The recent American Lung Association report giving Missoula an F rating for poor air quality was disturbing. Particulate pollution, caused mostly by the intense summer wildfire smoke, can easily pass through tissue membranes and harm human lungs and the brain. That is alarming and the smoke season only seems to be getting worse.
A major contributor to the smoke problem is climate change. I am looking around the state for leadership on improving air quality by confronting climate change. In particular, I would like to see Gov. Steve Bullock, who has admirably made children’s healthcare a focus, step up.
It should be easy for the governor to lead on this. The Montana Climate Assessment found climate change would make our summers hotter and dryer, likely making last summer’s wildfire smoke disaster the new norm. Meanwhile, our children are hardest hit by the negative health impacts. Developing lungs can be forever damaged by wildfire smoke and children with asthma are even more at risk.
I give Governor Bullock credit for backing the Paris Climate Accord when the president pulled the United States out. But to comprehensively help Montana’s children, and the rest of us, he must do more to address climate change.