We permit governments to govern us solely because they protect us, or attempt to protect us. Protection a thousand years ago came in the form of the local lord, opening the gates of his castle to allow the villagers to take refuge from invaders. In return he took taxes of goods and servitude, and imposed duties on the holding of fairs and markets and on goods imported. Today the protection is in the form of courts and police, and nuclear missiles and armed forces. We are told that to protect our nation we must fight wars with other nations and those wars are just wars: nothing has changed in principle in the past thousand years.
However people are afflicted by different menaces and dangers from those that existed in olden days. Since the industrial revolution people have been threatened by air quality becoming increasingly poorer and governments (nowadays in the person of the European Union) attempt to regulate air quality by setting standards and rules. In the United Kingdom many places containing millions of inhabitants do not fall within the standards set, which were set in order to ensure that people were not in danger from poor air quality.
Air pollution affects people’s health in several ways. There has always been a link between air pollution from traffic fumes and heart attacks, but recent studies show that there is also a link between air pollution and heart failure.
People whose hearts are not in tip top condition and are exposed to high levels of vehicular cuased air pollution are found to be extremely at risk of heart disease. In the United Kingdom 30,000 people die prematurely each year (according to the government) as a result of breathing polluted air. The World Health Organisation estimates the premature deaths around the world as a result of poor air quality to be around 1.3 million.
So when you are next by a busy road in a busy city remember that you cannot stop breathing in the pollution. It affects not just your lungs (with carcinogens) putting you at risk of cancers and asthmas but also your heart.
Preventing air pollution is not rocket science , just expensive, so perhaps more of our taxes should be devoting to making us safe from this risk, and less of our taxes devoted to making us safe from terrorism and foreign powers. After all, you have to protect from the greatest risk, however invisible and unglamorous that may be.