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Old 09-18-2007, 06:24 PM
539 posts, read 1,812,517 times
Reputation: 429


Originally Posted by Threestep View Post
Again - you elaborate nicely. English mayor? Every statement has "heard", "was told" or at least "80s".
Something has to happen in Birmingham but you decided to pack up and move. What is the thrill of "having been to the worst suburbs"?

Being a middle aged, purse toting, truck driving 280 ghetto inhabitant I had a hard time keeping my temper last week when a non-gentleman of color decided to get chummy in the grocery store. And it was on my side of town as you would put it.

Was that directed at me?

BTW Southlander those statistics were released in 2007, but if I'm not mistaken the numbers themselves date back to 2004, the latest year available. I could be wrong. Not about the year that it was released but about the year that the numbers themselves are taken from. It couldn't have been more than four or five years ago, if that. I'm thinking about this off of the type of my head, i know i used that particular stat for a paper I wrote.

The X-factor not taken into account here is that even though I"m sure Birmingham's air is cleaner now than it was in 1970, so is everybody else's. Los Angeles, Detroit, Cleveland, New York, you name it. Due to much tighter restrictrions now compared to 35 or 40 years ago, everybody's air is cleaner now than it was in 1970. Unless you live in a city that has experienced tremendous growth in the time since then - this would only apply to the fastest growing cities in the country such as Las Vegas, Miami, and Atlanta.

With that being said, several things contribute greatly to Birmingham's air pollution.

1) The presence of heavy industry in the city. Sure Birmingham's steel industry is nowhere near what it used to be, but several heavy industry facilities still exist in the city and are still operating, particularly large ones such as U.S. Steel in nearby Fairfield (steel making and pipe making), and ACIPICO (cast iron pipe making) on the north side of the city. I think there are still a few others left in the city as well though I couldn't name them. Having those two facilites in any city would contribute significantly to the pollution levels though. The steel mill in Fairfield is one of the largest steel mills in the country that's still operating.

2) The geography. The city of Birmingham and much of Jefferson County sits in a bowl (a.k.a. Jones Valley) surrounded by Red Mountain, Ruffner Mountain, and a few other hills in the central Alabama area. This causes a trapping effect - the steel mills and other pollution being released in the city (i.e. the valley or the bottom of the bowl, however you want to put it) generally stay in the bowl. It is not released directly into the upper reaches of the atmosphere the way that it would in a completely flat city like say, Chicago. This plays a HUGE role in air pollution and I believe it also contributes to Los Angeles' high ranking as well, as that city also lies in a valley surrounded by hills and mountains.

3) Lack of good, widely used public transportation. Birmingham's public transit system is a joke even compared to similar sized cities like Nashville and Charlotte. I'm not sure if Birmingham is large enough to justify rail transit but the bus system could use some work. No, scratch that - it could use a donation. It needs money - badly. And the county and the state refuse to fund it and there's not enough outcry from the people to get funding so badly needed for transit. So as a result the vast majority of Birminghamians drive and don't even think about taking the bus or using any other form of public transit. Not only that but it's not like the people who drive are driving fuel efficient cars. Old clunkers from the 1970s and 1980s are very common in the city as are newer SUVs that don't have the same pollution restrictions from the federal gov't as cars because they're classified seperately, as "trucks". Anywho, the state of Alabama has no emissions testing whatsoever. At all. Every time I tell people that up here in Chicago they ask me if you even need insurance and a license plate to drive down there. Tennessee, Georgia, Florida, all the states around us have emissions testing. Yet Alabama's pollution levels are worse (it's home to the 4th most polluted city in the country for God's sake!!!) and they DON'T test? What the hell is wrong with Alabama? Does it say something in the Bible about not doing emissions testing?

4) The heat. It should be no secret to anyone that smog is almost always a concern during the warm months. Nobody gives a damn about smog in Februrary, because there is none unless you live in a tropical climate or some other place where it's warm all year round. Birmingham's not though, so during the cooler months it's not a problem. But in the long hot summers so typical of the Deep South (I noticed on the Weather Channel up here that y'all got up to 107 degrees F at one point this year) the pollution only gets worse, making the air pretty damn unhealthy, especially for those "sensitive groups" (people with asthma, etc).

So with that being said it doesn't surprise me that Birmingham got the 4th worst ranking from the American Lung Association. The real question should be what are state and local leaders doing about it?

Last edited by AQUEMINI331; 09-18-2007 at 06:54 PM.. Reason: i had to elaborate
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Old 09-18-2007, 08:05 PM
20,869 posts, read 62,488,901 times
Reputation: 40222
Southlander, the pollution problem is still there. When we were doing exploring late last year we drove over the hill to Dunavent, south of B'ham, and the yellow smog haze was quite evident in that direction, while the rest of the sky was blue.

Aquemini, thanks for the great improvement in readability. I understand where you are coming from. Revolution probably isn't in the cards for B'ham though.

To everyone - I appreciate the mature way that points of view have been expressed and disagreements noted. Pretty classy writing.
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Old 09-19-2007, 06:30 AM
13,768 posts, read 36,123,773 times
Reputation: 10654
I appreciate the way everyone has responded.. Makes my job much easier.

I can say I drive through B'ham occassionally and have seen the signs on the interstate regarding the smog. First time I had to laugh because it said not to drive.. I was only 1/2 way to my destination, what to do?
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