This essay will argue that the citizens in Auckland are currently forced to work, play and live in conditions that are detrimental to their health. Years of neglect, under-investment and under-development in Auckland’s transportation systems has led to a situation where people can not rely on readily available and reliable public transport to go about their daily lives. Commuters wanting to get to work on time, parents’ wishing to get their children to school for morning resister and even young adults wishing to avoid entering the movie theatre just in time to see the Titanic sinking, are forced to take to their cars in order to get to their destination on time. The lack of adequate public transport in Auckland had driven people to their cars. Currently there are 620,000 vehicles in the Auckland region and 459,000 of them carry people to and from work each day (No relief from air pollution until serious car reduction, 2000). This has had the effect of increasing vehicle pollution to an astonishing level. Carbon monoxide levels in Auckland are higher than they are in London and living in a city like Auckland cuts about a year off the average life expectancy. With this is mind, this paper will argue that Auckland needs to, in the words of Associate Transport Minister Judith Tizard, ‘Choke the Smoke’. In order for people to ‘Choke the Smoke’ and therefore switch their mentality from using their cars to becoming public transport users, Auckland needs to invest heavily in transforming its public transport infrastructure to one that is deserving of the capital city of one of the worlds top 30 richest countries. If this change does not occur, the health of its population will continue to suffer.
There is a high correlation between vehicle emissions and adverse health effects. Judith Tizard states that transport pollution in New Zealand (NZ) has been a threat to public health since the 1960’s causing as many as 500 premature deaths per year; 250 of these deaths in the Auckland Region (Kiwis encouraged to ‘Choke the Smoke’, 2006). The Auckland Regional Council has indicated in recently published research that an increasing number of people are admitted to hospital each year because of health related problems stemming from air pollution (Health effects of air pollution, 2006). The pollutants found in vehicle emissions can cause a range of health problems from:
Respiratory symptoms (coughing, wheezing, reduced lung function), bronchitis, high blood pressure, and asthma’ to ‘chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, lung cancer, heart attacks, arteriosclerosis, strokes and premature death (Health effects of air pollution, 2006).
Those with pre-existing asthma and heart disease, pregnant women, elderly and also young children are the sections of society most significantly at risk. Auckland Regional Public Health Service clinical director Julia Peters told the New Zealand Herald in April 2009 that ‘research showed that children aged 18 months and younger were especially vulnerable to the effects of air pollution because their lungs are still developing’ (Fisher & Shepheard, 2009, p.10). Children also spend a lot of time outside, particularly in the summer when transport pollution is at its highest. Evidence indicates that they inhale 50% more air (by weight) than adults (Health effects of air pollution, 2006).
The New Zealand Herald has published a number of articles in recent years about air pollution and its effects on the citizens of Auckland. One such article, entitled ‘Child Pollution Fright’ by David Fisher and Nicola Shepeard was intended to provoke alarm concerning pollution among its readership. The article talks about newly created ‘buffer zones’ for childcare centres in Auckland. The zones were created by the Auckland Regional Public Health Service and regard the distances between childcare centres and areas susceptible to...