One people, one planet, one pollution

I was hiking yesterday (23rd) and looked out to sea. This is what I saw.

An orange-brown band of dust? smog? all of the above? stretching over the whole horizon. There’s a larger composite picture here that shows more of the extent. (In the foreground, you can make out the Navy Seabees target practice range. That’s Anacapa Island shrouded in the distance.)

I’ve lived here for years and never seen anything like it. Ordinary Los Angeles pollution looks like this:

It’s more purple-colored, much fainter, and bigger toward LA, petering out toward the ocean. (The picture is from an old post where I was puzzling about wind direction.)

When I mentioned it at home, I found out that Beijing had an Airpocalypse around January 12th and the next few days, an immense pollution event that drowned the city in choking dusty smog.

View of Beijing smog. From

NASA regularly tracks Chinese pollution across the Pacific, but it wasn’t usually still as thick as soup by the time it got here.

Well, it is now. I’m fairly sure that’s what I was seeing. Dirt pushed across the whole Pacific ahead of a huge storm system that also brought us rain later on. One to two weeks is how long it takes to get here from China.

This is not good.

Crossposted from Acid Test

13 Comments on “One people, one planet, one pollution”

  1. bostonboomer says:

    Holy Hannah! Not good is an understatement.

    • bostonboomer says:

      The “world chaos” site seems to be a right wing Xtian place.

      • quixote says:

        Bah. I found the picture using Goog images, and I like to give credit. Unfortunately, that site doesn’t, so even though I’m rather sure it’s not their photo, I cited them. If anyone knows whose pic that is, I’ll be more than glad to fix it!

  2. bostonboomer says:

    From The Reg. link:

    Here in the San Francisco Bay Area, your Reg reporter well remembers bad-air days in the late 1950s and 1960s when the bay would be covered by what could only be described as a giant translucent turd lying over the water, occluding the view of San Francisco’s sister city, Oakland.

    In response to such pollution, the conservative Republican president Richard Nixon signed the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) on New Year’s Day of 1970, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was born in December of that year. Since that agency took charge of our nation’s air quality, the San Francisco Bay turd has dissipated, Oakland has reappeared, and the entire nation is better for it.

    The Reg respectfully suggests that those who would rein in the EPA – such as current House Speaker John Boehner, who when speaking with farmers in 2011 referred to “the need to stop the EPA’s assault on American families and job creators” – take a trip to Beijing and discover what poorly regulated air quality can sadly lead to.

    Or, if a time machine can be made available, skip over to December 1952, when The Great Smog killed an estimated 12,000 people in London. And if there’s room in that time machine, may we suggest bringing along Chinese Communist Party leader Xi Jinping?

    He should feel right at home.

  3. Allie says:

    Holy Smokes (sorry couldn’t help it ) I never heard of The Great Smog before. It’s unbelievable how deep in denial Republicans are, isn’t it? How many events for how long before they admit it’s a problem? At some point you have to conclude they know but don’t care.

    I remember when Atlanta used to be a nice place to live (been here since 1967). Over the past 13 years or so I’ve worked in a high-rise and can look out and see the smog layer just get worse and worse. We even have summer weather patterns produced by the car emissions – sunny all week and rain on weekends. That was before the never-ending drought, of course.

    Thankfully I work at home now, although the air is the same or worse even out here in Hooterville.

    • dakinikat says:

      We used to drive to visit my grandparents in Laguna Hills in the 1970s before Nixon’s EPA. We’d come over the mountains and you could never see LA. It was always covered up by these nasty orangey brown clouds. It also smelled very bad there.

      • Beata says:

        I remember L.A. in the late 60’s. The smog was terrible. There were days when we couldn’t go out and play. My brother had asthma and it was especially hard on him.

      • Delphyne says:

        I, too, remember landing at LAX in 1970 through stratified layers of smog – it was horrible. The Hollywood Hills disappeared every day.

  4. janicen says:

    It is bad. Thank you for this post. We need to be talking about this. Right now Salt Lake City has the most polluted air in the country. I saw this story on CBS.

    The EPA cutoff for clean air is 35 micrograms of pollution per cubic meter. Salt Lake City hit 130 micrograms Wednesday last week.

    • Allie says:

      I wonder if the smog from Beijing also contributed to this in addition to the causes cited in the article.

      • janicen says:

        My understanding is that there is an inversion occurring in that there is warm air aloft and cold air underneath. The warm air is hold the cold air in place along with the pollution from the city. The suggestion was mad to make public transportation free in order to encourage people to stop driving and possibly shutting down some factories in the city.

  5. Allie says:

    I also feel really sorry for the kids today. My neighbor’s daughter has asthma and of course that is rampant and getting worse all the time.

    I didn’t realize pollution was so bad even back in the 50’s. I grew up on the ocean and we had clean air. These kids today don’t know what that is.

  6. quixote says:

    dakinikat: “LA… was always covered up by this nasty orangey brown clouds.”

    Every time I go over a pass to Los Angeles, I think “Imagine if they used all electric vehicles and trams. The air would be clear as a bell and you’d see all the mountains right up to the (sometimes) snow on the peaks and the ocean glinting in the distance.”

    It looks like that sometimes at 5:30 AM after a rain. That’s what gets me. This is one case where the crap we do would go away in a day if we started doing things right.

    Instead, now you look down onto a purplish gray soup through which you can make out some of the bigger buildings. It doesn’t stink, but it doesn’t smell like real air either. That’s the secret: just enough pollution control so that our sensible animal Eewwww reflexes aren’t triggered.