Monday, June 8, 2009

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Black Skies

Despite the intense amount of vaccinations and medical precautions I underwent to save myself from possible issues in Buenos Aires, I still got the Black Lung. No, it hasn’t been tested and proven by a doctor, but there is no way my airways have not been coated in inch of dust, dirt, and smoke kicked up from the city streets. The amount of pollution and second-hand smoke that infiltrates the air is unbelievable. It went fairly unnoticed during my first week here as I gawked at the new buildings covered in graffiti, the poverty that lines sidewalks, and the incredible boots that every Argentine woman dons flawlessly. I am past the point in caring how I would look in a surgical mask while walking down the street because I am desperate to save what little unsoiled space may be left on my lungs. Unfortunately, the mask is not an option. Argentina fears Americans at the moment thinking we all have a case of the Swine. I’m sure I would last five minutes before becoming detained and thrown back to the states in attempt to keep the city free from H1N1. Ugh. Regardless of my disposition and frustration with the dirty air, I have become really become grateful for the clean skies of Minnesota and the fact that breathing safely is not something I have to think about every time I am going from one place to another. Of the total petroleum use in Argentina, over 65% is diesel while the other 35% is consumed of a combination of gasoline and “other” (which further makes me question my health if 10% of emissions from vehicles is unknown). The first ethanol distillery was constructed a little over a year ago and only harvests sugar cane to produce ethanol to be added to biofuels. Although Argentina is the second leading producer of corn in the world (behind the U.S.), there are no plants for biofuel production using corn and my “research” indicates proposals for such production may begin in 2010. I’m not an expert nor do I know anything about fuel, but it is disheartening to see a country struggling to keep up with the world economic wise when it is so far behind in industries such as gasoline and oil and technology. Everyday as buses bustle down the street people are choking on the carbon monoxide emissions that are released and fill the air with black smoke. It makes me very grateful of the efficient energy and fuel push the United States is working on to lower carbon missions and dependency on foreign oil. Until you walk down Avenida Garay, you will never fully appreciate hybrid vehicles and hydrogen fuel cell engines.


Beautiful memory of a devastating past

Artist Viviana Ponieman creates work that reflects the Dirty War in Argentina from 1976-78 where 30,000 citizens were seized and tortured. They are known as "los desaparecidos."

View more of her work here.

Viviana's garden :)

Monday, June 1, 2009