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Lost Angels | Coming Up for air…

hollywood-sign-l-dp.jpgJust finished watching Michael Moore’s BOWLING for Columbine, for the zillionth time and if you remember – the scene where he’s exposing that racist producer fuck (“COPS”) – he does a short snappy segment on the AIR QUALITY in L.A. near the Hollywood sign.

Now having lived in Hollywood, many moons ago, I distinctly remember being able to see the sign, NO Problem. In fact, since we lived in Hollywood, it was easily viewed daily. That was 20 years ago. Today, Los Angeles’ air pollution is ASTOUNDING!

Smog Kills

With EARTH DAY coming up next week, I thought I’d write a little ditty on California’s yada yada..

The American Lung Association recently issued its“State of the Air: 2008″ report for the United States, examining trends in air pollution and respiratory diseases, like asthma and chronic bronchitis, in major U.S. cities from 2004 to 2006.

Within the report are rankings of the “Most Polluted” and “Cleanest” cities. The research focuses on two of the most widespread air pollutants: ozone, the primary ingredient of smog, and particle pollution, found in sources like dirty truck exhaust.

Below are some highlights of the top five winners (or, losers?):


Ozone: “The five worst cities for ozone all saw good improvement in their ozone levels during 2004-2006, including Los Angeles and Houston—two cities with most infamous smog problems.”

1. Los Angeles, Calif.
2. Bakersfield, Calif.
3. Visalia, Calif.
4. Houston, Tex.
5. Fresno, Calif.

Year-Round Particle Pollution: “Aggressive emissions controls in the Los Angeles basin dropped the year-round particle levels by just under one-third during
this decade…. Several cities that also reduced year-round particle pollution dropped off the ‘25 most polluted’ list this year, including New York City, Chicago, Philadelphia and Indianapolis.”

1. Los Angeles, Calif.
2. Pittsburgh, Penn.
3. Bakersfield, Calif.
4. Birmingham, Ala.
5. Visalia, Calif.

Short-Term Particle Pollution: “For the first time, a city not in California—Pittsburgh—moved to the top of a most polluted list… Most cities curtailed the number of days with dangerous levels of short-term particle pollution.”

1. Pittsburgh, Penn.
2. Los Angeles, Calif.
3. Fresno, Calif.
4. Bakersfield, Calif.
5. Birmingham, Ala. (Kinda makes u wonder wtf is in Ala-bamm-Ma!)


Smog in Los Angeles (left) contrasts with blue skies near Cheyenne, Wyo.


(Cities were listed alphabetically – not ranked – for least ozone and short-term particle pollution.) – i’M GUESSING CUZ THERE ain’t any “cLEAN Americun Cities 🙂

Year-round Particle Pollution:

1. Cheyenne, Wyoming (who the fuck wants to live there?)
2. Santa Fe, N.Mex. (see HOT! below)
3. Honolulu, Hawaii (NOW You’re talkin’!)
4. Great Falls, Mont. (the great outdoors…)
5. Farmington, N.Mex. (can you say HOT!)


orient2.gifGreenpeace exists because this fragile Earth deserves a voice. It needs solutions. It needs change. It needs action.


  Kevin Warner wrote @

No surprise that L.A. is #1 or #2 on all three “most polluted” lists. I was born, raised and lived over 20 years in L.A. and witnessed first-hand the factors that contribute to the unfortunate title of most (air) polluted city in America. L.A. has long been a victim of its ideal geography (warm and dry climate, surrounding mountains, ocean breezes that cause air inversions and keep smog contained in the basin, etc.). With its sprawling development pattern, nearly all air pollution emissions (particulates, ozone, NOx, etc.) stay in the natural coastal basin we call Los Angeles. Short of the occasional Santa Ana winds that blow smog out to sea (which isn’t good either), the only real cure for air pollution in L.A. is zero emission activity. If any government(s) and businesses should be sponsoring and investing in zero emission technology, it should be the collective agencies, cities and industries of Southern California. After all, the 12+ million people who call greater L.A. home have the most to gain, or lose, from air quality in Los Angeles.


  Ethan Arpi wrote @

LA is also the car capital of this country. Car’s drive LA’s development and then the development drives LA’s car use. It’s a lethal cycle. Even if LA is able to control emissions through zero emissions technologies it will still have to deal with the problem of congestion.


  Kevin Warner wrote @

Ethan, I agree that the L.A. car culture and its impact on congestion is a driver. But as a former Angelino, I can comfortably say that Angelinos will never leave their cars in large enough numbers to dramatically reduce congestion. And, by world city standards, L.A. congestion might be considered relatively acceptable because it is a multi-node urban complex (really a collection of large and medium sized cities). Leadership in L.A. has tried to implement congestion management programs for decades with limited success. There is only so much gain to be made with increased urban density that can be effectively served by mass-transit in such a spatially vast metroplex with a population that is already over 10 million. Left with this prediction, I can see only one meaningful core solution to air quality concerns in L.A. and that is zero or near-zero emission activity (transport, power generation, etc.). So, I strongly believe that public policy in the L.A. region should help drive local investment toward technologies that bring about zero emission activity (which will also no doubt produce benefits with regard to congestion management). But


  Marcel Porras wrote @

Kevin and Ethan –

I currently live in Los Angeles, and while I agree that Los Angeles is the car capitol of the country, and past attempts to get people out of there car have failed, I do think that there is change coming. Of course, this change is coming slowly, but nonetheless, L.A. has begun to experiment with new technologies and pricing systems that will help manage the demand to drive. For example, the city is currently piloting wireless technology that calculates parking occupancy levels, that when coupled with pricing strategies can help avoid the “cruising” for parking that impacts local congestion. In addition, the City of Los Angeles has been awarded money ($212 million, I believe, the same that NYC lost) to pilot FAST Lanes on the 10 and 110 Freeways, and to implement a variable pricing parking project in downtown. To top it off, the City just passed a ballot measure that adds 1/2 cent sales tax over the next 30 years, which is projected to generate approximately 40 billion dollars for transit related projects.

Finally, a recent study (”Moving Los Angeles: Short-Termp Policy Options for Improving Transportation) conducted by the RAND Corporation articulates that there is no silver bullet to solving congestion in Los Angeles, but rather that the solution is made up of several smaller treatments that include signal synchronization, one-way streets, HOT Lanes, variable curb parking rates, parking cash-out, BRT with bus only lanes, a regional bicycle network, etc.


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