(caution: this post contains swearwords. Why? Because that´s how strongly I feel about this issue.)
Recently someone criticized me for being too negative about the air quality in Belgium.
Their argument was that, the bad air quality is not only the fault of those living in this country and if you concentrate on the negative, people feel discouraged and don´t want to do anything. Instead, you should lead with the positive….
That can all be true.
The positive is that a lot of improvement has happened. Even these images below show that a lot has improved between 2005-2016 and that governments can do a lot to protect their people.
But, the way I see it, is not being being negative about air quality but it´s me being negative about air pollution in Belgium.
Because the fact is that that cloud of shit, that black, cancer-like blob of air pollution that sits on top of Belgium, is STILL there! And this is the reality and will be so, during my life time. Unless something MAJOR happens. What´s worse is that this cloud of filth will also risk the health of my kids. They, however, might see a big improvement towards their old age. If something MAJOR happens. Luckily they still have time.
I think that shocking facts can help to wake people up. Depends on the personality and whether or not they feel like they can do something about it. At least, this worked for me back in the day. For an entrance exam, I had to read the State of the World report to be accepted at TPU. What I read blew my mind. Holy crap! But instead of feeling discouraged, I felt fired up because I was getting a degree in how to be the change that will help to NOT wreck the planet.
So the depressing facts can work if accompanied with information about things you can do. And there´s all kinds of information out there on how an individual can do their part in fighting the environmental disasters – any one of them really, there´s plenty to choose from.
But I think we can all agree that the days of hiding our heads in the bush and make-believing it´s all okay, are gone.
The air is dangerously shitty in Belgium, and although it is not Beijing, like many Belgians comment to me when I mention it (and it drives me nuts, godverdomme) – it´s still disgusting air we breathe in. Just this morning when I stepped outside our door, I could TASTE the exhaust fumes in my mouth, just standing on our yard!
We urgently need to do something about it, individually and as a movement. Why are all those filthy trucks passing by here? Why are there so many multinational factories polluting the air we breathe? Why does everyone need their own car or company car to drive in as the only passenger day in, day out?
My son carpools to school somewhat further, so instead of needing three cars for three families´ children, we only need one per day. We accompany our daughter to the nearby school and back by bike because it is faster than sitting in the car. So, we try to do our part.
But on a morning like this, I think to myself: are all of us parents who bike our kids through that cloud of shit and in our idealism harm their health in the process, just insane? Why should we make the sacrifice if others won´t? What makes our kids any less worthy of protecting their health? What keeps us from hopping in the car and pretending it´s all okay while we we just contribute to the problem?