During my hermiting days in Woodward, I would catch a weather report about an approaching cold front and hie myself out to Boiling Springs State Park, scramble through the underbrush to a high spot and just wait for the coolness to arrive.

          I tried the same ploy a few weeks back when dewy morning grass kept my electric mower in the shed. The temp rose and the grass dried and I could tell that I could mow the back yard in the shade and move to the sun-exposed alley just about the time a cool front would hit.

          The timing was flawless; executing the plan faced a complication.

          Just as I turned into the new cool breeze, I started coughing, deep coughing, hard, lung-racking coughing, wondering-if-it-were-ever-gonna-end coughing. That cool breeze evidently had some inhospitable particulate matter catching a free ride south.

          I recalled a March report from Climate Central documenting two effects of global warming.

          • “Plants are leafing and blooming earlier, and the overall growing season is lasting longer.”

          • “For millions of Americans that suffer from seasonal allergies to pollen and mold, climate change is bringing an earlier, longer, and overall worse allergy season.”

          I hadn’t thought those conditions applied to me anymore since I had either outgrown my “hayfever” or moved away from its triggering pollen.

          It was nice to catch my breath after about 10 minutes of doubt.

          The U.S. Northeast got a bad taste of that situation a few weeks later when Canadian wildfires blanketed the Atlantic seaboard with thick, heavy orange smoke that postponed baseball games and closed some Broadway shows to try to keep participants and spectators safe.

          Right on cue, the Fox Disinformation Network decried healthy, even life-saving precautions.

          Lee Moran at Huffington Post wrote, “Fox News hosts on Wednesday made light of the public health warnings issued over the hazardous haze engulfing New York City, much like some of its personalities dismissed the risk of COVID-19 during the coronavirus pandemic.”

          It has been estimated that about 30 percent of American COVID deaths resulted from people following the medical advice of an unreality TV conman and such sycophants as Republican governors and their mouthpieces at Fox News.

          That is about 300,000 neighbors who could be with us if they had listened to health professionals instead of those using them – and using them up – as expendable political pawns.

          How many people must die before they are satisfied that they have demonstrated the influence they exert upon gullible viewers? Do they assess their success by monitoring death rates?

          In addition to the obvious immediate breathing problems that ride the smoke, Barcelona’s Betevé reported June 4: ”The president of the Vall d’Hebron Health and Environment Commission , Jordi Bañeras, led a study a few years ago that showed that more serious heart attacks occur on days of more pollution .”

          Bañeras said, “More evidence is not needed to prove that pollution is harmful, what is needed is to take measures.”

          Of course, taking any “measures” would erode the gross profiteering of the fossil fuel polluters who bankroll anti-science, anti-education, anti-future politicians and hucksters.

          At the end of May, Financial Times reported:

          “The earth is already past safe limits for humans as temperature rise, water system disruption and destruction of natural habitats have reached boundaries, a study by a group of the world’s foremost scientists has found.”

          The study reported human activities had pushed seven of its eight “earth system boundaries” over their “safe and just limit.”

          Huffington Post emphasized the situation a few days later:

          “United States scientists documented the highest level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere in millions of years, at the same time as record wildfires blazed through Canada, lacing the air from the Midwest to the East Coast in a blanket of smoke with enough disease-causing particles to make venturing outside unsafe for people with breathing problems.

          “The result announced Monday amounts to what the federal research agency called a ‘broken record,’ an apparent reference to both its unprecedented new height and the routineness with which each passing year brings higher carbon dioxide levels than the previous.”

          No wonder fascists hate educators. They remind the world of their greedheaded perfidy. Nothing matters but money – certainly not the condition of the planet they are leaving their heirs.

          And, while the wildfire smoke that blanketed the Northeast finally prodded our parochial networks into coverage, the Northwest and Intermountain West had been visited by such dangerous pollution earlier with much less attention since it didn’t affect our network news readers.

          And it’s not just the smoke and smog that is thick enough to be seen. Whatever hit me while I was mowing eluded the naked eye.

          Major Texas cities have been experiencing ozone alerts off and on for months. Oklahoma City joined the club in early June. Conditions are worsening as the summer sun interacts with fossil fuel and chemical pollutants and global warming heat waves send heat indices into the stratosphere.

          As with the heavy smoke warnings, ozone alerts are more dangerous to those with breathing issues – which means that, since you don’t know the medical condition of strangers, you are foolish to question their mask-wearing.

          “Breathless” is the title of an overrated French film and a wonderful pop song by The Corrs. It might soon refer to the last gasps of our smothering planet.

          Oh, yeah. Hot enough for you?

           (Gary Edmondson is chair of the Stephens County Democratic Party.)

Breathless – not in a good way

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