But I Love My Acid Rain and Smoggy Air!

Written by Rana Tahir ’13

Katherine Adelsberger

Katherine Adelsberger conducts fieldwork in Jordan with Lin Shi '11

This week, my section of the class absorbs the environment and the election with Professor Katherine Adelsberger (The Douglas and Maria Bayer Endowed Chair in Earth Science).

I use the word “absorbs” deliberately. Why? Because we looked specifically at the Clean Air Act, the Environmental Protection Agency, and climate change.  So, somewhere in my mind, “absorbs” is a pun.

Professor Adelsberger gave an overview of the history of the EPA, past environmental problems that highlighted the need for an EPA, such as burning rivers and asphyxiating air.  (For more on that, look up the Donora smog of 1948 and the Cuyahoga river burn of 1969)

She then gave a brief explanation of climate change, that the Earth holds onto UV (ultraviolet) rays at an amount high enough to change the Earth’s average temperature (by about 2 degrees Celsius now).  So there is where my not-so-great pun comes from.

Through this election cycle, the environment hasn’t really been discussed as much as in 2008’s election. So far, the campaigns have focused on jobs rather than the environment — with the brief mentions of President Obama creating “green” jobs, and Mitt Romney’s harping on Solyndra (or was that Fox News?) — and this is not necessarily a bad thing, just a short-sighted thing.

My question throughout the class was: Why is talking about jobs and the environment always pitted as one over the other?

This may sound too much like President Obama, but there is a way to enhance both the safety of our environment and the creation of jobs. This is called “new industries.” Then give economic incentives to companies to create more “green jobs” and the ability for people in less eco-friendly jobs (might I add the scores of jobless people) the opportunity to be trained for these new jobs.

Win-win?  Well, except for our smoggy air lovers out there…

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