Monday, March 30, 2015

Paris in the Smog

     Paris is currently the most polluted city on the planet in terms of air pollution. The smog (PM10 particles created by vehicles and industry) had been especially bad in March, which prompted city officials to put new temporary vehicle restrictions in place. The new measures allow only energy efficient cars, vehicles with odd-number plates, or cars carrying three or more passengers to be allowed to drive in the city. Vehicles were also restricted from exceeding 20kph. People violating these rules were fined €22. To ease the burden these measures place on potential commuters in the city, public transportation and residential parking were made available free of charge. The ban lasted five days and this is the third time since 1997 that such restrictions have been put in place. The ban was estimated to have resulted in a 40% reduction in traffic and a noticeable reduction in air pollution according to city residents. No official numbers have been published at this time. Some citizens and politicians have suggested that officials should instead try to find more sustainable solutions to the pollution problem.
I have to agree that officials should be doing more to curb the pollution problem. The current approach of these temporary bans does not seem sustainable. The smog will only get worse as time goes on, and more frequent temporary bans does not seem feasible. Free public transportation would be very costly, and once the ban is over the pollution simply comes back. What should be done is the implementation of new emissions regulations and incentives for people to ride bikes, carpool, drive cleaner cars, or use public transportation daily. Temporary bans could be effective while new legislation is in the works and before the new regulations start working to their full potential. These bans should not be used as a crutch against pollution.
--David Lanier

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