Fresh Air

We all have a right to breathe, and yet we tolerate violations of that right from several sources. No sooner did we ban field burning than the pollution caused by slash burning and the use of wood-burning stoves became more obvious.    

Slash burning, like field burning before it, is a gross violation of the right to breathe that benefits a few at the expense of the many — all of us. It should be banned.

Is the reduction in air quality caused by wood-burning stoves a more complex problem? I think not. Throwing soot into our lungs by burning wood for home heating is rightly banned.

But while the technology for eliminating the soot is readily available, some folks can’t afford it and, for them, there’s an exception to the rule. This is not unreasonable, as cold homes can be as deadly as soot-laden air. But it imposes an awful burden on all of us, not only but especially those (like me) with sensitive or weakened lungs.

This is precisely the kind of problem we have government to solve. Those who have received exemptions from the soot limitation for economic reasons are readily identifiable. I propose that we all chip in, through our county government, to subsidize or outright buy new stoves for those who need to heat with wood but can’t afford the necessary technology.  

Robert Roth