Monday, April 21, 2008

Smoke Filled Aire in Buenos Aires--eeeek!

Sorry I've been lax for posting last week. I had full intentions of writing several things, however with the advent of smoke all over the city I had little energy or desire to do anything other than sleep.

Buenos Aires has been filled with smoke since last Wednesday. I first noticed this foul smelling smoke's arrival after my class at USAL on Wednesday evening. I left USAL and boarded the bus in the midst of the smoky fog. Believe it or not, the colectivo (bus) actually slowed down due to visibility--this is a first for Buenos Aires because the buses never slow down.

This was a complete accident. We are now entering winter in Buenos Aires and the farmers have harvested most of the season cereal crops. Many farmers will burn their land to return ash to the land at the end of the growing season. They also burn the fields to prepare new crop land for plantings for the next year. This year many farmers are turning pasture land into land to plant soybeans and corn since it is economically lucrative.

Usually this isn't a huge problem. The farms start at the perimeter of the Provincia de Buenos Aires outside of the city and move toward the center of the country. The wind generally flows from Buenos Aires Northwest and the smoke generally misses Buenos Aires completely. This year the wind decided to play cruel games on all of us by changing direction to South East, therefore sending all of the smoke directly to Buenos Aires!

I should mention that it could have been a lot worse. I am putting a figure that was in the Clarín (Argentine newspaper/diario) on Friday. You can see that along the left panel there are 3 pictures showing the spread of smoke from 12PM to 4PM. On the larger picture here is a diagram of all of the smoke in the region and Buenos Aires is marked as "Capital Federal". If I was in Tigre or San Pedro the smoke would have been much worse.


None of the Argentines were happy, as you might predict. Anyone with respiratory problems--asthma, allergies, and the like--were suffering. I am included in the allergy group. It felt like being in a Pennsylvania Bar all night with that high concentration of smoke--my eyes itched, it was hard to breathe, and the worst was being tired.

The president, Cristina Kirschner, released a statement. She seems out of touch to me when she mentioned that the smoke ruins clothing--who cares about clothing! What about all of the people with medical conditions?!?! The Argentines gave her no slack on that comment, often just cursing when the comment was mentioned.

I read many articles in the newspapers about the smoke problem, and I was left wondering in the all of the articles the horrible ramifications for Global Warming. It seems like few people care about global warming or conservation here in Argentina, sadly. I tried to talk to María about its impact on global warming and she didn't understand why this was bad for the environment. I think South America really needs some public education on this issue.

These pictures were taken on Plaza de Mayo in the Microcenter on Sunday. The smoke had almost receded at this point--on Thursday you wouldn't have been able to see most of the building. I should have taken pictures then, but I had no energy or motivation to do so since I was quite sick.

Hopefully I'll be posting more this week! However, I have a busy week since I lose time Thursday-Saturday while allergic. Un beso!
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1 comment:

Marisa said...

Thanks for posting on this. It´s really interesting to get a perspective on what´s happening in Buenos Aires from someone who lives there when I can only watch it on the news.