Pollution And Cities

The post I did about the more than slightly false claims on the meme about the EPA has been getting a lot of attention lately, so I thought that I would expand upon it. Lets start with that post here.


Frist of all, pollution that is of the kind that creates a health risk tends to be a local problem.  In order for a pollutant to have  significant health impacts the concentrations have to be fairly high.  Sort like this stack of “muck” in NYC back around the turn of the last century.  It may seems hard to believe now, but the big pollution problem in 1900 was horse manure.


The muck problem solved itself when automobiles and trucks, both gas and electric appeared on the scene around the turn of the last century.  Those vehicles, along with the advent of electrically propelled mass transit made the great manure crisis a non event.


Of course coal smoke was still a problem. Over a long period of time this also was mitigated by various ordinances that, for instance banned steam locomotives in tunnels and that the locomotive in the els burn coke rather than coal. Those ordnances encouraged the rapid conversion to electric propulsion for transit.

Still it’s fairly difficult to find very many pictures as bad as the 1973 EPA pic in any era.




These pictures taken by Charlie Cushman show pretty much what the pics that my grandfather took about the same time. That is clear blue skies.


The health of a city has always been the problem of mitigating the effects of having mass numbers of people living in close proximity to each other.  Every city that has ever existed is a race between the economic needs of the city and the ability to keep the cities even marginally livable.  That’s whether the city was ancient Babylon, Imperial Rome, medieval Paris, Edo period Tokyo,  Industrial London or Twentieth Century New York City. Dealing with disease, dirt muck and pollution of whatever kind whether it’s coal smoke or molasses is what a city needs to do to maintain the quality of life that keeps the citizens happy and productive.


That’s why you will, at any time and place see city governments, no matter how corrupt they are, always working through laws and licenses to deal with problems that arise.  It’s from that ability to deal with those problems that cities have evolved into the megalopolises that we have today.  Each one of those great cities is built on dealing with the stinks that once made the places unlivable. Dealing with those problems has allowed the cities to thrive and those cities who haven’t dealt with those problems demonstrate just how well the cities that flourish have done.

One comment

  1. penneyvanderbilt · March 31, 2017

    Reblogged this on Ancien Hippie.


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