technology, automobile emissions, public policy, Southern California, smog
For many years I have taught at a small liberal arts college in Southern California. When first-year students arrived at the college in the early 1970s, they settled into the usual things that occupy freshmen. A few weeks would go by, and then they would make a remarkable discovery: tall mountains would appear to the north as autumn weather dissipated the heavy blanket of smog that had obscured them. Today, the air is not perfectly clear in September, but students are aware of the mountains from the day they move into the dormitories. The region's partial victory over smog illustrates the successful use of technological fixes for a problem that was itself caused by technology. But it also shows that technological fixes have to be complemented by appropriate policies if they are to be successful.
© 2003 MIT Press. Posted with permission.
“Reducing Automobile Emissions in Southern California: The Dance of Public Policies and Technological Fixes,” in Arthur Molella and Joyce Bedi (eds.), Inventing for the Environment (Cambridge, MA and London: MIT Press, 2003)