for years. It’s time for them to listen.

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.