Tuesday, June 26, 2007

winter sunset

I live in a valley. It's a beautiful valley, but in winter it has some of the worst pollution in Australia. In fact we frequently break through the 'healthy air' barrier into 'excessive pollution' zones when the dip in the land fills with wood heater smoke that chuffs out of multiple chimneys on chilly, windless days.

The government tried to get rid of the problem by offering a $500 rebate to everyone who removed their wood heater and replaced it with an alternative source of heating. But this is Tasmania, a land of tradition, a land built on saw milling and wood - winter just isn't winter without it's wood heater. The council then introduced smoke police who issue warnings and fines to those silly enough to let their chimney smoke. Television advertisements have taught us how to manage fire places to avoid excessive smoke. But who watches their fire that closely all day and night?

So when it's very cold like it has been the last week or so, the valley fills with smoke like a blanket folded and stuffed into a small space and anyone with asthma or chronic lung disease feels miserable as their chest tightens up and each breath becomes a struggle. The rest of us curl our nostrils at the acridic smell and wonder why anyone would consider plonking a pulp mill in the middle of that smoke.

So it sucks living here in winter. When I visited Kazakhstan for 10 weeks I remember being appalled by the smog. It was so thick you could have cut through it with a knife. I don't have asthma, but even I was struggling to breathe at times. This morning I looked out the hospital window and realised it was just like Kazakhstan - I could have cut through that smoke with a knife.

Winge, winge, moan, moan. There are some good things about this smoke.

In dull light it looks like beautiful mist adding a mystical feel to the atmosphere. And then there are the sunsets!

Tonight the whole sky was pink and orange on blue. The mountains stood firm while the sky lights danced around them. Deep, deep blue with an overlay of fluffy pinks and peach stretching out in stripes across the canopy.

Delightful. Delicious. Soul food. Sigh. (But could we have a strong wind to blow the smoke away for a while please)

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At 11:42 pm, June 27, 2007, Blogger Sandy's Notes said...

I'm one with asthma Cecily, polution is a killer for me. Even though I'm healthy and my lungs are strong, when polution comes around I suffer. It's kind of a silent attacker, creeping up on me and then next thing I know I have take inhalers.

I used to play a game called "The Sims" it's a video game where you build towns, cities etc. They had power in later years called fusion power. It was non-pollutent and had enough strength to give millions power on one plant. I wish someone would invent something like that to help our world.

I'm sorry you have to live in the pollution, especially since you live in such a beautiful place. But until something else is done, what choices do you have?

I read about the mayor visiting other mills. I think that's great. Maybe now is the best time to be fighting it. People can visually see the polution now and adding to it will make it all that much more devestating.

At 1:11 am, June 28, 2007, Blogger Deanna said...

I'm glad you caught a glimpse of beauty in the smokiness. We check a wood burn advisory number in the winter, and when it's yellow burning is only allowed for those who don't have a backup heat source, so we grudgingly run the furnace. I know it's important for people to get to breathe!

And adding a pulp mill there does just sound ludicrous.

At 3:46 pm, June 28, 2007, Blogger Lucidiocy said...

I live in the Willamette Valley in beautiful, kelly green Oregon and yet we too deal with polution. Albany, the town next to us, STINKS with a capital STENCH!

I imagine most of Australia as pristine and untouched, especially Tasmania, but any place humans occupy is subject to abuse and polution. By definition humans simply are subject to shirking responsibility:

taking special care of their world/environment is just one aspect of that.

We need people like you to remind us.

Good job Cec.

At 4:07 pm, June 28, 2007, Blogger Robyn said...

Bring on a strong wind, that sounds suffocating. Remind me not to visit you in Winter.


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