I remember well a Missoula morning in early September, 2017. I awoke to a yellow sky and the familiar smell of a campfire burning. My breathing was shallow, my asthmatic lungs hard at work. And while I thought my house was on fire, I discovered the hazardous air quality had only seeped in through closed windows.
Montana is serving as a battleground for climate change. In recent years, Missoula has broken records for the lowest amount of precipitation and high temperatures. Disaster drought has been declared in dozens of counties and six of the seven Indian reservations in the state.
With firefighters losing their lives, homes burning to the ground and livelihoods lost, we have the responsibility and duty to respect not only those whom we have lost, but to protect what we still have. It is an insult to not address the overarching issue of climate change and to blame fires on forest mismanagement and "frivolous lawsuits."
Yet too many of our elected officials and leaders in government fail to acknowledge the role climate change is playing and refuse to take responsibility for an issue that marches ceaselessly on to claim more lives. Climate change is real and it is here.