Belgrade joins world’s most polluted cities as farmers torch fields

22 Jan

Yeah, I had heard this but it doesn’t seem to jibe with the the reality. Old cruddy cars and domestic heating — open coal pits, yes — just don’t seem to explain such terrible air quality for such a relatively small city and one located in a extensive, extremely flat part of Europe and not in a mountain basin like Athens, Mexico City and Los Angeles where surrounding hills block, or used to block — conditions have improved greatly in all three cities over the past couple of decades — and trap the smog.

Istanbul had terrible air quality — and is an open, breezy city all around like San Francisco — from domestic charcoal use until the 1990s; whenever it was humid, and it’s a very humid city, everything was covered in a grey slime; the sidewalks were actually hard to walk on because the thin layer of guck actually made them extremely slippery. But that’s changed dramatically.

And I remember an Athens in the 1980s, where you could be in Papagou and not be able to see the Lycabettus from the smog. Measures were taken and the city’s gorgeous topographical location is now pretty much restored to its pristine beauty. You can see the ring of surrounding mountains every day — what the Greeks called “the violet crown of Athens” because of the lush purplish hue they take on as the sun sets — and still be stunned by their beauty, and see Aegina out in the Saronic, which had been invisible for years, and even the Peloponnese way in the distance behind it.

I don’t know what they did in each case, or I think in L.A. too, but it worked. So there must be solutions for the Belgrades and Beijings of the world as well.


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