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January 2016

India vs. California (Let’s Keep up the Good Work!)

I returned last week from a visit to India. It's a fascinating country with an intriguing culture, delicious food, and (a whole lot of) friendly people. This was my second visit; I spent time there in 1988 as a backpacking budget traveler. 

I found that many things have not changed much over those 27 years. That's one of the interesting things about India and its enduring culture. The food is still excellent, and the streets are still full of life. On the other hand, I did see some unfortunate changes. Beaches full of strolling families are now covered with trash. Once clear waterways are now choked with invasive plant growth, fed by farm run-off. And the air pollution in Delhi nearly blocked out the sun. After three wonderful days visiting friends in Delhi, my lungs were begging for a break.

I had a great time in India, but I came home very grateful that here in California I can breathe relatively clean air and enjoy clean beaches. While India gets worse, here in California many environmental indicators have shown significant improvement over the last four decades. Things are far from perfect, but kids playing AYSO soccer today don’t have to experience the same lung burning pain that I remember from growing up in Los Angeles in the 1970’s. Here’s a chart from the US EPA showing air quality trends over the last 40 years (http://www3.epa.gov/region9/air/trends/). 

Let’s keep up the good work!

As ASHRAE members we play a significant role in achieving these improvements. I know that sometimes it’s a challenge. I grumble when filling out Title 24 compliance forms. Emissions standards sometimes force us to invest money to upgrade equipment. We all bump up against environmental regulations. But next time I start to grumble I’ll remember the horrible air in Delhi and I’ll remember the LA smog of my childhood. I’ll feel grateful that I can play a role in keeping California going in the right direction.

P.S. On the subject of air quality… don’t miss our January 14 chapter meeting where Dr. Max Sherman of LBNL talks about “Ventilation: The Once and Future King”. 

-Erik Kolderup, President, Golden Gate ASHRAE

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