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Clearing the air

It’s been a long time since I’ve blogged any good rant about matters in the news here.  It’s not that I don’t sometimes have things I could say, nor even that my words would be superfluous because the Chattering Classes in the mainstream media are already saying them.  Rather it’s a lack of round tuits, and perhaps because I might sometimes post a rant elsewhere instead (for example, El Reg on predominantly techie matters).

So how better to try and restart than by blogging a positive story.  One of those rare occasions where out government appears possibly to be doing the Right Thing about one of today’s most serious problems.  I can’t find it on the BBC website (where I looked after hearing it on the radio), but Google finds it at the FT.

The story is rather different between the BBC and the FT, but the gist of it is that Michael Gove and/or the Department of the Environment (of which he is minister in charge) is at last considering proposals to clean up our air, by restricting or banning domestic wood and coal fires.  These fires have become a huge problem in recent years.  I believe they have standards about keeping their own house unpolluted, but for anyone who happens to live downwind[1] of such fires, it can fill the house with smoke for extended periods: many hours a day, many months a year.  We’re talking levels of smoke comparable to not one or two but a great many smokers in the house, and this is seriously nasty smoke that hasn’t gone through the considerable cleanup that’s been forced onto the tobacco industry in recent decades.

In summary, for people affected by this, it’s an order of magnitude worse than regular exposure to passive smoking, or to those diesel emissions that have created such a fuss in recent times.

Governments have occasionally been known to do the right thing on pollution.  In the 1950s we had clean air legislation to clear up a reportedly-serious smog problem.  In my lifetime we’ve rid ourselves of most of the blight of tobacco smoke (including legislation that has been very successful despite my reservations at the time).  Let’s hope we can see the spirit of that 1950s legislation revived and give us back our air!

[1] The prevailing wind here is approximately west-south-west, and a very common winter weather pattern includes mild damp weather and very light westerly winds.  So the greatest killer is to be between east and northeast of a woodburner.