Smog levels in major West Coast cities such as Los Angeles are failing to improve despite efforts to reduce carbon emissions. A new report issued by the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration suggests that heavy industrialized cities in Asia could be exacerbating the situation in the West Coast.
As reported in early March by National Public Radio, air pollution in China and India could be drifting all the way across the vast Pacific Ocean and contaminating the West Coast. American researchers have been studying this phenomenon over the last few years, and their conclusions indicate that more than 60 percent of the Western ozone layer is the result of pollution in cities such as Shanghai and Mumbai.
In the 1990s, the most powerful economies in Asia decided to sharply increase their industrial output without paying too much attention to the high levels of nitrogen oxide being released into the atmosphere as emissions. Eventually, those air pollutants make their way to North America, where they can offset carbon reduction efforts by as much as 50 percent.
Thankfully, the People’s Republic of China has been trying to cut down on industrial emissions as officials realize that entire cities are essentially becoming sick from the excessively high levels of air pollution. In some regions of China, mining operations and metal factories release so many pollutants that city skylines can no longer be seen through the thick smoke. As a result of this widespread contamination, respiratory diseases have become public health concerns and farmers complain that their crops constantly die.
American scientists conducted a longitudinal study that looked at ozone levels from the 1980s until a couple of years ago. The United States regions where the data sets came from include Southern California, Denver and cities across the Eastern Seaboard. Big Data algorithms were applied to drive the study findings, which were published in the journal of Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics in 2017.
The noxious gases emanating from heavily industrialized regions of Asia can be controlled with efficient policy that does not have to undermine gross domestic product. Asian and American scientists hope that solutions can be developed in the near future.
The convergence of littering and the homeless has come together in a positive way at Coyote Creek in San Jose, CA. Since last October, a group that’s been dubbed the Coyote Creek Homeless Stream Stewards have been able to remove over 24 tons worth of trash from the area.
The effort, while still in the early stages, has resulted in more than $5,000 worth of private donations being used to purchase gift cards and provide items for what’s known as a “trash raffle.” The upcoming raffle in September will give away two bikes.
Given the transient nature of homelessness, the number of those taking part in the effort tends to fluctuate. That number usually doesn’t go above 20, though those take take part are fueled by both the chance to win $10 gift cards and also simply live in cleaner surroundings.
The idea was developed by Amanda Fukamoto, who has camped near Coyote Creek for years. During that time span, she noticed that not only the homeless were leaving trash but also those dumping illegally.
One of Fukamoto’s potential solutions to the issue would be to strike a deal with the homeless. In exchange for living in so-called “tiny houses” at Coyote Creek, the homeless would continue keeping things clean in that particular area. Those houses would only be approximately 350 square feet and could be moved, if necessary, since they’ll be atop wheels.
Fukamoto sees the project as a chance to give people down on their luck some dignity.
Amanda Fukamoto saw a problem — two problems, actually — and decided to do something about it. For years, San Jose’s Coyote Creek has been a dumping ground for trash. The banks and the creek itself are clogged with castoff items of all sorts, from clothing to tires. A lot of it comes from the growing homeless population that lives along the banks.
Fukamoto asked herself what could be done to stop the pollution — and what could be done to help the homeless. She found the solution with the Coyote Creek Homeless Stream Stewards program. The group has removed more than 48,000 pounds of garbage from the area around the creek and from the creek itself.
What of the homeless? They’re the ones helping to clean the area but this is a short-term solution. As long as the homeless stay along the creek, the trash problem will remain as well. Fukamoto has another plan that will take care of both issues at once.
She’s proposed a program that will create a community of tiny houses that the homeless will be able to stay in, in exchange for keeping Coyote Creek and its surrounding area clean.
The program is still in the planning and permission stages. In the meantime, Fukamoto and associates have implemented other initiatives to keep the creek banks free of trash, such as raffling off gift cards and other prizes for turning in bags of trash.