2017/01/29

[Santiasco] Making plans to "evacuate"?

It has been a terrible month regarding the air quality in Santiago, but the predictions from http://aqicn.org/ for next week are even worse:


I feel constantly tired and headachy, a bit less so in the room with the ear cleaning machine (a ionizer), various (three!) water fountains to humidify the air of the appartment, and recently purchased air cleaning plants, but it's not really idead to work and focus on doing research, which should be my main activity during the Chilean summer without teaching.


Some people lost their house to the fires, and among those who did not, there are still some in a worse position than mine: the air in the places closer to the forest fires is labelled as "Very Unhealty" by http://aqicn.org/.


If the predictions from http://aqicn.org/ concretized, I am planning to go to visit some friends on the coast. Viña del Mar is very tempting!


Evacuating is getting even more complicated because I had volunteered to receive in my appartment some people who lost their house to the fire... I will see. Maybe I can evacuate them with me :)

2017/01/19

[Santiasco] Urban Promotors getting crazy with fires?


Santiago is, again, covered in smoke. According to AQICN, the air of the whole city of Santiago is "Unhealthy", and even some neighboring cities like Rancagua which usually escape the smog from regular polution are severely affected.

The local and international news are terse, talking about 12 fires in various regions, and incoming winds which make the fires harder to stop. Nobody mentions that the firefighers are all volunteers (no profesional), and in insuficient numbers (it appears they fought against the profesionalisation of the profession) with insuficient equipment (their equipment is either donated from foreign brigades or bought with donation money).

A coleague mentioned that the recent increase in the frequency of such fire is not as much due to more frequent drought but much more due to the increase in criminally started fires, by people paid by promoters who wish to build housing in this era of increased immigration in Chile. I could not find a reference to it in the news, but it does seem in the spirit of unbriddled liberalism which runs here... :(

2017/01/05

[Santiasco] Chilean's air norms are the most laxist of Latin America

I discovered recently an article from 2015 comparing the norms of air quality in Latin America. It provides some interesting perspective about the air quality in Latin America:

every single country is have a different scale, with different conventions for the colors, concentration breakpoints and nomenclature.

It complemented my understanding of the particular situation of Santiago (i.e. it's not that Santiago produces more pollution than other cities, but that it cannot afford to produce pollution at the same level as other cities in the world):

For instance, for Santiago de Chile, it is both the topography formed by the Andes in the East preventing the pollution from dispersing latteraly, and the constant stream of air from the Hadley cell circulation which prevents the pollution from escaping upwards (creating an inverstion [sic] layer).

And it confirmed what I already observed, that the Chilean air quality standards are much more relaxed than the ones from the US.



But it is the following array which made this information more concrete for me:


The third and fourth row (range 100 to 200), labeled as "Regular" ("Usual") in Chile, receive labels such as "Unhealthy", "Muy Malo" ("Very Bad"), "Precaucion" ("Precaution"), "Inadecuado" ("Inadequate"), "Muito Ruim" ("Very Bad"). At this level of polution in Chile, NO MEASURES are taken to reduce polution (such measures start at the next level, "Alerta").

The reactions from Chileans with whom I shared the information follow two templates: people from low social levels are resigned and feel they can't do anything about the situation, while people from high social levels like to believe that they live in a place where the air quality is better (close to the sea, or high in the mountain) and advise me to do the same. Neither group believe in changing the situation :(

It's not only in Santiago that the air quality  is getting worse:  all over the world, cities are setting up norms to deal with air pollution and keep it at "reasonable" levels. The Chilean approach seems to be more about improving the "appearances" by changing the alert thresholds than about truly dealing with the problem. I wonder which effects such a policy will have on the life expectancy of the inhabitants of Santiago (and on mine)...


2017/01/04

[HairCut] New year, new haircut!

For the last two years I did not go to the barber shop. My hair was long:

My hair was very long:

I was told I was starting to look like viking warrior:

So I sat down in front of the sea

and we cut my hair into 6 pony tails

My head does feel ligther!

I kept three breads, so that I would not feel too "normal" yet!

Thanks Ieva!


(The hair will be donated to an association which makes wigs for people who lost theirs due to chemotherapy. Consider donating as well!)