It’s hard sometimes to know if our conservation efforts are really paying off. Does it really matter if I recycle? I shut the water off when I brush my teeth, but where’s the reward for that? California leads the United States when it comes to state-wide conservation efforts, and it seems that those efforts are generating results that can be seen. Although, in this case, the results actually lie in what can’t be seen. Recent studies have shown that California’s conservation efforts are resulting in less fog throughout the Central Valley.
The Central Valley region of the state has long been known for producing thick fog, known as “Tule Fog” for several months throughout the year. It’s not hard to conjure up an image of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge blanketed in fog. This particular type of fog doesn’t float upward like other types. It tends to hang out at ground level, and the results are actually pretty frustrating. The ground fog causes traffic accidents and, at times, it’s been so bad that authorities have even canceled school on some days.
Over the last couple of decades, though, the fog has been showing up much less frequently, and many believe it’s due to plummeting air pollution levels. A study conducted by researchers at Berkeley proved that theory to be correct.
While the fog frequency fluctuates in a direct correlation with weather patterns, it also seems to coincide with levels of air pollution. The less pollution, the less we see the fog.
The study looked at data going back to 1930, and the state’s history seems to support the results. While California was being heavily farmed and developed from 1930 to 1970, fog levels skyrocketed. Since 1980, though, the frequency of fog dropped by more than 75%.
The southern part of the state tends to have the highest pollution levels, and in turn, it also has the highest levels of fog. But the warmer temperatures in this region of the state should make it the least likely area for fog.
While we’ve still got a long way to go, it’s nice to see some solid evidence supporting the idea that thinking green really does result in positive climate change.