Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Friday, January 16, 2009

Crows as a measure of state capacity?

If the government cannot "deliver" air clean enough for the big black birds, is that a sign of other limitations on the effectiveness of a government? a regime? a state? What else is the state unable to deliver?

As the crow flies: birds flee Tehran's polluted air

"Tehran's notoriously bad air pollution has long been a health hazard for its 12 million people, but now the toxic mix of fumes has sent a different set of residents fleeing – the city's black crows.

"Environmentalists say the hitherto pollution-resistant population of crows have fled in large numbers in recent days after air quality reached crisis levels...

"The crow exodus occurred less than three weeks after high levels of carbon monoxide and other gases in the air drove off other species of bird, including nightingales and pigeons...

"The polluted air is traditionally at its worst in winter, when a thick curtain of smog hangs over the city for days on end – frequently forcing residents to wear protective face masks. On occasions the poor air quality has prompted the authorities to close schools and urge people with respiratory ailments to stay indoors.

"The city council estimates that 80% of the toxic gases are caused by cars, with large numbers of motorbikes compounding the problem."

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