Cough cough. Is that COVID-19 or are you just trying to breathe? It only takes looking up today to realize chances are that wintertime smog’s come to shroud Bangkok again.
The pollution this morning reached its worst levels since the beginning of the year, with measurement of particulates spiking to over 180 at monitoring sites as of 9am, raising Bangkok to be the world’s eighth-most polluted city by 10am.
Over the weekend, air quality measured a merely “unhealthy” 150 to 160 on IQ Air, despite the fact that many left the capital to enjoy the long weekend out of town.
One Twitterer showed their air quality detector registering smog in the Rama IX area at over 200.
— Tui.. (@2611829135) December 14, 2020
Reacting decisively to the apocalyptic skies, pollution control officials this morning announced wisely said people should “avoid going outdoors” and “see a doctor if feeling unwell.” The government air quality applications Bangkok Air Quality and Air4Thai give a much rosier view that stands in stark contrast to the soupy, grey air blanketing the city. Both show most parts of Bangkok as only “starting to be affected by air pollution.”
Officials have responded with the usual measures that fail to address the actual causes of the pollution. While unchecked seasonal agricultural burning are blamed for most of the choke, implemented measures include a large truck ban on Bangkok roads between 6am and 9pm now through Feb. 28. If the smog spikes to “unhealthy” level three days in a row – by official government measures, City Hall will consider closing schools, according to Gov. Aswin Kwanmuang.
No solid, proactive measures have been taken to reduce the worsening smog that has soared in Bangkok during the winter months since January 2018.
In recent years, volleys of soaring rhetoric and determined words haven’t translated into less smog. Instead, officials have resorted to superficial, face-saving steps such as staging photo ops of drones sprinkling sugar water.
The air quality has noticeably worsened since early 2018 when a grey and yellow mass obscured the capital, which quickly became one of the world’s most-polluted cities. Environmental organization Greenpeace has called out authorities to take more serious action than planting trees and installing air purifiers.
Subscribe to The Coconuts Podcast for top trending news and pop culture from Southeast Asia and Hong Kong every Friday!