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The smoke from the California wildfires is now marring the skies from coast to coast, with satellite pictures showing the reach of the plume of ash and contaminated air spreading across the country, according to The Washington Post. This is not the first climate crisis to have a broad impact beyond the immediate area dealing with a disaster, and the cumulative impacts of repeated weather disasters are putting climate change and environmental issues in the top tier of voter concerns this election cycle. President Trump and Vice President Biden both “addressed” the issue on Monday in California. And as we reported yesterday, Trump was dismissive but Biden went straight for a key voting block in his speech, saying bluntly that climate change is hurting Americans in the suburbs.
Why This Matters: We have been writing for months about the growing political importance of climate change and environment — both of which are noticeably worse, much to the dismay of the key voting block — suburban women. As one, I (Monica) am not surprised. These are issues that touch both today and tomorrow — and are literally hitting women where they live — revealing their concern for the health of their children and their parents.
Climate Crisis Comes to the Suburbs
The New York Times yesterday broke down the political appeal of the Biden speech this way — “Trump has sought to combat his sharp decline among suburban voters by asserting that Democratic control of the White House would be a threat to the safety of the suburbs,” but Biden is redefining what “safety” means and “is casting climate change as a more real and immediate threat to the suburbs than the violence portrayed in Mr. Trump’s ads and public remarks.” And this pollution is hardly invisible. The smoke is real and it “hurts” to breathe, according to The Washington Post, which reported yesterday that “air quality in many parts of Oregon ranks among the world’s worst, as bad as the pollution ‘airpocalypse’ in Beijing in 2013.” Several large cities on the West coast ranked in the top ten worst for air quality — including Seattle, San Francisco, and Los Angeles, which ranked third, sixth and eighth, respectively, according to the Los Angeles Times. The Post even reported last night that, “Carried along by the jet stream, the swift river of winds about 20,000 to 30,000 feet aloft, the thick smoke arrived Monday on the East Coast, including the D.C. area. It will stick around through at least Thursday.”
The Smoke Is Bad For You
There is nothing suburban women — mostly moms — want more than to keep their families safe, which is why climate change has been increasingly resonating as an issue with this key voting block. National Geographic online explained yesterday what makes the smoke so harmful. “Wildfire smoke contains a variety of gases and particles from the materials that fuel the fire, including ozone, carbon monoxide, polycyclic aromatic compounds, nitrogen dioxide, and particulate matter—pollutants linked to respiratory and cardiovascular illnesses, according to a study in the Journal of the American Heart Association.” And when homes burn, the toxins in the air increase. “Wildfire smoke was once primarily made of the earthy remains of fallen twigs, brush, and trees, but as wildfires increasingly blaze through suburbs, they’re burning up the synthetic paints, carpets, and consumer goods that fill homes. In California’s historic 2018 fires, 19,000 homes burned, compared to this year’s 4,000 so far,” according to National Geographic.
To Go Deeper: Read the National Geographic story about the harmful health impacts of smoke.
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