Opinion: Despair due to Sofia’s air

Written by on February 1, 2018 in Perspectives - Comments Off on Opinion: Despair due to Sofia’s air

People have problems all the time. Bills need to be paid or appointments are clashing with the huge piles of work on people’s desks. Sure, these are issues, but resolvable ones.

It is different with the air around us. When it is actually too polluted to breathe, as is the case in the Bulgarian capital of Sofia today, yet again, despair is a normal reaction.

Everyone can influence the quality a little, by refraining from driving, by not using solid fuels for heating, by talking to neighbours about taking the right steps, or by writing articles in online publications which might sensitise a few readers.

But the problem persists. And it is a pretty existential one. When we can’t breathe, we suffocate. And when we keep on breathing toxic air, we get sick. The latter might not happen today or tomorrow, but it might happen in a year from now, or in ten years.

Downplaying the dangers this kind of air poses to the 1.3 million people in Sofia will not help anyone. What we breathe on many days during the Sofia winter can lead to terrible illnesses. Whether we admit it or not, this is a matter of life and death.

Decades ago, we owed it to our children to keep the air clean. We failed. But our responsibility has not expired. The individual can protect his or her children by getting them out of this city as soon as possible. Yes, it is time for radical steps.

Mayor Yordanka Fandakova and her colleagues at Sofia Municipality may not be responsible for the non-existent traffic and environmental protection policies of the past several decades before they took over. But they need to be a lot bolder. For them too, this is the time for radical steps.

A “Green Ticket” for public transport alone will not change a thing. This city needs driving bans. Residents who can not afford to heat their homes with electric devices need to be supported by the state. Waiting for the next windy day, which will temporarily blow away this existential problem, is not good enough.

Is this the future? Will our children be afraid to open the windows in 20 years from now, like some of us are right now? This will be the case if the required radical steps are not being taken today.

A city with this kind of breathing air is uninhabitable. This needs to change. Now.

By Imanuel Marcus

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