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How Does Your City's Air Quality Rank?

While U.S. air quality worsened from 2010 to 2012, it was still much cleaner than the previous decade.

Those three years are the subject of an air quality study, the American Lung Association's The State of Air 2014 study. With rankings of the cleanest and dirtiest cities—in terms of ozone and particle pollution levels—the study's results will provide good news for some and a reminder of harmful surroundings for others.

Here's a sampling of the different clean and dirty rankings in the report. Don't fret if your city isn't listed in either—the tail-end of the actual report gives a state-by-state breakdown that includes cities, large and small, as well as counties.

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Only four cities on all three lists of the cleanest cities from 2010 to 2012: Bangor, ME; Bismarck, ND; Cape Coral-Fort Myers, FL; and Salinas, CA. 

Eleven other cities were ranked cleanest for both year-round and short-term particle pollution. They are listed alphabetically:

  • Elmira-Corning, NY
  • Farmington, NM
  • Flagstaff, AZ
  • Grand Island, NE
  • Homosassa Springs, FL
  • Kahului-Wailuku-Lahaina, HI
  • North Port-Sarasota, FL
  • Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville, FL
  • Prescott, AZ
  • Sierra Vista-Douglas, AZ
  • St. George, UT

Conversely, nearly 28 million people in the U.S. live in counties that failed all three of the researchers' quality tests. In all, half the nation lived in areas with unhealthy air quality from 2010 to 2012.

"Thanks to reductions in emissions from coal-fired power plants and the transition to cleaner diesel fuels and engines, cleaner air shows up repeatedly in the monitoring data," the report reads. "Still, even with the cleaner air, the most-polluted cities failed to meet the official national limits, or standard, for year-round particle pollution."

Photo credit: Rennett Stowe/Flickr Creative Commons

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By Kate Martyr

Deforestation in Brazil's Amazon rainforest last month jumped to the highest level since records began in 2015, according to government data.

A total of 563 square kilometers (217.38 square miles) of the world's largest rainforest was destroyed in November, 103% more than in the same month last year, according to Brazil's space research agency.

From January to November this year an area almost the size of the Caribbean island of Puerto Rico was destroyed — an 83% overall increase in destruction when compared with the same period last year.

The figures were released on Friday by the National Institute for Space Research (INPE), and collected through the DETER database, which uses satellite images to monitor forest fires, forest destruction and other developments affecting the rainforest.

What's Behind the Rise?

Overall, deforestation in 2019 has jumped 30% compared to last year — 9,762 square kilometers (approximately 3769 square miles) have been destroyed, despite deforestation usually slowing during November and December.

Environmental groups, researchers and activists blamed the policies of Brazil's president Jair Bolsonaro for the increase.

They say that Bolosonaro's calls for the Amazon to be developed and his weakening support for Ibama, the government's environmental agency, have led to loggers and ranchers feeling safer and braver in destroying the expansive rainforest.

His government hit back at these claims, pointing out that previous governments also cut budgets to environment agencies such as Ibama.

The report comes as Brazil came to loggerheads with the Association of Small Island States (AOSIS) over climate goals during the UN climate conference in Madrid.

AOSIS blasted Brazil, among other nations, for "a lack of ambition that also undermines ours."

Last month, a group of Brazilian lawyers called for Bolsonaro to be investigated by the International Criminal Court over his environmental policies.

Reposted with permission from DW.

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