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AN AGGIE LINE: USU cheerleaders perform during the Aggies' final exhibition game. It's time to cheer for basketball. / Photo by Brianna Mortensen

Today's word on journalism

Friday, November 10, 2006

Q&A with Ed Bradley:

Q: What single issue should be covered more at CBS News?
A: Foreign news.

Q: Have you ever been assigned a story you objected to? How did you deal with it?
A: When I first started in New York at WCBS radio, the assignment editor automatically assigned any story that had a minority in it to me. I objected to being typecast and told him if I didn't get a variety of stories -- as other reporters did -- then I would take it up with the news director.

Q: If you were not in news, what would you be doing?
A: If I had the talent, I'd play bass guitar and sing in a kicking band.

--Ed Bradley, reporter, "60 Minutes," died yesterday of leukemia at age 65 (2006)

What to do about the coming winter air pollution problem

By Devin Anderson

October 5, 2006 | Last Friday the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced its intentions to raise the air quality standard.

The area of change is particulates, or particle matter (PM), which is a complex concoction of small particles and liquid droplets in the air. The smallest of these are cleverly referred to as PM 2.5 and include particles 2.5 micrometers in diameter or smaller. PM 2.5 is the category of particulates considered to be the most harmful because of their tendency to stay in the air longer and penetrate deeper into the lungs due to their small size.

The EPA's change will tighten the 24-hour fine particle standard of PM 2.5 from 65 micrograms per cubic meter to 35. At Logan's highest point last year we managed to reach 61.7.

The general consensus seems to be that this will be a standard that Cache Valley will not be able to comply with. The fear is that Cache Valley will fall into what's called "non-attainment," which is a pseudo-intellectual way of saying, "oops, too much pollution." The concern doesn't seem to be the health problems related to levels of pollution higher than the government standard, but rather that our valley may lose funding if we fail to reach the goal. Now most of us aren't going to be willing to give up a warm car trip for a trek through the snow during those cold winter months, but maybe the rest of you should really consider driving less to compensate for our selfishness.

Exposure to particle pollution is linked to a variety of significant health problems, ranging from aggravated asthma to premature death. Some guy with a PhD estimates PM pollution to cause 20,000-50,000 deaths per year in the United States. That's a pretty wide range, but any way you slice it, that's a lot. There's a reason that places like Cache Valley can have pollution levels similar to that of major metropolitan areas. That's right kids, temperature inversion.

Temperature inversion is a condition in which the temperature of the atmosphere increases with altitude instead of the normal decrease with altitude. The result is all the garbage being spewed into the air doesn't make it very far so that we all have the opportunity to inhale that fine particulate goodness. The bottom line is that there really couldn't be anywhere worse to spend a winter then right here in Cache Valley. Take into account the pollution, the cold, and the treacherous icy path of Sardine Canyon and you've got a less than ideal circumstance. We're trapped, we're freezing, and we're afraid that breathing this air is going to kill us.

Now, as if this whole situation wasn't bad enough, we have the problem of having no one to blame for our predicament but ourselves -- except for maybe Mother Nature. Mothers are supposed to nurture and care for their kin, not freeze and kill them. What have we ever done to her? Comedic pause. Now some might say that the pollution is our own doing but Ms. Nature knows it's her job to take our putrid pollution and put it way up into the atmosphere where we don't have to deal with it for now. We all struggle to venture out and accomplish things when it gets frigid cold outside. Laziness can be understandable, but Mother's winter laziness is child neglect on a colossal scale. Furthermore, what about all the pollution Mom causes with her volcanoes and forest fires and biological decay? She's more responsible for pollution that any of us individually. It's reasonable to consider that our mother may be getting senile in her old age and is ready to be relieved of her duties.

Once Mother Nature is relived of her duties, here are a few solutions to the problem that may or may not be feasible. First, make our stop lights run more intelligently to reduce idling. Second, talk the government into providing incentives for purchasing hybrid cars. Third, set up a city-wide carpooling website. Fourth, impose a strict emissions standard for all cars registered in the valley. And fifth, build a giant vacuum to suck up the smog and send it up into the heavens where it belongs. If none of these things work, we're all doomed for another miserable unhealthy winter, right here in Cache Valley.


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