By Joseph Gramsci
December 3, 2019
SALT LAKE CITY: As winter approaches Salt Lake City, thousands of citizens flock online and to local stores to buy masks. These are not party masks for a costumed get together, these masks are pollution masks. They are becoming a necessity in this city, which is located in the second most toxic county in the Amerikan Empire according to the EPAs Toxic Releases Inventory (TRI).
SLC city is not like most cities when it comes to pollution. Here we have a weather phenomenon called an Inversion that happens frequently in winter. An Inversion occurs when normal atmospheric conditions become inverted. Usually cold air sits on top of warm air but when an Inversion happens this is switched. The warm air traps the cold air and pollutants near the valley floor and as a result closer to everyone’s lungs. The topography around SLC makes it a prime location for Inversions to happen.
The inversion along with the high concentration of toxins being released into the environment is a deadly combination. Many doctors have noticed that lung inflammation has become increasingly common among children. In 2018 63 days registered air quality that was above 35.5 PM( Particulate Pollution). 35.5 PM being the level at which it is considered dangerous for children and the elderly to be outside. 39 of those days the PM exceeded 51, which is terrifyingly close to 55.5 PM which is the level at which it is dangerous for anyone to go outside.
A recent Harvard study has shown that even a short term exposure to PM above 35.5 causes a 16% rise in heart attack rates. In fact during Inversion days ER visits increase by forty percent for the average SLC population and for those with pulmonary diseases visits rise by 90%. The Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment (UPHE) estimates that 1,000 to 2,000 people die each year in utah from air pollution problems and new studies coming out have shown correlation between poor air quality and infant mortality rates.
Unlike other states Utah has not been held accountable for failing to meet air quality standards and in fact the state continues to start projects in the SLC area that will do nothing but release more pollutants in the air, such as the Inland Port that is projected to raise pollution levels by five percent.
Why is this allowed to happen? The Inversion doesn’t affect the bourgeoisie. While the proletariat lives in the valley below, most of the bourgeoisie live up in higher areas like the east bench, on the sides of the mountains. The Inversion doesn’t affect them because they have literally built their homes above it. Their children aren’t slowly dying. They don’t suffer from lung inflammation. And when they choose to come to the valley during an Inversion they are wearing the best pollution masks money can buy. If they don’t live in the mountains they live 40 minutes away in Park City to hang out with the celebrities that come to ski and only come to the city to manage their business ventures every once in a while.
The bourgeoisie working with the city government are the ones that force toxic projects onto the community, such as the Inland Port which no one in the city actually wants. They are the ones that choose not to fund public transit in the state, which causes car emissions to be released on mass. They are the ones that choose to do horrible things to the environment just for profit.
This is mass murder. The poor in this city can’t spend hundreds of dollars on high quality pollution masks. As this problem increases more and more of the working class and lumpen/proletariat (both heavily made up of oppressed nationalities) will die due to air pollution. They will die due to capitalism’s never ending hunger for profit.
We can stop this. We can band together and decide to do away with this horrible system that values profit over people. The pollution problems in SLC and elsewhere will not be solved until the root of the problem is done away with, and the root of the problem is capitalism.
And we better do it soon. This winter’s inversions are more than likely going to be worse than the last. If 39 days got close to 55.5PM last year imagine how many more days will get close to it this year, and many will probably exceed that dangerous limit. As the pollution continues to go unchecked and the years progress more and more days will be too polluted to go outside and more and more people will die slowly, choking on the air around them.