(CleanAir) Wishes for 2022

I wish I hadn’t seen “Don’t look up”. I can’t stop seeing in my head over and over the scenes with Dr. Mindy (Leonardo di Caprio) and Kate Dibiasky (Jennifer Lawrence) freaking out in front of the camera because of the total indifference of the journalists (and politicians and entire human population) at the facts that they are showing them. They explain them how the world is really going to end in a few weeks, and the journalists simply keep on smiling and being jolly good as if they were talking about cooking the perfect Xmas cake.

New Year’s fireworks over the Acropolis last night

Since I first started looking at the facts behind Air Pollution and the Climate Crisis a few years back, I really can’t see New Year’s Celebrations as I did before anymore. I can’t feel jolly good while looking at all that pollution being shot in the air, and the thousands of people out there screaming in joy and hugging each other in the complete ignorance of the poisonous particles they are breathing while entering a new year that is going to keep on poisoning them again and again, day after day, in the end killing 8-9 millions of us, year after year.

When will people be mature enough to finally decide to open their eyes to the truth?

The numbers in the map show the concentrations of Particulate Matter PM2,5. The World Health Organizations states that the safety limit is below 5 μg/m3. Athens and most cities in Greece go over 100 μg/m3 every night in winter because of wood burnt in fireplaces and wood stoves. Last night they were just short of 400 μg/m3. And the whole of Europe had very high Air Pollution levels too.

People must breathe PM2,5 concentrations higher than 300 μg/m3 in order to enjoy New Year’s fireworks – see here how much smoke floated over the city last night.

All this poisonous air makes us sick and die more than 2 years earlier in average than we would if we had the chance to breathe clean air. Wood smoke accounts for 43% of the annual carcinogenic potential of Athens’ Air, meaning that wood smoke is the reason why 43% of the Athenians that are diagnosed with cancer have to say “thank you” to their own or neighbors’s fireplaces and wood stoves for that. COVID-19 kills more people in polluted locations than in places with clean air because their organisms are already weaker due to years of exposure to Air Pollution. Even if they didn’t show any sign of serious underlying illness before the COVID attack, the chronic inflammation in their bodies just opens up the way to a stronger attack by the Coronavirus.

These are facts. This is the asteroid falling on our planet, which we don’t want to look up to. But it is really falling and we all already pay dearly for that. We can stop it, but we choose to ignore it instead.

PS 1. Have a good look at the Purple Air map of Europe below. See the three green dots in the Aegean? Tinos, Syros and Skyros. While the rest of Greece and Europe were engulfed in the wood and fireworks smoke last night, those three islands enjoyed a perfectly clean air. I wrote it already and will remind it again and again: if we suddenly chose to stop burning wood and fossil fuels (diesel, gasoline, etc.), we would enjoy the same clean air also in the Greek mainland, overnight! Wouldn’t this be so great?

PS 2. On the European map we can also see that another cleaner air spot in Europe last night was Paris. While all major capitals had really high levels of air pollution because of the fireworks, Paris didn’t. It’s not by chance. Paris is being the European champion of Air Pollution mitigation. It’s being turned upside down in order to make the city people – and not car – friendly and clean up its Air. Car traffic is going to be a memory of the past. Where there were car parkings on the side of the road, now there are km of trees being planted and cycle paths created. 140.000 car parkings are being deleted, and the Mayor is even asking the inhabitants what they want to do with that new, free public space! Wow. That’s the city we all need to look at and start to copy. If Paris can do it, every other European city can too. It’s just a matter of political will. Yes, Bakogiannis (present Mayor of Athens), you can do it too if you really want instead of throwing away public money for self-indulging, kitch, useless New Year’s shows…

So, my wish for 2022 is that this year people, including some of those who don’t want to look up, will be more aware of what we are doing to the environment and to the Air we breathe, which we must maintain healthy and balanced in order to live our very own healthy, good and balanced lives.

Published by cleanairingreece

CleanAir in Greece is an independent site meant to inform the public about the day to day Air Quality in Greece, with advice on how to protect ourselves from the dangers of Air Pollution

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