Pollution on the Streets of London

On Monday and Tuesday of this week when I walked the streets of London I noticed an orange dust had settled on cars. I also noticed that I coughed and sneezed, putting this down to a cold coming, although the orange dust I put down to mere pollution. In fact I had no cold coming and pollution was not mere pollution, but had reached 10 on the DEFRA scale of air pollution, which is the UK government’s highest scale reading. It is probably time to re-adjust the scale, perhaps to 20, as there is more pollution to come.

The high pollution arises from several factors; first there is still air caused by high pressure over the southern part of England which is bringing us fine sunny weather but also trapping pollution; secondly dust from about 1500 miles away stirred up in the Saharan Desert has reached the United Kingdom; thirdly industrial pollution from Central Europe has moved westward and mixed in with the dust from the desert.

The official government advice is

“Adults and children with lung problems, and adults with heart problems, should reduce strenuous physical exertion, particularly outdoors, and particularly if they experience symptoms. People with asthma may find they need to use their reliever inhaler more often. Older people should also reduce physical exertion.”

As this dust and pollution hits London a debate has opened about wind turbines being built on land. Although wind turbines have a number of disadvantages (which I have expressed elsewhere on this blog) they do not cause pollution. They do not bring nitrous oxide and greenhouse gases which burning fuels bring.

I have no doubt that this pollution is exacerbated by the European Union and the United Kingdom’s policy on failing to distinguish between dirty renewable heat and clean non-polluting heat. There are subsidies for biomass boilers, which burn wood or wood chip on the basis that the wood is replaceable and therefore sustainable. Of course, the theory is different to what happens in practice. Not only is biomass dirty (it releases more carbon dioxide per unit of energy than does coal) it also does not sustain itself, because human greed intervenes but worse of all it creates pollution in the form of particulates that add to the air pollution that we are presently experiencing in the South of England.

So under the pretence of renewable energy saving carbon dioxide emissions the government subsidises (with our taxes) a means of energy creating which causes air pollution and emits more carbon dioxide than any other fuel.

I want to enjoy the warm weather, but perhaps the safest thing is to stay indoors and hope that the pollution will be blown away to some other part of the planet where the lungs and hearts of some other folk can cope with it.

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