OK so here’s a fact in my life, in January I’ll be 70 years old so there is no question that I have more years behind me than in front of me. Therefore when it comes to global warming I’m rooting for the kids and my hopes soared when I watched kids all over the world demand that we adults help them clean up our environment before Mother Earth decides it’s time to burp the human species. (The kid’s sign I liked the most was "If you don’t act like an adult we will.") This movement makes much more sense than one of ours from the '60s when we thought everyone over 30 should be placed in a concentration camp. We old folks need to assure the future of our kids in any way we can and ignore those who don’t believe the science behind global warming.
So try this on: What’s the worst thing that could happen if global warming believers are wrong? At least we’d end up with a cleaner world. And what’s the worst thing that could happen if those who think human-induced global warming is a hoax are wrong? You should be able to do the math here.
So on the same day the kids were making their point, Trump’s EPA administrator took away the California air/emission standards exemption that allows them to impose stricter limitations on emissions, fuel mileage, and such than the federal government does. (Twenty-two other states and four major auto makers have adopted California’s rules which began in 1967 under Gov. Ronald Reagan.)
So let me get this right, Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency thinks global warming is a hoax and therefore says California and 22 other states should clean up their act by making themselves more polluted?
Here’s some googling to help jog your memory. The first recognized episodes of "smog" occurred in Los Angeles in the summer of 1943. Visibility was only three blocks. People suffered from burning eyes and lungs and nausea. The phenomenon was termed a "gas attack" and blamed on a nearby butadiene plant. But when the plant was shut down, the smog did not abate. In 1947, the Los Angeles County Air Pollution Control District -- the first such body in the nation -- was formed. The district regulated obvious culprits, like smoke-belching power plants and oil refineries, but still the smog persisted.
It was not until the early 1950s that it became clear the automobile was the main culprit. That’s when Dr. Arie Haagen-Smit discovered the nature and causes of photochemical smog. He made the discovery while on a one-year leave of absence from Caltech, where he was a bioorganic chemistry professor. Working in a specially-equipped Los Angeles air district laboratory, he determined that two chief constituents of automobile exhaust – airborne hydrocarbons from gasoline, and oxides of nitrogen produced by internal combustion engines – were to blame for smog. His research, highlighting the reaction of sunlight with automobile exhaust and industrial air pollution, became the foundation upon which today’s air pollution regulations are based.
We old folks remember smog, rivers so choked with industrial waste that they exploded in flames, acid rain and such that resulted in creating a federal Environmental Protection Agency. We’ve made great strides in cleaning up our environment since, but we and the rest of the world need to remain vigilant in our efforts because the consequences of pretending we haven’t filled our nest with poop are rather grave.
Therefore, I’m with the kids and I sincerely hope that we adults will do all we can to preserve their futures.
Dan Ulmer is a parent, grandparent, as well as a retired teacher, counselor, politician, lobbyist, public employee, nonprofit executive and opinionated citizen who believes that we need to do what we can to leave the world better off than we found it.