Rotary Peace Center at Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand
“Toxic air forces Thai officials to close Bangkok schools for rest of week, the Air Quality Index, AQI, is used by cities to determine levels of air pollution; according to the World Health Organization, AQI levels under 25 are considered to be acceptable for humans to breathe regularly. The AQI levels on Wednesday evening (January 30th) in Bangkok measured 175”. These have been the headlines with which we woke up this week at Chula.
Last days we could not only see from our balconies as Bangkok dawned with a haze, but the streets were full of people wearing masks to avoid breathing polluted air. Some of the local newspapers narrated the alternatives that the city of Bangkok was taking to combat these high levels of pollution, such as, flying drones with devices to spray water on the city, systems to cause artificial rain, devices in the tallest buildings in the city… and another number of measures the less futuristic. In our week 3, we are getting to know deeper how people live in Bangkok, and air pollution is one of the biggest challenges that Thai people face as part of their daily life.
Sometimes, walking around the Siam Discovery shopping center, one can find some of the most futuristic scenes of the film Blade Runner, set in 2019; fast sky train lines high above the street, streets full of intense traffic, bright screens along the streets with attractive advertising, escalators connecting one side of the street and another, super luxurious shopping centers with air conditioning, Illuminated skyscrapers… scenes that makes us realize that we are not far from everything that science fiction described in the movies.
As an environmentalist, one of the greatest concerns when I think about the future is precisely how human beings are going to be able to achieve sustainable (non-economic) human development where we do not compromise the development of future generations and how technology can support the human development, and then, nature and humans can coexist in peace and harmony.
Air pollution, pollution of rivers, deforestation of forests are some of the most visible consequences of the model of capitalist development based on extraction. More than a century later we have not managed to make a transition towards a model where nature and therefore life, is the great protagonist.
Being here, living this course in Thailand, where many of the possible future scenarios can be experienced in the first person, there is no doubt that the Rotary Peace Fellowship is an excellent channel to understand what is happening nowadays in the world and get into the action to achieve a better world. It is a great honor for me to be here attending in this course, and at the same time a great responsibility to make the change happen. Thank you, Rotary for the great opportunity!!
Patricia Porras- Spain/Peru
Rotary Peace Fellow – Class 26