The air is killing us

Sanja Naumovska

Skopje, for who knows which time this winter, reached the top of the list of the most polluted cities in the world. The air is a silent killer of the city and its inhabitants The more we breathe these toxins in, the more aware we become that we will have to do much more to get out of this fog.
We should have looked for those who are guilty of this a long time ago, to call on them and demand accountability. These are certainly the institutions that hold all the funds in their hands, including the finances, to solve this major problem. But it is already high time for each one of us to sincerely and personally ask themselves, and answer what it is that we do to pollute as little as possible.

And here we cannot include the citizens of the poorest class because, due to the conditions they live in, they are forced to burn plastic and rubber to warm themselves during winter, although in reality no one should have any excuse. If we include the thousands of car owners who do not want to stop driving their vehicles, even when public transport is free of charge during days with the highest concentrations of PM 10 and PM 2.5.

How is it possible that the streets of Skopje, Kumanovo, Tetovo etc. are so crowded with vehicles in which the driver is the only passenger, when all the institutions alarm that cars should be left at home. During wintertime, people riding bicycles or walking are a rare sight because temperatures are low, but there is no excuse for avoiding public transport, even though it is not the best option.

Is it true that all households that use firewood to warm up have the opportunity to buy an inverter-air conditioner, or at least a newer pellet stove? The fact is that this is not a negligible investment, but, let’s not fool ourselves, a vast majority of those households have a new car in their backyards, for which they did not find it difficult to take out a loan from the bank. What is even more terrible, according to one of MANU’s studies, most of the vehicles in urban areas, especially freighters, run on diesel fuel.

Everyone must give their personal contribution because without making personal sacrifice for the greater good, things will not move from deadlock. This contribution is not only in ridicule and criticism of the measures proposed by the Government and the City of Skopje, but the commitment to do what we can so they can give more results, in short or long term.

Because, let’s be honest, Skopje, Bitola, Tetovo, Kumanovo and other cities will be poisoned for a long time. There is no magic wand with which the problems will be solved overnight, nor will the fog be cleared. Each of us will have to do everything in our power, and thus acquire the right to call on and criticize the authorities.

Of course, the authorities deserve all criticism in the past twenty years. Environmental issues are constantly at the bottom of political agendas, although they directly affect the health of every citizen, including politicians and their children. Both state and local institutions have been failing for years to implement laws, punish polluters, implement the measures they themselves carry and implement the investments that need to provide us with cleaner air. And in order to criticize, we must show that we are better and more conscientious than them.

We are mistaken if we find satisfaction by just punishing them in elections. Politicians and parties will only switch sides, and the air will stay polluted. It is a pity that they themselves do not realize that they too breathe the poison, even when they are sitting in their expensive office chairs. They probably think that money and power are a sufficient “shock absorber”. But we, the common citizens, know the consequences of the garbage we inhale very well. That’s why it’s high time to do something about it.