Thursday, February 16, 2012

Clear Skies


I walked my dog today, and paused when I reached the street. It has been a while since I have seen the mountains in the distance, and clear skies above. The rain last night, and the wind today, has washed away the smoggy atmosphere to reveal just how beautiful the world is around Southern California, but for only a moment.

Within a day or two of diesel trucks and trains lacing the air with cancer causing chemicals, things will be back to how they were. The Air Quality Management District has reported that diesel emissions are still the highest carcinogen in the air where I live. They say it briefly in their annual reports, and then dismiss it by saying,
"Although there are uncertainties in the ambient estimates, diesel particulate continues to be the dominant toxic air pollutant based on cancer risk. This finding holds up regardless of methodology used. The study findings therefore clearly call for a step-up in reducing diesel emissions as early as practicable and as aggressively as feasible."
LINK

The definition of practical:
prac·ti·cal  [prak-ti-kuhl]
adjective
...3. of, pertaining to, or concerned with ordinary activities, business, or work: practical affairs.
4. adapted or designed for actual use; useful: practical instructions.
5. engaged or experienced in actual practice or work: a practical politician.

The definition of feasible:
fea·si·ble   [fee-zuh-buhl]
adjective
1. capable of being done, effected, or accomplished: a feasible plan.
2. probable; likely: a feasible theory.

The "practicality" of implementing change, and the "feasibility" of expecting corporations to comply if no regulations compel them to, is unrealistic, and a poor choice of words for the AQMD. In the absence of regulations prohibiting diesel trucks and trains from transporting goods, we are relying on the good will of the corporations to make the change for us. The corporations have no "practical" reason to invest money any time soon into cleaner vehicles, since increased costs would mean their profit margins would lower, and so it isn't accurate to expect corporations to change without government imposed regulations forcing them.

The AQMD reports should read:
"Although there are uncertainties in the ambient estimates, diesel particulate continues to be the dominant toxic air pollutant based on cancer risk. This finding holds up regardless of methodology used. The study findings therefore clearly call for a drastic step-up in reducing diesel emissions as early as next year and aggressive regulations need to be implemented to force compliance."

It is expected, and quite obvious, that just like many government organizations, AQMD has to word it's publications in a hollow and non-direct way so that when a politician or citizen reads it, they do not react in a negative manner. Most proposed laws, or regulations, that have any real meaningful impact are usually voted down by the board members who vote on them due to the economic impact calculations to their main campaign supporters (i.e. Corporations.) They even get repealed once put into law, just like how President Obama halted the EPA regulations being put into place at the end of last year -LINK. This is why we need government subsidies, regulations, and more education on these topics to compel citizens to work together to decrease the levels of green-house and cancer causing chemicals in the air, and to vote for politicians willing to implement these policies.