Fireplace Humbug

Slowly but surely all the little pleasures of my life are being eroded away. I used to enjoy smoking cigarettes, I mean I really enjoyed it, enjoyed everything about it, but I had to quit because I knew deep down (in my lungs) it wasn’t a good thing for me given my family’s health history. So about 17 years ago I stopped smoking cigarettes. Once upon a time I used to date a variety of women, but my wife put a stop to that when we got married 34 years ago. Isn’t that just like a wife? Never wanting a guy to enjoy himself.

I still have a drink every now and then, but not nearly as often as I used to when I was a much younger whipper. The body changes with age and I find I can’t tolerate alcohol as much as I once could. Don’t get me wrong, I can still fire up a wicked Martini on a chilly wintery evening. This brings me to one other pleasure that appears to be going away – the pleasure of a crackling fire on a cold night. This disappearing pleasure has nothing to do with my age and everything to do with the environmental Nazis in our so called “liberal” society.

Last week Los Angeles had a first. We had a no-burn ban in Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley. No fires allowed in your home fireplace for a 24 hour period. The fine folks at the Air Quality Management District made the determination that an unusual smog pattern prompted air pollution warnings in the downtown Los Angeles area and most of the San Fernando Valley. Burn your wood, go to jail. Well, maybe not jail, but a stiff fine. Fines for breaking the ban can run from $50-$500.

“This is the first time AQMD has issued this type of order under this program,’’ agency spokesman Sam Atwood said. “It’s our first mandatory no-burn order for the affected area.’’ Last fall the AQMD enacted new air pollution rules giving it the power to put out all wood burning fires, indoors and out. But it isn’t the pollution in the air (although they play that card too); it is the danger to lungs that has officials ordering L.A.’s first no-burn order, and the fact that we had an “unusual weather pattern.”

“It happens when the weather conditions become stagnant and sometimes fog can contribute to it but the reason is to protect the health of the millions of people who breathe in the Los Angeles basin,” said good old Sam Atwood. Having Big Brother watching out for my lungs makes me feel so warm and cozy, almost like having a fire in the fireplace. No-burn alerts are more common in northern and central California. However, the AQMD says it expects to issue about 10-15 alerts in Southern California this winter. Happy Holidays!

And if you think this is just a local issue, think again. The Feds have their greasy paws in it too. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has proclaimed wood smoke emissions to be one of the most significant health risks in the U.S. The environmentalist lobby and the “global warming” crowd are in this thing along with the government bullies.

These fine folks who are “only looking out for the welfare of all” have attempted to make burning wood in a home fireplace something of a social stigma, saying that fireplaces contribute negatively to the earth’s “carbon footprint.” “The smoke from a fire smells very nice but it can cause a lot of harm,” said Diane Bailey, a senior scientist with the Natural Resources Defense Council in San Francisco.

“The tiny particles can cause inflammation and illness, and can cross into the bloodstream, triggering heart attacks as well as worsening other conditions,” she claims. Another tree-hugger, Starre Vartan, a 33-year-old blogger who goes by the name Eco-Chick, put it like this, “Any time you are burning wood or cow dung, you’ll be creating pollution. It’s like junk food: if you do it once a month, then who cares? But if it’s something you do every day, it’s important that you mitigate it somehow. It’s a hazard.”

The environmentalists equate burning wood in one’s home fireplace with smoking cigarettes and organizations like the American Lung Association are issuing warnings as well: the group recommends that consumers avoid wood fires altogether, citing research that names wood stoves and fireplaces as major contributors to particulate-matter air pollution in much of the United States.

Forget the “war on women,” we have a “war on fireplaces.” You can find plenty of fireplace haters on the web. TheDailyGreen.com, an online magazine, has advocated replacing all wood-burning fireplaces with electric ones, and last fall an article on the Web site GreenBlizzard.com, “Cozy Winter Fires — Carbon Impact,” called wood-burning fires “a direct pollutant to you, your family, and your community.”

So one of my last little pleasures, enjoying a comforting fire in my fireplace during the cold winter months is under attack from the Left. I want to say, “You people won the presidential election, now just leave me alone!” But that’s not what the Left is about. They’re about NOT leaving anyone alone, ever. They will impose their regulations and laws on us “for our own good.” Whether we want them or not.

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