Air Quality Awareness Week 2019 – Update: ‘Air Pollution & Your Community’

The Great Recession demonstrated just what cities were made of, i.e., what kind of mettle each of our communities had. From what I remember, it was pretty much a case of every community for itself. In terms of their coming through the ordeal, they either got it right, full recovery being a foregone conclusion or they did not react or respond appropriately meaning, metaphorically speaking, it was all they could do just to try to stay afloat.

At the end of the day, all communities had survived, though some obviously fared better than others. I suspect that had conditions been any worse, it would have been “Depression City.”

Fortunately, depression was avoided and cities got back on their feet again.

That’s kind of how it goes where air or air quality is concerned. When conditions are bad for too long a time is when the community steps up.

We saw it (for those who were here then) in Los Angeles in the early 1940s with episodes of omnipresent and seemingly unrelenting smog and in London, England both in the early and mid-1950s with its episodes of The Great Smog.

By jurisdiction, global carbon dioxide emissions

It’s also front-and-center with the movement to combat climate change/global warming. It certainly seemed a top-of-the-mind concern at the 21st Conference of the Parties summit held in Paris, France in late November and lasting to mid-December in 2015, with the accord ratified by more than 150 nations in 2016.

As it relates, as I see it what is keeping us from progressing further and faster, is a reluctance, a hesitation, if you will, to fully commit to the tenets listed in the Paris Accord and others. This is where the community can play such an important role.

To get an idea of what can be done to reduce pollution it is at this juncture that I redirect your attention to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Air Quality in Your Community Web page here.

Moving forward and in concluding, a passage borrowed from the Apr. 30, 2014 Air Quality Matters post: “Air awareness: ‘We the people’ and pollution” is presented for your reading here. Interestingly and coincidentally this was posted during Air Quality Awareness Week 2014.

“Almost immediately, my attention turned to the air. Thinking even more intently, I now contemplate the changes the air has gone through and how lives have been affected or altered. More locally, less globally, I consider how my life has been shaped by the presence of dirty air.

“Dirty air being old as dirt itself, natural forces and human factors are contributors to – and the culprits of – the air that is damaged. So, air, even at the time of my birth 61 years ago, was impure. In time, my concern over such grew, closer and closer attention was paid, I cared more and my indifference waned. So, what happened?

“As it has to do with this, I absolutely believe there was this one instance when ‘it hit me!’ when it suddenly dawned on me, waking me up, so to speak; a ‘Houston: We have a problem’ moment, if you like.”

And, I would just like to add one more thought, also from that Apr. 30, 2014 Air Quality Matters post: “I have come to the realization – call it an epiphany if you like – that it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to recognize conditions in the roughly 24,000 square-mile big Central Valley have reached the breaking point, so to speak, where there are more bad-air days than good, where healthcare costs related to polluted air’s effects stagger, mushrooming to an estimated annual $6 billion, and what should prompt serious concern and correction as in something needs to be done in terms of mitigating the damaging, deleterious and deplorable air – and not just here but elsewhere too.”

I can think of no more fitting way to conclude today’s discussion: Air Pollution & Your Community, the focus of Air Quality Awareness Week 2019 for May 2, 2019 – day four.

Next up, Air Quality Around the World. That’s the focus on tap for tomorrow May 3rd – Air Quality Awareness Week 2019’s fifth and final day.

Image above: Árni Dagur

– Alan Kandel