This morning in London started quite beautifully. Spring was in evidence in every tree and shrub and there was a warm feeling to the start of the day. The sky was clear and the air felt clean, but things were not as they appeared.
Today London and the whole of the South of England is suffering from a dangerous level of air pollution. This was not evidenced in smog and fog and in fact there was no evidence that you could perceive with your eyes of the pollution that fills the air. However, if you suffer from a heart condition or are asthmatic or suffer from emphysema or are old you have been warned not to exercise vigorously because to do so would put you at risk and if you can stay indoors.
Warm still air has created ideal conditions for particulate pollution from this country and North West Europe to combine with Saharan dust which as I write has caused pollution levels in the air to be at their highest on the scale that measures these things. If the forecasters are right to air pollution should be blown away by tomorrow. Let us hope that they are right.
As humans we do so many things which are bad and wrong and which endanger others. Polluting the air is one of them. It is odd that successive UK governments have encouraged burning which is the prime culprit when it comes to air quality. In the UK we now have ridiculous subsidies for wood burning boilers. If you decide to heat your home and your hot water by burning wood then the taxpayer will reward you generously for the heat that your burning produces. There are no proper regulations or enforcement about air quality and the UK government simply leaves it to its taxpayers’ lungs to filter out the particulates that wood burning causes.
I have been warning about the hidden dangers of burning for many years but my warnings are ignored by civil servants and minsters who think they know better. I believe that rather than subsidise wood burning we should tax it so that we may pay for the damage to health that it creates, but what do I know?