U.S. Forest Service to offer death by euphemism - Albuquerque Journal

U.S. Forest Service to offer death by euphemism

So, if you are the U.S. Forest Service think tank and you have to sell the public on the idea that it’s OK to sicken, disable and shorten their lives with prescribed burn and managed wildfire smoke, after 50 years of mismanaging our National Forests, your sales pitch has to be good – really good.

The tried-and-true technique is to soften the blow with euphemisms by renaming the true meaning of what you are doing and the true effect on public health with vague, impersonal terminology. You start off with “control burns” but, because they sometimes get out of control, you don’t want to limit yourself. Then, switch to “prescribed burns,” like a doctor prescribing a necessary and authoritative treatment. And we all know that prescriptions often have side effects that we must endure in order to get better. “Managed wildfires” sounds less scary than just a wildfire when, in fact, it’s a wildfire that we are not trying to put out. “Managed wildfires” are wildfires that we actually grow by setting more fires nearby.

The problem is that we just spent 40 years educating the public about how smoking, including second-hand smoke, sickens, disables and shortens the lives of human beings. Therefore, it helps to rename human beings “smoke receptors” and particularly vulnerable human beings, such as infants, children, elderly and the infirm, “smoke-sensitive receptors.” People are no longer human beings, but “receptors” and the life-giving air they breathe is referred to as an “airshed.”

Despite all these euphemisms, there is still that nasty problem of the smoke. Aha! Just switch the responsibility for the harm caused from breathing smoke pollution to the individual by convincing him that if he just practices proper “averting behavior,” all will be well. “Averting behavior” sounds quite harmless and easy to do, like a sparrow darting around in the underbrush. Actually, it represents staying indoors 24 hours per day, never opening window or doors, purchasing and running expensive air cleaners, air conditioning and even taking multiple month-long vacations upwind during unplanned times of the year.

Don’t explain to the public how a person would do this and still go to school, play sports, work outside, drive to work, shop, go to the doctor or church.

To top your strategy off, if the public shows up to a Forest Service meeting in order to ask questions about this ill-advised assault on public health and to suggest alternatives like changing our outdated log export laws, just prohibit any open questioning of the Forest Service in front of the public and force the participants to sit in tiny talking circles with Forest Service prepared outlines and a Forest Service moderator at each table, similar to kindergarten class. Any open discussion of smoke-free, proven and effective forest management techniques must be suppressed. And, for God’s sake, never produce a nationwide USFS public smoke complaint form in case you might be expected to document the harm you are causing to public health.

Joe smoke receptor passed away suddenly from a massive heart attack at age 52 following several weeks of prescribed burns and managed wildfires in his airshed, leaving behind his smoke receptor wife, Mary, and two minor smoke-sensitive receptor children. Mary worked alongside her husband in their family landscaping business and, therefore, they were not able to practice proper averting behavior. The children were notified of their father’s death at soccer practice, a non-averting behavior sport. Even though Joe’s family is third generation, they must move to cleaner air because of Mary’s recently diagnosed COPD and the children’s asthma. Joe and Mary loved the outdoors, were avid hikers and lifelong non-smokers.

Every successful large-scale assault on public health has been accomplished with the cooperation and blessing of lots of good people who were convinced that the harm that they were causing their fellow citizens was acceptable in the pursuit of a “higher goal.”

Home » Opinion » Guest Columns » U.S. Forest Service to offer death by euphemism


Albuquerque Journal and its reporters are committed to telling the stories of our community.

• Do you have a question you want someone to try to answer for you? Do you have a bright spot you want to share?
   We want to hear from you. Please email yourstory@abqjournal.com

taboola desktop

1
Historic locomotive Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe 2926 almost ...
Arts
The AT&SF 2926 was built in ... The AT&SF 2926 was built in 1944 and ran a million miles in the American Southwest before being retired to an Albuquerque park in ...
2
New Mexico town fiercely protective of its land and ...
Arts
Chilili's name is not to be ... Chilili's name is not to be confused with another small town in northern New Mexico called Chili, or the delicious condiment we put on ...
3
Eliminating mimosa seed pods can help larvae in check
Arts
Earlier this year you had some ... Earlier this year you had some sort of adult insects lay eggs throughout the mimosa, probably just at the spot where the flowers extended ...
4
'Grounded' explores the struggle between war and family
Arts
Fusion Theatre Company is staging 'Grounded' ... Fusion Theatre Company is staging 'Grounded' beginning on Friday, Oct. 7, at The Cell Theatre. The play runs on weekends through Oct. 16. 'Grounded' ...
5
'When the Dogs Stop Barking' explores the humanitarian crisis ...
Arts
Open at 516 ARTS through Dec. ... Open at 516 ARTS through Dec. 31, 'When the Dogs Stop Barking' exhibits the work of five artists exploring this humanitarian crisis spanning 1,954 ...
6
'Migratory' pairs the migration of plants and animals with ...
Arts
'Migratory,' developed by Mexico City artist ... 'Migratory,' developed by Mexico City artist Minerva Cuevas, will run at 516 ARTS through Dec. 31.
7
The third Fixed and Free Quarterly features a collection ...
Arts
Fifty-nine poets – the ... Fifty-nine poets – the majority from New Mexico – contributed the 112 poems that spice up the third and most ...
8
Via Ferrata, like the one in Telluride, are a ...
Arts
Via ferratas started in Italy during ... Via ferratas started in Italy during World War I to allow troops to pass through rugged alpine areas, the idea spread across Europe and ...
9
New immersive experience lets eventgoers interact with the legendary ...
Arts
The Georgia O'Keeffe Museum saw an ... The Georgia O'Keeffe Museum saw an opportunity to work with Albuquerque-based Electric Playhouse to create 'Music For The Eyes: A New Georgia O'Keeffe Experience