Not as much smog in LA these days, could it be those ‘needless’ environmental regulations are needed?

The late Johnny Carson used to do a comedy bit on the Tonight Show where he posed as a Middle Eastern mystic, “the Magnificent Carnac”. He would be given an answer or response and he would supposedly by divine intervention come up with the heretofore unknown question or first part.

A favorite of mine: UCLA…..the response was “when the smog lifts”.

Carson of course broadcasted from Burbank, in the Los Angeles basin. If you are way younger than I (I was born in 1949) you might not be aware of or have experienced the thick smog of LA. I got my first sight and whiff of it when I was maybe six years old. My family took a car trip to LA. We came down the old Ridge Route (nowadays more commonly referred to as the “Grapevine”) and there was a pall of smoke, or actually smog, over the basin and it burned our eyes.

(smog = fog or haze combined with smoke and other atmospheric pollutants).

As a child, my family made a few more trips to the LA area or through it on vacations, but then I was seldom through there for a couple of decades. And then in late middle age I became a truck driver and since then have spent a lot of time driving around in that area.

There are two things that stand out to me:

Disneyland is no longer surrounded by orange groves like it was in 1955 and most of the smog in LA seems to have disappeared, even though the traffic has gotten much worse.

I can only conclude that the heavy environmental regulations, including smog devices on internal combustion engines and other such pollution controls, have had a positive effect. Also I just read a story that said respiratory health among those who live there has improved over the decades.

But if you can believe it, we now have an administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency who sees no direct correlation between carbon emissions and the degradation of the earth’s atmosphere, including global warming. As far as I know the consensus of the scientific community is that there is indeed a link. And I’ve been told that the earth is more round than flat (but if I wrote that in the Middle Ages I might have been burned at the stake by religious zealots or today by alt right know nothings).

Like I always say on this subject: I am not a scientist. I have to defer to the scientific community on this one (as well as my own observation).

But this guy Scott Pruitt who was appointed by President Trump and confirmed by the Republican-controlled senate as the EPA administrator, is no scientist either. He is a lawyer and his background is in part with big oil and fighting regulatory rules on the behalf of industry.

Now I do realize that it is possible for regulatory agencies to get out of control and issue regulations and requirements that are unreasonable and maybe even counterproductive. Bill Wattenburg, who used to be on a San Francisco radio station and who said he was an engineer and billed himself as something like the smartest man in the world (he was not humble), used to rant that the California Air Resources Board, among other terrible things, was forcing everyone to use an ethanol gasoline formula that actually increased pollution. I don’t know the validity of that, but I would say it is worth looking into. There always needs to be public oversight over the bureaucracy. Of course mid-western corn farmers have a big lobby pushing for the use of ethanol, produced from corn.

But I would be more comfortable with someone with a scientific background as administrator of the EPA.

If I have a medical problem I don’t go to a lawyer. I go to a doctor.





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