Can't outlaw pollution: Temperature inversions aren't new

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  • Flashback Kearns, UT
    Feb. 21, 2013 11:21 a.m.

    I'm guessing most of you didn't live here through the 50's and 60's when Kennecott was really dumping stuff into the air. Same with Geneva Steel. Cars are much cleaner and efficient now than then. We don't use Coal to heat our homes any more. We live in a valley. Inversions happen. The difference? We have many more people in the valley now than then. I feel that the inversions today are not as bad as the inversions of yesteryear as far as air quality. Except maybe for the personal Methane. Maybe that's the problem. More people, more methane. But there are less cows.

    The dirty energy kills sign in the photo is hilarious. Energy is much cleaner now.

  • Lagomorph Salt Lake City, UT
    Feb. 20, 2013 9:02 a.m.

    Demo Dave: " one thinks that their little bit of pollution makes a difference"

    Bingo. Read "The Tragedy of the Commons." In our case, the airshed is the shared common resource. People are compelled (absent any regulation or ownership of the resource) to overexploit the resource because the benefit they gain from overuse is greater than the lost value from overexploitation (which is distributed among all of the users).

    The inversion episodes are the result of thousands of small individual actions, each of which by itself is not a problem, but in the aggregate are severe. That's why it is hard to muster the political will to do anything about it. No one thinks that their own behavior is the problem-- it's all those other people. Hardin, in "Tragedy," recommended mutually agreed upon coercion as a solution. In other words, small-D democratic government regulation.

  • merich39 Salt Lake City, UT
    Feb. 19, 2013 5:13 p.m.

    "In about 99 percent of the cases, when government becomes involved, things get worse."

    In my experience, in 99 percent of the cases where someone acknowledges that a problem exists but advocates making absolutely zero effort towards fixing the problem, it's because they have a vested interested in maintaining the status quo. Too bad the author didn't reveal what kind of financial interest he has that could be impacted by proposed changes.

  • RedShirt USS Enterprise, UT
    Feb. 19, 2013 12:25 p.m.

    To "What in Tucket?" actually nuclear power is the best solution. It is renewable because the spent rods can be recycled. There are no emissions, and the excess heat can be used to turn CO2 into fuel for automobiles.

    Natural gas is economical as long as only a few people use it to fuel their cars. Imagine what would happen to the price of CNG if 90% of all vehicles were using it.

    We are on the verge of having an economical electric vehicle, but are still a few years away from that.

    To "Open Minded Mormon" why do environmentalists have to fit your sierra club ideals? Some of the largest protectors of the environment are hunters and off road groups.

  • What in Tucket? Provo, UT
    Feb. 19, 2013 11:30 a.m.

    Amazing in all these comments I see only one suggesting any kind of solution. Natural gas is the obvious answer now, although other possibilities we may hope will come in a decade or two. Natural gas produces 1% of the pollution of gasoline. What about the CO2. It is not responsible for the "pollution." It is less from a natural gas powered vehicle and about half what a coal plant produces. So natural gas can reduce the pollution depending on how many vehicles use it. It is cheap about $1.50 a gallon less at the moment and we have plenty of it. There is a cost to put it on a car in the after market. This will vary on the location. I know of one place it is about $3500. Your car will go about twice as far. I suggest all new govt vehicles should be natural gas powered.

  • Open Minded Mormon Everett, 00
    Feb. 19, 2013 10:44 a.m.

    DN search results for "Russell Bender" --

    "Can't outlaw pollution: Temperature inversions aren't new"
    How frustrating it is to read about groups demonstrating at the Utah Capitol building about "air quality". If it weren't so illogical, it would be humorous....
    Published. February 18, 2013

    "Climate change is a myth"
    It is still amazing to me that every time some drastic and destructive act of nature takes place all of a sudden "global warming" crawls out of the woodwork..
    Published: November 23, 2012

    "Air pollution is a part of life of Utah"
    Of course bad air pollution is a concern, especially for parents. However, no matter how many regulations are made about the stuff, there is no way to get rid of all of it...
    Published: August 22, 2012

    "Two things that amaze"
    Global warming has been a farce from the beginning and has served to make several people wealthy.
    Published: June 7, 2012

    "Environmental regulations on industry should use common sense"
    I, for one, truly appreciate the advantages and blessings we receive from the production of electricity by the use of fossil fuels.
    Published: May 17, 2012

    Russell Bender calls himself an eviromentalist - his letters suggest anything but --

  • Open Minded Mormon Everett, 00
    Feb. 19, 2013 10:32 a.m.

    @Copy Cat
    Murray, UT
    9:08 p.m. Feb. 18, 2013

    one vote
    "We could outlaw making it worse. All power must be electric on inversion days by 2020!"

    You do realize that will make more pollution, right? Most of our electricity comes from power plants which burn some form of fossil fuel. All that does is centralize the exhaust source, not eliminate it. Additionally there are losses that occur each time power is converted, so adding conversion to electric, then to motion adds a step where some energy is wasted in the loss.


    Copy Cat – You do realize are flat out wrong,
    and one vote is right?

    Turn off your radio, and go to college, and take a physics class.

    Automobiles burning gasoline are 15-19% energy efficient.
    A coal or natural gas powerplants are 83% energy efficient.
    Electric vehicles are 85% energy efficient.

    Taking energy conversion losses into account, In terms of energy efficiency, centralpower generation using coal/natural gas + electric vehicle energy efficiency combined sums adds up to 72% energyefficient, vs. that 15-19% efficiency of gasoline poweredvehicles.

    In layman terms - coal powered electric vehicles produce 50% LESS pollution than fossil fuel vehicles alone.

  • Dave D Pocatello, ID
    Feb. 19, 2013 9:16 a.m.

    We can and should outlaw as much pollution as we possibly can. Pollution limits the freedom of everyone to a lesser degree, and for some people, to the point where they can hardly breathe. If that is not limiting one's freedom, I don't know what is. Since people are self-interested, and corporations are only interested in the bottom line, it becomes the duty of our legislators to disincentivize people and corporations from doing things that harm others.

  • RedShirt USS Enterprise, UT
    Feb. 19, 2013 9:11 a.m.

    To "The Real Maverick" what are you talking about. Los Angeles, according to the American Lung Association is the #2 city for worst year round pollution in the US. They are #1 for Ozone pollution, and #4 for short term particle pollution.

    LA has improved, but they are still really bad all the time.

  • Copy Cat Murray, UT
    Feb. 18, 2013 9:08 p.m.

    one vote

    "We could outlaw making it worse. All power must be electric on inversion days by 2020!"

    You do realize that will make more pollution, right? Most of our electricity comes from power plants which burn some form of fossil fuel. All that does is centralize the exhaust source, not eliminate it. Additionally there are losses that occur each time power is converted, so adding conversion to electric, then to motion adds a step where some energy is wasted in the loss.

    Demo Dave

    "Most people won’t voluntarily do anything that affects their lives or takes them out of their comfort zones because no one thinks that their little bit of pollution makes a difference."

    Speak for yourself! I do a lot of things voluntarily to make a difference, and so do most the people I know. I hang mostly with conservatives. So if you are hanging with the liberals, and find them unwilling to be mindful of the bigger society, try to have some influence for good with them. If they are unwilling to behave responsibly, lets just regulate the liberals.

  • Demo Dave Holladay, UT
    Feb. 18, 2013 2:46 p.m.

    Most people won’t voluntarily do anything that affects their lives or takes them out of their comfort zones because no one thinks that their little bit of pollution makes a difference. That’s the biggest problem of all, and that’s why we need strong leadership and government intervention.

  • Steve Cottrell Centerville, UT
    Feb. 18, 2013 2:42 p.m.

    Perhaps a reduction or elimination of fares on public transit lines, both bus and rail, when there is an inversion would help increase the ridership and reduce the number of cars on the roads. How about trying it? That is something that government could do that I think would be worth a try.

  • one vote Salt Lake City, UT
    Feb. 18, 2013 2:09 p.m.

    We could outlaw making it worse. All power must be electric on inversion days by 2020!

  • William Gronberg Payson, UT
    Feb. 18, 2013 2:08 p.m.

    Mr. Bender states very clearly his purpose for writing this letter in his last paragraph. Here are his own words.

    "The only real point I am trying to make is that we need to stop going to the government to try to solve our problems. The real problems come when the government gets involved. In about 99 percent of the cases, when government becomes involved, things get worse."

    1. "...we need to stop going to the government..."

    2. "The real problems come when government gets involved."

    3. "...99 percent of the..." time government makes "...things get worse."

    What a distortion of the real world. I assume that Mr. Bender includes the government of the USA and the state of Utah.

    If the result of government action is almost always bad then the foundation must be very suspect also. Major foundations of state and national governments are their Constitutions. They may need some additional changes here and there. But they should and do produce basically good “fruits”. Not 99 percent worse results.

    The people in government are flawed just like you and I, sir. They are NOT 99 percent crooks, idiots or wolves in sheep’s clothing.

  • really? Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Feb. 18, 2013 1:59 p.m.

    For all you "government haters" out there I have a few things for you to think about. The "more government means less freedom" lunatics tend to forget these services.
    Highways, schools, firefighting, police protection, FBI, Armed Forces, etc. These are the obvious ones. But how about the other services the government provides? You can trust that food you purchase isn't tainted, or rotten or prepared unsafely thanks to the "evil government", you have access to a court system to seek redress if you are cheated in business, you have safe drinking water and mostly clean air, the restaurant you eat in has been inspected for cleanliness, etc..
    Stop whining about how much you hate the government and be grateful for all the services it provides to make your life better and safer.

  • Henderson Orem, UT
    Feb. 18, 2013 1:16 p.m.

    I think this has to do more with pride and power than what's truly good for the environment.

    The GOP and it's AM radio drinking constituency would rather go down with the Titanic while refusing to admit that it is sinkable than admit that they were wrong and hop into a life boat full of minorities, women, homosexuals, and liberals.

    Face it, the GOP hasn't a leg to stand upon on this issue. Scientists, peer-reviewed studies, even polls show where America stands on global warming. Yet, the GOP refuses to acknowledge the truth. In fact, the GOP sits on the WRONG side of nearly every single issue (abortion, marriage, taxes, environment, entitlements) as indicated by polls. Hence, why they lost big time in the last election. However, instead of admitting that they were wrong and need reform, they seem to rather yell their tired and old message even louder. Thinking that perhaps the volume, not the actual message, was what did them in a few months ago.

    I encourage those on the right to think for themselves for a change. Extinction is at the door, it's time to reform.

  • Irony Guy Bountiful, Utah
    Feb. 18, 2013 12:45 p.m.

    One of the great ironies of life is the label "conservative" used by people who don't want to conserve anything. Their mantra: "Burn every drop of fossil liquid so we can choke in our own smoke." I protest their use of the word "conservative." The real word ought to be "suicidal."

  • The Real Maverick Orem, UT
    Feb. 18, 2013 12:33 p.m.

    Russel, what's wrong with at least trying to clean up the air?

    That's what's hilarious about climate change deniers. So what if we aren't "causing" the warming? What's wrong with doing THE RIGHT thing? What's wrong with cleaning things up? Isn't that what your parents taught you when you were young? The Lord I'm sure would look down favorably upon those who clean up his creation.

  • ugottabkidn Sandy, UT
    Feb. 18, 2013 12:28 p.m.

    When will some of you get off the anti-government thing and realize you are the government. You elect those that make these calls. You may stop burning wood on inverted mornings but who will prevent me from doing the same other than duly elected representatives that we have given that responsibility? Yes, we face a natural barrier to clean air but to do nothing is irresponsible. These proposals our neighbors have suggested may or may not work but at least they proposed something besides sticking their heads in the sand so the local oil refinery can operate unimpeded. I respect those acting rather than those sitting on the sideline mockingly pointing fingers.

  • atl134 Salt Lake City, UT
    Feb. 18, 2013 11:02 a.m.

    So since we can't completely eliminate pollution we shouldn't do anything to reduce pollution? That's illogical.

  • Hutterite American Fork, UT
    Feb. 18, 2013 10:39 a.m.

    So which is it, Russ? Do you just hate government, which is popular and easy, or are you too naive and lazy to believe we can do anything about pollution generation? Or both? Neither requires anything more than throwing pot shots, and neither should be representative of what America stands for.

  • The Real Maverick Orem, UT
    Feb. 18, 2013 9:56 a.m.

    Speaking of Los Angeles, the pollution there is practically non-existent. It used to be really bad then government intervention happened. It's a heck of a lot more clean than salt lake city's air. They didn't get there by sticking their head in the sand and doing nothing.

    It's time for us to put our shoulder to the wheel and fix our air. It can be done. We just need to have the courage and work ethic to clean up our community. Time to ignore big business and its's puppets (like this letter writer).

  • one old man Ogden, UT
    Feb. 18, 2013 9:29 a.m.

    We may not be able to stop it entirely, but does that mean we should do nothing to reduce it?

  • booshway Woods Cross, UT
    Feb. 18, 2013 9:24 a.m.

    I had to laugh - "The government has got to do something about this natural phenomenon!" Give me a break. Gov. Herbert got it right - the gov't doesn't have the authority to shut down businesses on bad air days. It doesn't have the authority to keep us from driving, taxing us for it, forcing us to ride a bus or train or any other action. It is the consequence of so many people living in a closed valley. The Los Angeles basin was called the "Valley of Smokes" by the local Indians because of the inversions and burning of wood fires. Deal with it. Limit your driving, stay indoors, or whatever you can do to help. Stop going to the government for everything. More government=less freedom.

  • NorthboundZax Makanda, IL
    Feb. 18, 2013 8:51 a.m.

    Temperature inversions may be natural, but pollution isn't. The fact that the Salt Lake Valley is prone to temperature inversions that trap pollution makes it all the more imperative to make efforts to clean up the air - not a reason to dismiss efforts to that end.

  • The Real Maverick Orem, UT
    Feb. 18, 2013 8:43 a.m.

    Lets do nothing about it but then complain when our health care system is overloaded with respiratory illnesses. Russel Bender writes nearly every month denying global warming. He merely just took advantage of this inversion talk to push his agenda. Which is?

    Do nothing. Kick the can down the road and do nothing. But complain at every turn.

    Typical of the GOP and their almost cult like following today. Can't wait until 2016 where you folks are going to be beaten down once again.

  • Grover Salt Lake City, UT
    Feb. 18, 2013 8:15 a.m.

    This is epitome of the argument we saw play out last summer at the political conventions. Is this a country of individuals making their own way or a collective enterprise? The answer is it both. We are individuals seeking our own path, but we live in a society that at times requires collective action to work on problems.

    Can we fix our air pollution problem? I don't think anyone knows that yet, but to ridicule efforts to improve the air is sophomoric at best. There is no doubt that with the best ideas of many citizens we can improve things and perhaps even have a breakthrough that would cleanup the mess once and for all. I say keep pushing to not accept the status quo as "just the way it is".

  • Ex Pat Salt Lake City, Ut
    Feb. 18, 2013 8:00 a.m.

    Russell Bender - I found it humorous too! Live in a bowl surrounded by mountains that cut off the wind to clean things out, and then march up to the gov's office.

  • pragmatistferlife salt lake city, utah
    Feb. 18, 2013 7:38 a.m.

    First of all the letter comes from someone who doesn't live in the "dirty bowl", and secondly ECR is exactly correct. Through government action as bad as the air is it's better than it was. It's true on a bad day you can't see the mountains across the valley. However, take a look back at the tribune pictures from the early 20th century and you'll see that on a bad day you couldn't see across the street. So Mr. Bender you are exactly incorrect. Government action does produce positive results, and we need to do more...keep protesting folks.

  • ECR Burke, VA
    Feb. 18, 2013 7:06 a.m.

    "The real problems come when the government gets involved. In about 99 percent of the cases, when government becomes involved, things get worse."

    Please don't make such provocative statements without backing them up with evidence. One example I like to use in the opposite direction is the agricultural extension program from the Department of Agriculture. Land grant universities were established for the sole purpose of improving the production of the nations farmers and they have become the most productive farmers in the world - feeding a good portion of the world and teaching farmers in other countries better farming practices. The extension program is a wonderful example of the federal government working with state and local entities to better our lives.

    And while winter weather conditions cause an unpleasant inversion in geographic conditions like the Salt Lake Valley, our air quality in most of the country has vastly improved over the past 40 years primarily because of requirements mandated by the federal government. Lower emissions from cars and from factories have cleaned our air and other restrictions have cleaned our waterways. There is still much to do but much has improved because of the government's involvement.