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We in western Pennsylvania — and the entire nation, for that matter — have suffered bizarre weather patterns over the past year or more. Some are admittedly welcoming (a mild winter), while others were and remain devastating i.e., severe straight-line winds with microbursts and macrobursts aplenty.

Tornadoes have pulverized many towns and villages in the nation’s south and midwest, while California spent the entirety of winter and much of spring experiencing atmospheric rivers comprised of massive snow amounts, torrents of rain, and never before witnessed statewide flooding.

Buffalo, N.Y., a mere 200 miles north of Indiana County, experienced several 5-foot snowfalls, while the Fort Myers region of Florida witnessed the most severe and damaging hurricanes on record.

As a minimally educated blue-collar retiree, one devoid of a database of historic weather patterns or models to draw upon, and as one not yet convinced that my gas stove is responsible for our nation’s current peculiar weather patterns, I arrive at my own lowbrow and unlettered conclusions that though admittedly not terribly cerebral or deep, seem to hold up.

We never had such a constant barrage of strange and destructive weather on a regular basis back when we burned more coal. The reason that the Homer City, Keystone and Conemaugh generating stations are still standing proud and tall 55 years on, though currently in woke disfavor, is because microbursts, macrobursts, tornadoes, 5-foot snowfalls, and massive power outages seldom impacted them during their heyday.

But now the unsettling winds of woke are upon us. The winds of woke are about to shutter the Homer City power plant. The winds of woke lifted up and carried away our young. The winds of woke rained down upon and washed away much of our county prosperity. Coal never wreaked such havoc. Coal giveth, woke taketh away.

There are many ways to measure our environment. The wokester may glance upward and proudly observe a pristine sky, while his neighbor glances downward and sadly observes an empty wallet. The wokester may celebrate an electric car, while his equal walks to the bread line.

Different measurements, indeed.

Patrick W. McElhoes