| || Where Jesuits founded a small mission in 1554, there now rises the continent’s largest megalopolis, with at least 26 million inhabitants. The city, which already covers 8,000 square kilometers (3,100 square miles)—an area little more than half the size of the state of Connecticut—is growing at the rate of 60 square kilometers (25 square miles) per year. It is growing upwards too, its lower houses having been replaced first by the predio alto (multi-story buildings), then the edificio (towers), and finally the proud arranha ceu (skyscrapers). Inevitably, this concentration of people has brought an influx of cars and traffic jams which, equally inevitably, have worsened air pollution. In this respect the air in São Paulo has become as unbreathable as that in Mexico City, which is vulnerable because of its altitude, and in Athens, where the inversion of air currents causes the toxic greenish smog to stagnate. In London, the smog which brought with it bronchitis, asthma, and fatal lung diseases disappeared after a law passed in the 1960s made filters in chimneys compulsory. Will anyone ever have the courage to regulate use of the car, the goddess of modern times, and thus dramatically reduce pollution?
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