“What we’re seeing is a window into what global warming really looks like,” Princeton University’s Michael Oppenheimer said during a telephone press briefing. “It looks like heat, it looks like fires, it looks like this kind of environmental disaster… This provides vivid images of what we can expect to see more of in the future.” 
Fires cost about $1 billion or more a year, and exact a toll on human health, ranging from increased risk of heart, lung and kidney ailments to post-traumatic stress disorder, said Howard Frumkin, a public health expert at the University of Washington.
“Wildfire smoke is like intense air pollution,” Frumkin said. “Pollution levels can reach many times higher than a bad day in Mexico City or Beijing.”
The elderly, the very young and the ill are most vulnerable to the heat that adds to wildfire risk, he said. The strain of fleeing homes and living in communities in the path of a wildfire can trigger ailments like post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and anxiety.
On Twitter, Bill McKibben wrote: “Ever wonder what global warming is going to feel like? In its early stages, it feels like this week. This is it. It’s underway.”