Playing games with air pollution


The EEA (European Environment Agency) says air pollution cost up to €169 billion in 2009.

Carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions contribute the most to the overall damage costs, approximately €63 billion in 2009. Air pollutants, which contribute to acid rain and can cause respiratory problems – sulphur dioxide (SO2), ammonia (NH3), particulate matter (PM10) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) – were found to cause €38-105 billion of damage a year. 

Okay, these are made up costs so we don’t need to treat them seriously. What we need to take more seriously is the extent to which air pollution may be used as yet another publicly-funded scam. Below are Defra’s National Atmospheric Emissions Inventory (NAEI) charts for sulphur dioxide, ammonia, particulate matter (PM10) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) plotted annually. In the UK, all but ammonia are declining significantly and even ammonia is sloping downwards as we raise fewer cows. I’ll ignore CO2 as it isn’t a pollutant. As the basic biosphere nutrient, higher concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere are more likely to be beneficial than harmful.

As for the more genuine pollutants, the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee report for 2009/10 had this to say about UK air pollution:-

Poor air quality reduces the life expectancy of everyone in the UK by an average of seven to eight months and up to 50,000 people a year may die prematurely because of it. Air pollution also causes significant damage to ecosystems. Despite these facts being known air quality is not seen as a priority across government and the UK is failing to meet a range of domestic and European targets.

So that’s seven to eight month knocked off your stint in a care home is it? Not quite disaster territory I’d say and presumably the health effects are going in the right direction.

Air quality is obviously important, but what’s the real game being played here, the one behind the idiot headline? It seems pretty obvious that these fantasy costs and exaggerated health issues are connected with  propping up the green energy game by conflating it with air pollution-control measures. Yet even official figures show that air quality improvements already achieved can hardly be due to wind turbines or electric vehicles. But the EU has invested a lot of money and kudos in climate politics, as has the UN. One worth watching I think.

Sulphur Dioxide

Ammonia

Particulates (PM10)

Nitrogen Oxides

 

9 comments for “Playing games with air pollution

  1. December 27, 2011 at 7:45 am

    What we need to take more seriously is the extent to which air pollution may be used as yet another publicly-funded scam.

    They have us by the short and curlies.

  2. ivan
    December 27, 2011 at 9:57 am

    Why, oh why, do they always show steam – water vapour – rising from cooling towers as examples of pollution – it can’t be part of the scam now can it?

    Most of these scare tactics are aimed at the dumbed down population as a way of governments raising more taxes and reducing said population to serf status.

    • December 27, 2011 at 2:27 pm

      I agree – I’m sure that always showing steam without reminding people it’s only steam is all part of the scam.

      • Rossa
        December 27, 2011 at 3:22 pm

        Even more so when they can take the shot with some of the steam in shadow so it looks more like black smoke. Or use Photoshop to ‘airbrush’ the picture.

        Unfortunately most people will think power station = smoke as smoke is still linked to coal in that way.

  3. nemesis
    December 27, 2011 at 3:31 pm

    “Poor air quality reduces the life expectancy of everyone in the UK by an average of seven to eight months and up to 50,000 people a year may die prematurely because of it.”
    How exactly does one work out that someone has died prematurely from air pollution? From what I have read, it is extremely difficult to attribute death to a single cause, apart from the obvious – heart stops beating.
    Devillish things – these statistics.

    • December 27, 2011 at 3:47 pm

      I agree. For example, asthma statistics don’t seem to correlate well with air pollution.

  4. elaine
    December 28, 2011 at 9:14 pm

    Amazing how they can be so exact, isn’t it? It’s amazing we live at all, with all the smoking, drinking, meat eating, bad air around us..(!)

    • December 29, 2011 at 3:28 pm

      Yes, yet we need to retire later because we are living longer.

      • elaine
        December 29, 2011 at 3:46 pm

        And apparently there’s too many of us anyway!

Comments are closed.