Sam Wall | Editor In Chief
A recent article published by a team of UNBC researchers has shown that the air quality in Prince George is improving, as compared over twelve years of fine particulate matter air quality data. The group was led by Environmental Science Professor Dr. Peter Jackson, whose undergraduate and graduate research team were listed individually as co-authors, a wonderful experience for any student. Using a new statistical tool, the team were able to extract trends that may not be as obvious on a spreadsheet. They determined that air quality dramatically improved when air from the heavy industrial area of Prince George moved into the city centre.
This is a surprising revelation, as the heavy industrial area has traditionally been associated with poor air quality. Research like this is important, as the industrial sector has been spending millions of dollars to lower the amount of fine particulate matter they are releasing. It has been difficult to provide a measure of the improvements, but this study suggests that these measures are helping. This is especially good news, as wildfire smoke threatened to choke out the province this summer.
This research also highlights a key flaw in how we imagine improving the world environmentally: we are very good at talking about the problems, but do a poor job of celebrating when we do well. The idea seems to be that celebrating our achievements will make us complacent, but I beg to differ. Looking at environmental issues is daunting even for the well-informed, and can often feel like a huge, depressing issue that is impossible to fix. If we celebrate our accomplishments, it reminds us that change is possible, and our actions matter. The work we do is important, even if it’s learning to breathe easy in our small, northern nook of the world.