To consolidate, disseminate, and gather information concerning the 710 expansion into our San Rafael neighborhood and into our surrounding neighborhoods. If you have an item that you would like posted on this blog, please e-mail the item to Peggy Drouet at firstname.lastname@example.org
Wednesday, May 14, 2014
Why Air Pollution Has Always Been a Problem in L.A. (And Always Will Be)
Air pollution has plagued Southern California for as long as people have been writing about the region.
blanket of haze hung over the land that would become Los Angeles on
October 8, 1542, when Spanish sailors entered San Pedro (or perhaps
Santa Monica) Bay and made the first written observations of the Southland.
This early air pollution so impressed the the sailors and their
captain, Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, that they named the area "Baya de los
Fumos, or "Bay of the Smokes." (The name, sadly, did not stick.)
haze wasn't photochemical smog, of course; the internal combustion
engine and modern industrial factories were still centuries away.
Rather, it was smoke emanating from the dozens of Tongva Indian villages
that dotted the coastal plain and inland valleys, rising in wispy
columns only to flatten out against an invisible ceiling.
invisible ceiling was formed by a persistent meteorological phenomenon
that continues to threaten Angelenos' lungs: temperature inversion.
product of the Southland's topography and its prevailing weather
patterns, the inversion layer forms when ocean breezes draw cool marine
air onshore beneath a mass of warmer air above. Held in place by the
mountains that shelter Los Angeles on the north and east, the cool air
then stabilizes, unable to rise through the warm air above.
essence, the inversion layer acts as an atmospheric lid, trapping
whatever pollutants—whether automobile exhaust fumes or smoke
particulates—happen to rise from the ground below. On average, an
inversion ceiling hovers over Los Angeles 260 days a year. (It's also
responsible for the city's "June Gloom" marine layer.)
Short of building giant fans
to blow the stagnant air over the mountains and into the desert,
there's little the Southland can do to disrupt its natural inversion
layer. But the region can control the pollutants it pours into the
atmosphere. In recent decades, Southern California has made huge strides
toward keeping its air clean. Between 1976 and 1980, for example, the
South Coast Air Basin recorded an average of 112 stage 1 ozone alerts per year. It hasn't experienced one since 2003.
Another way to illustrate the change—in 1966, this was apparently an acceptable way to drive through Los Angeles:
what LA currently has as "Smog" really doesn't give people now an idea
of what LA smog was like when I was growing up in the 60s. It was like
Beijing is now. You have to go way inland to get anything even remotely
resembling 60s smog.
What you get now is slightly tinted water
vaper. We had "smog alerts" when I was a kid, where breathing LA air
felt like breathing mustard gas. It burned your eyes, it burned your
nose, and it especially burned your lungs.
Cleaning up LA's air
did come at a cost though. It de-industrialized the area. All of the
major employers in South Central LA and the industrial areas to the east
pulled up stakes and moved, deepening entrenched poverty in the area.
There are plenty of states who don't give a crap about the health of
their population, as long as the politicians get bribed through campaign
financing. And if they can't find a state that will let them poison
their own people, they'll find a whole country that will.