There is a saying: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” But, what if something, like air, for example, is broke – what then? Good question and one in which there is no one answer – or so it’d seem.
I mean it isn’t like air can be replaced, like the way a polluting car can be traded in for a non-polluting model. Nice if that were the case, but it isn’t.
Because I live in a region where on many days of the year the air is unhealthful, this is the primary reason – I would suspect – that I see on T.V. ads bringing about air quality awareness and/or calling for public cooperation regarding one doing one’s part in helping return regional air to a state of healthy repair. Compared to some anti-smoking public service announcements (PSA) I’ve seen, PSA aired to draw attention to the quality of area air, are tame in my opinion, their messages bordering on the subtle. So, another question: What is this saying?
Then there are those occasions when the local broadcast and print news media cover air pollution in on-the-air and print news stories, respectively. This is mostly when area air pollution becomes quite problematic; I would say when the Air Quality Index approaches the more unhealthful side of the “Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups” range or worse. More often than not, included in the conversation is input from air quality and/or medical experts. Recommendations such as staying indoors if prone to experiencing air-pollution-prompted symptoms are often part of the dialog. And it is not uncommon to see in print or hear on air how the air where I reside has gotten cleaner, but that frequently comes with a caveat: there is still a long way to go or there still remains much to be done in this regard.
My contention is that to really grab the affected public’s attention, measures guaranteeing success need to be instituted and enforced. One such “compliance mandate,” as I envision it, would be prohibition of all outdoor school-related sporting events during times of moderately unhealthy or extremely unhealthy air. This is but one example. Such might anger people, but I suspect something on this order would better drive home the message that air pollution is to be taken seriously compared to what related action there currently is. And, it is during these bad-air periods when there is a considerable amount of driving related to game activities, which only exacerbates the already bad-air condition. Some may look at this and think more governmental control. I tend to look at the situation this way: $6 billion in healthcare costs incurred annually in California’s San Joaquin Valley alone, all on account of air pollution.
My eyes tell my brain what is bad for my body. Every time I look out my window and see sullen skies imbued with grayish-brown haze and spoiling the view, I can’t help but wonder what the impact such air toxicity is having on all affected people’s health and lives. What I know for certain is what I am seeing – and breathing – can’t be good.
Mention “air quality” and what I’m thinking is “oxymoron.” A sad situation indeed that demands change most definitely.
Air – if only it came with a guarantee.
Image above: U.S. National Archives and Records Administration