Greenhouse Gases

RECENT POSTS

What Does Climate Change Have to Do with Health? Plenty

A smoggy sunset in San Diego. (Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images)

A smoggy sunset in San Diego. (Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images)

When people think of climate change, they tend to think of it as a science and environmental issue. But climbing levels of greenhouse gases, particulate matter, and rising seas hurts more than the environment. It harms people’s health, too.

“Climate change is one of greatest public health threats of our time,” said Anne Kelsey Lamb of Oakland’s Public Health Institute.

Lamb was talking to a roomful of her own in a gathering this week when some 100 public health professionals from around the state and beyond were in Oakland to learn more about the intersection between climate change and public health — and what they can do about it. Continue reading

Building Houses Near Transit Is Good; But What About Air Pollution?

(Ordinary Grace: Flickr)

(Ordinary Grace: Flickr)

California has embarked on a landmark effort to reduce greenhouse gasses.  As part of that work, local jurisdictions are busy spotlighting zones for housing infill and transit-oriented development. Infill sounds good, right? Let’s avoid further suburban sprawl and direct people to mass transit, reducing greenhouse gasses.

Not so fast.

Here’s the problem: the state Air Resources Board has evaluated air pollution risk and identified swaths of urban areas that create public health hazards because of diesel truck traffic or other pollution.

Call it the irony of unintended consequences. The housing development areas overlap with the communities with high air pollution in too many places in the Bay Area. It looks like we’re on a road to reduce greenhouse gases while increasing public health risks.

That’s where a study today from the Pacific Institute is critically important. It has lots of colorful maps and detailed information that provide tools to cities and counties to consider when planning new housing.

Here’s a starting point in San Francisco County. The blue priority development area is almost completely encircled by an area the Air Resources Board says has health risk from toxic air pollution.

San Francisco map shows "Priority Development Area" located almost completely inside an area of concur to the state Air Resources Board. (Map: Pacific Institute)

San Francisco map shows “Priority Development Area” located almost completely inside an area of concur to the state Air Resources Board. (Map: Pacific Institute)

Continue reading