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How to face the environmental crisis from the universities?

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How to face the environmental crisis from the universities?

Air pollution is a persistent problem in Colombia and in the world, but it is clear that Bogotá is at the limit in terms of quality. Under this premise, Mario Posada García, rector of the University of America, shared his opinion in this regard with EL NUEVO SIGLO.

Posada García began his analysis by explaining that the factors that affect the current environmental crisis in the city correspond to the forest fires that have been registered and concentrated since January to date, a total of 330 in five departments of the country, affecting about 16,821 hectares. as reported by the National Unit for Disaster Risk Management.

In the same way, the second factor is related to the meteorological conditions of little rain that occur in these fire zones and that cause a considerable amount of polluting particles that are dragged by the air currents that later reach the cities to join with the produced by transport and industry.

“Taking this into account, a couple of weeks ago the Mayor’s Office of Bogotá together with the Ministry of the Environment declared a Phase I Environmental Alert in the city due to the condition and poor quality of the air. Likewise, according to various analyzes carried out by the Fundación Para la Conservación y el Desarrollo Sostenible – FCDS, the main reason why the authorities came to dictate these care measures to citizens, has to do with the air pollution that has been increasing due to particulate matter or dust and forest fires in the Amazon and the Colombian Orinoquía”, he contextualized.

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What to do from the universities?

Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) have been implementing various initiatives to mitigate the impact on the city due to the recent environmental crises that have occurred.

In this sense, Rector Posada pointed out that it is essential that universities set an example from within the institution towards the citizenry.

“Universities, for example, play a fundamental role for the success of these policies and projects to mitigate climate change and pollution in the city, this is one of their social tasks and contribution to society: supporting the training of citizens with the ability to carry out critical analysis and prepared to change and provide solutions in the face of present challenges”, he said.

He added that from the universities it is essential to set an example from within, taking into account the environmental challenges we currently face.

“The University of America, based on its commitment to sustainability and compliance with the Sustainable Development Goals – ODS, has its renewed EcoCampus de los Cerros, which has as its central axis the conservation of natural resources and the appreciation of biodiversity ; It not only stands out for carrying out projects that seek to have a favorable impact on the environment, allowing the appreciation of biodiversity and natural wealth, but also the construction of ecological spaces in the city, reducing the impact of pollution in the city.” emphasized.

health affectation

The rector of the Universidad América pointed out that Bogotá is home to approximately 8 million inhabitants and is characterized by having a large industry, therefore, there are thousands of cars rolling through the streets that, for their operation, need fossil fuels that each day deteriorate more and more the quality of the air that people breathe.

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So much so that, according to figures from the 2020 Local Pollutant Emissions Inventory prepared by the Ministry of the Environment, the fixed sources of pollution in the city are industrial and commercial, contributing to 3% of particulate matter 2.5 (PM2. 5) while mobile sources on the road contribute 23%; thus, the remaining 74% of PM2.5 emissions are caused by suspended material, yellow machinery and forest sources.

“All these factors affect the health of Bogotanos, especially those who are vulnerable, such as children and the elderly, and consequently develop respiratory and cardiovascular diseases, becoming one of the main causes of death in the city. Faced with such a panorama in recent days, the Mayor’s Office determined a series of preventive measures such as not doing physical activity in the morning hours or using face masks on public transport,” said the Rector.

He concluded by emphasizing that Bogotá is at a crucial moment due to pollution and to reduce the negative impact that it causes, it is necessary to give priority to policies to improve air quality; In addition, it is essential to have the will of the citizenry, of the universities and of the large industries of the public and private sectors.

Air quality

In the most recent report regarding air quality, it is evident that the concentration levels of particulate matter in the city have presented a reduction compared to those registered on Thursday and Friday of last week.

The Bogotá Index of Air Quality and Health Risk (Iboca) registers regular conditions in two stations (Kennedy and Carvajal – Sevillana), while the rest are moderate.

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“We will continue to constantly monitor air quality and review the behavior of internal and external factors that affect it. We will be attentive to the hot spots that are reported in various regions,” said the Secretary of the Environment, Carolina Urrutia.

The Ministry of the Environment maintains the preventive air quality alert for the southwestern area, the main factor is the arrival of particulate matter to the city as a result of emissions from fires in the regions.

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