The Guadaliquivir through Seville
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Canoeing the Guadalquivir river through Seville

Why State-funded Expos harm the environment

We started at the Puente del Alamillo, or the Harp bridge, built as part of Expo 92.  

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and paddled downstream under the Barqueta bridge, also built for the Expo

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Two stylish bridges over the river.   They look nice, but both a free to cars and therefore encourage yet more commuters onto Seville's crowded streets.  

Then we passed fancy exhibition halls made up to look like ships

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This building is now the offices of the Andalucian Regional government.  

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Past empty riverside pavilions and the disused cable car that once linked the Expo site with the city.  The Expo monorail has also been dismantled. 

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The bridge of the Pasarela de la Cartuja was also built for the Expo

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And the Expo left this rusting tower sitting in the middle of the river. 

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We paddled under the Puente del Cachorro

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Past the Seville bullring, the Plaza de Toros de la Maestranza

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Under the Puente de Isabel II (the Triana bridge)

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Finally we stopped at the Torre del Oro 

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just before the Puente del San Reno

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and watched the canoe polo 

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It was a great way to see the city.  

Expo 92 cost $12 billion.  About $10 billion went on the bridges, new roads and a high speed rail link to Madrid.  Let's ignore the environmental damage of state-funded road building, iGreens have gone on about that elsewhere, but Seville still does not have a Metro, although one is allegedly opening soon.  

About $2 billion was spent on the Expo site itself, and the four Spanish pavilions within it.  That does not include the money spent by other countries on their own pavilions

So what did the Spaniards get for the $2 billion.  Well 40 million visitors got a day at an expensive theme park.  Tickets cost about $30 per day in 1992.  Much of that will have been diverted from other spending that would have happened in Seville anyway but I guess a bit was new money brought to the city.  They got three or four new government offices in an inaccessible part of town, and a smallish funfair that still struggles on.  And they got a lot of rusted metal to clear away, some of which is still there.  

What did the environment get?  A few thousand extra global warming flights and associated travel, a few more quarries dug and tons of concrete poured.  Again much of the travel would have happened, and the concrete poured, anyway but there must have been some extra, the pollution that can be laid at the door of Expo 92.  

Mega-happenings like Expo's, Millennium domes, Olympic games and World Cups always damage the environment.   Some might happen anyway - the economically viable ones.  No-one suggests they should be banned.   But if they need government subsidy to get off the ground, the money would have been better spent elsewhere.  

Governments too often divert money away from its most efficient use, for the sake of entertainment that is not otherwise viable and at the expense of environmental damage.  They should stop.  

Don't vote for politicians who offer to put on a mega-event.  You'll be paying for it whether you want to or not, and you'll be damaging the environment.



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Last modified: September 21, 2006