Why are my lungs burning? Part III

I used to think it was because of diesel. Or coal. But as it turns out, maybe it’s the fault of something else completely. Something quite unexpected:

Public transportation.

Stolen from The Clinic, click for original.

Or environmentalist demonstrations.

Chile's national police has one response to pretty much anything these days: teargas. The good news: they don't wear gasmasks, so they suffer with the rest of us.

Well actually no. It’s the damn smog. But those other pictures are much cooler. This one shows a view of the Andes cordillera from the top of Cerro Santa Lucia, a hill near downtown Santiago. There are 15,000-foot snow-capped peaks in this picture.

andes panorama from cerro santa lucia

Ah the Andes. Soaring alpine range, craggy precipices, crevassed glaciers, tundra meadows.

6 thoughts on “Why are my lungs burning? Part III

  1. westslope

    Great! Santiago, Chile looks like downtown Toronto did in the early 1970s.
    Progress! :-)

    Must be the work of cars, buses and commercial lorries. Diesel and gasoline feeds the smog, correct?

    But if you could convince the international investment community that tear-gas was contributing to smog over Santiago, Chile, maybe some Chilean companies would suddenly become much more affordable…. … wink, wink, nudge, nudge ….

    So why don’t the Chilean police wear gas masks when lobbying tear gas canisters? Macho stupid? And are these tear gas canisters made locally or imported from some controversial foreign country?

  2. Elio Ohep


    In the 80’s , Santiago was a pretty much a sleppy town with very few higher buildings, in the 90’s it was a developing city with a lot of construction of tall buildings but still pretty nice, in the late years of the last century (2002, last time a was on that part of the world), still smog free, but now, whoa!, it seems a urban sprawl like smog filled Mexico City.

  3. Alan von Altendorf

    Amazing. Bus on fire. Tear gas (for what?) Mountains gone. I don’t know anything about Chile, except sketchy reports of a prosperous economy. I’ll quit blabbing on comments except to say thanks. Super website.

  4. Ron

    Looks like Los Angeles into the early ’80s. Then came “clean gas” and better catalytic converters. Paint shops, bakeries (yes, a big polluter), refineries and all sorts of industries were required to put in relatively cheap upgrades. And now you can actually see the hills surrounding LA more than once a year – a dramatic change considering the significant growth in the area in the meantime.

  5. westslope

    If there was an identifiable Zepplin of deadly pollution hanging over Santiago, it would look like Phoenix, Arizona in the early 1980s. The downtown city core near ‘dead’ but I digress. Rich people lived in places like Scottsdale with much better air. Such is the natural order.

    But for really nasty air I believe Mexico City takes top honours.

    1. setty

      Phoenix in the 80s is an excellent comparison. The difference is that Santiago has already implemented low-sulfur diesel and days where certain cars aren’t allowed on the road, depending on the final number of the license plate. At this point, the easy fixes have been made. I may be wrong, but as I understand, the big emitters are now the big industrial users that were approved under Pres. Frei. It’s hard to push a copper smelter or coal-fired power plant out of the air-shed once it’s been built.

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