Reading Sami's post about the dropping carbon emissions, you might conclude that all was well in England's green and pleasant land. But not in the cities. You would think that if they were having an air quality crisis in London, they would ban some dirty cars on an emergency basis like they have in other cities. But it doesn’t work that way there; after all, people have to drive.
Instead, they are telling kids not to play outdoors, adults not to do exercise, and some are making a killing selling cute masks for kids to wear, like this Doodle Mask. Inventor Tiaan Trahms tells Sputnik:
I've lived in London for over ten years and after blowing my nose to see a load of black stuff, I realised my eyes hurt and that the pollution must be insanely bad… I developed the mask which covers the nose and mouth and the way the cotton is woven means that it blocks a lot of the pollution. So I emailed a load of schools asking them to try the masks out on the kids and that's where it started.
There is no testing, no word on whether this mask actually works, which is a shame; PM2.5 particles are very small. No word as to whether Disney and Marvel are along for the ride either.
But that’s not the real issue here, it is London’s attitude to cars. Members of Parliament blame the pollution on bike lanes; Carlton Reid of Bike Biz quotes one MP (who drives an old gas guzzler) recently:
Is there not a case ... for making local authorities take into account the congestion effects of their crusade to remove road space in favour of wider pavements and more cycle lanes? [Pollution] is going up because pavements have got wider and road space is being turned over to cycle lanes.
Reid writes of other distinguished politicians:
Many of Margaret Thatcher's former ministers oppose cycleways. In 2015, Lord Lawson claimed that cycleways were more damaging to London than anything since the Blitz, and last month, during an air quality debate in the House of Lords, Lord Tebbit claimed the "cause of the excess nitrous oxide in the air in this area of Westminster and along the Embankment is those wretched [cycleway] barricades which have been put up by the former mayor.”
Cyclists, meanwhile are also complaining about the cars, telling the Standard how they now have to wear masks:
You cannot breathe in this traffic especially behind buses, taxi drivers and lorries. All those diesel and petrol fumes, you cannot breathe. I have been cycling here for 12 years and it’s definitely got worse. I’d never cycle without one, they make a big difference.
Of course this just reduces the number of cyclists on the road, because masks are miserable. Which is probably just what those old Tories want. More pollution! Fewer cyclists!