In light of recent announcements that two major steel factories in different cities in Macedonia, are closing up shop by the end of this month, the public had two extremely opposing opinions. On the one side are the many people employed by these factories, who a loosing their jobs and on the other side are the people who are scared about their children breathing polluted air. This really made me sit down and think- who’s on the right side!?
The fact is that people loosing their jobs in a country that has a very high percentage of unemployment is potentially threatening their livelihood and that of their loved ones. Those people had a steady income by now, and in their eyes this meant a safe and secure future, and nothing else outside of that world mattered. Thinking of those families that now might lack the funds to send their child to school or buy them new clothes is really heartbreaking to me.
However, the same two factories are forced to close down because they failed to fulfill the ecological standards, imposed with EU legislation, by the deadline given to them from the Macedonian government. This means that for as long as I can remember their chimneys are letting out black steam that got even worse these last couple of years when PM10 particles in both cities (where the factories are) reached highest levels and as a result a large number of the population that lives in those cities now has some sort of chronic pulmonary problem. Not a very safe and bright looking future for the kids from neighborhoods close to the factories either.
And two major pollutants in a world of polluting giants might sound insignificant in the fight for lowering greenhouse gases, and climate change, but what if we said that about each “unsignificant” polluting factory? None will be too important of a polluter to close, right?
So nobody is on the right side and nobody wins- not the factory’s workers and not general population. But, the thing is, we simply can’t afford doing business as usual. We’ve been doing that for centuries and it got us to a point where our very existence on this Planet is being threatened by severe climate. Things must change and this means adapting to these new conditions to survive. Because what I realized is that this is not a competition, it never was- it’s learning to survive all over again, and it’s redefining the definition of a safe future.