The smoke began to roll into the Helena Valley late Thursday evening and by Friday morning it was so thick the surrounding mountains were invisible. It was coming from massive wildfires burning in Canada’s far north between Edmonton and Yellow Knife, and flowing inexorably down the east side of the Continental Divide and out into the plains. And no, all the phony excuses of “a century of wildfire suppression” or not enough logging and thinning have nothing to do with it.

The Canadian boreal scrub pine forests are burning due to global warming that has caused higher early spring temperatures and a severe lack of rainfall. You can view the enormity of the fires in a YouTube video recorded by a helicopter flyover. As sea levels rise faster than even the worst-case estimates, a record number of species are driven to extinction, and the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide hits 415 parts per million — a level not seen on the planet for 3 million years — we have to ask: What will it take to stop Donald Trump’s climate policy insanity?

While all the evidence points to self-caused environmental catastrophe, we have the sorry spectacle of a science-deficient president pushing for ever more drilling, mining and burning of fossil fuels to reach his goal of “global energy dominance” by the United States. Is it even possible that Trump still believes, as he has said repeatedly, that global warming is a “Chinese hoax”? Does he simply not understand that the polar ice caps are melting much faster than predicted because the effects of global warming are most severe at northern latitudes? Will the equally delusional people he has appointed to the highest positions in our government continue to tell us to be happy because it will open shorter shipping lanes to China when the polar ice melts?

In the meantime, Trump has ordered his lackeys to remove any mention of climate change from government reports — the very reports we pay scientists and researchers to compile so our policy-makers can be informed and make decisions based on reality, not a reality-TV president’s fantasy version of the world. Does Trump think if the mention of global warming is removed from those reports we simply won’t notice? Or that the impacts will go away and, as he has also said, “the climate changes, it will change back.”

Perhaps the president should make one of his infamous taxpayer-funded trips to Montana where, as Christian Cassell, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Great Falls, told reporters: "We'll probably be seeing wildfire smoke most of the summer from the north." While Trump is here, maybe he can take a side trip to far northwest Montana, where the last herd of woodland caribou just became extinct due to hotter temperatures and habitat destruction from the logging and road-building he touts.

Or maybe a visit to what’s left of Montana’s fluvial arctic grayling population — a native salmonid that requires cold, clean water — not the summer-warmed water temperatures in the 70s that are routinely closing our world-class streams to fishing. Of course he’d have to look hard to find those grayling since they are closely following the Montana woodland caribou to extinction.

There’s a rising tide calling for the impeachment of this mad ruler and, while the focus is on his business and political corruption, perhaps the best reason to impeach Trump is for his “high crimes” against the planet itself. And if it takes impeachment to stop his climate policy insanity, it can’t come soon enough.

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George Ochenski writes from Helena. His column appears each Monday on the Missoulian's Opinion page. He can be reached by email at oped@missoulian.com.

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