Here's a not-so-cheery air quality map for the Pacific Northwest. In two words, it sucks.
When I set off for a dog walk about an hour ago, the setting sun was as red as the Unhealthy coded color for most of Oregon, including Salem, where I live.
There aren't any wildfires in our immediate area. But smoke is drifting into the Willamette Valley from British Columbia and Eastern Washington.
Wildfire smoke has been an annoying aspect of summers in Oregon for the past few years. It wasn't always this way. I've lived in Oregon since 1971. Summers are much hotter and drier than they used to be. Climate change is the culprit.
Which means climate change, a.k.a. global warming, is the main reason wildfires are burning considerably more fiercely and more often than they used to. This is a fact, no matter what the clueless Secretary of Interior, Ryan Zinke, says about "environmental terrorist groups" being the problem.
Here's a quote from the Washington Post story that speaks the truth, not Trumpian propaganda.
Many took issue with Zinke's refusal to acknowledge that climate change is a major factor in the California fires.
"This has nothing to do with climate change," Zinke told NBC affiliate KCRA this month. "This has to do with active forest management."
Research shows that human-caused climate change is a primary factor behind the recent increase in fire severity. A 2016 study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that the heat and drought brought about by climate change was responsible for doubling the amount of land burned in the western U.S. between 1984 and 2015.
"There is a broad effort to deny the science of climate change and its links to the horrible wildfires in California and it’s just not accurate," Leah C. Stokes, professor of environmental and political science at UC Santa Barbara, told the Post.
My wife and I have lived in rural south Salem since 1990. The tree changes in our neighborhood are undeniable. Douglas firs are turning brown and dying at a rapid rate. Here's some photos I took on today's dog walk.
It's infuriating that Donald Trump and his fellow global-warming-denying lackeys are reversing Obama-era policies aimed at reducing the greenhouse gas emissions that are creating the hotter and drier conditions which fuel fires and kill trees.
And it isn't just the folks in Washington D.C. who are to blame. I'm pleased to live in a city that voted for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election, but 38% of Salem voters cast a ballot for Trump -- so they're complicit in creating the smoky air that appears to be with us for many years to come.
For sure, 2020 can't come soon enough for me and my wife. The quicker our country gets rid of Trump and his cronies, the quicker we can get back to taking strong steps to keep our one and only Planet Earth habitable for humans.