Archive for January, 2010

We all know the world’s in trouble, what with Haiti, continuing bloodshed in Iraq & Afghanistan, gut-wrenching poverty and heart-stopping global warming. But …

Tuesday, January 26th, 2010

for every crisis there’s opportunity, and for every group of downtrodden people there are those who use ingenuity, generosity and a some competitive fire to make life better for those in desperate need. In L.A., we’re talking about the hundreds of thousands who go hungry and a terrific charity that deserves forests (whoops) err PC-worths of bytes. We’re talking CANSTRUCTION. Watch the video or hit their website and give what you can or conjure up what up you should. No human should EVER go hungry. Nope, not a single one.

Because of the holidays and my crazy schedule, I’m just now posting this. PR extraordinaire Julie Taylor told me in December about this event, which she is deeply involved in, and is worthy of some praise herself for her benevolence.

Here’s a link to the group’s website. One can CAN make a difference. Read up and you’ll see.

A couple of troubling smog stories, if you define smog as man-made poison that come in particles or EMG waves. Ignore at your own peril. How’s that for melodrama?

Tuesday, January 26th, 2010

From the story titled, Electrical pollution from cell phones and WiFi may be hazardous

“In 1990, the city of La Quinta, CA, proudly opened the doors of its sparkling new middle school. Gayle Cohen, then a sixth-grade teacher, recalls the sense of excitement everyone felt: “We had been in temporary facilities for 2 years, and the change was exhilarating.”

But the glow soon dimmed.

One teacher developed vague symptoms — weakness, dizziness — and didn’t return after the Christmas break. A couple of years later, another developed cancer and died; the teacher who took over his classroom was later diagnosed with throat cancer. More instructors continued to fall ill, and then, in 2003, on her 50th birthday, Cohen received her own bad news: breast cancer … ”

This one falls under the environmental “Duh” category. Can you believe that Chinese smog drifts over the Pacific Ocean, adding to the West Coast’s pollution problem. It’s only a phenomenon that’s been heavily reported for years, and makes it way into our book, Smogtown: the Lung-Burning History of Pollution In Los Angeles based on a 2005 Wall Street Journal story. Well, the L.A. Times is catching up. Hooray. They can use a “recent study” to explain why they’re just awakening to a seriously scary pattern of atmospheric assault. Story link.

“Ozone from Asia is wafting across the Pacific on springtime winds and boosting the amount of the smog-producing chemical found in the skies above the Western United States, researchers said in a study released Wednesday.

The study, published in the journal Nature, probes a phenomenon that has puzzled scientists in the last decade: Ground-level ozone has dropped in cities thanks to tighter pollution controls, but it has risen in rural areas in the Western U.S., where there is little industry or automobile traffic.

The study, led by Owen R. Cooper, an atmospheric scientist at the University of Colorado, examined nearly 100,000 observations in the free troposphere — the region two to five miles above ground — gathered from aircraft, balloons and ground-based lasers.

It found that baseline ozone — the amount of gas not produced by local vehicles and industries — has increased in springtime months by 29% since 1984. The study has important implications both for the curbing of conventional pollution that damages human health and for controls on greenhouse gases that are changing the planet’s climate, experts said.”

Finally, Bill gets a little digital ink in the Huffington Post with a book review about the Southwest’s perennial drought. That silky prose dances on the page.

Obama’s EPA proposes crackdown on ozone that the Bush White House rejected.

Thursday, January 7th, 2010

From the Los Angeles Times story:

“The Environmental Protection Agency proposed the nation’s strictest-ever smog limits this morning, a move that could put large parts of the country in violation of federal air quality regulations.

The EPA proposed allowing a ground-level ozone concentration of between 60 and 70 parts per billion, down from the 75-ppb standard adopted under President George W. Bush in 2008.

That means cracking down even further on the emissions from power plants, factories, landfills and motor vehicles which bake in sunlight and form smog.

Obama administration officials and environmental groups say the new standards align with the levels scientists say are needed to safeguard against increased respiratory diseases, particularly in children, and that they could save $100 billion in heath costs over time. The EPA also said compliance costs could total up to $90 billion nationwide.

A 65-ppb standard — the middle of the proposed range — would avert between 1,700 and 5,100 premature deaths nationwide in 2020, compared to the 75-ppb standard, the EPA estimates. The agency projects the stricter standard would also prevent an additional 26,000 cases of aggravated asthma, compared to the Bush-era standard, and more than a million days when people miss work or school …”

If you read our book, Smogtown: the Lung-Burning History of Pollution in Los Angeles, you’d know ozone sounds whimsical but is pretty deadly.