Anger Management by Maarten Hoffmann

I think we all share doubts over the think we all share doubts over the environmental claims that we are subjected to on an almost daily basis in the press – a mixture of fear stories, impending calamity and weeping sorrow for the Polar bears. But what’s the truth? Are we being led up the garden path by bureaucrats who either stand to benefit from the scaremongering or speak from ignorance?

Lets’ take a subject that l have been banging on about for years: diesel engines, sold to us as the clean fuel, the fuel that will give you a gazillion miles to the gallon, a fuel that will surely save the Polar bears and pull humanity back from the brink. Well we now know this to be total tosh that was stuffed down our throats lock, stock and barrel as the world raced towards a world of diesel cars.

More than half the cars sold each year in the UK run on diesel compared with only 7.4% just nine years ago. The dramatic rise has been explicitly encouraged because they emit slightly less carbon dioxide than their petrol-driven counterparts. And big environmental groups that used to campaign noisily against them have remained largely silent, possibly because of their overwhelming, if understandable, concern with climate change.

This is a serious matter. Tiny particulates, one of the two most serious pollutants emitted from car exhausts, are officially calculated to kill 29,000 people a year, over 10 times as many as die in car accidents, a toll only exceeded by smoking. And the Government’s Committee on the Medical Effects of Air Pollution has also suggested that they may play a part in 200,000 more deaths. No one has yet worked out a similar fatality figure for the other big danger from exhausts, nitrogen dioxide, but it is strongly linked with asthma, and a major 25-city study has suggested that living near main urban roads could account for up to 30 per cent of all new cases of the disease in children.

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