Due to the wildfires raging in Northern California, San Francisco, Stockton and Sacramento were the world’s three “most polluted cities” on Friday morning, according to Berkeley Earth, a nonprofit that aggregates data from air-quality monitoring sites.
PurpleAir, which has a network of sensors around the world, also showed that California had worse air than traditional smog hotspots in India and China.
Meteorologist Brandon Miller confirmed that “no region on Earth had as many air quality stations in the highest ranges” of particulate matter, or PM, the toxic mixture of particles and droplets that worsens after wildfires.
Those values, he said, “stretched for hundreds of miles over Northern and Central California, from the mountains to the valleys and the coast.”
Schools, colleges and public transit have closed as smoke from the Camp Fire descends on the region.
“It appears to be the worst air quality ever experienced in San Francisco,” said Dan Jaffe, a professor of environmental chemistry at the University of Washington. He called the situation “an air quality emergency,” and experts said the smoke could undo decades of progress on pollution.
“We have made tremendous efforts and investment to clean up our air with considerable benefits for public health,” said Dr. Daniel Jacob, a professor of atmospheric chemistry and environmental engineering at Harvard University. “But now it’s like we’re getting stabbed in the back with those wildfires.”
Some call cancellations ‘too little, too late’
San Francisco’s transit agency has taken its cable cars off the streets, several schools have canceled classes, and the National Park service suspended tours to Alcatraz Island.
Public schools in San Francisco and Alameda County were closed Friday, along with UC Davis and UC Merced. UC Berkeley also canceled Friday’s classes, but some students criticized the university’s decision to stay open Thursday as smoke descended on the campus.
The school’s student association wrote a letter to their chancellor denouncing the “administration’s insufficient response to these public health risks” and urging administrators to allocate emergency funds for masks and mobile air filtration units.
“Campus buildings are not equipped to filter out the pollutants making the air indoors just as harmful as it is outside,” the group wrote. Some students, even those without pre-existing conditions, said they felt sick.
“I had a bloody throat, bloody nose, a cough, dry and watering eyes, and my throat is still very sore and dry,” freshman Sabrina Thorn said. “I almost passed out trying to go to class yesterday. My professor told me to go home.”READ MORE
Spanberger, who won an upset House race unseating incumbent conservative Rep. Dave Brat, was among a half dozen Democratic lawmakers who met with Pelosi on Friday and who have either criticized her or called for new leadership as the party retakes the majority in the US House of Representatives.
Democrats will meet the week after Thanksgiving to pick their next leaders, but there will still need to be floor vote once the new Congress is sworn in in January. How many members choose to vote “present” as opposed to for a specific candidate could impact the majority threshold and Pelosi could win with fewer than 218 votes on the floor.
Spanberger, who consistently distanced herself from Pelosi on the campaign trail, told reporters that, despite her opposition, she would not sign an anti-Pelosi letter signed by 17 Democrats who have vowed to vote against her. She said she’s not signing onto to “any letter.”
“I’ve been very clear about my position and that remains the same,” she said. “I will be voting but I will not be voting for her.”
She did say she had a “wonderful” discussion with Pelosi about the needs of her district.
In an interview on CNN’s “The Lead with Jake Tapper,” Spanberger said later Friday she had “tremendous respect” for Pelosi and said her opposition is about a need for “new voices in Congress.”
“Nothing is wrong with Nancy Pelosi,” Spanberger told Tapper. “Nancy Pelosi’s done tremendous things for this country as speaker, as minority leader, and I have tremendous respect for her. Among the reasons that there are so many women entering Congress now is because she’s paved the way for us. But one of the things that I talked about frequently on the campaign trail was the need to have new voices in Congress, the need to turn a new page in the way we engage across the aisle, and really to be able to work on the priorities that were most important to the people in my district.”
Separately, a “Dear Colleague” letter passed around by members of the House Democratic caucus dissatisfied with Pelosi says “we believe more strongly than ever that the time has come for new leadership in our Caucus,” according to a copy obtained by CNN.
Pelosi has enjoyed support from many members of her caucus and prominent Democrats throughout the week have urged the party’s House members to back her. Another letter that’s being circulated on Capitol Hill on Friday revealed multiple incoming freshmen — who were largely noncommittal on the House speaker race during their campaigns — will in fact support Pelosi. The letter, obtained by CNN, is still being circulated and so far includes 61 signatures from women incumbents and members-elect.READ MORE
The trade war has made more than $250 billion of Chinese exports more expensive for Americans — from leather belts to refrigerators to motorcycles. The disruption to the world’s biggest trading relationship has electronics manufacturers, industrial machinery makers and fashion brands working on shifting some of their assembly lines.
“We are flooded by inquiries,” said William Ma, group managing director of Kerry Logistics, a Hong Kong-based firm that helps companies around the world manage their supply chains. “It all happens after the trade war.”
Many firms are keeping much of their operations in China, which offers a giant domestic market and advantages that businesses struggle to find elsewhere. But those that are moving aren’t flocking to the United States. Instead, they’re looking to transfer work to other Asian countries.
In a recent survey by two American chambers of commerce in China, one third of the companies who responded said they were looking to switch to production outside of China as a result of the trade war. Only 6% said they were considering moving business back to the United States.
Asia, not America
In some industries, the tariffs have accelerated the shift of manufacturing from China to countries in Southeast Asia, where labor is cheaper.
Steve Madden (SHOO), whose handbags have been hit by a 10% tariff, says it’s moving a significant chunk of its production to Cambodia and other countries.
The company currently makes about 85% of its handbags in China, a figure that could drop to 50% or 60% next year.
Lo said that TV and gaming device makers have been particularly interested in relocating. He declined to name individual companies.
Big industrial suppliers have been hit hard, too, with many of their products subject to the new tariffs.
Toshiba Machine said it’s moving some of its production of molding equipment in Shanghai overseas, and machinery maker Komatsu (KMTUY) told CNN that it plans to shift some of its assembly lines to Japan or Mexico.
Leaving China isn’t easy
A lot of companies are unwilling to leave China, which has a range of advantages for manufacturing industries that are spread across Asia.
Many of the products US firms export from China have to fit exact requirements, necessitating specialized equipment and highly trained workers, according to Harley Seyedin, president of the American Chamber of Commerce in South China.
His company is rushing to help businesses move their supply chains to other Asian countries.
“We definitely need to hire more people, rent more warehouses, buy more trucks,” he said.
Businesses that want to move their orders outside China face another problem: finding factories in the region that can accept them. “I have factories that we work with in Vietnam that are booked up for the next year,” Resnick said. “Their production lines are full. And so you really do, at times, have to hunt and find factories that still have capacity.” But when it comes to switching to US-based suppliers, there’s little interest. “That’s not even been a consideration for any of the companies that we work with,” said Resnick.READ MORE