Air pollution problems in Bangkok - and it's not very good in Pattaya either

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Re: Air pollution problems in Bangkok - and it's not very good in Pattaya either

Post by pong » Tue Jan 21, 2020 9:29 pm

AND remains quite bad here in BKK-since I arrived back last thursday. Eary mornings, just after dawn, mostly have a fresh breeze, refreshing but it soon starts to haze up and traffic is also horrible.

So today I had to go out and on the Vict. Monument-a giant traffic circle and terminus for at least 40/50 city bus lines, was a big show of the BMA and they were distributing tips and leaflets about healthy living, mouth masks etc. And of course pointing to the bad guys-the govmt who does nothing.
Somewhere else was even a tiny mob (=demonstration) against this new fact of life.

The always looking for a good selling case-the CP-all, owner of the 7s, has several stands where they did indeed sell-those mouthcaps etc. Slightly lower price for ´members´=if you have their app for counting your expense with them for points.

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Re: Air pollution problems in Bangkok - and it's not very good in Pattaya either

Post by Gaybutton » Tue Jan 21, 2020 10:13 pm

pong wrote:
Tue Jan 21, 2020 9:29 pm
the govmt who does nothing.
That's the part on my "I Don't Get It" list. Don't the government officials have to breathe the same air everybody else breathes? I would have thought they would at least enforce their own rules, especially putting a stop to the crop burning. Between that and the illegal exhaust fumes, it needs to be stopped and stopped now, even if they have to bring in the military to enforce it. They didn't mind using the military to put the absurd beach rules in place. How about using the military for something truly useful. The police simply do not have enough manpower to bring a halt to the pollution, but the military does. Since Thailand is not at war, why not?

I see articles every day saying despite the pollution, the illegal exhaust fume vehicles are still on the road and the farmers are ignoring the calls to halt crop burning.

To me, it's ridiculous to advise people to stay indoors, as if that's going to help anything. Where do they think the indoor air comes from? And the masks. I wonder how much those masks actually help. Maybe to some degree, but use of the masks and staying indoors probably is little more than the tip of the iceberg.

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Re: Air pollution problems in Bangkok - and it's not very good in Pattaya either

Post by Jun » Tue Jan 21, 2020 11:32 pm

Very good points. They also need taxes on diesel, road charging and a whole raft of other measures.

Given that some people will get ill and die prematurely, it would be kind of preferable if some senior members of the government were first to suffer. Then we might get some action.
Note, just to be clear, I am not wishing death and illness on anyone. However, as the pollution WILL cause such problems, it would be better if the decision makers were amongst the earliest sufferers.

I've also noticed that it's not easy to detect high PM 2.5 levels, so I started checking air quality data in order to decide if I wear the facemask, rather than subjectively.

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Re: Air pollution problems in Bangkok - and it's not very good in Pattaya either

Post by pong » Thu Jan 23, 2020 5:06 pm

Here in BKK also yesterday all BMA schools were closed-so all those kids were happily tumbling around all day in the air doing what kids do on a day off. What I meant to say is the eternal rift between the city ´govmt´=BMA and the Thai country govmt, who mostly sit in plush AC office blocks far away from centre town now-Cheang Wattana, where they also arrive in AC cars.
Though it strikes me still that from the reports it seems anyone is to die soon now-whereas in general people tend to live longer and also longer in fairly good health as ever before. And severe measures at curbing car-use is at least here in BKK decennia overdue-just like they do in SIN. But then knowing how Thai react they would also need the SIN police force to have it effected. Sugarcane burning for harvest is also centuries old-which makes it hard to convince farmers to change that-there probably even is not a proper other method to same effect.
In the newsppr the worst area was not BKK-it was a rural area near Saraburi where that sugarcane is indeed the major crop.

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Re: Air pollution problems in Bangkok - and it's not very good in Pattaya either

Post by Gaybutton » Thu Jan 23, 2020 6:15 pm

pong wrote:
Thu Jan 23, 2020 5:06 pm
Sugarcane burning for harvest is also centuries old-which makes it hard to convince farmers to change
Heavy fines and jail terms might help to convince them. If the practice is not completely halted, then we're all facing the same problem next year, the year after that, the year after that, and so on - and the only thing that will change is the problems will be even worse.

The same goes for exhaust fumes. I fail to see any justification for vehicle owners, no matter what kind of vehicle it is, who don't properly maintain their vehicles. That is completely irresponsible and trying to say they can't afford repairs is no excuse. If you can't afford to maintain your vehicle, then don't drive your vehicle.

In my opinion, those who are caught driving such vehicles should not only be fined, but their vehicles ought to be confiscated. And they don't get them back until they have paid a mechanic to go to wherever the vehicle is being stored and repair the vehicle. I wouldn't even take the mechanic's word for it that the vehicle has been repaired. The vehicle shouldn't be released until it has undergone a thorough inspection.

I'm not holding my breath, though, for any of that to actually happen.

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Re: Air pollution problems in Bangkok - and it's not very good in Pattaya either

Post by Jun » Sat Jan 25, 2020 10:17 pm

I now don't know if people are wearing facemasks for the pollution, or the coronavirus.

The air quality index where I am is 174, so that alone is a good reason to wear a mask.

Big C have some large air purifiers for 3~6000 from brands like Sharp and Phillips. If I had a permanent residence here, I would be a customer, after doing just enough research to make sure the thing does not generate ozone.

Their more compact devices are short on specifications.

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Re: Air pollution problems in Bangkok - and it's not very good in Pattaya either

Post by Dodger » Sun Jan 26, 2020 2:52 pm

Gaybutton wrote:
Thu Jan 23, 2020 6:15 pm
pong wrote:
Thu Jan 23, 2020 5:06 pm
Sugarcane burning for harvest is also centuries old-which makes it hard to convince farmers to change
Heavy fines and jail terms might help to convince them.
Apparently, the sugar cane farmers have been burning cane prior to harvest for centuries to save money on labor costs. The Thai Industry Ministry supposedly introduced a 3 year plan to stop the burning back in 2018, which included putting 3 billion baht aside to provide cheap loans to sugar farmers to buy the machinery needed to harvest cane without having to burn it. This announcement was made public in 2018, and I have yet to read anything concrete as far as the loans are involved.

If the cane farmers can't supply the mills with their quota of cane because of "burning constraints", Thailand's GNP in the agriculture sector would take a big hit, which of course won't happen. The Thai processed sugar sector enjoys a number of advantages that enable it to compete effectively on world markets. The cost of producing Thai sugar is at the relatively low level of 13.6 cents/lb2/, a figure which is only beaten by Brazil. The reason that the cost to produce is so low is because they burn cane (manually) versus harvesting it with machinery. Based on this reality, it appears that the Thai Industry Ministry are dragging their feet when it comes to supporting the cane farmers with those "cheap loans" it proposed back in 2018. If I was a cane farmer I'd be burning at night as well, until the government provided a viable and affordable alternative.

In summary: The air pollution caused by cane burning is the fault of the Thai Industry Ministry, not the farmers. If they (Thailand) wants to reduce its quota and increase the cost of cane export, then fine, the farmers would produce less cane, and start removing the leaves from the cane manually before sending it to the mill without having to burn it, and the pollution problem would be solved. But, if Thailand doesn't want to reduce its quota (exports), or support the financing of the machinery needed to maintain current quotas, then the pollution will continue.

They can't have their cake and eat it too.

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Re: Air pollution problems in Bangkok - and it's not very good in Pattaya either

Post by Jun » Sun Jan 26, 2020 3:36 pm

All that pollution to produce a food commodity that's effectively like a low dose poison.

The government should simply ban harvesting of sugar by burning as step #1 to improve public health. Step #2 would be to tax consumption of the stuff.

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Re: Air pollution problems in Bangkok - and it's not very good in Pattaya either

Post by Dodger » Sun Jan 26, 2020 5:50 pm

Jun wrote:
Sun Jan 26, 2020 3:36 pm
All that pollution to produce a food commodity that's effectively like a low dose poison.

The government should simply ban harvesting of sugar by burning as step #1 to improve public health.

I find it interesting that the earliest signs of human agriculture were traced back to The Kingdom of Siam many epochs ago, but, in present day, many Thai farmers are still using third-world farming methods. Hitting a switch and just expecting all of the farmers to "get modern" or stop selling their products, may be the solution, although, historically, these changes involve a transition.

Thailand's sugar cane sector is an important engine to mobilize GDP with a combined value of 250 billion baht annually, representing 1.53% of the country's GDP. Sugar cane accounts for 21% of agriculture GDP and 48% of food GDP. At 10,727.460 THB/1000 kg, at stake, I tend to believe they will opt for another solution.

Sugar farmers are deep in debt right now due to the oversupply (globally) of white sugar and the inflated value of the Thai Baht. Somehow the farmers have to figure out how to stay afloat, and at the same time, are being expected to "modernize". Based on this, I really think the government (Industry Ministry) will have to step up to the plate at some juncture and provide the financial support needed to begin making this transition. Until such time, a blind eye will continue to be turned.

Personally, and I have absolutely no facts to back this up, I believe vehicle emissions pollute the environment much more than sugar farmers burning cane during harvest season. Pointing the finger at the farmers is simple defocusing IMO. Those jet black plumes of smoke we see and breathe aren't occurring seasonally, it's a nonstop 24/7 event. The police and others have been wearing face masks for years for this very reason.

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Re: Air pollution problems in Bangkok - and it's not very good in Pattaya either

Post by Jun » Sun Jan 26, 2020 10:01 pm

I read somewhere that over 70% of the pollution in Bangkok is from vehicles. That seems very likely, since they have way too many of them and a lot should have been scrapped 10 or 20 years ago.

However, I just took a train journey and some of the worst pollution haze was in areas a long way from big cities or major roads. There was some evidence of burning, but I didn't see any sugar cane.

If there were any real intent to fix pollution, they would just copy policies which have worked well elsewhere, for vehicles, industry and agriculture.

If I remember correctly, farmers bitched and moaned before crop burning was banned in the UK, 27 years ago. They manage fine without it. Thai farmers need to do the same. And if it makes sugar cane uneconomic, they can grow something else. Any form of industry or agriculture can be more competitive if exempted from following civilized rules, but that does not justify exemption. Factories are not allowed to pollute as they please and farmers should be under similar controls.

Incidentally, where does the 48% of food GDP figure come from ? That seems suspect, unless of course they count every bit of processed food with at least a trace of sugar added. Of course all that will carry on with or without crop burning.

They very much need to fix vehicle emissions as well.

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