I sometimes wonder what one would believe about the world if all of one’s information were derived from reading op-eds in the New York Times. In her op-ed in today’s NYT, author Lindy West laments Seattle’s smog:
Seattle this week looks like one of those old photos of America’s smog-socked skylines from before the Clean Air Act and the Environmental Protection Agency, an echo as oddly hopeful as it is horrifying. The thing about human-made climate change is that it’s human-made, which means that humans, to some degree, can unmake it. It will take more than good liberals composting their pizza boxes. We need to make profound changes to the way that industry, commerce and corporations function in this country, which means that we need government intervention, which means, unfortunately, that we need a different government. Let your representatives know that, and remember it in 2018.
The problem with this is that regardless of the merits of the arguments about anthropogenic climate change due to emissions of carbon dioxide, climate change has little or nothing to do with smog in Seattle. Seattle has always had smog. Los Angeles and Seattle have smog because of their physical geography and too many people. When the Spaniards first saw the Los Angeles area in 1542 they called it Baya de los Fumos, the Bay of Smokes. That wasn’t because of human-produced carbon emissions.
Even were Seattle to implement draconian measures to curb smog, its air quality problems won’t go away. Look at the wind patterns in the North Pacific. Seattle has at least one additional smog day per year because of Chinese air pollution.