The day for the climate change protest… or parade* as the Thai prefer to call it… to address the air pollution problem in Chiang Mai came close to being a non-event for me. After having some doubts about braving the heat and smog to get to the starting point, I decided I must do the right thing and make the effort to appear at least to show my support. Grabbing my hand made poster, sunhat, facemask, water and other sundries needed for protection and hydration, I started out.
It’s not easy for us to make the changes we know we should make in our lives no matter how much we would like to. As human beings this has been our greatest challenge and still is today as we face what appears to be a never ending litany of problems around the world. Most of us agree that our number one challenge is how to deal with our changing climate and yet we seem to be unwilling to make the necessary changes to deal with it.
Last year I wrote a post entitled Waking Up to the Effects of Climate Change resulting from my visit to Chiang Mai in April when the city’s pollution index soared high enough to beat out New Delhi in India. Granted it can be exciting to gain world recognition for being the best at something, but in this case to break the record for being the most polluted place in the world has done this city no favours. It’s now February 2020, and I have seen no improvement. In fact, the pollution has gotten worse.
Upon arriving in Chiang Mai for my twelfth time, I have been noticing obvious and more subtle changes in the city that will have me seriously considering why I should continue to return and look at it as a possible second home.
The most obvious problem for me has been the air quality issue. I arrived on the fifth of January which is normally a good time to be here before the effect of the burning which occurs every year in the North wafts its way down to Thailand’s second largest and most popular city. This year smoke haze was already here to greet me with a pollution index climbing up to 170 PM2.5. This is considered too high and unhealthy for sensitive groups or people with respiratory problems such as the elderly or very young children. If it goes up to over 200, then we are in the very unhealthy range for everyone. Purple is over 300 so you can imagine what that must mean! Last year Chiang Mai managed to reach that level some days in late March and April when the effects of the burning and drought were at their worst. This year it’s all up for grabs. No one knows what it will be like this April. The odd thing about all of this is that not every day is so bad. Recently, the index registered a healthy 71 because of the the way the wind was blowing. We could see the mountains all around us, and I felt my energy returning. The next day it was back up to 170! The government says it’s going to clamp down heavily on the farmers who insist on burning so as to get in two crops for the season, but the big question is whether or not they will enforce that law? It’s always easier to say rather than do with promises the Thai have all heard before.
Climate change is finally working its way up to the top of our list of concerns these days. How can we ignore it when our newspapers and other social media are bringing it to our attention every day? In fact, it’s no longer about climate change but about a climate crisis.
Young people around the world are worried that there may not be a future for them and if there is , it won’t be anything like what we have now. Fear for their future is luring them to protest and camp out in the streets of large cities around the world in order to gain the attention of their governments to do something about it. If you dare to listen or read about what’s in store for us, it can be scary even for us older folk who will most probably escape it. We can’t help feeling frightened for our children and grandchildren who will have to deal with the brunt of it. Continue reading
My final two weeks in Chaing Mai this April were horrible…one of the worst experiences of my life. This may come as a shock to you from a returning visitor for the past ten years who has never hesitated to put this beautiful historic city at the top of her list as the most desirable city in SE Asia to visit and possibly live year round. I can only blame this change of mind on climate change. This year Chiang Mai broke all their previous records for high pollution indices and even gained the dubious title of being the most polluted city in the world beating New Delhi and Shanghai, the usual winners. The PM2.5 ( fixed particulate matter) was hovering between 140 to 200+ the whole time I was there. I can’t imagine what effect that had on my all ready compromised lungs where some bronchitis had set in while in Bali.
Bangkok gets smoggy, too