By Ted Grussing
… air quality like this was common place and whether or not you chose to smoke, this is what the air quality was like in bars, restaurants, sporting events and where ever and whatever. Then came public awareness and studies showing that breathing smoke was harmful to your health … so much so, that smoking was banned nearly everywhere and smokers became pariahs, scorned for engaging in what was deemed a filthy habit. No longer could you find Frank Sinatra pushing Lucky Strikes, Perry Como, Pall Malls … Chesterfields are no longer good for the digestion … the new message became they will kill you and everyone around you.
Today government mandates that large segments of the forest are to be burned, because it is good for the health of the forest and those who are the proponents of this view tell those who are not proponents that they must just suck it up because, I guess, the health of the forest is more important than the health of the human beings on the planet. I have even heard many of the proponents say that the smoke from these burns is not bad for us … this is of course patently untrue and the list of chemicals and substances in smoke, mostly from incomplete combustion, is lengthy and extraordinarily bad for humans. And still they burn!
I have the highest respect for those in the USFS and they do their best to make sure that the smoke is transported out of the area … to be sure it is dumped on other people, but they try to spare the residents in “the neighborhood”, but it doesn’t always work out that way … like this shot from this morning … two fires in the Coconino Forest, one right in Munds Park and the other about ten miles or so to the NE, six miles SE of Flagstaff Pulliam Airport. The smoke was going to about 10,000’ and then precipitating out and heading to the ground and once there, just spreading out all over. I-17 goes north from the bottom of the photo up to Flagstaff, below the San Francisco Peaks and there was smoke of varying densities all over the area. When the smoke begins to travel, it cuts the sun off from the ground which is the source of the lift/convection to get the smoke into the air beyond the initial heating and keep it up there, but the smoke blocks the sun, the ground cools and the smoke precipitates out and the winds aloft were light so down it comes.
Just above and to the left of the fire closest to us you can see the burned out area from what if I recall correctly was the Coyote Fire last year. You can see that large sections of the forest were burned out and kinda look like heck. Areas where there has been logging look good and much of that is in the foreground.
There is one factor that you would think would be factored in to all burning activity and that is human health! But human health and the effects of the smoke that they put into the air is not a factor and does not rank even the slightest consideration. Perhaps that is because they would not be burning, just as cigarettes are not being consumed in Brandy’s in Flagstaff because it is bad for our health … but eventually you have to leave the restaurant and go outside and breathe this air!
They do try to factor in the public relations aspects of the smoke and do their best not to inundate communities … but it still happens and the concern is the PR, not the health.
Add to all that a Congress that mandates they burn ever more acreage every year … my understanding is that the Coconino Forest has to burn ten thousand more acres this year than last year and next year ten thousand more acres than this year. Not sure how that works, but I am told that Congress does the mandating.
The Verde Valley had a lot of smoke in it too and in this shot you can see the white haze of smoke everywhere … still, I am alive and life is good.
Into the new day which is filled with promise of adventures to be lived and people to meet and share the beauty that surrounds us … smokey as it may be. Cough!
Cheers and share your joy … and a smile.
And in this journey over a thousand hills and valleys called life, he is wisest who
is patient where the way is hard, has faith when he does not understand, and carries
into the dark places the light of a cheerful heart.
— Max Ehrmann
The easiest way to reach Mr. Grussing is by email: email@example.com
In addition to sales of photographs already taken Ted does special shoots for patrons on request and also does air-to-air photography for those who want photographs of their airplanes in flight. All special photographic sessions are billed on an hourly basis.
Ted also does one-on-one workshops for those interested in learning the techniques he uses. By special arrangement Ted will do one-on-one aerial photography workshops which will include actual photo sessions in the air.
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