Monday, 9 January 2017

Uneasy sunny day: Smog returns with a vengeance

View from my office on 14 November. Note the 300m-high chimney of the Kawęczyn heat plant, just over nine kilometres from my office between the twin spires of the Holy Cross church.

View on 16 December, during Warsaw's first major smog alert, when air quality was so bad the authorities offered free public transport to encourage SDOPCCs* to leave cars at home.

View today. No clouds. The chimney stack has vanished in the haze of PM10 particles, generated by the burning of household waste and poor quality coal to heat homes during the freeze.

UPDATE: WEDNESDAY 11 JANUARY 2017 - worse than 16 December but better than Monday. Kawęczyn chimney visible - just.

For the first time in Warsaw, I'm seeing people (other than cyclists mixing it with diesel-powered traffic) wearing masks. Below: Metro Wilanowska.

The same mix of factors as last month: high air pressure (1010 hPa), still air (wind speed less than 3 km/h) and cold (temperatures averaging -8C for the past five days).

It's bad - you can smell it in the air, you can smell it in your clothes when you get home. Yesterday, a charity marathon in Kielce to raise money for a sick child was cancelled because it was considered too risky to let runners exert themselves physically in such polluted conditions.

Solutions? Warsaw's 'nudge' approach to getting people out of their cars is not working. ul. Puławska was as congested today as it ever is. Time to bring in the odd/even number plate system in, as in Paris, sending out more patrols to catch householders burning crap rather than high-grade coal. And move away from coal power - whatever the miners may threaten.

The PiS government remains silent on the matter.

Below: bonus picture - ready-salted bus. The driver of this 209 has made it easier for passengers to find the door-opening buttons and enhanced 'Spot-Your-Bus-Stop' visibility. This is what Warsaw's highly salted roads do to vehicles that use them at this time of year.

*Short Distance One-Per-Car Commuters

This time last year:
Public media? State media? Party media?
[another year of not watching a single second of TVP1]

This time last year:
Beer, consumer choice and the Meaning of Life

This time three years ago:
What's Cameron got against us Poles?

The time five years ago:
Anyone still remember the Przybyl case?

This time six years ago:
Wetlands midwinter meltdown

This time seven years ago:
Jeziorki rail scenes, winter

This time eight years ago:
Winter drivetime, Jeziorki

This time nine years ago:
Kraków, a bit of winter sunshine


Anonymous said...

'The PiS government remains silent on the matter'
It's not fair, Michael: what did the PO government do on this matter???


Michael Dembinski said...

@ Anonymous:

1) The TVP Parlament piece was posted shortly before I posted my blog post, so missed it.

2) While not remaining silent, getting the Economics Committee to discuss the smog problem at its meeting in eight days' time is hardly taking action.

3) PO were not without blame (I was critical of the Law on Municipal and Household Waste, for example), but PiS deserves both barrels for effectively putting a halt to the expansion of wind energy in Poland by placing massive limits on the location of windfarms. In particular, the slavish devotion to coal is something I cannot countenance.

Anonymous said...

Cars are reported to be responsible for 7% of emissions that cause smog.
Burning rubbish and lowest grade coal: 90%.
Regulations related to coal quality available for household use are expected by the end of the year. It is very sad the regulation of coal quality is taking so long ("wina Tuska" ;-)

AndrzejK said...

I am surprised that no one in the opposition parties has noted that Minister Szyszko's policy of plundering forests in order to provide supposed bio fuel which in turn will allow power stations to burn more coal rather than gas will only add to the smog problem in later years.

So whilst PO did not do much/ anything to ease polution PiS is doing its best to make the problem far worse.

And whilst on the subject of PiS Waszczykowski's talks with people from San Escobar remind me of Skrzypek telling the appointment commission before he was appointed as head on the Central Bank that he had recently talked with a long dead head of the World Bank. Actually the bigger connotation is with the Grauniad's April Fools Day spoof about the island of San Serife (the type face then used by the Guardian) and the number of people who sent cheques to Thomas Cook who had placed an equally spoof ad!