And in other news from the remote sensing front, there was an interesting article in the LA Times last week about the South Coast Air Quality Management District’s testing of an automated device that measures tailpipe emissions (free subscription required). The article explains that testing has begun for a remote sensing device that measures tailpipe emissions and photographs an offender’s license plate for ticketing.

The technology has been around for some years now. And it’s about time for deployment.

But it’s also worrisome from a social justice perspective. The article fails to mention if the SCAQMD [we used to say "squawk mud"] program will ensure that the poor’s only mode of transport is not eliminated if they cannot afford the full cost of retrofit. Sure, there are freeloaders that dilute their actions throughout society. But many of the polluting vehicles are the only cars the poor can afford in a transit-unfriendly town—the under- or less-well employed often cannot rely on transit to get to work.

I know when I lived in Sacramento, another transit-unfriendly town, I could only take transit to a narrow range of choices. (Riding my bike 14 miles to work took, literally, one-third the time of transit, and I’m fit.) The same is true in LA. Not having a car in LA is not an option if you wish to feed your family.

There is not just one solution to reducing outstanding polluters. As Mark Hertsgaard found in Earth Odyssey, most people on the planet wish to decrease their pollution. They just can’t afford to. They’re too busy just trying to get by.

This new emissions device cannot be used as a blunt instrument: We must ensure it’s used properly when it comes to our comparatively transit-friendly region.