Un torneo en medio de la polución
En medio de una ciudad sumida en el smog, cuya población es cada vez más frecuente ver en las calles utilizando máscaras.
Una ciudad cuyos habitantes están cada vez más enfermos y estresados, una ciudad gris que no logra divisarse bajo la densa capa de polución que la rodea.
Una ciudad que vive el semestre más seco de su historia. Una ciudad rodeada de majestuosas montañas que sus habitantes no son capaces de ver.
Una ciudad que ha debido ser casi paralizada en intentos por disminuir la contaminación atmosférica que lentamente mata a sus habitantes. Una ciudad que ha debido sacar de circulación más de 680.000 vehículos particulares y cerrar 1.300 industrias.
Los líderes de la ciudad anuncian orgullosos que las medidas han sido efectivas, y que lentamente se levantan las restricciones para que los ciudadanos vuelvan a su vida normal.
Lo que estos líderes no se atreven a admitir es que los problemas de contaminación de la gran metrópolis no han sido resueltos, y no lo serán con medidas paliativas.
En una ciudad a medio paralizar el deporte sigue como rey. Mientras que deportistas de todas las edades tienen recomendaciones de no ejercitar durante días con contaminación extrema, deportistas de elite nacionales y extranjeros hacen sus prácticas de manera habitual. Todo sea por esa copa, que además hipnotiza a los habitantes y logra que no piensen en el sumidero de contaminación en el que viven.
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Christchurch, the most populous centre in New Zealand’s South Island, is not to dissimilar from Santiago in regards to this concerning matter. The town, much like the Chilean capital, is nestled proximal a cluster of major mountain chains (the Southern Alps) and a sprinkling of smaller risings (the Port Hills). Consequently, an inversion layer often appears preventing particulate matter from dissipating. In our perilous predicament, 80% of the problem has been attributed to the Winter Phenomenon of people burning carbon materials in order to keep warm. The dawn of the millennium brought our Council to seriously focus on triumphing in a long historical line of failed New Years resolutions to make ChCh a more salubrious city for all citizens. Indeed, we have lived through a Dark Age of suffocating smog. Studies conducted by some of our leading and most preeminent scientists have pointed out the socio economic problems which have come hand in hand with the smog dilemma. Some of these illnesses include respiratory conditions, cardiac ailment triggers and eye soreness. These health inhibitors have unsurprisingly resulted in major economic losses for both employers and employees who perennially plan in preparation to face this persistent and expected lingering fear. The 2011 onslaught of earthquakes which decimated our city levelling the bulk of it to virtual ground zero was a cloud that came with a silver lining. After years of stumbling to stamp out the smog affair the council unleashed it’s powerful ultimatum declaring war on the much cherished old school wood burner. Pellet burners, heat pumps and electronic heating devices were advocated in their place as the ruthless crusade against the burner unfolded like a good old fashioned inquisition. Despite the positivity of such an approach it has justifiably been met by counter critiquing forits philistine nature, lack of foresight and complete and utter absence of compassion towards the citizens of the Garden City. These devices will soon be refined or phased out.A fair call. Still, beyond this logic, it is critical that our council remind and refresh themselves of the plight which its residents are enduring post 2011. It is a noble venture, without doubt yet some leniency should be afforded to people whose already poorly structured habitats have been reduced to a state of borderline rubble. Parts of Christchurch, reduced to clusters of suburban shanty towns, are in far from a fitting condition to handle the bitingly nippy Canterbury chills and thrills of winter. As a complete picture, while desiring to obliterate the nasty negative images associated with the Chch Smog Day it is only a topic of concern which drives debate for about 50 days of the year. Of course bringing this tally down to 40 , 30 20,10 or less days would be magnificent. But, winter has no intention in pegging back it’s lengthy stay. After all, are the council oblivious to the dust being kicked up daily due to reconstructing Paradise Lost or must we all sit still? Undoubtedly, educating the masses is vital for change. Of the need to burn hard wood, closing curtains or opening them to capture the light or to trap heat, closing doors, not burning soft wood or wet woods which burn badly and contribute to the release of very hazardous toxins like creosote. As an effective phase out strategy is initiated, state subsidising for clean burning heat is our parliaments approach for a cleaner. Canterbury. Incentives for solar panels, under floor poly fibre insulation and wall foam cladding will surely become enacted in to our buildings standards laws which lag behind our OECD partners. I do i do i doo support all this with a feverishly fervent passion. However,i equally feel that a period of compassion should be extended to us while we rebound from the disaster. Lets heat the car now. I am certain that the same efficiency has not been applied to dealing with the year wide problem of the automobile. Cars are indeed an affliction which on the daily toxify our quaint village. And in winter, the car is out in force.Yes, we may be a pebble in the pond with our meagre 400,000 strong tribe when compared with big fish like Santiago but never underestimate the bond between a Kiwi and their car. Or should i pluralise that seeing that the average New Zealander above licence age owns an average of almost 2 plus vehicles and the typical Kiwilander family at least 3. Driveways choked with cars that the sight of it in itself is sickening. It is my view that this issue here is the overriding one that needs to be rectified in order to ameliorate our health on countless fronts. At preset, too many old non compliant cars overstay their generous welcome here in NZ. Furthermore, our traffic management is thirds rate for a first world state. Poorly designed traffic lights work on a timing mechanism that means that the dirty Berties of transport trucks buses and light commercial vehicles have to constantly chop gears and smoke away while doing so. With There numbers incessantly growing every year along with our insatiable appetite for 24 hour 365 days of non stop cartage and services this is worrying news. And since the naissance of the cheap Rice Burner Jap clap revolution other high gas emitting thugs are joining their ranks like sport car wielding Boy Racers (and old men) and the dreaded four wheel fever of town conquering Jeeps and Burrough buggies. Like a flock of well conditioned docile sheep we baa our way across the Plains of Canterbury accepting the my way or the umm… Its the highway. Our species a kind of LA Antipodean autophile who shudders at the very thought of not having the right to spill oil or heaven forbid use public transport. Yet, on our OEs and rite of passage voyages abroad that is what we romantically hunger for, plazas where only feet rule, those fit Danes on their bikes and those marvellous metros like glorious veins binding the jewels of Europa. This car crazy culture is in need of our health and environmental attention. Taxes on secondary private vehicles should be applied. Raising the licence age up andToughened licence tests could and should be applied along with augmented learner licencing fees. Restricted ownership laws could be implemented making youth acquisition of a vehicle financially possible after the age of 18,20 or whatever legislatively specified age. It exists for drinking and smoking, why not driving? From the council end, better public transport, more cycle lanes and safer roads and walkways for pedestrians need to be considered. Even seemingly crazy schemes such as skateboarding, roller blading and scooters should be encouraged as clean lean ways to happily and healthily get around. The rebuild of Christchurch offers the perfect chance to redesign our city plan encouraging residents to shop, live and work locally. Future architects and town planners are working hard to draw up these sustainable communities. Reinstallation of the tram gives people an additional way to appreciatively get around the reborn and hopefully reinvigorated new Christchurch that we are currently cooking up. Where the Cathedral Square once again is ruled by feet and where the streets around it reduce their speed limits in order to spur on more Footloose fanatics. A Plaza where the hornet nest of taxis is kept to a strict minimum and where just the right number of buses enter the town so that our roads need not be congested smoke bogs. Service vehicles could also be reduced by way of ordering them to pay for a permit to cross into the CBD. I do not know what the future for Christchurch will hold but in spite of the hardships which we have endured this is an exciting time to be a Canterburian with opportunities abounding for all of its folk plus our freshly adopted community. Wintertime is largely beyond our control and depending upon our position as the rebuild slowly unravels we must deal with it as best as we can. The elderly, poor, ill and Co should not be consigned to freeze on account of their inability to gratify Council standards. Nor should anyone else as our shaken city slowly finds its way back to its feet.