Do We Really Want To Be China?

Here in SoCal pollution was so bad it was a national joke. Nearby mountains disappeared in a brownish haze. No more.


A favorite target of the political right is the EPA. Just yesterday in a hearing with the EPA administrator, Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) said:

Sessions: When we go to our states, the group we have the most complaints about from our constituents — whether it’s highway people, whether it’s farmers, whether it’s energy people — is the Environmental Protection Agency. It’s an [agency of] extraordinary overreach. And you apparently are unaware of the pushback that’s occurring in the real world.

Of course many businesses dislike the EPA. It’s an agency made to primarily say, “No!” In this case, no is a good thing.

Wikipedia summarizes some of the changes to what we breath from 1970 to 2006:

  • carbon monoxide emissions fell from 197 million tons to 89 million tons
  • nitrogen oxide emissions fell from 27 million tons to 19 million tons
  • sulfur dioxide emissions fell from 31 million tons to 15 million tons
  • particulate emissions fell by 80%
  • lead emissions fell by more than 98%

As a kid growing up in Queens I watched soot from dozens of chimneys as the apartment buildings in my neighborhood burned their trash every afternoon. Today we’d be shocked. Then, it was standard operating procedures.

Here in SoCal pollution was so bad it was a national joke. The photo at the top of this entry is Downtown Los Angeles in the 70s. Nearby mountains disappeared in a brownish haze.

No more.

Our air still needs help, but the trend is in the right direction. Today, much of SoCal’s 21st Century pollution actually floats over the Pacific from China and the rest of industrialized Asia.

It costs more money to keep emissions down. In business that cost comes directly from profits. No wonder business hates the EPA.

But, do we really want to be China?

beijing smog-w1920-h1400

5 thoughts on “Do We Really Want To Be China?”

  1. Geoff, I completely agree with your point!

    But I’m curious about the photo of LA smog– I looked at the cars in the lot, and they’re not 60’s/70’s models! More like 40’s.

  2. It was like that in the mid 60’s too. The only time we could see the mountains from Glendale/Burbank, was in November & December! Then, less than 5 years later—it was like that in NYC. It’s the Big Business who fights the EPA.
    Question—How come you didn’t run down to the beach the beginning of the week and get pictures of the “snow” cover??

  3. I love Socal, always have and always will. Other than Florida, it was the only state I really want to move to. It has the warmest winters in the USA, and a great climate.

    Yet, the real fear that kept me from moving their was always the danger of the air quality. It IS better than it was in the 70’s, but CA still have by far the worst air quality in the USA. For people with young kids it can be pretty scary thing when you can “see the air” and think your 10 year old is breathing that in.

    It’s terrible what we humans have done to the planet!

  4. Back in the ’70s we WERE China. They are where we were 40 + years ago. We learned and cleaned up our act (pushed by those much hated Hippies and the Ecology Movement. China has no such dissident groups to pressure the government to change things . How long will it be before they wise up themselves? Who knows. Money talks and industry has money. Poor people with breathing problems don’t.

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