Sunday, February 19, 2017

City of London and the Climateers

        Well, have you been to London lately?  Have you seen London lately?  You may have been there, but you couldn't see it for the air pollution.  In the city of London, there's an obvious, visible problem: toxic levels of air pollution.  Hmmmm.  Is this new?  Sudden onset?  No, it's been a problem, and now made worse by government action.  That's right.  In its attempt to reduce air pollution, it instead created lots  more.  The real culprit: diesel engines in the nation's autos.  The gases produced include nitrous dioxide(NO2) and microscopic carbon particulates, those particles most dangerous to human lungs.
        Hmmmm.  How does this happen in the age of science and research?  The testing indicated to observers that diesel engines produced less pollutants than did diesel engines-in lab tests.  However, in the field, where cars are driven, the reverse is true: gasoline(petrol) engines actually produce less pollutants than the much vaunted and government encouraged diesels.  Over 50% of the  autos in London are diesels and numbers have increased from 601,456 in 2012 to 774, 513 in 2015, or 29% over 5 years.
      The mayor of London, Mr. Sadiq Khan, says things have to change and they will.  He has adult onset asthma.  With pollution levels exceeding those of cities such as Beijing, Hyderabad, Shanghai, Chengdu, and Delhi, something must be done.
      Bicycles you say?  Well if you want to eliminate cyclists, Ok.  Those bicycle riders are exposed to the most pollution as they ride their rigs to work along established bike routes they share with buses and autos.  It's been shown that adding bike lanes leads to congestion which slows traffic which produces more pollutants which cause higher and higher levels of NO2.  The switch to gasoline engines will take incentives(money) and will take time.  The more time it takes, the more illnesses and deaths attributed to toxic air.  What to do?
      Plans run from extreme to casual with lots in between.  Included are plans to raise the inner zone tax/fee to $12/day for polluting vehicles; in 2019, a new, expanded low emission zone across London will cost $15 a day for drivers to enter.  Also, the creation of 12 hybrid or electric bus zones that will service key routes in the city.
     In the meantime, look for health aware citizens to be wearing masks of various types to protect themselves.  Schools are considering giving masks to children to protect their young organs from obvious harm.   Elderly citizens will have to decide to remain in the polluted city, or move to the country for clean air.  All action plans have costs, financial and personal health.  Let's not mention the details of the EU's plan to fine the UK for exceeding air pollution standards.  Too toxic a topic.
     Good luck, Mr. Khan.  Keep your gas mask handy. 

No comments:

Post a Comment