Ronald Reagan and those Pesky Polluting Redwoods

“Trees cause more pollution than automobiles do.”
–Ronald Reagan

At least once a month for the last 19 years, I’ve thanked former president Ronald Reagan, for without him, I possibly never would have ended up working for ESRI.

Let me explain. In 1987, I was an Environmental Scientist working at Engineering-Science, Inc. (a division of the Parsons Corporation), focusing on highway and airport noise modeling and dabbling in cultural resource assessment on the side. Michael Fene’ and I were responsible for the budding GIS implementation at Engineering-Science, so we actually ended up touching a lot of different disciplines.

President Reagan’s legendary references to pollution-causing vegetation lead one agency to hire Engineering-Science to develop a model of all the pollution emitted from all vegetation within the state of California, so we immediately set about trying to find a suitable state-wide vegetation database. As part of the project, Michael and I spent half a day out in Redlands with some ESRI staffers. I was so impressed that later that night, I started working on my resume.

“Approximately 80% of our air pollution stems from hydrocarbons released by vegetation, so let’s not go overboard in setting and enforcing tough emission standards from man-made sources.”
–Ronald Reagan

Enough already! Stop picking on the late Ronald Reagan! OK, maybe there’s room for just one more quote…

“If you’ve seen one redwood, you’ve seen them all.”
–Ronald Reagan