Sunday, February 13, 2011

Spain and the environment

If I had to make a list of things that bother me about living in Spain, lack of respect for the environment would be high on the list. Perhaps I should reword that… Most Spaniards don’t give a shit about the environment. In a recent report, just 10 percent of Spaniards are prepared to use their car less “for environmental reasons”. I wonder what the percentage is that is willing to walk an extra 10 meters and use a garbage can as opposed to just throwing their garbage on the street.

The problem with many of the programs to date is that they don’t reduce pollution levels. For example, if some people start using Bicing instead of their cars, the city becomes less congested, and other people start using their cars more because it’s faster to get around by car. End result: same amount of pollution and a bit of time saved for people who probably don’t have cars anyway.

From yesterdays El Pais:

Ángel Valencia Sáiz, professor of Political Science at the University of Málaga, says that his research backs this up. “Spanish drivers are not prepared to leave the car at home. Imposing traffic restrictions is a much bigger vote loser than not being able to keep the air clean in our cities.”

The cities of Barcelona, Madrid and Valencia are among the most polluted in Europe, and have shown very little improvements over the last five years, whereas other major cities have been able to make significant improvements in order to meet the EU air quality guidelines.

I always hoped that Catalunya would try to differentiate itself by being more environmentally conscious than the rest of Spain, but that hope is fading quickly while watching the new CiU government eagerly dismantling the small amount of progress that has been made by the previous administration.

The conclusion of El Pais article sounded a bit desperate:

Back in 2006, when the country last faced such a prolonged dry period, the bishop of Murcia called on the faithful to pray for rain. In the absence of any initiatives from our politicians, it’s probably as good an idea as any.

My solution would be to institute a big parking place tax and have some real enforcement of illegal parking.Having a car downtown should really be a luxury, not a right.

1 comment:

emma said...


LOVE the site redesign. great work.

i, too, am super frustrated by the general disregard for the environment. what gets me is how people leave perfectly good clothes, shoes and furniture near the dumpster _less than ten meters_ from the Engrunges second hand store.

we once called Engrunges to come pick up two chairs from the 50's, three bags of clothes and two small appliances to resell in their store. i was completely heartbroken to see the men throw the things into the back of the truck as if the items were destined for the dump. from the way they were tossed in, i understood they had no intention of reselling what they picked up.

sadly, the reuse, repurporse, recycle mentality hasn't hit here yet, i guess.