From the Asian pollution cloud

The UNEP (UN Environment Program) have released a report on the ever-increasing pollution cloud in Asia (see here).  I remember holidaying in Asia during the severe Sumatran forest fires and experiencing horrendous air pollution problems in KL.  But this time, there is no single source.

I can report that Dili has no such pollution clouds.  During the dry season, the prevailing wind is from the north-east.  And there is no heavy industry to be seen for a bulls roar (ie a long distance).

However, on a per-capita basis, it really seems that Dili is not doing too well.  It seems that the vehicle traffic has tripled since I arrived in 2005 and while cycling, I have nearly keeled over a number of times from a face full of diesel fumes from vehicles sadly in need of maintenance or putting down.

And Dili is serviced electrically by diesel generators that have a bad habit of clapping out regularly.  As a result, every man and his dog seems to have a private generator to overcome these problems.  So at any time, there must be total generating capacity far exceeding total demand.  I will call this inefficient.

But if Dili has a problem its the stripping of all vegetation off the hills for either fuel for cooking or because of some old tradition of burning off the hills during the dry season.  And that confounded habit of sweeping the dirt around domestic dwellings (ie no grass) in the mornings … could cause more pollution than anything else.  But at this stage, its all small beer (ie not too much of an issue).

In any case fellow Asians, if you are getting too much of a lungful of the pollution cloud, why not come over to Dili and test out the pristine air.  And you only have to drive for 10 minutes to get out of the metropolis … eat in grass huts by the sea, cold beer, swimming, snorkelling ….  (Jakarta residents take note.)