The State of California was the first place in the world to mandate tailpipes on cars. That was back in 1966. The Federal government wouldn't follow suit for another two years. We've come a long way from the pre-catalytic converter, fuel guzzling engines of the Mad Men days.
Recent data shows just how far we've come, in fact. Since the 1960s, auto-related emissions have plunged 98 percent in Los Angeles even as gasoline consumption has tripled in the same time period. Even more striking, these emissions dropped by roughly half from 2002-2010 alone.
“The reason is simple: Cars are getting cleaner,” said Carsten Warneke, a researcher at the University of Colorado, Boulder, lead author of the study, published in the Journal of Geophysical Research.
We still have a long way to go in providing clean and efficient transportation for America's big cities, but this data is a nice reminder that sometimes regulations work really well—and the fights we have for clean transportation now could make a huge difference a decade or two down the line.