Just when I thought this story could not get any better, the Oregon Forest Resources Institute hands me a gift-horse in the form of a stunning report titled, Impacts of Oregon’s 2017 Wildfire Season: Time for a crucial conversation.
OFRI’s timely report comes on the heels of two short essays in which I assert that breathing smoke from wildfires for weeks on end [months last summer] is just as harmful as smoking a pack of cigarettes a day. No one has contested my claim, nor do I suspect anyone will.
The OFRI report is a quantified recitation of the 2017 impacts of the 160-some days that air quality in Oregon rose into what health authorities call “unhealthy,” those being the days when folks with health problems were urged to stay indoors.
The impacts: Horrible air quality, deadly health risks, cancelled cultural and sporting events, highway blockades, and millions of dollars lost in every industry.
160 days – 43.8 percent of the whole damned year.
If there is any weakness in OFRI’s stunning report, it is that it doesn’t explain the cause and effect relationship between lousy federal forest management policies and practices and lousy air quality.
Earlier OFRI reports have explained the relationship, but “progressive” Oregonians need daily reminders that “nature” doesn’t give a damn about the music festival in Sisters or the Shakespeare Festival in Ashland or “smoke taint” on wine grapes.
Pogo nailed it years ago: “We have met the enemy, and he is us.”