Thursday, March 13, 2014

Parisian Pollution

For over a week now, Paris has been enjoying unseasonably warm weather conditions. Compared to New York's freezing temperatures and continual snowfall, I am basically living in a utopian paradise... Or so it would seem... Though I walk down the street amidst radiant sunshine, frolic on the border of summer-dress-wearing nirvana, and peer into the cerulean skies through my happily worn sunglasses, the reality is much more grim... Or grime... As in grimy, sooty, hovering clouds of polluted air... The warm weather combined with windless days and temperate nights have created a prison of poison threatening dangerous conditions and providing this panoramic view of traditionally idyllic Paris...

On top of chronic allergies and sinuses, I have not been the happiest of campers, enjoying the springtime temperatures whilst also enduring a stuffed up nose, continual headache, and endless fatigue. Don't get me wrong, I loathe cold in a bitter hateful sort of way, so I will take the warm weather when I can get it. But it does beg the eternal question concerning global warming. Rumor has it that if this polluted plague persists, authorities will make public transportation free until the crisis is over. Paris has already been ahead of the times, using VĂ©lib and Autolib for years, bicycles and electric cars ready and waiting to be rented and shuttled about town when in need. I have always commended them for supporting those options, though I'm sure as a major metropolis, it still only makes a dent in the larger problem. And I'm not sure that this is a problem for one nation to solve, whatever steps they take. 

I have been afraid of the apocalypse since as early as 7 years old, when I remember very clearly sitting in my third grade classroom and fearing nuclear disaster. It took a few years for that particular phobia to morph into one involving global warming instead, but certainly no less visceral. With people in China wearing masks every day because the pollution is so thick it's like a swarm of insects you have to swat out of your vision, one has to wonder... I'm not sure we can continue to pretend that the environment and climate and global warming are not at least in part a byproduct of human behaviour. And in general, I prefer the Eiffel Tower to have a blue backdrop, not a brown one.

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