Santiago authorities declared an environmental state of emergency on Monday, due to a thick layer of smog that has overtaken the Chilean city. This means that 1,300 businesses who regularly pump out high levels of contaminants have shut their doors and a great number of the city’s 1.7 million cars, mostly older models, are off the streets.

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With the Andes mountains on one side and a splattering of smaller hills throughout the landscape, Santiago traps clouds of pollution. Recently, researchers discovered smaller particles in the air, putting residents at risk for respiratory conditions. Regional governor Claudio Orrego argues that the cause of this latest cloud has more to do with protestors burning barricades put in place for the Copa América football tournament, currently in town.

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The sport is widely revered in the region and the smog is said to have no effect on Wednesday’s Chile v. Uruguay match. Transportation to the event, however, may face some challenges due to subway systems temporarily shutting down, a result of residents unable to drive their cars. Hopefully this rude awakening can further inspire climate policy change for nations everywhere.

Via The Guardian

Lead image Ueslei Marcelino/Reuters; second via Wikipedia