Mother Nature is a more serious polluter than humans are
In the granola 1970s, when people would rhapsodize about the fact that everything natural was so much safer and healthier than anything humans had created, my pragmatic mother would remind them that hemlock is an all-natural substance. Were she still around, my mother would instantly have understood a study out of California asserting that the soot from California’s wildfires is up to ten times as dangerous as manmade pollutants.
The study, which appeared in the prestigious Nature magazine, is entitled “Wildfire smoke impacts respiratory health more than fine particles from other sources: observational evidence from Southern California.” The four authors are associated with two very reputable institutions: the Scripps Institution of Oceanography and the Herbert Wertheim School of Public Health and Human Longevity Science, both of which are at the University of California, San Diego.
The study examined particulate matter (P.M.) from wildfires and from the usual manmade pollutants that bedevil environmentalists and concluded that the former were more deadly:
Wildﬁres are becoming more frequent and destructive in a changing climate. Fine particulate matter, PM2.5, in wildﬁre smoke adversely impacts human health. Recent toxicological studies suggest that wildﬁre particulate matter may be more toxic than equal doses of ambient PM2.5. Air quality regulations however assume that the toxicity of PM2.5 does not vary across different sources of emission. Assessing whether PM2.5 from wildﬁres is more or less harmful than PM2.5 from other sources is a pressing public health concern. Here, we isolate the wildﬁre-speciﬁc PM2.5 using a series of statistical approaches and exposure deﬁnitions. We found increases in respiratory hospitalizations ranging from 1.3 to up to 10% with a 10 μg m−3 increase in wildﬁre-speciﬁc PM2.5, compared to 0.67 to 1.3% associated with non-wildﬁre PM2.5. Our conclusions point to the need for air quality policies to consider the variability in PM2.5 impacts on human health according to the sources of emission.
In plain English, the article says the particaulates from wildfires are up to ten times as harmful as the pollutants people inhale from car exhaust, factories, and power plants. The issue is the fineness of the particles. Wildfires reduce particulate matter to such a minute size that it penetrates deep into the lungs, triggering serious respiratory ailments. Additionally, this small P.M. can enter the bloodstream, triggering heart attacks and strokes, as well as other serious, and potentially fatal, illnesses.
The wildfires that led to these observations swept across the western United States last summer, especially California, burning over four million acres of land. The effects were devastating. For weeks, people on the West Coast lived in a dark orange haze:
Skies near Lake Berryessa by the National Weather Service. Public Domain.
The uncontrolled fires illustrate, again, that leftists' roads to Hell are invariably paved with good intentions (or, at least, ostensibly good intentions). When pollution in America peaked in the 1960s, most notably with the Cuyahoga River turning into a raging fire because it was so filled with industrial debris and chemicals, all sensible people across the political spectrum realized that America had a problem that needed to be addressed. And so they did. Today, America is one of the least polluted industrial nations in the world.
But the serious environmentalists didn't stop with that. They didn't want clean industry; they wanted an end to industry. And they didn't want humans to have clean energy (which would have meant nuclear energy); they wanted humans to cease entirely impinging on Mother Nature. They viewed humans as a parasite, draining Gaia of her life forces.
In California, the environmentalists formed a particularly powerful lobby. One result of their lobbying was the fact that, over the course of many years, California ceased performing — and ceased requiring power companies to perform — maintenance of the type that diminishes fire risks. It wasn't climate change that triggered these fires; it was extreme environmentalism
It shouldn't surprise anyone that extreme environmentalism exposed people to greater, not lesser, risks. Every time the left pursues something beyond reason, it makes things worse. The Civil Rights Act has turned into anti-white racism; protecting LGB people from discrimination has turned into imposing delusional transgender beliefs on society; first- and second-wave feminism (the right to vote and equal pay for equal work) morphed into third-wave feminism's man-hatred; and so on. There are endless examples, although perhaps few as deadly as this.
Biden's presidency, which should terminate soon in favor of a Harris presidency, will give America the opportunity to see all of the left's worst ideas on steroids. The damaging Obama years that drove so many voters to Trump in 2016 will be as nothing compared to the ascendant leftism we'll see in the next two years. Assuming we survive the experience (helped by federalism), most Americans should finally have a bellyful of leftist good intentions.