What’s been up with the air?
The air pollution over the last few days is a jarring glimpse into our future. On Wednesday, it was, in part, a dust storm from the exposed lake bed of Great Salt Lake. Many Utahns, including the legislature, rejoiced and are relying on a late, heavy snowfall to solve our woes, but the reality is, climate change is a long-term trend of a hotter, drier, smoke- filled Utah and western U.S. We still need to take water conservation measures to protect Great Salt Lake.
“The lake is at 4,193.4 feet above sea level as of Thursday. That’s about five feet higher than when it bottomed out at an all-time low in November. The lake needs to swell another six feet or so, however, before it reaches an elevation that will allow it to rise and fall, as salty terminal lakes do, without posing a threat to industry, wildlife and public health,” a recent Salt Lake Tribune article reported.
Since Thursday, we’ve been inundated with wildfire smoke from early season wildfires in Canada.
Climate change has been closely linked to the increasing frequency and severity of wildfires worldwide. As the earth’s climate continues to warm, drier conditions and expanding wildland-urban interface creates challenges for wildfire management. Wildfires pose the obvious risk of ecosystem destruction, but as we’re seeing, they reach far beyond burn area borders. Wildfire smoke is extremely hazardous to human health, especially those with existing lung and heart conditions.
The best way to combat climate change is to reduce fossil fuel emissions drastically. Utah lawmakers have displayed a lack of concern with climate change’s effects on the state, tying Utah’s economy to the fossil fuel industry and forging ahead with a new spread out version of the polluting inland port.