168There are people who say that Global Warming is an erroneous theory at best and a conspiracy at worst, and that there’s really nothing wrong with burning fuel and wasting energy. Pollution, they say, is really not the cause for the warming of the Earth and all the consequences that come with it.

I have always argued that whatever the reason behind global warming, there is really one very good reason why we should stop polluting our planet. Coming to Jakarta, I can attest to this like never before: Clean air is a big part of the quality of life in any given location.

When I was younger, we sometimes had smog in Hamburg. Cars would be banned from the roads; key streets were blocked by the police. An eerie silence lay over the city, as public life grind to a halt. The situation is similar here, except that there’s no smog; pollution of the air is a fact of daily life. Driving downtown you will see that the distant high-rises are all obscured by a haze. This isn’t fog; it’s pollution. After seeing the traffic for a few days, it doesn’t surprise either. You can see the soot coming out of these cars.

Unlike Germany, Indonesia never implemented harsh laws governing the exhausts of cars. It probably can’t afford to, yet, either, and if there were such laws it seems unlikely that they’d be enforced. Some of the contraptions I’ve seen on the roads would doubtless not pass the regular technical checks every car in Germany has to pass.

165And so the pollution covers the high-rises, and ruins the lungs of the locals. Nobody who is working along the roads does so without at least a cloth before their faces. People cutting the grass, construction workers, policemen – everybody knows the problem, and it’s not being fixed.

I hope for the citizens of Jakarta that they’ll come up with a working solution to this problem (and other environmental nightmares, like the open-air sewers). I guess when life is a daily struggle for people you can’t expect them to care much for their environment. It’s really sad, though. And at least from the pollution standpoint I can’t wait to get back to Frankfurt – back to the clean air of a German metropolis with thousands of daily flights overhead. It still beats Jakarta – by a mile and a half.

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