I was a kid who constantly asked “why,” which I’m sure drove my parents to reach for the ear plugs. Among my first “why’s” was why, in 1970s Pasadena, the San Gabriel Mountains directly behind us continually vanished, especially on broiling summer days? Why was that cough-inducing, eye-watering blanket of gray air rolling at us like a foul-tasting fog from a bad horror flick? Why did adults, who proclaimed to have everything under control, allow this to happen? Because, you know, it felt dystopian, not reassuring. Decades later, those why’s inspired a social history, with fellow author Bill Kelly, about this. The scars still linger, too, as this recent L.A. Times column animating numerous scenes from that book, Smogtown, illustrate. Think of our air-pollution saga as a prequel to the clenching grip of climate change. It’s my fervent hope that someday, this incredible story chronicling the modern world’s first major environmental catastrophe reaches a worldwide screen, if only for the next generation to realize that no disaster is too big, too scary to conquer when people say no more! Today, the Pasadena skies are blue.