Drought makes air less breathable … yeah, right!

I own this book. It’s titled: How to Say It: Choice Words, Phrases, Sentences & Paragraphs for Every Situation. How to Say It was published in 2001 and no doubt would have been applicable and relevant even if released 100 years earlier. Rosalie Maggio is the book’s author.

LA_smog_masksThe reason for my bringing this up is simple: City Lab correspondent Laura Bliss, in one of her more recent articles, in essence, declares, due to the drought, as of late, air has become less breathable. Excuse me?! From this, would it not then follow that the worse the drought becomes, the more harmful air is to breathe? Or, conversely, the less intense the drought becomes or in an easing drought, in other words, the more breathable becomes the air?

Personally, I do not believe drought, in and of itself, makes air any more polluted than hydraulic fracturing (fracking) activity related to the extraction through subsurface drilling processes of oil and/or natural gas makes earthquakes in connection with such activity worse. Maybe earthquakes are more prone to occur in close proximity to sites where hydraulic fracturing activity takes place. But, to suggest fracking activity makes temblors worse (and by worse I mean intense), well, you tell me.

This bit about the drought making air less breathable, it’s a bit of a stretch. I just recently wrote about this very thing in: “Drought does or does not make air pollution worse; the verdict.” If anything, the drought in the western U.S. and its impact on California’s San Joaquin Valley has been an influence as it relates to or in terms of how it has contributed to a changing area air quality, not unlike the way the recovering economy has done or the way the great recession has or did during pre-drought times. These are influences, is all.

Relatedly, a commenter (Earl Withycombe) commenting on the “Drought does or does not make air pollution worse; the verdict” post, writes:

“Between 2007 and 2015, directly-emitted PM2.5 (diesel exhaust PM, smoke particles, a portion of dust emissions) declined by 18% due to regulatory controls implemented by the San Joaquin Valley Unified Air Pollution Control District and the California Air Resources Board, and oxides of nitrogen (NOx) emissions – a contributor to ambient PM2.5 concentrations – declined by 41%.”

For what it’s worth, with respect to what the commenter wrote, there was no mention of my assessment/analysis (or regarding the analysis method used) not being correct.

Bottom line: To contend or much less suggest the drought has caused Valley air or air anywhere, for that matter, to be less breathable, I’m sorry, I don’t see it.

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