Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Paul Driessen and CFACT want to send Americans back to the Smog Age

Sou | 8:30 PM Go to the first of 15 comments. Add a comment

After an article about the Bronze Age, now Anthony Watts is touting the delights and health benefits of the smog age (archived here). Many Americans probably don't remember that golden era (dirty pink-yellow haze era?) all that well. When I was in primary school, we learnt about the smog in Los Angeles, where the topography collided with the vehicle exhausts and factory emissions and made the air downright dangerous to human health and well-being.

Anyway, Paul Driessen wants the USA to get rid of clean air regs and allow factories and cars to smother his fellow citizens in smog and pollutants. He wrote about:
...concerns about the effects the tsunami of regulations is having on the livelihoods, living standards, health and welfare of millions of American families.

Bring back SMOG - Yay!

Yep. Get rid of that tsunami of regulations. Bring back smog. 

Smog - Credit: Reuters, I think. It's all over the Internet.

What's getting him all irate now is that the EPA is looking to tighten controls to reduce ground-level ozone in the USA. He's rolled this gripe into an article about environmental regulations all up. It's Paul's job to complain about clean air. He works for CFACT, which AFAIK is an anti-environment lobby group for polluters in the USA.

So if you want unhealthy air, go over to WUWT and pledge your support for Paul Driessen and his dirty air pro-smog campaign.

Paul is complaining that the EPA is wanting to reduce the permissible ozone levels to "70 or 60 ppb", Well, this is old news. There's a paper from 2010 with the proposed changes:
The EPA is proposing to strengthen the 8-hour “primary” ozone standard, designed to protect public health, to a level within the range of 0.060-0.070 parts per million (ppm). 

In Australia, the national air quality standards restrict ozone to 0.10 ppm of ozone measured over a one hour period and 0.08 ppm of ozone measured over a four hour period, which isn't too different from what's being proposed by the US EPA. I haven't heard of anyone complaining about them. We like our clean air in Australia.

For more on ozone, here's a handy guide for you if you've got an ozone detector.

From the WUWT comments

There aren't a lot, only four so far and none worth reporting.


  1. You write as if the smog age were over and done with. Everywhere I've lived and most places I've traveled I still often notice an orange layer aloft. At the top of Mont Royal, on a clear day, it's pretty obvious there's orange just above you; similarly Mont-Saint-Hilaire, you're about in it. Or from Mt Diablo or Indian Rock in the SF Bay Area, you get to look down on the orange layer. Or around Pittsburgh, when I fly (when hiking, it's rare to get much in the way of views). Or Paris, or ...

    I'm looking forward to increasingly electrified travel, with electricity from clean power plants.

    1. In the late 60's the smog in LA looked a lot more like Beijing or Shanghai than it does today. I remember days where, even as a kid, it hurt to breath. But of course China has a growing economy and China has smog so....

    2. Interesting point and in some respects correct when taken in the context of this single blog post. I think (my supposition) is that Sou is really saying that we now understand how to remove smog and have practiced successfully instances of smog removal in some of the worst cases. (I remember flying into LA in the 1970s - yikes! - a world of difference from the still imperfect today.) As we all know (maybe not at WUWT), practicing successful smog removal involves technology, economic and political adjustments (compromises), money and a plan specific to each case. For the US the "smog age of the mid- to late-20th Century" is pretty much in decline. But not all "smart" people agreed on the compromise. Wernher von Braun's solution was, "Why do anything? Everyone will be living in air conditioned houses, working in air conditioned buildings and driving air conditioned cars." Being outside was just an avoidable inconvenience (he was one for ignoring certain pesky inconveniences in his life). Maybe he was too much into space stations.
      For parts of the world today the smog age has just begun (e.g., India - see today's NYT, and China). The political and economic compromises made in India are to the detriment of a significant number of its citizens. Has India adopted the von Braun theory of life? I hope not.

  2. Well yet again sou's poisoned mind puts a bizarre spin on what's actually being talked about. If you read the article, IT DOES NOT SAY THAT WE SHOULD GO BACK TO THE SMOG AGE! That's pure fabrication on sou's part.

    If you read the article, the text describes a troubled EPA with internal processes that are neither accountable nor transparent.

    "But Americans naturally worry about pollution harming children and the poor. That makes it easy for EPA to promulgate regulations based on false assumptions and linkages, black-box computer models, secretive collusion with activist groups, outright deception, and supposedly “scientific” reports whose shady data and methodologies the agency refuses to share with industries, citizens or even Congress."

    There is nothing about the virtue of "Smog" just the very real dangers of unaccountable bureacrats.

    Your, "Bring back SMOG - Yay!", really? how cheap.

    1. Haha! "secretive collusion with activist groups" - not me, I wear my tin-foil hat :)

    2. KBO's back again trying to defend the indefensible. It's getting to be a (bad) habit.

      KBO - you don't need to convince us you're one of those despicable deniers. I don't believe you've fallen for Paul Driessen's pretense bit as if he cares about clean air, all the while arguing that all the clean air regs should disappear. Even you can't be that stupid.

      If you want to defend the polluters you'll have to try somewhere else. You'll not convince anyone here.


    3. There may not have been an explicit call for smog to return but it was implicit in the tone and obvious consequences. Also the health concerns were described as "claims" - a dog whistle to deniers to deride and ignore.

    4. Exactly Jammy, there was no explicit call "to return to the Smog Age"and, as is common in sou's writing, far too much reliance on the "tone", "suggestings" and "reading between the linings" of what's actually said.

      Putting it another way, if you're a batshit crazy old woman that references desmogblog as a source, your "reading between the lines" may not be as "tuned" as it could be.

      For a site that revels in labelling others "disinformers", you'd think a bit more attention would be paid to the actual "facts", rather than the version generated by their poisoned mind.

    5. Which regulations do you imagine aren't supported by the data? Regulations on sulphate emissions? Mercury? Particulates? What?

      Do you now, or have you ever, believed in acid rain?

      On a different matter, how do you know about secretive collusion with activist groups? They would be, by their nature, concealed from outsiders - and you are certainly one of those. I've noticed, though, that conspiracist ideation does lead to fervently-held beliefs about what must be going on behind doors which are firmly closed to them

  3. A couple of anecdotes from some years spent living in Atlanta, Georgia.

    During the time we lived in Atlanta, ground level ozone alerts were quite common. For my own part I didn't notice any particular personal health effects but the impact off this ozone was quite noticeable on the things we use in daily life. Notably, rubber bands (gum bands for many) deteriorated within a very short period of time, automobile tires (tyres) cracked on the sidewalls and needed to be replaced before treadlife was finished and (ironic, so many effects on automobiles) the glue in headliners failed leaving the ceilings of vehicles drooping like tents. It's hard not to understand that some health effects accompany this acutely destructive atmosphere.

    Ground level smog is controlled in part by eliminating leakage of hydrocarbons that help to feed photochemical reactions with O2. Now that catalytic converters are ubiquitous, it's quite remarkable to note how conspicuously smelly older vehicles lacking converters are when following them in traffic; long before the offending vehicle is spotted the odor of unburned hydrocarbons becomes obvious to the nose. In times gone by, millions of vehicles behaved the same way, enormously exacerbating ground level ozone problems. The regulatory imposition of catalytic converters was a key step in checking this situation. Left to our own individual choices and lacking a mandate to act, we'd still be breathing all of those fumes and of course the ozone problem would be much worse. The Atlanta taxi fleet is a good example of this; due to some quirky regulatory blindspot Atlanta taxis were notorious for using magic pipes in their exhaust systems, to save a few dollars in operation (not using surplus police vehicles would have been a better choice for economical operation). Taxi ranks were like a visit back to the '60s, by their smell. Atlanta taxi owners for some reason missed out on having their personal judgement supplemented by regulations accounting for their ignorance.

    CFACT is a promoter of appealing libertarian romantic fiction. We have oodles of history to show that people left to their own devices make choices that are collectively very poor. "Burdensome regulations" are a summation and codification of the poor judgement of individuals; regulations are simply a necessary substitute for rigorous critical thinking skills.

    We see this in all walks of life. In the world of fisheries, vast numbers of fishermen are lost each year to the sea simply because they don't wear personal flotation devices (PFDs). For some reason, in the United States while it is required that vessels carry sufficient PFDs for all workers on board, there is no actual regulation mandating their use while at work on deck. Endless advice is offered, endless narratives of lost fishermen are supplied via industry communications media but the needless drownings and tragedy continue, because at root it's sometimes necessary to just ram in a substitute for personal judgement skills. CFACT denies this simple and obvious truth.

    1. Nice comment. I'm on a campaign to re-brand libertarianism as "The New Irresponsibility" myself.

      One question: What's a magic pipe exhaust system? No catalytic?

    2. Yeah, a pipe and flanges where the converter should go. I think the term was lifted from the world of marine engineers, where the magic pipe sends oily bilge or tank washdown water directly overboard instead of passing it through burdensome, invasive cleaning plant. "Externalizing costs" exemplified.

    3. I'm assuming it's this: Emissions testing is making sure there isn't more than X amount of each pollutant going out the singular, easily-identified tailpipe. If you shunt half of your exhaust to a second, invisible tailpipe (after the muffler or you'd hear it), bingo, you win.

      In Chicago the emissions test also checked that the exhaust system was closed. Presumably to thwart this cheat.

  4. Wow, the low level of tact, the high level of distain, and poor language here is amazing. Nor is there normal discourse. And based on the arrogant use of 'denier' when people are actually pointing out certain scientific concerns is disturbing. This is not a healthy enviroment for anyone. Hence, this is anonymous and my last.

    1. Another tone-trolling non-comment. Do climate science deniers ever have anything of substance to write or are they all sooks who think dumb ignorance is something to be proud of and dirty air is something to aspire to?

      Given the "quality" of articles and comments at WUWT lately, I've got to say I'm surprised that anyone would have the cheek to complain about HW.


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