It rained last night and the temperature has dropped to wintery levels. As I was checking Facebook this morning before coming to work, I saw that a young intern who had been with us a few years ago had just posted, “So happy it rained, no pollution this year!”
There are a lot of misconceptions about the ever-alarming annual pollution likely to be heading our way in the coming weeks.
You watch the news and see talking heads waxing ignorance about how the pollution is coming over from Myanmar, blaming Shan State for most of our smog. You read blogs where people recall similar brown skies in days of yore, insisting that nothing much has changed, that it’s all quite normal. You follow angry expats on forums, outraged about how Thais don’t care about the pollution and that nothing is being done by authorities to combat the noxious haze. You talk to your friends who say that the miasma we take in with every breath doesn’t really harm them, what’s a watery eye or blocked nose now and then? You find yourself in conversations with people who are so angry at farmers in the highlands they think they should all be rounded up and jailed. You hear conversations where people discuss safety levels, and how we aren’t that far over it…surely. You sneer at conglomerates culpable for much of the burning while buying their products at Makro. You see girls on bikes wearing thin Hello Kitty masks, seemingly more as a fashion statement than any real shield against pesky particulates.