If this winter's air-pollution crisis serves any purpose other than to make every Wasatch Front resident less healthy, it may be this: From the governor on down, Utahns are beginning to understand that dramatic changes in behavior and public policy are all that will keep the problem from getting worse. Make that much worse.
Public awareness is the first step, and in this context, coughing and wheezing from breathing the worst air pollution in the country for days on end in January has been more effective than any public education campaign. Watery eyes and aching lungs are wonderful motivators.
That said, public awareness means nothing if all it results in is finger-pointing. The hard part, as many are beginning to see, is translating thought into action a cliche, perhaps, but no less true in the context of what has become a grave, pervasive threat to public health.