For the first 20 years of my parents’ marriage, my father was required to live on military bases all over the world. That’s how it worked in the Navy- you moved to Alabama or Germany or Texas whether you wanted to or not.
When he retired, and my parents finally had the privilege of choosing where they bought a home and found civilian jobs, they wanted to be in the West. They wanted to live in a place with affordable housing, impressive mountains, accessible skiing, and four seasons. They wanted to make the best life possible for my sister and me. They chose Utah.
I have no complaints about growing up in Utah. But I do remember the January days when my elementary school teachers wouldn’t let us play outside, citing something called “the inversion”.
I remember when my soccer coaches would cancel practice, dragging us to the indoor weight room instead of the outdoor field, wary of risking our teenage lungs.
I remember the day my sister was diagnosed with asthma; a disease the pediatrician said was likely a result of the countless hours she had spent outside, exposed to the smog.
I have no complaints about growing up in Utah. But it is ironic to me, that a state that is surrounded by natural beauty, a state that draws outdoor enthusiasts, a state that prides itself on its livability, a state that my parents determined to be the greatest place to raise a family, is characterized by days where a thick haze renders the mountains invisible and the air dangerous to citizens.
Inversion season is upon us.
For the past week, the state has been blanketed by a layer of smog, a combination of pollution from wood burning, refineries and cars. Do your part to lessen the severity of air pollution this January. Combine trips and avoid idling. Consider carpooling to work or taking Trax. Call your state Senator or Representative and express your interest in the passage of clean air legislation.
Remember what it is that brought you to this beautiful state, what it is that makes Utah such an amazing place to live. Because I guarantee that the inversion isn’t any one of those things.