The Air We Breathe

“What’s the use of a fine house if you haven’t got a tolerable planet to put it on?”

― Henry David Thoreau

Ever think about the Earth and how we humans impact the environment – and how the environment impacts our lives?

It’s something we should do everyday but most people, I suppose, don’t. When we do, it’s not easy to do what’s best, choices have to be made, sometimes choosing the lesser evil. Like choosing between using and sending used paper plates to the dump (they can’t go into the recycling because of food remnates) or using water needed to wash real plates. Being in a drought, and being metered where the price of water goes up with the amount used monthly, versus a flat monthly fee for garbage, it’s either add to accumulated waste or use scarce resources. You can guess what we do.

And then there’s the air quality here in Fresno. We’ve received an “F” by the American Lung Association, we’re fourth-worst in ozone and second-worst in particulate matter – in the state.

Our local air pollution control district is crying “Unfair!”, we’ve had our best year in more than 40 years and, since 2004, unhealthy days due to particulates have fallen 37% because of wood-burning restrictions, and ozone by 39% since 2000 because of upgrades in vehicle emission controls.

That’s like a student who has improved his overall-grade average from a 20 to 55 and complains about still getting a failing grade. 

Sorry, failing is still failing. Maybe the district would be less offended if the F was raised to an F+. Okay, lets be generous and award effort, and make it a D-.

Maybe the district has improved things by clamping down on us city dwellers, but the county governments of the Central Valley and the State need to improve their efforts with agriculture – where burnings throw tons of particulates into the air every fall, fallowed acres left barren allow the winds to kick up dust storms every windy day, and crop dusting toxic fertilizers and pesticides instead of hand-applying them.

But I doubt they will, that would meet stiff resistance from the well-monied giant agra-business.

And we all know making money is more important than health, or what’s good for the Earth.

Excuse me as I go back into my fine house. 

Have a (cough, choke, sneeze) happy day!

– Bill



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