As time goes on it becomes ever more demanding to go against our nature of adapting to our weakening world. Being able to outline the smog in your reality is part of the challenge of combating climate change on a local level. When we recognize the flaws at home, we can more efficiently solve the issue at hand around the block.

Smog and the City

Smog is the term used to describe the toxic ozone created when sunlight reacts with nitrogen oxide (which most commonly comes from cars, trucks, and buses). This ozone layer that forms, unlike the one in our atmosphere, is harmful to human health. This toxic air can damage lung tissue and is especially dangerous to people with respiratory diseases. This issue is very prominent in urban areas where there is a higher concentration of vehicles and factories. Everyday people are breathing in air that is hurting them. It often seems like the phrase “A breath of fresh air” will no longer be applicable. 

Doomsday

My community falls under these areas that are being affected. As a result of heat waves a large portion of southern california suffered some of its worst days for air quality in 2020

Image taken by me (Brandon Torres) outside my home in southern california on sept 7, 2020.

In the summer of 2020 I woke up to a red sky and a snow day full of ash. It seemed like a doomsday as the smoke clouded the sun. At night when I looked into the distance I could see the bright orange flames tearing away at the landscape. They twist and pull against the vegetation leaving behind dark clouds, scorched land, and destitute animals and people who no longer have a home. 

This experience, although shocking and devastating, has become routine for its residents year after year. We have adapted to the red skies and burning trees, toxic air and dirty streets, and that needs to stop. 

The city of Los Angeles has also lifted limitations on cremations due to the overwhelming number of deaths caused by the pandemic. This is also ruining our air. The smoke from death will go on to harm the city at a worse rate. This is the reality we live in.

Hope for a Smokey Globe

Air pollution kills 7 million people around the world every year. 9 out of 10 people take air into their lungs that exceeds the World Health Organization’s guidelines for air containing high levels of pollutants. 

The air I breathe is toxic, it harms my lungs, and worsens the lives of my community. It often seems like there is no hope for such a complicated situation, but do not be blinded by the smog that plagues us. Even in the darkest of clouds, there is always a bit of hope. 

What can we do then? 

  • We can drive less to reduce the amount of nitrogen oxide being put into the area. Biking or walking whenever you can as an alternative to driving can have a significant impact on local air quality (Consider switching to electric vehicles if this is not an option for you).
  • Conserve our energy everywhere we are.
  • We can sign petitions that aid in pushing policies that combat air pollution.
  • Avoid burning leaves, wood, trash, and other materials.

    Together, we can change the world and clear the skies. We will never know how far our power can reach if we don’t even try. Believing in yourself is key and inspiration for others to do the same. There is always hope, even when the sky is in vain.

     

     

    Read More:

    https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2020-12-06/2020-la-air-quality-southern-california-pollution-analysis

    http://publichealth.lacounty.gov/eh/tea/toxicepi/airpollution.htm

    https://www.nationalgeographic.org/encyclopedia/smog/#:~:text=Photochemical%20smog%20is%20produced%20when,power%20plants%2C%20and%20factory%20emissions.&text=When%20sunlight%20hits%20these%20chemicals,%2Dlevel%20ozone%E2%80%94or%20smog.

    https://www.who.int/health-topics/air-pollution#tab=tab_1

    https://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/asthma/index.html#:~:text=Asthma%20is%20increasing%20every%20year%20in%20the%20US.&text=More%20children%20(57%25)%20than,than%20girls%20to%20have%20asthma.

    https://ktla.com/news/local-news/l-a-began-2020-with-a-clean-air-streak-but-ended-with-its-worst-smog-in-decades/

    https://www.npr.org/sections/coronavirus-live-updates/2021/01/19/958354466/cremation-limits-lifted-in-la-due-to-backlog-as-covid-19-deaths-skyrocket

    https://www3.epa.gov/region1/airquality/reducepollution.html