BZ 123016 Inversion 01

Cars climb above the inversion as they head up the North Ogden Divide on Friday, Dec. 30, 2016.

Sure, our air is bad these days. But on the bright side, at least we now know how many certifiable jackasses we have in Weber County.

Survey says: 736 of them.

We know because it just happens to be the exact number of vehicles that failed the county’s new diesel emissions tests due to deliberate tampering.

Deliberate, folks.

• RELATED: Nearly 1 in 5 Weber County diesel vehicles failing emissions tests

According to a recent story by the Standard-Examiner’s Leia Larsen, the Weber-Morgan Health Department reports that 10,038 vehicles have been tested since January, when the county’s diesel emissions program began. Of those, 1,890 failed the test. That’s an 18.8-percent failure rate, or nearly one in five diesel vehicles (compared to a 4.6-percent to 10.2-percent rate for gasoline vehicles, depending on their age).

Ah, but the most telling statistic? Nearly 39 percent of diesel failures were due to deliberate monkeying with the vehicle.

There’s simply no other way to say it: Basically, 736 people are putting either vehicle performance or a juvenile desire to “roll coal” over public health.

• RELATED: Diesel emissions testing results — an S-E reader conversation

Granted, there are undoubtedly a lot more than 736 jackasses in Weber County. After all, 38,447 of you voted for Donald Trump in the last presidential election. And another 22,187 went for Hillary Clinton. So depending on your political affiliation, there are easily tens of thousands more jackasses out there.

But unlike partisan politics, that 736 figure is one that we can all agree on and it gives us a good baseline to begin understanding what we’re dealing with in the Greater Ogden Area, jackass-wise.

A number of diesel-engine enthusiasts took to the Standard-Examiner’s Facebook page to make a case against diesel testing, mostly by using three arguments: A) Justifying their own decisions by pointing out that other sources of pollution are as bad or worse; B) Posting photos and GIFs of size-compensating diesel trucks spewing black smoke in an effort to mock environmentalists; and C) Calling people names.

Indeed, in less than an hour, a certain mature diesel-testing opponent on the S-E’s Facebook page called one person a “crybaby,” another a “local narc,” and a third the socially offensive term “retard.”

Kind of hard to argue with that kind of logic, other than to point out that the real crybabies seem to be the entitled whiners who think their own selfish wants outweigh the needs of their neighbors.

I have no problem with a well-maintained diesel vehicle. There are people who enjoy ATVs and boats and travel trailers and other recreational toys, and the features offered by a diesel-powered vehicle facilitate those pursuits.

Now, in the interest of full disclosure, I drive a 2001 Ford Ranger pickup truck. It’s not the most fuel-efficient vehicle on the planet, and it’s certainly not the ideal commuter vehicle for a guy whose daily commute is 23 miles, one way.

That’s right, this liberal doesn’t drive a hybrid. I’m neither proud nor ashamed of that fact — it simply is what it is.

Because life is a series of trade-offs. That used truck was what we could afford, and it also met our weekend needs for hauling kayaks, mountain bikes, green waste to the landfill and any number of other tasks for which family and friends sometimes conscript it.

I also live in Farmington, which was another trade-off necessitated by spouses working at businesses almost 50 miles apart. Although I did the mass transit thing for a couple of years when I was an editor and confined to the office, as a reporter I now need access to a vehicle at work.

Oh, and I write from home on Mondays. I do that for two reasons: First, it’s quieter, so I can get a lot more writing done. Second, it’s one less day of commuting per week, which helps save both pocketbook and planet.

Should I be doing more? Absolutely. But I suppose we all have to start somewhere.

We have a serious air quality problem here in Northern Utah, one with myriad sources — including gasoline- and diesel-powered vehicles, refineries, power-generating plants and various other industries along the Wasatch Front.

I’m not asking anybody to swap their Dodge Cummins for a Nissan Leaf. But I am asking all of us to do the bare minimum. And right now that includes things like reducing driving whenever possible, using alternative forms of transportation, and avoiding extended idling periods.

And I also think your vehicle and my vehicle — whether gas- or diesel-powered — should meet a reasonable threshold for emissions standards.

Is that so wrong? Am I a jackass for even suggesting that?

If so, I guess that makes 737 of us.

Contact Mark Saal at 801-625-4272, or Follow him on Twitter at @Saalman. Friend him on Facebook at

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