CABBIE Awards 2008: Howard Long Acceptance Speech

Speech Given by Professor Howard Long March 5, 2008

Members of the Clean Air Board of Central Pennsylvania and the Department of Physics and Astronomy of Dickinson College, especially Priscilla Laws and Susan Greenbaum, to honor an old Professor, as old as I am, from my perspective, is indeed an event.

It was many years ago, some 75 years, that I, then a teenager, stood on an elevated threshing floor, in a barn on our farm, at an open door looking out over the golden colored fields of wheat; and in the distance several miles away I saw our church, standing out so clearly on a hillside.  I recall the grandeur of the countryside and the majesty of the church.  Today, some 75 years later, as I remember that scene I marvel at the clarity of it all.  The glorious scene immersed in an ocean of air—good, clean, life-sustaining air.

And then some 40 years later the clean air of my earlier years was no more.  How much had the automobile and truck traffic, and industrialization affected the pollution of the air…especially the level of carbon particulates?  What significant changes were occurring?  And so with John Steigleman’s help the project was begun…to examine the solid particulate density in the air above the Physics building.  Monitoring continued 24 hours a day, daily, for seven years from 1973 to 1980.

Today, 35 years later, as we consider the phenomenon of air pollution, I ask, “How can the air quality of my teenage years be brought back?  Isn’t that what we’re striving to achieve—good, clean, life-sustaining air?”  That is the challenge—the riddle which needs to be solved.

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