Tuesday, December 2, 2008

"Give the Gift of Clean Air"

One of the bicycle mini-floats in the Holiday Parade had that message. (Photos of the bicycle brigade can be seen here, on Danielo's stream-of-consciousness.)

I was thinking about the Gift of Clean Air as I bicycled home yesterday, which happened to be a "yellow alert" air-quality day. I took the scenic route, and was riding along the Federal Way bike/pedestrian path, looking out at the soup.

(For those not familiar, Boise lies in a valley at the base of some mountains. Frequently, the air tends to stagnate in the lowest point, trapping the bad stuff. Federal Way is an arterial highway that runs along the opposite rim of the valley.)

Anybody over 30 or so will remember when smoking was pervasive. In offices, restaurants, hospitals, etc. - people smoked everywhere! (I grew up in a non-smoking household. When I was a kid, I took trumpet lessons. I can remember how appalled I was that my teacher would drag deeply on his cigarette, and then blow the smoke through his trumpet as he played.)

Over the years, non-smokers asserted their right to breathe non-tainted air, and smoking bans were enacted. Nowadays it's the exception, rather than the rule, to be in a public place where smoking is tolerated. (As a non-smoker, I appreciate breathing the non-smoky air. But it's disappointing that it has to be another rule; people should just respect one another without a rule having to be in place.)

In all likelihood, the pollution spewing out of exhaust pipes is more toxic than cigarette smoke, yet we all seem very tolerant of breathing that stuff! It's a small price to pay, so we can all drive around whatever, wherever and whenever we want, right?

Well, here's something to think about.

Imagine we were all getting around on foot, or by horse and buggy, in 2008.

Along comes some innovator - Mr. Daimler, or Mr. Ford, or Mr. Toyota, or whoever - who proposes a new method of mobility. It's a carriage propelled by an internal combustion engine. It operates on volatile, explosive fuel that is poured into the vehicle by common folk (except in Oregon). As it runs, it emits carcinogens into the air... yep, the same air that we're all breathing.

Do you think it would get the time of day? I'm speculating that it wouldn't get any traction - the obvious hazards would outweigh the benefits. But since motor transportation evolved 100 years ago, when far less was known about the effects of environment on health, it's ingrained. Everybody's doin' it.

Okay - I've digressed. Sorry about that.

I'm happy to offer the Gift of Clean Air to my community. I hope they appreciate it, and perhaps consider giving the same gift back.

1 comment:

Clancy said...

That would be a great pledge campaign. With Stickers and Shirts.