I don't expect to write in my blog every day, but the weather conditions today reminded me of what I'm leaving behind this winter. Northern Utah has some of the worse air in the nation during our regular inversions. We are on track for a week or two of increasingly bad PM2.5 readings. The cause? Primarily, it is a combination of vehicle use and dairy farms. The ammonia from livestock mixes with vehicle-produced NOx, resulting in the precipitation of ammonium nitrate and other compounds. "PM2.5 particulates are fine, inhalable particles or droplets with a diameter of 2.5 microns or smaller. These fine particulates, which are about 30 times smaller than the width of a human hair, can travel deeply into the lungs and cause both short-term and long-term health effects" (https://deq.utah.gov/Pollutants/P/pm/pm25/).
Logan encourages people to avoid idling their vehicles during these inversions, combining trips, not building fires, taking public transit, and more. However, these guidelines apply to other people, right?
I've wanted to develop a "walk of shame" for those businesses that encourage (or fail to discourage) idling during these inversions. Two that I notice with regularity are Starbucks (what, you can't park and walk 30 meters into the store to place your order? And the North Logan Starbucks doesn't have any bike racks, to boot) and the Sports Academy (parents lined up in their SUVs to pick up their kids after swimming or gymnastics, idling away and oblivious to the irony of adding to the unhealthy inversion while concerned about little Jane and Jimmy getting their exercise).
I don't expect to experience much air pollution during my travels. The ocean breezes push pollution inland or out to sea (VOG, or volcanic ash and gases blowing toward Oahu from the Big Island are one exception). That's at least part of the reason so many people live close to the ocean in the first place. But I recognize that, for air and water pollution, we have to be careful not to depend on the adage, "The solution to pollution is dilution." Everything ends up going somewhere.
And we know where the excess thermal energy from global warming is going, right?
This little blue planet.