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Why Don't We Care About Air Pollution?

Rich Heap, Community Editor, Future Cities
Thursday, December 19, 2013 10:45 EST

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stotheco
stotheco  
12/27/2013 1:16:56 AM
User Rank Urban Legend
Re: Why let it get to that point?
I agree. There's no sense in putting it off. I really wish they wouldn't, but I suppose they have their reasons? Although I'm not really understanding it, at that point.

stotheco
stotheco  
12/27/2013 1:15:57 AM
User Rank Urban Legend
Re: Why let it get to that point?
Aside from indifference, Susan has a point. Most people live such hectic lives that they tend to cast aside problems that are not as urgent or life-threatening in lieu of other priorities or problems that might have a sense of "immediate danger", as you mentioned.

kq4ym
kq4ym  
12/25/2013 7:06:10 AM
User Rank Urban Legend
Re: Why let it get to that point?
Waiting an additional five years until 2030 seems a bit non-sensical. Why folks would continue putting off important policies is beyond me and probably an indication of the thinking of the leaders, that everythings "fine." With a bit more urgency the problems would be solved that much earlier, and before any snowball effect might take place.

Susan Leach
Susan Leach  
12/23/2013 3:30:43 PM
User Rank Blogger
Re: Why let it get to that point?
Yes, the air quality has improved, Mary. No more alerts for now. It was a combination of windless days and a weather pattern that was holding the polluted air over the city. Normally it just drifts out into the Mediterranean, I imagine.

It's doesn't happen very often here. That's the first time this year. There were a couple of alerts last year. Here's the alert history (in Catalan, but you can probably decipher it):

http://goo.gl/QBnOME

Històric d'episodis ambientals de contaminació

Amb anterioritat s'han declarat els següents episodis ambientals de contaminació:

  • Episodi ambiental (del 9 al 12 de desembre de 2013)
  • Episodi ambiental (del 4 al 6 de desembre de 2013)
  • Episodi ambiental (del 9 al 10 d'octubre de 2012)
  • Episodi ambiental (del 23 al 24 de juliol de 2012)
  • Episodi ambiental (del 10 al 14 d'octubre de 2011)
  • Episodi ambiental (del 28 de setembre al 6 d'octubre  de 2011)
  • Episodi ambiental (del 6 al 9 d'abril de 2011)
  • Episodi ambiental (del 4 a l'11 de febrer de 2011)

As for not noticing it, I think it's like many sensory things. If you live around them, your senses adjust and you stop being aware. 

I remember taking a glider flight south of Boston one summer and being surprised to see the yellow haze hanging over the city. I hadn't realized it was that polluted.

So when you head out of Barcelona to the country, you definitely smell the difference, but that's probably true of most medium size cities. 

Mary Jander
Mary Jander  
12/23/2013 1:05:55 PM
User Rank Staff
Re: Why let it get to that point?
Has the air pollution situation gotten any better these last few days, Susan?

And when you say it's hard to detect the pollution, I'm surprised there isn't any real sign of it. Even though it's not a discernable fog, there must be some signs the air isn't fresh, no?

richheap
richheap  
12/23/2013 5:03:42 AM
User Rank Staff
Re: Why let it get to that point?
@Hazel: I agree with Susan, but I'd also add that it's very difficult to see the effects. If an eight-year-old in China contracts lung cancer (as I've previously seen reported) then it's a far more obvious (and emotive) health issue than an older person dying a few years earlier from something they may have contracted even without air pollution.

richheap
richheap  
12/23/2013 4:57:28 AM
User Rank Staff
Re: Why let it get to that point?
That's definitely part of it, Susan. Same thing with antibiotic-resistant diseases. This is a big burgeoning health issue but we can't see the problem so it doesn't seem as real to us.

Susan Leach
Susan Leach  
12/23/2013 4:35:02 AM
User Rank Blogger
Re: Why let it get to that point?
It might be indifference, Hazel. But equally, it might just be that people are rushed, stressed, and superbusy. And the idea of taking public transport rather than driving, or driving slower on the highway all requires more time -- usually the thing people are most short of. So if there's no immediate danger, people ignore it. That's my take. 

Susan Leach
Susan Leach  
12/23/2013 4:30:39 AM
User Rank Blogger
Re: Why let it get to that point?
That may be one element, Rich. But with the whole smog alert thing here, it's not super severe. The levels are above European regulations, hence the alert, but they're not at dangerous levels like in China. That to me is truly alarming. It's visible, you can smell it, and people are changing their routines to avoid exposure. I would too.

Hazel
Hazel  
12/23/2013 4:13:15 AM
User Rank Urban Legend
Re: Why let it get to that point?
Could it be indifference? Could it be the notion that it's happening elsewhere, that it's not a huge thing in your area now, and that you're not affected so why worry? I'm extremely concerned about all this news, especially the reports coming out of China about the level of smog there.

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