When Pattaya-based friends start filling up Facebook with stories of how hot it is you have to start thinking that there is something in all these “global warming” warnings.

I feel really sorry for them regarding the heat. Not!

Pattaya is no stranger to extremes of weather though usually we are talking about when the rain deluges the place. This also may have much to do with global warming. I confess, I’m no expert on the subject.

I’m not sure that Thailand as a whole – and Pattaya and Bangkok in particular – pays enough attention to the prospect of the damage caused by filling the air with harmful gases.

By the time you read this some type of coalition government may have been formed and the Thai people will be aware who is running the country. Fingers crossed.

Whichever factions take up the business of governing they will need to address the business of global warming. Though I wouldn’t offer much hope of it being close to the top of the agenda.

Three years ago (the most recent data I could uncover) Thailand ranked 20th globally in terms of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. It’s not a league table you want to be at the top of.

As you would expect, the leading industrial nations head the list with China quite some way in front of the USA. Even so, I think Thailand is unacceptably high.

You only have to walk around Pattaya to see black smoke emerging from vehicle tailpipes and know that something isn’t right.

Addressing the situation – at least in terms of vehicle emissions – is unlikely to prove popular. Can you imagine the Thai Government (whoever forms it) dishing out grants to allow its citizens to buy electric vehicles which don’t spew out CO2? It’s a rhetorical question.

In the UK, that’s what they are doing. I’m not saying the Brits have got things right. But, at least the Government and local authorities seem to be taking the matter seriously.

In London, the authorities introduced a ULEZ (Ultra-Low Emissions Zone) just a few days ago. Essentially, now in the centre of London driving an old car that kicks out too much tailpipe rubbish will see the vehicle owners paying a levy (they don’t like to call it a fine) for the privilege of continuing to drive their smoke-belchers around London’s central area.

The current levy is £12.50 a day for a car (a little more than Bt500). Lorries pay much more – £100 (Bt4,000+). It soon mounts up.

In a few years’ time this ULEZ may be extended to cover the whole area bounded by the M25 motorway that circles the English capital.

The thing is that, much as you might care to bleat about paying the levy/fine, it’s hard to argue against the reason for imposing it. Who wouldn’t want cleaner air? Though there are some who think it is just another way for the authorities to tax its citizens. I couldn’t possibly comment.

If you sit there smugly thinking global warming doesn’t really affect you, like ‘fake news’ Donald Trump seems to do, consider the following statistics:

1 Road transport is said to be responsible for almost half of London’s air pollution.
2 Thousands of premature deaths are caused every year by poisonous gases and particles, which increase the risk of asthma, dementia and strokes.
3 Children are severely affected by toxic air: if exposed to the same levels of pollution throughout their lifetime, children born in London in 2010 will lose two years of life expectancy, due to air pollution.
4 One in 10 Londoners under the age of 18 suffers with asthma.

Quite how they managed to work out point No 3 remains a mystery to me. But it all demonstrates that too much CO2 in the air is not good for anyone – and that’s people of all ages, not just the young. The motor car age means we are slowly poisoning ourselves.

Also in London over the past few days we have seen a very high level of protest with anti-global warming Extinction Rebellion activists blocking major thoroughfares in the English capital leading to hundreds of arrests and a lot of disruption.

They even staged a “die-in” under the skeleton of the blue whale at the Natural History Museum on Easter Monday. The people behind the activists’ group know how to grab the headlines for their cause.

Extra police were drafted into the capital to deal with the protesters which opened up the prospect of criminals taking advantage of reduced policing levels.

Have the protests, which are ongoing as I write, gone too far? If you genuinely feel we are on a course of self-destruction, maybe not.

 

I wouldn’t like Thais to go as far as blocking the main thoroughfares of Bangkok. Lord knows, it can be hard enough to get around as it is. But moves to reduce the number of polluting cars in the main cities of Thailand (actually just make that the number of cars in Bangkok) ought to be welcomed.

So how about it new Government – whoever you are – what do you plan to do to address global warming?

My mates in Pattaya are sweltering, little loves!

The fact that they are cranking up their air-conds in response may spell trouble for us all further down the line.

Time for a few ‘clear the air’ meetings and some meaningful progress!

By Dave Buckley