Subsidising Air Pollution

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.  Continue reading

Just because you cannot see it, does not mean that it is not there

For the last few days my eyes have been sore as a result of the mixture of Saharan dust and particulate pollution that has been affecting London and much of the United Kingdom. It is not pleasant but the weather forecasters promise relief soon and those with sore eyes as well as those with heart disease and lung disease will be able to spend time outside in the fine weather, instead of being cooped indoors. Continue reading

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. Continue reading

It is worth sacrificing some money and prosperity for an improvement in things that cannot be measured in money

As China struggles to overcome levels of air pollution that compare with the worst pea souper fogs and smogs of former industrial Britain, I conclude that there is no free lunch and that economic growth has its pitfalls and problems as well as its advantages.   Continue reading

Those Who Breathe Have No Choice in the Matter

Outdoor air pollution is, according to the World Health Organisation, responsible for 3.2 million premature deaths every year. We have always known that air pollution, usually caused by burning usually of fuel, is dangerous and that those who are exposed to pollution from vehicles or industry become ill and end up with diseases which affect their breathing as their lungs act as air filters. What was not known until now is that even a few months’ exposure to pollution is likely to increase the risk of premature death, as a study at the University of Utrecht, published in the Lancet, shows. Continue reading

If you destroy life supporting forest you make death bringing smoke.

What happened to London in the 1950s is now happening in Singapore and Indonesia. Burning, in this case the illegal burning of tropical forest in order to clear the land, has created, as burning always creates, smoke and the smoke has settled in a haze around Singapore and parts of Indonesia. The governments of these nations have issued health warnings, recommended that people stay indoors and do not engage in heavy outdoor activity. Singapore is blaming Indonesia for failure to control and prevent the illegal burning of forest.

We need clean air to breathe. Everyone knows that and everyone mostly ignores that. The imperative of economic growth, the making of money and the belief that because nature provides resource humans can exploit it until that resource no longer exists prevails over the simple knowledge that we need to breathe clean air. If you burn life supporting forest you create death bringing smoke.

In places in Singapore and Indonesia the air quality is 371 on the pollution standards index.  The scale on the PSI ranges from perfectly clean air (0) to unhealthy (+200) through hazardous (+300). The air quality is Singapore is now worse than hazardous. PSI levels above 400 will be life-threatening to ill and elderly persons. And healthy people may experience adverse symptoms that prevent them from living their lives as normal. Older folk may remember the song, written about a different kind of smoke, but just as relevant.

Purple haze all in my eyes

Don’t know if it’s day or night

You’ve got me blowin, blowin my mind

Is it tomorrow or just the end of time?

Even if the haze clears rapidly, the particulates in the atmosphere will add to global dimming and to the Asian Brown Cloud.

Running on a cold and frosty morning

It was a cold and frosty morning, so I went running, not for long, but just to get some exercise. I could see the signs of modern heating with flumes from gas condensing boilers, this early morning. Many years ago I would have seen chimneys smoking but I did not see any at all. The air was very still and the only smoke I saw came from car exhausts as I breathed in harder to get my breath as I ran. There were some other runners on the pavement. They nodded in acknowledgement, which is a rare gesture in a London where folk keep themselves to themselves. Well wrapped folk walked slowly to their cars and started scraping the ice from windshields. I breathed harder.

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