Wednesday, 23 November 2016
What you need to know about air pollution- a guest blog, plus Manston cancer and UN Road Safety Week
A guest blog by Joe Thomas below, and my thoughts on UN Road Safety Week later on:
Air pollution is now one of the most pressing environmental concerns. While nine out of the ten most polluted cities in the world lie in India and Pakistan that leaves no room for complacency amongst other countries; partly because they too have their own issues and also because we live in a connected ecosystem.
What Is Air Pollution?
Air pollution is a complex topic as so many factors are responsible for the poor quality of our air. However, simply put, air pollution is any chemical, physical or biological change which causes the atmosphere to become dirty and thus risks not only our own potential for survival but also that of other animals and plants.
Air pollution can also be further divided into two distinct categories; visible and invisible. Both can lead to an alteration of the delicate balance of our atmosphere and cause problems to health on a local scale and also damage to the ecosystem globally in terms of depletion of the ozone layer leading to climate change.
Air pollution can arise in two main ways. First, pollutants can be released directly into the atmosphere and are known as primary pollutants. Second, primary pollutants can combine to form secondary pollutants and this can be seen in the formation of issues such as smog.
What Causes Air Pollution?
Fossil Fuels: A main cause of air pollution is the one you might expect, namely the sulphur released from the burning of fossil fuels, such as coal and petroleum. We rely on petrol, diesel and jet fuel to transport not only us but our goods around the world as we live in an increasingly globalised economy. In 2015 alone nearly 3.6 billion passengers, almost half the world’s population, were transported by the world’s airlines.
Vehicle Emissions: As our reliance on cars, trucks, shipping freighters and aeroplanes increases so do the levels of carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxides released into the atmosphere. 13% of global CO2 emissions, a major factor in global warming, come from transport.
Agriculture: We may not always immediately think of agricultural activities being connected to air pollution but methane and ammonia are both by-products of farming and are highly hazardous to our environment. This is compounded by the use of pesticides, insecticides and fertilizers, a heady cocktail of chemicals, some parts of which make it into the air.
Manufacturing: Heavy industry leads to the release of carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons and a soup of other chemicals, all of which can lead to a decline in air quality. Oil refineries also release hydrocarbons which pollute the atmosphere.
Deforestation: Deforestation is caused by clearing land for agriculture, manufacturing and ever growing urban areas. This lowers air quality because the fewer trees there are the less carbon dioxide they can absorb.
Mining: The result of mining on the health of workers and nearby residents has been clearly demonstrated over the years and in developing countries the quest to extract as many tons of natural resources as possible is having a devastating impact on the health of those working in the mines.
Indoor Pollution: What we use in our own homes is also leading to air pollution. Household cleaning products, paints and varnishes release chemicals into the air which contribute to poor air quality and many of us add to this chemical mix by smoking.
What Damage Does Air Pollution Do?
Air pollution damages our environment, and it also leads to a variety of health issues and even death.
Circulatory and Respiratory Issues: The particulates in the atmosphere have been linked to heart problems, respiratory issues and even cancer. Current estimates are that polluted air causes 5.5 million premature deaths per year.
Climate Change: The rise of levels of carbon dioxide, alongside other greenhouses gases, has led to global warming which has caused increasingly unpredictable weather systems and the melting of the ice caps.
Thinning of the Ozone Layer: As the levels of hydro chlorofluorocarbons and chlorofluorocarbons in the atmosphere rise this leads to a depletion of the ozone layer which protects the planet. As it does we are exposed to higher levels of ultraviolet light which can cause skin and eye problems.
Acid Rain: As sulphur and nitrogen oxides are released into the atmosphere they can combine with water droplets and fall as acid rain. The results can be devastating to fish, wildlife, trees and even the crops we rely on for our food production.
What Can Be Done About Air Pollution?
Air pollution needs to be tackled at a global level through legislation and international agreements which aim to reduce pollution levels, such as the Paris Agreement which was agreed in December 2015.
However, there are also steps we as individuals can take to lower our own environmental impact, particularly when it comes to air pollution.
Reduce Your Use of Private Vehicles: Where possible travel to your destination on foot, by bicycle, on public transport or car pool with others in your area. By lowering vehicle emissions you can reduce your carbon footprint.
Conserve Energy In the Home: Reduce your use of electricity by purchasing eco-friendly goods, keeping your thermostat turned down and insulating your property. Switch to sources of renewable energy where possible.
Recycle: Try to buy less from new and recycle household items as well as everything you are throwing out, even food scraps can go on a compost heap.
Reduce Food Miles: By purchasing more local food from farmers’ markets and growing your own fresh produce you can drastically reduce the distance your food travels to reach your plate.
Improve Your Indoor Air Quality: As well as the steps above you can also improve the air quality in your own home by asking smokers to light up elsewhere; avoiding harsh cleaning agents; minimising your use of synthetic air fresheners; opening the windows regularly; and including plants in your interior design.
While it is sometimes easy to dismiss poor air quality as something which doesn’t concern us, we only have to take a look at the statistics to understand the negative impact pollution is having on us and on our world. It is also important to remember that it is vital for us all to act today if we don’t want to leave a legacy it will be impossible for future generations to reverse.
Joe is a writer from the UK, on a range of subjects, including health and nutrition, sustainability and environmental issues. He believes living a healthy lifestyle will ensure a good platform for a happier life and raising awareness on such issues is important for progression - education is key. firstname.lastname@example.org
UN Road Safety Week this week.
Clearly electric vehicles etc as detailed above will improve air pollution: upto 50M deaths worldwide.
Obviously it's almost impossible to measure/estimate accurately - certainly in Kent we've seen the removal and coverup of air pollution monitors and data with Infratil and TDC/KCC at Manston airport.
Data that informs Kent's air pollution statistics for aviation but also road transport.
An unpleasant cancer effect by those funded to specifically protect us as best as possible.
A horrifying failure by Berry, Button and Sproates and TDC and KCC management and criminal corporate manslaughter with Fitzgerald, Clarke and Buchanan and Bogoievski - many now at Lydd and Wellington airports rather than jail as yet and the Wellington NZ surely Asia's most dangerous airport if there are similar safety breaches?
The KCC Toxic Three of Carter, King and Wild were quick to talk up their meetings in the Infratil boardroom and Virginia USA flights with KCC tax and then scamper away from the real cancer effect.
But on UN Road Safety Week, if it’s a surprising and little-known fact that the mosquito is the most dangerous animal to humanity with c.600k deaths from malaria and dengue fever last year. And millions more throughout the previous years. Then it’s as surprising if not more humdrum that the biggest killer after air pollution and cancer (8M) and tobacco (5M) is road accidents: 1.2M deaths last year, more than all the wars and murders and suicides put together.
And equalling HIV and TB deaths.
Hence UN Road Safety Week this week and Project EDWARD the European Day Without A Road Death last month – I must admit a slight bit of surprise that EDWARD wasn’t scheduled 6 months earlier and during the Summer, from our Sincerity work we know the counterfactual point that drinkdriving deaths are at the highest then rather than Xmas.
And surely in my politics role I will be pushing for more rapid improvements in road safety. It’s appalling that KCC Public Health have allowed Kent KSI, killed or seriously injured, to increase to 54 road deaths and hundreds maimed and injured. Not even producing a pin-map of deaths for evaluation.
As KCC Leader May 2017 in opposition to Carter and the Toxic three and Shonk's Farageland I will:
• rapidly rollout 20mph zones in a 5 mile radius from Kent’s town centres – not just around schools
• release the aforementioned pin-map
• highlight traffic danger zones and design out the problems with sleeping policemen, chicanes etc
• highlight key areas/issues for the Kent Air Ambulance- and systemic funding and training - and Police and RNLI helicopters eg motorways/hospitals as well as blood/organs transit and Left is Life campaign
• zero drink-driving: just don’t drink and drive – not a glass of wine or half a pint of lager. Nothing.
• and stiffer penalties for drugs driving, driving uninsured and mobile phone driving – the phone should be in a bag or the glovebox if not switched off
• increase clamped and crushed cars eg yellow lines, pavements, schools etc and verify potential for Lucky Iron Fish manufacturing and MGD Laos p.56 44% malnutrition
• produce a DFID plan for surplus ambulances, cars, vans etc
• rollout the innovative Kent Police HGV truck
• ban live animal exports over 3 hours and from ports as a road/transport health and safety issue
• ban Hendon-issued jazz-hands white gloves except for traffic police and redeploy the savings to cops issuing parking tickets especially the night prowl car
• a weekend late-bus and timetable from town centres
• seek school curriculum on road safety and Red Cross First Aid training
• rollout paramedic training for all police, fire etc
• develop Kent Police Polish, Hungarian and Romanian language capability and traffic police exchanges/learning
• compulsory helmets for bicycles
• end Dungeness nuclear fuel traffic
• end road-rail level crossings accident blackspots
• review town centre CCTV –much of it seems not to work at all despite investment and promises -and TDC council staff car park cameras/funds
• tighten up the enforcement of smoking with children in the car: only 1 fine by Cumbria Police so far – a danger to the children in the car and, as with mobile phones, to those outside it
• review Kent’s road safety advertising: much of it is weak if not foolish – promoting a “shared path” for cars and bikes and pedestrians? No wonder pedestrian deaths have increased, and Lincolnshire Police are far more advanced in highlighting particular issues such as weather conditions, braking etc etc
Until robotcars reduce human error by 90%, there is far more that could be done on the 1,700 UK road deaths from both UN Road Safety Week and Project Gilgamesh.
Time for Change
* Private Eye: new court case from Kent police investigation of Essex Police and Lee Balkwell cement mixer drowning(!) - a surprising choice out of 43 forces investigation given Kent and Essex share management. But certainly less worse than Surrey cops and another Deepcut investigation or South Yorks Police and not one but two Chiefs resigning over Hillsboro. When Kent's Chief Pughsley is back form his holidays I'll be asking him to provide a review of Kent/Surrey/Sussex mergers: 43 force is far too much bloat sat in the copshop rather than patrolling or kicking in drug den doors - especially with zero rape arrests in East Kent
* BHS scandal: Frank Field MP confirms with the Pensions Regulator that Philip Green's yacht could be seized with any other assets to fill the £500M pensions theft - no doubt Lord Grabiner will be concerned with running not just BHS but the fraudsters at One Essex Court barristers and tame BSB investigations and whitewash. Little more than the courts being used as lawyers' ATM's.
* A good UN report on MDG/SDG30 - although slightly peculiar in talking about the transition form MDG to SDG30 given these were approved in January and being discussed for 3 years before that and many form part of MDG. But good points on Laos (P.56) and horrifying 44% malnutrition and review of Philippines activity - far better than UK. I can't see why waiting until 2030 to achieve UNSDG30 is viable nor why many goals are set so low ie poverty funded by 2030 as $1.25 a day.
* The UK funds UN via DFID and FCO budgets so it's a key UK issue to achieved UNSDG30 as rapidly and effectively as possible.