One-quarter of young adults affected by smoke and fumes from recent wildfires say they’d think of moving

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As fires threaten Kelowna and Yellowknife, the latter forcing the evacuation of 20,000, Canadians continue to experience a summer of smoke. And while seven-in-10 Canadians say this fire season has been terrible or worse than average in their province, the future looks more ominous and has some considering a move to avoid subsequent smoky summers.

A new study from the non-profit Angus Reid Institute finds more than half of Canadians (55%) expecting even worse fire conditions in the future, while one-quarter (26%) say this year (a record-breaking year for fires itself) will be the new normal. Few have any hope for calmer summers to come.

For those affected by wildfires or smoke in the past five years, one-in-eight (13%) say they would consider relocating to a place that feels safer. Young adults say this is on their mind at higher rates (24%) than others as they consider where to set down roots and build their lives. Climate migration in Canada may be a new concept, but this research suggests it is on the minds of many.

Overall, Canadians are close to twice as likely to say that climate change is directly contributing to worsening fire seasons than not. Three-in-five (59%) hold this view, while one-in-three (33%) disagree.

While the machinations of daily life and how to cope with these environmental challenges hum along, existential questions ride alongside them for many Canadians. Three-in-five Canadians (63%) say that climate change represents a “crisis” that society must address urgently to overcome. One-in-10 (10%) believe the opportunity to act has already passed. Another group of one-in-nine Canadians (11%) – including one-quarter of past Conservative voters (24%) – say that nothing needs to be done and the situation is fine as it is.