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Smoke gets in your eyes

Today was the coolest day of the week.  That is not much to crow about as the temperature was in the low 90s.  The humidity managed to add a few degrees to the “feels like” temperature.  Nevertheless, the peak was less than the previous few days.

There always seems to be good news and bad news.  The good news is there was a slight, but perceptible reduction in the relentless heat of the past few days and weeks.  The bad news is that starting tomorrow, the temperature will be the highest of the year thus far.  No break is in sight for the rest of the week.

The record heat wave is due to a heat dome that is sitting over Texas causing records to be broken from California to Florida.  Often there is a break in the unrelenting heat when cooler air moves down from Canada.  That was not the case with the reduction in temps this Tuesday.  Instead, we can thank the smoke.  Smoke from wildfires in Canada.  Who would have ever thought?

Canadian wildfires have been relentless this Summer, starting earlier than ever.  Many of the wildfires are so remote they cannot be effectively battled by conventional methods.  Some are so isolated that there are no roads for firefighters and their equipment to travel to the site.  Other infernos are so far from airports that airborne tankers cannot make the round trip to drop their fire-retardant cargo.  The early diagnosis was the fires would simply have to burn themselves out.

Some of the early Canadian fires brought so much smoke and haze to their southern neighbors that some cities in the United States have had multiple air alerts and warnings.  At one point, the city of Chicago had the worst air quality in the world.  Health warnings were issued for anyone with asthma, or any other breathing difficulties.  

Still, it is hard to believe that smoke has traveled thousands of miles to nearly reach the Gulf Coast. Thankfully, the smoke is so high in the atmosphere that it is not causing any local breathing problems.  The haze prevented the direct sunlight from shining through and enabled the day long respite from the brutal heat.  

The unusual weather seems to be worldwide.  Phoenix and Las Vegas have not only had record temperatures, but the records have extended over a month-long period.  The roads and sidewalks are so hot that people have been taken to hospital emergency rooms to be treated for third degree burns simply from falling or touching the surfaces. 

People who might normally travel to Vermont and the upper northeast for cooler temperatures in the Summer find themselves fighting torrential rains and thousand year floods.  Those who might normally head to the beach to cool off in the ocean, find ocean temperatures at all-time highs, as well.  When the water temperature hits 100 degrees, there is not much cooling off that is going to occur.

America is not the only country that is feeling nature’s wrath this Summer.  Europe is in the midst of record heat waves, along with other parts of the world.  China, which I learned from firsthand experience, has some awful air quality issues and finds itself almost paralyzed in parts of the country due to air pollution.

Almost anyone reading this article has experienced some severe weather this year.  Thunderstorms and severe lightning.  More frequent and deadly tornadoes.  Flash floods with inches of rain falling in just a few hours.  Hail the size of golf balls.  All of these have happened before, but seldom have they collectively happened over such a short period of time.

I leave for Antarctica in January, one of my two or three greatest bucket list items.  This particular trip has been moved up because of the melting of great sheets of ice that have existed for hundreds, even thousands of years.   I want to see it before it is gone, or at least see it before it has been irreversibly changed.    

Almost 100 years ago, one of the most popular songs of the past century was written for the film Roberta. “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes” has been remade, reworked and re-recorded over the generations, even becoming the Number One hit in 1959 when recorded by The Platters.  Tonight, I listened to the recordings of a number of artists performing this song.  I was surprised at how many of the variations I was familiar with.

I also thought of some of the debates I had with learned and educated people years ago when global warming first became a topic of discussion.  I am still amazed at otherwise brilliant men and women who passionately ignore the warnings of nature and say these are the just normal fluctuations of weather over time.

Be aware of the changes that are occurring in our world at an ever more rapid pace.  Keep an open mind as you hear the debates about climate change and do not let the political chaos of the day prevent you from thinking seriously about the future of our world.

Seek the truth and support solutions.  Do not let the smoke get in your eyes.


Dan Ponder can be reached at

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