Recently, the mayor of Seoul executed Emergency Reduction Measures for Fine Dust to reduce damage to residents in Seoul caused by fine dust. This measure consisted of two methods. One of them was that Seoul let people use public transportation for free during commuting time. Another method was that the city enforces a 2-day driving rotation system. It enforces cars that have odd number as their last number on their number plates to drive in only odd number days, whereas those with even numbers are encouraged to drive only on even number days. The 2-day driving rotation system induces or recommends voluntary participation from civilian cars, but government administrative or public agency's vehicles are obliged to follow the policy. However, since free public transportation during commuting time is applied to all, this article will deal with free public transportation only. It seems evident that there are pros and cons of the policy. There are two different sides for the assessment of it. Some say that it is an appropriate action, because it can reduce fine dust even if it is in a small quantity. Others say that it is useless as it only provides the original people who use public transportation with free transportation. The key issue regarding the appropriateness of it is, “What is the main cause of fine dust, the effectiveness of the solution and its cost?” Was the response that the Seoul government executed to inhibit fine dust reasonable? Due to different opinions on the matter, it’s crucial to examine the pros and cons in order to fully understand the scope of its effect and decide whether if it is an appropriate counter measure to the current situation.Have you ever seen a gray sky when you go out? Almost every person may have seen a gray sky full of fine dust. Since fine dust influences people's health directly, the government has to take some actions against it. It can become an immediate cause of death. If so, which solution should the government come up with? To make the solution more effective, removing the main cause of the problem seems to be the priority. Providing free public transportation to people is the best way to resolve the fine dust problem, as it reduces the fundamental cause of the occurrence of fine dust.
First of all, this response of the Seoul city government helps decrease the production of nitrate which is the major cause of the fine dust problem. The Seoul Health and Environment Research Institute analyzed the causes of fine dust in Seoul from January 14th to 18th. They said on January 16th, 17th, and 18th days, its main cause was determined to be nitrate. Nitric acid is produced by nitrogen oxides during the combustion process, such as cars and heating. Its blow off rate was 10 times higher than usual. Meanwhile, the growth rate of sulfates, one of the prime indicators that the fine dust originates from China, has been found to be 3.6 times higher. It proves that the high concentration of fine dust is caused by domestic pollutants rather than China's pollutant effects. Reducing the movement of vehicles, the main cause of nitrate production, can decrease the concentration of fine dust. So, the government should do its best to reduce the level of nitrate which is the main cause of fine dust.
Secondly, the fine dust emergency reduction measures are improving civic consciousness. Seoul saw an increase in the utilization rate of public transportation compared to last week when this measure was not implemented. Bus uses increased 9.4% and subway uses increased 5.8%. As a result, the number of vehicles on roads dropped 2.4 % compared to the number of vehicles two weeks ago. The fine dust concentration was reduced 1.5%. If Gyeonggido and Incheon install these measures together in the future, it would be significantly more effective. This action which is conducted by the government can make citizens pay attention and recognize the seriousness of fine dust. Citizens who did not before care about the lethality of fine dust will also realize the seriousness of it and will try to prevent the damage caused by it. In fact, private companies are already engaging in the movement of reducing fine dust because of the improved recognition of the issue. For instance, the carpool app “Plus” did not receive a fee during rush hour on January 17th, and Coway participated in 2-day driving rotation. Such movements may become a trigger for using public transportation and the voluntary participation of the a 2-day driving rotation, and its effects would be more effective in the long run.
Lastly, the measures can teach citizens to be aware of the seriousness of the fine dust problem, as they are measures that reflect their opinions. The Seoul government collected opinions of fine dust problem from citizens directly by conducting a public forum at the Gwanghwamun Square on May 27th, 2016. Eighty percent of the citizens who participated in the discussion agreed to support the free public transportation fee measure during commuting times to decrease the use of cars and increase the use of public transportation on a dusty day. It is estimated to cost about 5 billion won when the Seoul government executes the free public transportation measure during commuting times each day. Unfortunately, because of the cost of the budget, some reproach this measure since they are worried about the limitations it has. However, the emergency measure has been commenced when the level of fine dust exceeds 50 ㎛. In essence, the number of times that the emergency measure is expected to be implemented is fewer than seven times a year. The money spent is not indefinitely wasted, and it ultimately returns money to the citizens who use public transportation.
The Seoul Government's emergency reduction of fine dust is a controversial issue, because there are conflicting opinions as to whether it is an appropriate solution or not in the view of the citizens. One thing for sure is that even the people who claim that this response has little effect, fail to suggest a proper proposal to eliminate the cause of this issue. I think even small amounts of fine dust have to be reduced, if possible, because its effect on humans is so great that it can cause deaths in the worst scenario. We should not neglect the safety of people's lives in the name of economic efficiency. Given the greater effectiveness available in the long run compared with the budgets used, Emergency Reduction Measures should be taken to reduce fine dust.< 저작권자 © 중앙헤럴드 무단전재 및 재배포금지 >