Monday, May 16, 2011

Is this a good idea?

In Kidnapping the Lorax, one of the characters who is prone to eco-ranting complains, “We had this lovely planet that gave us all the sustenance we ever needed. Instead of being grateful and enjoying what we have, we’ve gradually and systematically ruined it. The food we eat, the water we drink, the air we breathe—now it’s all dangerous to us.” 
He’s accused of being overly dramatic, but consider this: some schools are now raising flags of differing colors, meant to inform the children how good or bad that day’s air quality is. As the EPA blog article “Raising the Flag for Air Quality Awareness” explains:
When Officer Jones asked if the kids wanted to help him, they cheered in unison, “YES.”  They eagerly held the flag while Officer Jones hooked it to the chain, watched as he raised it – and promptly asked why the flag was yellow. Officer Jones explained that the yellow flag meant that the kids could play outside, “because the air quality was pretty good today– not the best like what a green flag means.”
And here’s, which will tell you whether the air where you live is safe today. As the summer heats up, you might want to check it from time to time.  Like Officer Jones says, you want to see green there, not red. The U.S. EPA, NOAA, NPS, tribal, state, and local agencies developed to “provide the public with easy access to national air quality information.”
And that sharing of information is a good thing, right?  
So the thought of little kids raising different colored flags to reveal how safe or unsafe the outdoors is really shouldn’t make me sad ... right? 


  1. My beloved spouse, who grew up in LA decades ago, remembers days when school was closed because the smog was so bad. And in Dicken's London, people died from the "poisonous fogs." I'm not saying this isn't a bad thing. I'm just saying that it isn't new. Fire is one of our principal tools, and fire pollutes. So, what do you sugget? (I vote for population control.)

  2. I remember my first trip to LA in 1955 when I was a teenager. When my eyes began to sting and water, I complained to my brother."That's smog," he answered. "Welcome to LA!:

    Great blog, Pat, and I agree that one of the first steps to reducing pollution and over-use of our natural resources is to practice birth control. Alice Lynn

  3. I agree that a lot needs to change! Information sharing is a good thing, and I think it is sad that the outdoors shouldn't be safe for little kids...but it is good that they are learning to pay attention to air quality so maybe it will affect them emotionally as they plan their future, to keep trying to clean up this planet!

  4. As a retired first grade teacher---yes it is sad that we HAVE to teach them this---but one of the reasons we do is that we didn't for a long time. So I consider it exciting that we ARE teaching it again---because for years, environmental education was nearly absent in the curriculum---except for a few isolated teachers who were passionate about it---and if anyone is to pick up the gauntlet it will be well taught youngsters grown up. Here's to Rachel Carson!

  5. Back in 1996-1998 I worked part time at an elementary school, and if the smog was considered "bad," they would not allow the children to go outside for recess. Instead they had to sit in a room watching cartoons. This has been going on for years in S. California. No wonder there is childhood obesity!
    And when I lived in S. California, I had allergies to the smog! I had to use special eyedrops, take special medications, and use an inhaler!!
    Rose L.

  6. Okay, I have to say that you're all making me feel better about this flag business. (Bringing in heroine Rachel Carson was a particularly nice note, dkm!)

    And Roxie and Alice, you reminded me of this David Brower quote: "Population is pollution spelled inside out."