Climate change: the more abstract; air pollution: the more exact

If the question was asked of which would I rather do, fight air pollution or a changing climate, I would choose the former, if for no other reason than achieving success is much more likely, the results being more immediate and any cleanup progress related to such, more measurable and tangible. As to the tangible part, the results can be seen.

The best example I can think of is 1940s Los Angeles smog. Right prior to then, probably very few had even heard the word, much less even knew what smog was. The scourge caused breathing difficulties, burning eyes, headaches and nausea including vomiting. Once it was definitively determined what the cause was, a full-scale assault was initiated to rid southern California skies of this sore sight for the eyes. The fight was targeted, direct and localized. And, due to that effort, the smog-cleanup blitz was deemed a success.

From smog to fog

Unlike obvious smog, a changing climate cannot be immediately observed. What are only detectable to humans immediately are the different climatic effects.

Central California fog as seen from Terra – MODIS satellite in space

It’s what, in part, explains why the war on climate change, for lack of my being able to pin down the correct term here, is so iffy a proposition. Trying to effect change on climate itself, even if possible which, by the way it is, could take a lifetime or more to do.

Solving the problem of central California tule fog is an example of one such success. Clearing out the wintertime fog was not what anyone had in mind or even expected, but it happened. It happened as a result of mitigating dirty Valley air. See related stories here and here.

Still worlds apart

Another reason why elevating climate control to top-of-mind status among the blanket majority has been anything but easy, is because there are many who argue that there is this climate-related-construct constant which is that the climate is ever-changing, all of its own doing. In other words, there are those who believe that the forever-changing climate is totally independent of any human influence whatsoever on it.

As a matter of fact, people commenting here on this blog and elsewhere have called into question humankind’s influence in terms of forcing surface air temperature rises, their position being there is none. And, that’s completely understandable and expected. Of course other commenters are saying otherwise all of which is likewise expected and understandable. That’s just how it is. That’s the reality.

Moreover, there are times I have heard others making reference to a climate crisis; more of the same through my own reading in the press and in books.

Truth be told, it is my observation that we are not now in nor are we experiencing a climate crisis, for if we were, it sure isn’t being treated like one, again, not by the blanket majority and not by a long shot.

Exactly the reason why I would so much rather my focus be on solving for pollution in the air as opposed to trying to combat climate change per sé if it came down to my having to choose between the two.

And, besides, I am of the firm belief – and it’s been this way for me since day 1 – that if the concentration of pollution in our air is substantially reduced, there is every reason to believe that a more stable planetary climate will follow.

Unassailable evidence

I say this because I have seen the effects of a cleaner atmosphere in my neck of the woods in California’s San Joaquin Valley, that being way, way less fog, of the tule variety.

Based on what I have observed over the decades, it’s hard evidence like this that just can’t be dismissed.

Coking oven-produced air pollution

Images: Jeff Schmaltz, NASA (upper); Alfred T. Palmer (lower)

– Alan Kandel

4 thoughts on “Climate change: the more abstract; air pollution: the more exact”

  1. Common sense article. I believe that most ppl in the western world have evolved to recognise and correct, some in big ways but many in small ways, conditions of pollution, conservation issues and land use plans to have a positive impact on the environment. Hysterical ranting about emergencies just instill panic and paralysis where the general population looks for the “white knight” to roll in and fix it all. Unfortunately, on the issue of co2 emissions (if you believe it) there are no “white knights” in 3 of the top 4 emitting countries.

  2. “Climate change” is abstract because there is no such thing. CO2 has nothing to do with environmental temperatures. CO2 is essential for plant life, crop production and greening the earth. Why would any sane person want to limit the amount of CO2 created when it has massive environmental benefits?

    The UN readily admits there is no real “climate crisis” and that AGW is a gigantic Socialist World Wide income redistribution scam which can only be achieved by taking away freedom and installing tyrannical rules that though our lifestyles back to the Dark Ages. People have “woke” to this fraud and rightfully are rejecting it.

  3. Randy is a voice of sanity. If there is artificial ocean temperature rise the problem is due to water pollution and ocean temperature rise is just one of its symptoms. The oceans viewed from space show large algae blooms everywhere near large human populations. Algae blooms and dead zones are caused by polluted water, not CO2. Algae blooms evolved to absorb more sunlight (clean water reflects most sunlight). Similar for dead zones: Darker water absorbs more sunlight than clean water. Oceans are 75% of the planet surface and direct solar heating has the biggest effect on ocean temperature. The modern world uses the oceans as a convenient toilet and now even the Ganges has dead zones. Human water pollution consists of: human biological waste, farm waste, phosphates, nitrates, garbage, toxic industrial wastes from chemicals to oil, carcinogens, not nice, etc. This water pollution causes ocean oxygen depletion, dead zones, acidification, algae blooms, and artificial rising ocean temperature. Water pollution needs to be handled efficiently and economically to solve the problem. CO2 and O2 are the foundation of life on earth. They are pure gases, not pollutants, and neither significantly affects ocean temperature.

  4. Thank-you for a straightforward, clear article that brings common sense to the table.

    I have a saying, “Common sense isn’t.”
    (Common sense is neither common, nor is it a sense.)

    People have been caught in a smoke and mirrors media show that is dividing countries and creating heated arguments over…the Earth’s weather??

    Meanwhile another 20,000 humans died today because they breathed deadly byproducts of combustion…

    There is something wrong with that


    CO2 was initially supposed to simply be the marker gas measured from the burning of fuels, and was used to indicate the associated presence of over 200 other gasses that were toxic, but too hard for politicians to pronounce or remember.

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