America’s Air Pollution is back on the Rise

I was reading an article in the NYT with some disturbing data.

An in-depth analysis of Environmental Protection Agency data published this week by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University found that fine particulate pollution in the air increased 5.5 percent on average across America between 2016 and 2018, after decreasing nearly 25 percent over the previous seven years.

No clear explanation has been given to the rise apart from suggestions that it may be due to an increase in people driving and burning from natural gas.

Looking at the graph it is clear that something happened around 2010 which has caused the number of fine particles in the air to decrease.

Almost with joy, my mind wants me to believe that it is due to people responding to the climate change message and that the jump in 2017 and 2018 is due to complacency which may just be a small blip in an ongoing trend.

The scientist in me, however, wanted more concrete answers so I dug a bit deeper into what could be the real reason. My first reaction was to have a look at the GDP data. No concrete correlations to be found here. In 2008 and 2009 there is a significant dip but after that, the GDP although not at the pre-2008 values was pretty stable.

Digging a bit deeper I found the employment data.

United States Unemployment Rate

As could be expected in 2010 unemployment jump through the roof but since then it has been on a steady decreased to today’s level where it is below 4%. This made me think. Was the decrease in air pollution due to people being conscious about the environment or was it just because they could not afford luxuries.

I just got that feeling that the decrease in pollution was due to people tightening their budget and not because they really care about the environment.

Some food for thought, let me know what you think.

THEC – The clean energy project fundraiser.

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