I woke to a blood-red sky and air choked with smoke last week in the British Columbia wilderness. The Shag and Tweedsmuir fires burning just eastward may have been the closest, but I’d seen a dozen others from a float plane over the Coast Range the day before. Five-hundred-plus fires are torching British Columbia, which has declared a state of emergency. Fires are raging in Montana, Oregon and California, too.
As someone who studies the earth for a living, I’m shocked at the transformations we’re seeing right now. The Great Barrier Reef is dying, the North Pole is melting, and fires are ravaging the West again after last year’s record season. Global warming is here. What’s equally shocking is our country’s response. As the West burns, we’re proposing to roll back vehicle fuel efficiency standards and, as of this week, gut the Clean Power Plan, policies that would fight climate change and much more.
I can’t imagine a more misguided set of policies for our health, national security and pocketbooks. Dirty air from vehicles and power plants kills half of the 200,000 Americans who die each year from air pollution. Why would we gut policies that save thousands of lives and eliminate tens of thousands of cases of childhood asthma, bronchitis and emphysema annually? Why wouldn’t we want more efficient cars when we’re still importing three million barrels of oil a day from OPEC countries like Libya, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela? [Continue reading…]