About ten years back when I was co-authoring (with Joel Schwartz) Air Quality in America: A Dose of Reality on Air Pollution Levels, Trends, and Health Risks (yes—scintillating reading indeed) we took note of a trope in both advocacy and media coverage of air pollution—what might be called “the reverse Lake Woebegone Effect for Air Pollution.” Just about every local environmental press release, and subsequent news story, contained the claim that X city or region had “some of the worst” air pollution in the nation.
As we reported in the book:
Whereas all children in Lake Wobegone are “above average,” when it comes to air quality, activists and local media typically find that their region is not only below average, but has “some of the worst air pollution in the country.”
“Passaic County suffers from some of the worst air pollution in the country,” claims Emily Rusch of the New Jersey Public Interest Research Group. John Noel, vice-president of Tennessee Conservation Voters, claims Tennessee has “some of the worst air pollution” in the country. But according to Earthjustice attorney Keri Powell, “Ohio has some of the worst air pollution in the country.” Not to be outdone, the Sierra Club put Atlanta in the “some of the worst air pollution” fraternity. According to North Carolina PIRG “North Carolina has some of the worst air pollution in the country.”
Newspapers have gotten into this act as well, especially in concert with the release of the American Lung Association’s annual State of the Air report each May, suggesting the shortcomings of a simplistic letter grade system for judging air quality.
A sampler: “Tennessee has some of the worst air pollution in the country,” says the Knoxville (Tennessee) News-Sentinel. Likewise, Baltimore, Maryland, has “some of the worst air pollution in the country,” according to the Baltimore Sun. Houston? “[S]ome of the worst air pollution problems in the country,” says United Press International. Don’t forget Atlanta, which, The Hotline and several other media outlets report, has “some of the worst air pollution in the country.” Or Las Vegas, which has “some of the worst air pollution in the country,” according to Greenwire news service. Chicago, the Chicago-Sun-Times reports, has “some of the worst air pollution in the nation.” Eighty miles north of Chicago is Milwaukee, which the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel says has “some of the worst air pollution in the nation.” Ditto for Baton Rouge, Louisiana, which according to the Associated Press has “has some of the most polluted air in the nation.”
Sometimes it is entire states and regions that have “some of the worst air pollution.” New Jersey, the Bergen County Record says, has “some of the worst air pollution in the country.” The Raleigh News & Observer reports that “North Carolina has some of the worst air pollution in the country.” Yet the News & Observer also reports that “the Atlanta megalopolis has some of the worst air pollution in the country.” The Greensboro (NC) News & Record concurs that North Carolina is “cursed with some of the worst air pollution in the United States.” Or the whole northeast for that matter: “The Northeast states,” the New York Times reports, “have . . . some of the worst air pollution.” And of course Texas, the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel reminds us, “suffers from some of the worst air pollution in the country.”
Can all of these areas really have “some of the worst air pollution in the country.” They can’t. In fact, not a single one does. No area of the country, including Houston and Atlanta, has air pollution that comes anywhere close to the levels found in the actual worst areas—Fresno, Bakersfield, and San Bernardino.
Well guess what mom? Now it’s the climatistas in on the “worst affected” act, claiming that nearly every nation or region you can name will be among the hardest hit by climate change. The Quadrant of Australia does a nice inventory in “Warmists Take the Hardest Hits”:
Mr Dunlop, who’s now with the Association for the study of Peak Oil and Gas, says Australia will be one of the hardest hit by a rise in global temperatures.”We’re one of the driest continents on the earth and the effects on Australia will be more severe than elsewhere.”– ABC News, May 2013
Australia’s top intelligence agency believes south-east Asia will be the region worst affected by climate change by 2030, with decreased water flows from the Himalayan glaciers triggering a ‘cascade of economic, social and political consequences’. The dire outlook was provided by the deputy director of the Office of National Assessments, Heather Smith, in a confidential discussion on the national security implications of climate change with US embassy officials. — Sydney Morning Herald, Dec 2010
The effects of climate change will impact more severely on the economy of Papua New Guinea than on any other in the Pacific, according to a new report by the Asian Development Bank. –ABC News, Nov 2013
Research reports that Bangladesh is one of the hardest hit nations by the impacts of climate change. — UK climate4classrooms.org website
There seems to be consensus in the developed world that Africa will be the hardest hit or most affected region, due to anthropogenic climate change. – YouLead Collective, a young generation of climate leaders, Nov 2014
Vietnam is likely to be among the countries hardest hit by climate change, mainly through rising sea levels and changes in rainfall and temperatures. – International Food Policy Research Institute, 2010
Norway’s Minister of the Environment and International Development Erik Solheim stated today that “The Small Island Developing States are among the hardest hit by climate change.” — as reported by the Norwegian media, Nov 2011
Maldives’ economy hardest hit by climate change: Asian Development Bank. The Maldives is the most at-risk country in South Asia from climate change impacts, said the report titled ‘Assessing the costs of climate change and adaptation in South Asia.’– Minivan News, Aug 2014
According to the latest data modelling, climate change is likely to have the strongest impact on Scandinavian countries such as Denmark, Norway and Sweden – planetearthherald.com
Bulgaria, Spain, Portugal, Italy and Greece are the countries that would be worst affected by global warming, according to a European Union report. The EC Joint Research Commission (JRC) report, released on Wednesday, takes into account four significantly sensitive factors: agriculture, river flooding, coastal systems and tourism. — Sofia News Agency, Nov 2009
The economies of southern Europe and the Mediterranean, including Malta, are forecast to suffer the most adverse effects of climate change, according to a new report drawn up by the European Environment Agency. — Primo-europe.eu, July 2010
Climate change is faster and more severe in the Arctic than in most of the rest of the world. The Arctic is warming at a rate of almost twice the global average — panda.org
China’s Poor Farmers Hit Hardest by Climate Change. Declan Conway, a University of East Anglia researcher who has studied climate change’s affect on China’s farmers, told Reuters that people in remote communities in China’s poorer regions are particularly exposed to climate hazards. — Circle Of Blue, Dec 2012
Report: Middle East, African Countries to Be Hardest Hit by Climate Change — CommonDreams.org, Dec 2012.
I think I’m starting to see a pattern here.