13 Aug 2012:
Auto-Related Pollution in L.A.
Declined 98 Percent Over 50 Years
Levels of some automobile-related pollutants in Los Angeles have plummeted by 98 percent since the 1960s
, even as gasoline consumption nearly tripled during the same period, a new study says. Levels of
California Takes the Lead
With New Green Initiatives
California is taking bold steps to tackle climate change — from committing to reductions in emissions, to establishing a cap-and-trade system, to mandating more zero-emission vehicles. The bottom line, Mark Hertsgaard
reports, is to foster an economy where sustainability is profitable.
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volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which are emitted from the tailpipes of cars and are a key ingredient in ground-level smog, have dropped steadily and fell by about half between 2002 and 2010, researchers found. “The reason is simple: Cars are getting cleaner,” said Carsten Warneke, a researcher at the University of Colorado, Boulder, and lead author of the study, published in the Journal of Geophysical Research
. Using data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and California air quality measurements, the scientists calculated that VOC levels declined by an average of 7.5 percent per year. Researchers attributed the steep decline in VOCs to the required use of catalytic converters, introduction of fuels less prone to evaporate, and improved engine efficiency. Warneke predicted that the decrease in VOC levels in Los Angeles will likely continue as engines become more efficient and older vehicles come off the roads.
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Photographer Peter Essick documents the swift changes wrought by global warming in Antarctica, Greenland, and other far-flung places. View the gallery.
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The Warriors of Qiugang
, a Yale Environment 360
video that chronicles the story of a Chinese village’s fight against a polluting chemical plant, was nominated for a 2011 Academy Award for Best Documentary (Short Subject).
Watch the video.
Top Image: aerial view of Iceland
. © Google & TerraMetrics.
In a Yale Environment 360
video, photographer Pete McBride documents how increasing water demands have transformed the Colorado River, the lifeblood of the arid Southwest. Watch the video.