Saturday, June 18, 2005

Living In Filth

Well, gee. What a surprise. According to Reader's Digest, Pittsburgh ranks 48th in a cleanliness analysis of the 50 largest metropolitan areas in the United States. This certainly explains a lot. Everytime it rains in the city, I can not help thinking that we need some soap to go with all of the water.

The rankings were based on scores in the following categories (the lower the ranking, the dirtier the city):

  • Air -- Pittsburgh ranked 6th, a nice low score. It has been decades since Pittsburgh was the "Smoky City" with all of the steel mills up and running. There are a lot of scuzzy people in this city, so this low rating is probably based on cigarette smoke.
  • Water -- Many of us get our water from the Monongahela River. As a child, I usually heard that Monongahela meant "muddy water", but it would seem that the actual meaning is a big more complicated than that. Either way, it implies that there is more in the river than what you would normally find in drinking water. That explains the #5 ranking.
  • Toxics -- a.k.a. Industrial Pollution. Even though the steel industry is all but gone from the city, there are plenty of others to help lower the ranking to #5. Probably due to also due to cigarette smoke, but specifically in relation to an increase in smoking among unemployed industrial workers.
  • Hazardous Waste -- A slightly below-average 23. I believe most of the hazardous waste is either shipped to Pennsyltucky or out-of-state.
  • Sanitation -- The best score out of the five categories, Pittsburgh gets a 29. There never seems to be any shortage of garbage trucks around here. The stench and exhaust fumes might also have an impact on the low Toxics and Air Quality ratings.
So - assuming that this study is accurate, how can Pittsburgh's rating improve? How about:
  • Stop smoking.
  • Import bottled water from a fresh spring.
  • Forcibly shut down and raze any remaining industrial plants.
  • Bury all of the hazardous waste in our backyards before some busybody comes along and does another survey to try and make us look bad again.
  • Implement a "sanitation official recruiting drive" to increase the number of active garbage men and garbage trucks on the streets.
About twenty years ago, Pittsburgh was proclaimed America's Most Livable City in another study of metropolitan areas. If it follows my suggestions, it easily could be again.

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