This blog is about the story of my family here in America. We arrived in the 1630s as Puritans, and became the common folk of the New World.

How Los Angeles cleaned its air pollution

When I moved to Los Angeles, in the 1980s, the air was filthy. Really filthy. And I mean brown skies that meant that it was a very rare day when you could see the mountains surrounding the San Fernando Valley. And I recently heard Bill Maher talk about how much cleaner the air is thirty years later. And it really is. If you lived there then, and visit now, the difference is amazing.

That's not to say that the air pollution is Los Angeles is gone. It's still there, but nothing like it was. And it was living there then that made me long for blue skies, which brought me back to Arizona.

When I first moved to Los Angeles, the first thing I found out is that my emissions system on my car didn't pass. There was a filter which had been removed, and since Arizona had no emissions inspection, I had never missed it. And since it was an unusual, foreign car (a Saab Sonett), the part was difficult to find, and expensive. And when I asked if I couldn't afford to put it on the car, the answer was simple - I couldn't drive the car in California.

Apparently, this was all new to California, especially Los Angeles, which prided itself on being *laid back*, and letting everyone *do their own thing*. And what that had translated to was a gigantic city with very few rules, and very little enforcement. Cars belched out pollution, restaurants had no real regulation as to what they could dump into the sky, that sort of thing. And, as you can imagine, the new restrictions on personal freedoms (the freedom to pollute the air) were met with resistance. I knew people who took great pleasure in removing their pollution-control devices on their cars, and pumping as much black smoke up into the air as they could.

I like clean air. I like blue skies. And I have no trouble keeping my part of the world clean. And when I left Los Angeles, I imagined that it would only get worse. But to my surprise, in the intervening decades, attitudes have changed. The old-timers who considered it their rights as an American to dump pollution everywhere, into the skies, into the ocean, have faded away. And it really is better there now. If you didn't see it back then, it might be hard to believe, but I saw it, and it really needed cleaning up. I'm glad they did, and I hope that the efforts will continue.

By the way, the photo above is the best I can show, but it's not quite right. You can see where the mountains are. In the 1980s, it was just brown from horizon to horizon.
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