A grim reel on the gray menance – smog by the numbers

You may not respect Oxycorp. You may believe this mini-documentary feels more like propaganda than unbiased reportage. You can take issue with the spelling mistakes, or their inclusion of U.S. nuclear tests in what is a message about air pollution. Those are fair knocks. Whatever Oxycorp.’s ideology, the harrowing facts in this videograhy ring audaciously true.

Smog is a silent killer, a sneaky assasin, and it undercuts the public health of millions across the world every day. It confuses schoolkids about the true color of the sky, and stalks the innocent and the unware alike, particularly if they already suffer from a preexisting illness involving their heart, lungs or immune system. Angelenos — the ones raised here under those heavy ozone and particulate-matter skies a generation or two ago — were in a sense the planet’s first guinea pigs, their anatomies analyzed, their behavior charted. Los Angeles’ pathos and know-how in grappling with the beast were supposed to instruct other big industrial cities how to sidestep the air pollution abyss as they developed and motorized and built their cities and permitted their factories.

Evidently, sometime between Southern California’s first victories against air pollution, namely forcing Detroit and the oil industry to make serious changes to their messy products, and today the message was lost. In the age — some might say hysteria, others apathy — of global warming, when was the last time you heard environmentalists or politicians condemn the civic airshed, maybe say we can’t afford Los Angeles? Our bet is that you haven’t. And that you should’ve.

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