Let’s talk pollution

Do you like smoking fags in your children’s bedroom? How about breathing out your nicotine infused lung poison in your children’s face? No? Why then do you like cars belching out fumes on Weymouth Esplanade, the ‘drive thru’ at McDonalds / KFC or even while having a pint at the Duchess of Cornwall overlooking the Waitrose Car Park (also known as Queen Mother Square) in Poundbury? 

Is it the nicotine that makes the life shortening cigarette fumes bad while the diesel / petrol toxins are actually not so bad? I’m a heavy smoker and am frightened witless not of the smoke going in my daughter’s face (I never allow it) but that she won’t have a daddy soon. 

Don’t believe me? How about a recent World Health Organisation (WHO) report that showed that 25.7 people per 100,000 are killed every year by air pollution in the UK? We are trounced by supposedly less developed Brazil where only 15.8 per hundred thousand are killed. Oil thirsty USA? 12.1.

My issue is that the car fumes being belched everywhere we go in the higher traffic areas of Dorset are an order of magnitude worse than a few people killing themselves for a nicotine hit. Isn’t it about time others started thinking the same way?  

You can be arrested for smoking a fag in a car with a child in it, but not leaving the windows open on a hot day on Boot Hill. A 2017 report from Weymouth & Portland Borough Council didn’t release the figures but did state, “The current hotspot locations are Boot Hill (Rodwell Road) and King Street in Weymouth.” The figures were probably too appalling to release, and as always commerce seems to come first in this next comment: “Weymouth and Portland Borough Council (“W&PBC”) are monitoring for NO2 in these locations using diffusion tubes and undertake automatic (continuous) monitoring at Boot Hill.” This is code for ‘let’s pretend to do something by measuring it, not releasing the figures and let our residents choke to death.’

Close to the time of the report, the Guardian newspaper reported that 49% of UK residents live in air pollution levels so high they are actually illegal. 

I remember as a teenager looking at the horizon of Lake Erie from my tall ship in the mid 1990’s. The cities of Cleveland, Cincinnati and Detroit weren’t themselves visible due to the distance from us, but the yellow tinged atmospheres above them were. People come to Dorset for the fresh air yet many areas of this supposedly rural county have at least as dangerous air as central Luton or Oxford Street. 

OK, so commerce and trade comes before health. Let the McDonald’s Drive Thru staff breathe dangerously high pollution as they earn their £8 an hour serving factory farmed offal through the windows. At least they have a job (albeit one where the pension will be saved because they won’t live to retirement age). Whenever I hear this rubbish about the economy needs pollution, I point out that dead men can’t reach in their wallets.

You rarely read something written by me on Dorset Eye that isn’t dripping with fury. In this world if you’re not angry there’s something wrong with you. I’ll back off the attack now – here are some solutions:

  • Pedestrianise the Esplanade west of King Street. 
  • Pedestrianise Queen Mother Square
  • The same applies to West Bay, Swanage and Bournemouth beach 
  • How about a ‘zero emissions zone’ where fossil fuel powered vehicles are banned from those areas?

Something needs to change. Will our supposed political representatives forsake their ‘political campaign donations’ and do something about it? Probably not – the donations would dry up…

Richard Shrubb