Mark Twain said (or so the legend goes) that the coldest winter he ever spent was a summer in San Francisco. The Bay Area is famous for chilly fog that covers the region in a thick, moist blanket. These days, however, the air we breathe and the scenery we view are also likely to be filled with pollution that comes from the tailpipe of a car. With sprawl pushing housing farther away from jobs, we're driving more and guzzling gas at a faster rate. Diesel consumption is also on the rise. NRDC researchers identified six measures of air pollution and global-warming gases and concluded that, overall, the trend line for the Bay Area's air quality is going in the wrong direction.
- Home consumption of energy rose during the period 1992 to 1997, with electricity use up and natural gas use constant. In the first half of 2001, however, in response to the state's energy crisis, the Bay Area made significant reductions in electricity use.
- Miles driven in vehicles rose more than 20 percent between 1990 and 2000.
- Gasoline consumption was up more than 13 percent between 1995 and 2000.
- Diesel fuel consumption in California has doubled in the last 20 years. In the Bay Area, it is projected to increase 31 percent by 2020.
- Particle pollution makes Bay Area air unhealthy several days a year.
- Ground-level ozone problems persist, with the Bay Area violating state ozone standards some days each year.