Not The Winds Of Change We Wanted
Bombay’s recent air quality crisis shows us our future
For several years, India’s capital of Delhi has been synonymous with awful air quality: just living there may be the equivalent of smoking nearly 2,000 cigarettes a 12 months.
So it shocked me when the Indian Express reported that last week, Bombay’s air was even worse than Delhi’s.
Delhi’s AQI last week was an abysmal 263; but Bombay’s was a very horrific 315. Bombay often has a lot better air than Delhi, since the capital’s local environment holds pollutants so effectively: it’s one in every of the world’s best petri dishes for awful air. (Take a look at Siddharth Singh’s wonderful book, The Great Smog Of India, for more).
In accordance with the Express, the reply is simple: the wind stopped.
Bombay is on the coast, and the prevailing winds often push pollutants out into the Arabian Sea. But last week, these winds stopped, leaving a blanket of pollution over town.
Okay. Rare occurrence. Things got higher this week. Move right along. But not so fast. This isn’t a few freak weather pattern: it’s about climate.
Wind is famously difficult to model, but climate researchers have concluded that climate change is stopping wind and changing wind patterns. It isn’t obvious why wind happens in any respect. One principal cause is the interaction of cold and warm air: at its peak, that’s what causes a cyclone. But given how quickly the Arctic is warming, there may be less super-cold air, which results in less wind, which results in what the IPCC has called “global stilling.”
This isn’t all the time the cause: sometimes changes result in greater winds, as occurred in Recent Mexico earlier this 12 months, causing massive wildfires and – in fact – worse air quality.
But I believe that the general point is an important one: you’ll be able to’t run from climate change. There isn’t any secure place. Given the huge instability that climate change causes to the worldwide weather system, places that appear secure will be highly dangerous. There isn’t any way out but to develop resilience and reduce emissions.
Hopefully, we will probably be smarter than early Los Angeles policymakers. As Dr. Scott Dewey details in his wonderful book about early southern California air quality policy, Don’t Breathe The Air: Air Pollution and U.S. Environmental Politics, 1945-1970, several proposed constructing massive fans on the Santa Monica Mountains to blow the smog out to sea. Fortunately, that concept was killed, and we adopted the catalytic converter (over the objections of right-wingers).
But when anything, our policymaking has gotten stupider over the past several a long time. It won’t work. The old phrase remains to be true: there isn’t a free lunch.