Air pollution as seen through Californians’ eyes

Hydrogen_station_pump[1]I know what my view on air pollution is. It makes sense I would want to know what others’ views on air quality matters are. Well, in California, at least, I now have a better idea.

On July 31st this year, the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) shared findings of a recent survey released that day. The query tool, according to the PPIC, is the 13th or latest in line in this particular survey series dealing with the environment. Taking part in the survey were 2,103 adult respondents in all.

So, what are Californians saying about air pollution and related topics?

The PPIC notes: “A majority of Californians [62%] say air pollution is a big problem (28%) or somewhat of a problem (34%) in the region where they live. Adults living in the Inland Empire (44%), Los Angeles (40%), and Central Valley (31%) are much more likely to say it is a big problem than those living in the San Francisco Bay Area (16%) and Orange/San Diego (14%).” The Central Valley region consists of: “Butte, Colusa, El Dorado, Fresno, Glenn, Kern, Kings, Madera, Merced, Placer, Sacramento, San Joaquin, Shasta, Stanislaus, Sutter, Tehama, Tulare, Yolo, and Yuba Counties,” noted the PPIC in its Californians and the Environment survey.

So, I’m curious: Residents of what communities/regions are more likely to take steps to mitigate such? Logic would have it that regions having the biggest air pollution concerns would likewise be the same ones making the biggest strides in terms of air-quality improvement.

Although in the actual survey I could not locate responses specifically addressing this, I did find information on work commuting habits.

Rwt050125_2[1]“Two in three Californians who work full- or part-time drive alone to work. Far fewer carpool (14%), use public transportation (8%), walk (4%), or bike (3%) to work; 4 percent volunteer that they work from home. The share saying they drive alone declined 11 points between July 2003 (73%) and 2008 (62%), but since 2011 it has been over 65 percent. Central Valley residents (81%) are the most likely to drive alone, followed by those in Orange/San Diego (69%), the Inland Empire (65%), Los Angeles (63%), and the San Francisco Bay Area (56%).”

Another interesting statistic is vehicle type.

Only six percent of Californians own either an electric or hybrid vehicle, according to information in the PPIC survey in question.

“San Francisco Bay Area residents (11%) are the most likely to report having one, followed by residents in Orange/San Diego (7%), Los Angeles (5%), the Inland Empire (5%), and the Central Valley (3%),” noted the PPIC.

Meanwhile, in “Number of hybrid vehicles in California triples in five years,” the Sacramento Bee reporter Phillip Reese reported: “About 585,000 hybrid vehicles were registered in the state on the first day of 2013, according to the latest figures from the California Department of Motor Vehicles. That’s up from about 218,000 hybrid vehicles registered on the first day of 2008.”

Plotted as a graph – the source of which is the California Department of Motor Vehicles – contained in that same Reese article, the year-over-year numbers of California registered hybrid vehicles recorded as of the first day of the year for all years since 2008 is as follows:

  • 2008: ~218,000
  • 2009: ~285,000
  • 2010: ~325,000
  • 2011: ~385,000
  • 2012: ~480,000
  • 2013: ~585,000

(Note: “~” = “approximately”)

Registered hybrid vehicles in state experienced the greatest increase between 2008 and 2009 (30.7%). This was followed by increases of 24.7 percent (2011-2012), 21.9 percent (2012-2013), 18.5 percent (2010-2011) and 14.0 percent (2009-2010).

Reese mentioned that approximately 1 in 50 state registered vehicles is a hybrid; roughly two percent of all registered motor vehicles in state.

By my calculations this would mean there are somewhere in the neighborhood of 29.25 million registered vehicles in California and represents a full 12 percent of all motor vehicles on U.S. roads. This is up from 23.4 million motor vehicles registered in state in 2000.


All quoted Public Policy Institute of California material in this article:

Copyright © 2013 Public Policy Institute of California All rights reserved. San Francisco, CA

– Alan Kandel

Comments are closed.