It’s not the heat, it’s the stupidity.

This summer’s intense heat wave, which has already killed hundreds nationwide, has also contributed to a blanket of smog across the country, raising concerns of thicker air pollution and related illnesses, especially the millions suffering from respiratory conditions.

According to a study of government data by Clean Air Watch, public health standards for smog in 38 states and the District of Columbia were exceeded “more than 1,000 times at official air pollution monitors last month,” an increase from the same period last year.

While progress had been made in recent decades against smog, this latest trend is likely to continue as temperatures rise, which are “perfect for producing peak smog levels,” said William Becker, executive director of a national association of local air quality officials.,

“It’s vitally important EPA take swift and aggressive actions, including regulating locomotives and marine vessels … which in the next 10 or 15 years are going to be the predominant source of smog,” he said.

For the fifth year in a row, unusual wind patterns off the coast of Oregon have produced a large “dead zone,” an area so low in oxygen that fish and crabs suffocate. “There is no other cause besides climate change, as far as we can determine,” said Jane Lubchenco, a marine biologist at Oregon State University.

In recent weeks, however, conservative senators have pressured the Environmental Protection Agency not to raise its national air pollution standards, which are currently below levels recommended by the World Health Organization.

At a hearing on the matter, Sen. James Inhofe commented, “Maybe it’s cheaper to buy everyone an air conditioner” than reduce pollution. South Carolina Republican Sen. Jim DeMint said, “Clean air standards reduce our quality of life.”

With strong evidence of global warming piling up every day, such brusque, acerbic utterances are made out of blind stupidity, not the responsible governance we should be able to expect from members of the U. S. Senate.

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