Illustrating Pollution Stories with Steam Plumes

Readers will know of my pet peeve on this issue.  It turns out this has come up as a viewer complaint at the BBC several times and they actually have a policy on it, though like many media organizations they don't consistently follow their own guide.

You can see many examples simply by searching google images for "air pollution".  The people riding bikes with masks are in actual pollution.  The rest of the photos on the first page are mainly steam plumes.  Note how the photographers like to catch the steam at dusk or backlit so they look dark and sortof smokey.

click to enlarge

  • HenryBowman419

    Look at it this way: water vapor is a much more efficient greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide; thus, if you think carbon dioxide is a pollutant, as many foolish eco-wackos do, water vapor may be considered a worse pollutant.

  • Matthew Slyfield

    "Note how the photographers like to catch the steam at dusk or backlit so they look dark and sortof smokey."

    There is nothing remotely surprising about this to anyone who understands photography. Photography is an art form built on light, shadow and color.

  • J K Brown

    Bloomberg on a Megan McArdle post just used a very nice backlight stack with steam as a misrepresentation of smoke. Or, perhaps the smoke is magic an only materializes 2 ft or so above the stack?

  • Scott Hanson

    it's all that nasty DHMO!
    😉

  • Douglas2

    A variation of this that upset me recently was the use of a photo of muddy water from storm-drain outflows to illustrate an article about possible chemical contamination of domestic water wells.

  • mahoney