May 19, 2020, Letters to the Editor

Category: Letters to the Editor
Created on Tuesday, 19 May 2020 15:51
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Clear Air

Dear Editor: Many parts of the world are seeing scenery in the far distance for the first time in quite awhile. The COVID-19 virus has aided this in an unusual way. Sounds ludicrous, but humans have been encouraged by doctors and scientists worldwide to stay at home and nonessential services are shut down. That in turn has helped to clean up the air pollution. There are fewer cars, trucks and motorcycles on the road and airlines are decreasing he number of scheduled trips. There is now less air contamination.

Before COVID-19, Delhi, India, was considered the world’s most polluted city. The quality of the air now brings blue skies and clean air. Dramatic changes have shown, without a doubt, the relationship between human behavior and air quality. 

The Los Angeles, California, skyline has been noted for smog that is made up of smoke and fog (first coined in 1905). In 1943 there were 2.8 million internal combustion engine vehicles registered in California. When it was smoggy, the field of vision was only about three blocks. There were problems with people having difficulty breathing, some were vomiting and many had stinging eyes. The state of California passed the Air Pollution Control Act in 1947.  However, the pollution problem continued unrelentingly. That is until this year, 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and within several months of “stay home” mandates, Los Angeles now has the cleanest air of any major city. California Air Resources: “California’s Air Quality History Key Events.” 

Copernicus Sentinel-5 satellite: “Readings from this satellite show a significant decline in the concentrations of nitrogen dioxide over Rome, Madrid and Paris.” Strict quarantine actions were first implemented in Europe in these cities. 

Here in Sitka we are seeing less traffic, more bicycle riding, and many people enjoying the hiking trails. The beginning of the fishing season will bring in many people to work in the fish plants and hopefully some visitors. This will help our economy, though there is a worry about COVID-19 coming to town. We won’t see any cruise ships this year and that will be very hard for many businesses. There will be no Sitka Fine Arts Camp and no Sitka Summer Music Festival. I would like to suggest that we residents of Sitka WELCOME the visitors and workers who are able to come to Sitka.  

Judy Kearns-Steffen, member of Citizens Climate Lobby