By Heather Allen
Now that 2012 is over and we are all looking forward to 2013 is it
time to compile a wish list? Number one on my wish list would be the end of
the annual smog. Chiang Mai is really a great place to live; the traffic has
been pretty bad lately, it is true, but it is tourist high season so it is
to be expected. Having lived in a tourist town in my own country, it is part
of the price residents learn to pay for living in a great place.
However, the annual haze is not something we should have to live with and is
too high of a price to pay. Frankly, it is avoidable. It is not just due to
belching, smoking pick-up trucks or tuk tuks. It is not just because some
people burn their rubbish in town. The haze is caused by people who don’t
even live here and who don’t seem to care that their actions are harming the
health of several hundred thousand people.
Well, it’s time the government took some serious action. Since everything
seems to emanate from Bangkok this is a simple request that Bangkok use the
funds to deal with this very serious issue that is causing long term damage
to people here. There are several ways to tackle this issue and they are not
exclusive, rather they should be inclusive. First off a long term education
campaign is required. Thailand has proven itself very capable in this aspect
when it put its mind to it. Many countries send people here to study the
once very effective HIV/AIDs campaign.
Secondly, put out the fires! Seems simple enough to me but perhaps it is so
obvious that it is forgotten about. There are teams of firefighters in this
country, the Army and Air Force have the trained personnel to go out and put
out forest fires. So do it! Start now before it gets worse!
And finally, rice farmers burn their fields because it is not cost effective
to till in the rice stubble. Gas is too expensive, the machines are costly.
Instead of wasting money on short term toys and price supports purchase the
equipment necessary, distribute it in a co-op manner like the songthaews.
Teach the farmers how to use and maintain the equipment. It would be costly
certainly but money better spent on the long term since the long term
effects of the annual haze is contributing to cancer, asthma, emphysema and
other costly health issues for many, many people.
It seems to me that if there is willpower and money enough to buy tablets
for kids who may never even need them; it should certainly be there to save
people’s lives and health.
The Chiang Mai Mail is publishing a series of
articles on residents’ experiences of life in Chiang Mai. If you
would like to contribute please email [email protected]