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By Paul Losch

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About this blog: I was a "corporate brat" growing up and lived in different parts of the country, ending in Houston, Texas for high school. After attending college at UC Davis, and getting an MBA at Harvard, I embarked on a marketing career, mai...  (More)

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Spare the Air

Uploaded: Dec 23, 2013
Best for the holiday season.

We have had a record number of spare the air in these parts. Despite blue skies and what I take in as fresh air. So what gives?

I learned a lesson from my young adult daughter, who is working in China.

China has a major air pollution problem. And that smog does not sit still. It crosses the Pacific Ocean and migrates from there to spoil other parts of the world, including the Bay Area.

There is tremendous irony that a Communist country where everyone road bicycles some years ago now has some of the worst auto traffic conditions I have ever experienced.

Then there is the smog. It has attribution more than automobiles: manufacturing and energy production (including coal imported from the US) are causing the problem.

Spare the air here has a tail that starts across an ocean away.

Comments

Posted by Craig Laughton, a resident of College Terrace,
on Dec 23, 2013 at 4:26 pm

Paul,

[Portion removed.]

However, since your subject is about air pollution in China, especially coal, do you support the major nuclear power program in China? If so, do you support it here?

Regards,

Craig


Posted by Paul Losch, a resident of Community Center,
on Dec 23, 2013 at 5:40 pm

Hi Craig,

I csn support nuclear, although I am not an advocate. The technology has changed a great deal in the years, and despite the disaster in Japan, which had more to do with the tsunami than the nuclear facility, it is safe and certainly less polluting than is coal.


Posted by 100% bicycle commuter, a resident of Barron Park,
on Dec 23, 2013 at 5:43 pm

"Despite blue skies..."

It's important to look toward a landmark on a distant horizon when evaluating the clarity of the air. The color of the sky above is not very sensitive to particulates. But if you get up on a hill and look toward the Diablo or the Santa Cruz ranges on a variety of days, you'll see that they are quite smudged out exactly when Spare the Air day declarations are frequent. For example, today the Diablo range was barely visible. Once you start doing that, you'll find that it's easy to predict when you'll see a message about a StA Day in the local papers. (Let me be clear that I'm not advocating one way or another for whether StA Days should be used; I'm just saying that there is a basic qualitative assessment any individual can make that is a good predictor of these days.)


Posted by common sense, a resident of Midtown,
on Dec 24, 2013 at 6:40 am

Paul, why are you blaming China for Spare the Air days.

Our local economy is booming, and with that comes a lot more traffic, and other pollution causing economic activity, which is the most significant driver of "Spare the Air" days.


Posted by Paul Losch, a resident of Community Center,
on Dec 24, 2013 at 8:00 am

Common Sense,

With respect, you missed my point.

We must act locally to spare the air, among other things.

And what goes on elsewhere in the world when it comes to pollution crosses borders, oceans. It is not confined to where it takes place.

We can spare the air though local actions, and it is only part of the solution. Also required are policies at a corporate and country level that address the challenge.

This not about China, although China is a big contributor to the problem.


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