Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Warning: smog! Uh… where?

Here’s a very puzzling road sign I saw and snapped this weekend on a trip to the far reaches of the southern Cape to attend a birthday party. ‘Smog’, for anyone who’s in doubt about the term, is used to describe a kind of air pollution usually created by emissions from motor vehicles and industry to form a kind of smoky fog.

According to Wikipedia, ‘Smog can form in almost any climate where industries or cities release large amounts of air pollution.’ It often hangs around for extended periods, especially over densely populated urban areas and big cities like London, New York, Los Angeles, Mexico City, Athens and Beijing.

The term ‘smog’ was coined by one Dr Henry Antoine Des Voeux in 1905, who said modestly that it ‘required no science’ to see that there was something produced in big cities that was not found in the country – to wit, smoky fog, which he called ‘smog’.

Why, then, is this sign posted alongside a country road several hundred miles from the nearest big city? As is perfectly evident from the pictures, the visibility in this area is so good you can practically see tomorrow.

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