Did you get anything nice for Christmas ?
It's that time of year when the last stragglers reluctantly return to the office, and we all have those same conversations "Where did you go for your holidays" and "What did Santa bring you?".
Here at Spokes(wo)man we're no different, so we thought a roundup of Christmas presents from around the world might be in order.
Paris, experiencing a dreadful few weeks of deadly pollution, gifted itself a total car ban.
Be still my heart...
Shrouded by clouds of ultra-fine exhaust and brake particulates which could be seen by the naked eye as it settled on pedestrians arms and clothing, Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo declared the ban within a day of readings reaching unacceptable levels. It is the fourth time in 20 years a full ban has been enacted, and the first time the ban has extended beyond a single day. As it is, pollution is the third largest killer of the French, an estimated 48,000 premature deaths per year.
For several days in December there was a total car ban in the city of Paris, off-set by free public transport. Later the complete ban tapered off to an alternate day ban on even/odd numbered licence plates, with Mayor Hidalgo seeking a permanent ban on diesel vehicles registered earlier than 2000 - roughly 6% of the countries vehicles.
She's hoping to then extend the ban to vehicles registered between 2001 & 2005 - another 14% of registered vehicles.
This is decisive action.
How about across the channel ? During the same period London experienced similar weather patterns and its highest ever pollution readings in history, worse than Beijing - what did London's Mayor Sadiq Khan do ?
He banned people.
Children were not to play in outdoor playgrounds, the elderly, those with respiratory diseases, anyone who likes to exercise outdoors, commuting cyclists - all asked to stay home. With the direct contrast of decisive action across the channel, it's a mind blowing contrast in dealing with a problem at the source, versus punishing the victims.
Any cars banned ? Not a one. Whatever you do, DON'T INCONVENIENCE MOTORISTS.
I don't know that Mayor Khan has the executive powers that Mayor Hidalgo has, but he's had to politely ask car drivers to reduce unnecessary journeys. Here's a tip Sadiq; if they're not already willingly doing that, they're not going to change if you ask nicely. He's had to remind drivers to switch off their engines if idling or waiting in queues. This is a London taxi rank, showing its own Mark of Cain, i.e. the line where idling engines waiting for fares pump exhaust and brake particulates onto the ground. That's an engine at rest too. Fancy breathing that in ?
Madrid also gifted itself some fresh air - pollution levels at dangerous levels, Madrid banned cars for 10 consecutive days. No problem identifying the culprits in Madrid.
WAKE UP SHEEPLE !!!! [As a blogger, I have been dying to type that in all caps. And it feels so, yeah it feels so good]
Seriously though, cars and vans and trucks are pumping this shit out all over us, and we're breathing it in and smiling and still thinking these things are awesome and need to be prioritised.
Cognitive dissonance at its finest.