Trust the Science™: White people driving cars are poisoning POC in LA

(AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)


It’s Science™, people – I have the study right here – from the University of Southern California, no less. You thought David’s post about a flag painted in the road was outrageous?


Read and weep the study abstract, racist motorists.

Local Inequities in the Relative Production of and Exposure to Vehicular Air Pollution in Los Angeles

Vehicular air pollution has created an ongoing air quality and public health crisis. Despite growing knowledge of racial injustice in exposure levels, less is known about the relationship between the production of and exposure to such pollution. This study assesses pollution burden by testing whether local populations’ vehicular air pollution exposure is proportional to how much they drive. Through a Los Angeles, California case study we examine how this relates to race, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status—and how these relationships vary across the region. We find that, all else equal, tracts whose residents drive less are exposed to more air pollution, as are tracts with a less-White population. Commuters from majority-White tracts disproportionately drive through non-White tracts, compared to the inverse. Decades of racially-motivated freeway infrastructure planning and residential segregation shape today’s disparities in who produces vehicular air pollution and who is exposed to it, but opportunities exist for urban planning and transport policy to mitigate this injustice.

You wanna know what I think? I think a couple of graduate students are angling for a new gig because they heard there’d be an equity opening for Anti-Racist Road Czar.

Laugh now, Pete…

Pete Buttigieg
(AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

…they’re coming for you.

When earnest reporters at the LA Times got ahold of the study, they couldn’t wait to dissect the possible racism contained within. Make the scientific argle-bargle accessible to your everyday white drivers (aka “THE BAD GUYS”) so they would be educated on their transgressions, feel miserable about themselves, self-flagellate, and change their habits of perpetual vehicular oppression.


Despite the conventional wisdom, not everybody drives all the time in Los Angeles. Those who don’t, it turns out, pay more of a price in terms of the air they breathe than major car commuters, according to a new study.

Researchers from the USC Sol Price School of Public Policy concluded that residents of wealthier, whiter areas exported air pollution to the neighborhoods around their commutes.

There’s this consistent injustice in air pollution exposure,” said Geoff Boeing, an assistant professor at the school and co-author of the study.

Past studies have established that “there’s a statistically significant difference in exposure levels, particularly in home locations, between white groups and nonwhite groups,” said Boeing, adding that those exposed most to harmful air are “usually Black and Hispanic groups.”

Gosh. That lad certainly has all the SJW codewords down.

In another column, a second LA Times type waxes on about his drives, how he tries not to drive, and how guilty he should feel every time he drives.

…My colleague Terry Castleman wrote about the study, which was published in the peer-reviewed journal Urban Studies. The core finding is that for every 1% increase in miles driven to and from work by people who live in a particular part of L.A. County, there’s an estimated 0.62% decrease in the lung-damaging “fine particulate matter” to which those Angelenos are exposed.

How is that possible? I asked the study’s lead author, Geoff Boeing, a professor at the USC Sol Price School of Public Policy.

He told me it largely comes down to the shameful history of Los Angeles County’s low-income communities of color being torn apart to make way for freeways — a history that has been extensively documented by The Times. Today, many residents of the county’s whiter, more affluent neighborhoods — who were often able to keep highways out of their own backyards — commute to work through lower-income Black and Latino neighborhoods bisected by the 10, 110 and 105 freeways and more.

…As a white guy who’s lived on L.A.’s Westside for most of my life, I’ve benefited from the region’s sordid history as well. Much as I try to do my part — taking the train a couple times a month, walking to local coffee shops and restaurants instead of driving across the city — there’s no question I contribute to the inequitable air pollution that Boeing’s study describes.


Gosh. This sounds terrible – horrible white people in cars, driving, driving, driving…

…Overall, though, the map shows how residents of whiter, wealthier communities disproportionately drive to work through lower-income Latino and Black neighborhoods, spewing pollution. Residents of those neighborhoods can’t do much about it.

…until the BS meter goes off and someone finds [cue: dum dumdum DUM] A PIE CHART.

About those numbers and the guilt trips, dudes…

Are white people the only ones who own cars? Do only white people live in the hills and “upscale areas”? Where exactly is this oppressive, overwhelmingly racist uber-minority white driving smog horde located?

The study’s author also brushes past the effect of geography on highway and population density, not to mention the ocean breeze effect on downtown smog. Even when the California tribes lived in the basin, it had a smoky haze from their campfires, because that bowl rarely cleans itself out. If you look up “thermal inversion,” there’s probably a picture of LA to illustrate it.

In fact, the LA Times does a good job explaining the concept itself.

Screencap LA Times

Let me summarize as best my non-scientist personage can: interstates were built 60 years ago, white people are a minority in LA County, POC own/drive cars in LA/live in the upscale areas, pollution has been a problem in the basin since ancient times, the squeeze by some freeways caused by mountains/geography vice racists, and thermal inversions keep pollution trapped in the basin no matter what.


Racist car emergency and guilt trip over.


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John Stossel 5:30 PM | July 13, 2024