When one thinks of California, images of a sun-kissed paradise or energy-efficient urban utopia immediately spring to mind. It would come as a great surprise to many, then, that the great state of California is not as pretty as it seems. Hidden between these sparkling gems of civilization are strange towns, tiny rural settlements and crumbling cities that have taken a turn for the worse with the evolution of society. Bakersfield, CA is one of those cities. While a startlingly high rate of crime and unemployment are already perilous grounds to tread, the besieged city of Bakersfield suffers from an inordinate amount of air pollution. While oil refineries, factories and other industrial endeavors have brought the city modest financial success, Bakersfield regularly pays a steep price. Emissions from such a wide variety of sources have earned Bakersfield the reputation of the most polluted city in the United States of America. Now, with the looming menace of the Trump administration in full swing, experts fear the pollution problem is about to worsen exponentially.
While the constant pollution in the atmosphere can make Bakersfield seem like something out of Mad Max, there have been small, incremental improvements in environmentally-conscious legislature. The field of agriculture has taken the brunt of the burden as of late, experiencing reduced burning of dry plant matter and downgrades in farming equipment. Unfortunately, the appointment of one Scott Pruitt, to the head of the EPA, has threatened to put a damper on all eco-friendly progress. Pruitt, who is a vehement climate change-denier and opponent to any and all air quality regulations, has no qualms in undoing the previously implemented regulations and replacing them with lax guidelines that would only serve to worsen the air pollution problem in Bakersfield. A proposed increase in industrial activity, which already makes up roughly 80% of the pollution in the city, would further worsen the situation.
Things are looking grim in Bakersfield, and one can only hope there is a clear, smog and haze-free light at the end of the tunnel. Only time will tell.