I suppose the readership contains members old enough to recall the transformation of cigarette smoking from recommended by doctors to deadly. I'm talking about the sixties and seventies, when the anti-smoking campaign ramped up in earnest. How many saddles will be empty tonight, Johnny Smoke? I even remember an image that hung in my third grade classroom. It featured a toothless old hag with a cigarette clutched between yellowed fingers and the sarcastic assertion, Smoking is very glamorous. The effort infuriated Big Tobacco and its minions.
In the beginning the smokers refused to buy into any of it. The anti-smoking campaign was just another big GOV plot to control you and your life. Welcome to the nanny state. Smoking was perfectly safe.
The very same people who conceded along with everyone else that it's the smoke not the fire that kills when a house goes up in flames would assert absolutely that the smoke they sucked out their Winston was completely harmless.
They smoked. They denied. They wheezed and coughed and hacked. They denied. They got emphysema and cancer and heart disease. They denied. They finally stopped denying the day they stopped breathing for good.
Which brings me to climate change--call it global warming.
Can anyone deny that air pollution exists? We see it. We feel it. We smell it. The crap we pump into the air is lung-clogging filth and we all know it.
Can anyone deny that the earth's atmosphere exists? We all watched the impressive Apollo missions and the considerable challenge the atmosphere posed during launches and re-entry. The atmosphere is a lid on the earth and we all know it.
Yet the denial rages on. And on and on. Perhaps some magic fairy is zipping around, turning all our air pollution into harmless puffs of mist with her magic wand. Perhaps an atmospheric plenum so solid we needed a Saturn V rocket to punch through it mysteriously lets out only the bad stuff, which then disappears into space.
I'm not going to gas on about how long and how hot and how many degrees Celsius. Mr. Gore's Interwebs are available for your perusing pleasure. My conclusion is simple: asserting that the crud we're pumping into the air isn't going to kill us is the same as telling yourself that pack-a-day habit is nothing to worry about.
Smoke 'em if you got 'em.
When we were all still sucking down the coffin nails, whenever the topic of quitting came up, my Gram Soos, who'd quit years before, always used to say this, "You know who were the first people to quit smoking?" She'd pause, look around at each of us with our Marlboro Lights and Trues and Bic lighters."The doctors," she'd say. "The doctors were the first ones to quit smoking."
I wonder when the scientists will start moving to higher ground.
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