Polluted Sunset

I grew up in rural Massachusetts surrounded by woods, lakes, and rivers. Every day I stepped outside and was greeted by what I thought to be ‘normal air’. It was sweet and woody with a hint of dried leaves during the fall months. Since moving to Baltimore the thing that I notice the most is how distinctly different the air here tastes and feels compared to my home. The stale gas and garbage fumes that fill Baltimorian lungs are quite different from the air of my childhood. 

The picture above is from my favorite location on the Hopkins campus, pictured is also the reason it is my favorite. The balcony of the JHU rec center is the perfect vantage point to watch the sun as it sets over Baltimore. On clear evenings the sky is streaked with shades of red, orange, and pink.

A number of atmospheric factors contribute to the color of sunsets, but there is a commonly held belief that air pollution makes more beautiful sunsets. This statement is fairly subjective but it is known that both natural and synthetic aerosols produce more red and orange hues in sunsets. Regardless of if particulate matter and other pollutants dispensed by urban areas disrupt or allow for color-filled ends to the day, the fact remains that the pleasures which allow us to escape from the chaos of society for a moment are also, often, a product of the negative ways our society treats the world.  

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