Last year, a study concluded that up to 60,000 people die each year in the UK due to air pollution. The number of people who die in the UK due to terrorism? Well, it was found that bees and wasps have killed as many people as terrorism in the past decade.
So it might come as a shock to learn that our government have invested far more into preventing terrorism, despite the shocking statistics suggesting action is needed elsewhere.
Following the Paris attacks, they leaped at the chance to launch air strikes in Syria in response to, well, zero casualties in this country. Despite George Osbourne’s claims that costs of the attacks would be “in the low tens of millions”, evidence suggests otherwise.
Our bombing campaign in Libya cost £390 million. Whilst those attacks lasted for seven months, the Syria strikes could last years, so the figures speak for themselves. It is clear where our government’s priorities reside.
It seems they are more concerned with giving so called terrorists a reason to attack us by invading their countries, and then telling us that the vast amount of money they magically conjure up to protect us is for our safety. That is like throwing a stone at the school bully and then using it to beat his innocent friends to death when he retaliates.
Does that sound farfetched? Osborne said that the money for Syria air strikes would come out of a “special reserve which we established for the purposes of military action like this.’
Where is the special reserve for the struggling NHS? Or for single mothers feeding their children with food stamps? Or for students from low-income families, who will now be riddled with even more debt after the government’s decision to scrap maintenance grants? Or maybe even possibly that little pollution problem that is killing thousands of people a year?
It sounds dramatic because it is. In the first week of 2016, London breached it’s air pollution limit for the year, and it looks as if we’re set to continue breaching it until 2030 unless more action is taken.
But of course, tackling pollution is a little trickier than preventing terrorism. You can’t simply throw bombs at pollution until it leaves you alone, so I guess we can forgive the government for picking the simple option. Well, we could if they weren’t in charge of making decisions that protect us, not put us at risk.
The causes of pollution and the preventative measures necessary are varied and complex, which make it a more long-term mission. But this mission is vastly more important than preventing terrorism in the long-term, although you might struggle believing that when glancing at a copy of The Sun.
But how exactly can the government slow down pollution on our behalf? First it’s important to understand what causes it.
Pollution is caused directly through our use of electricity, fuels, and transportation – this can be through our own personal use, or the use of the companies whose products we buy. This explains the higher concentration in cities, where there is most vehicles, industry and people.
In the US, it is found that the production of the goods that the average family consume accounts for more pollution than anything else combined. This means that even if you cycle to work, never leave the TV on standby and take short showers, it still isn’t enough because the production of the food we eat and the clothes we buy pollutes the most. So it is the government’s responsibility to regulate this production.
It’s at the root of all these causes where we will find the real enemy however, in the form of fossil fuels – namely oil, gas and coal. The facts are clear when it comes to fossil fuels; we must begin to move away from them and towards green energy if we stand any chance of not just reducing pollution, but of securing humanity’s future survival.
When learning this, most would be disappointed to find out that the UK was the only G7 country to increase subsidies for fossil fuel companies by billions and allow fracking under national parks, at the same time as cutting support for green energy.
Does that sound like a government with any intention of reducing pollution or protecting the environment beyond creating the veneer that they are?
It’s time people started making some noise and letting them know that we expect them to tackle the real problems. We can’t accept the stories they sell us to justify funding murder in Syria or any other country. They must start considering the real challenges we face.
The direction to go in is clear and plenty of countries have set an example. In 2015, Denmark broke the world record by getting 42% of its electricity from wind power. Scotland is following suit, with almost half of their electricity last year coming from renewable energy sources. Morocco are in the process of building a huge solar farm in the desert, whilst the same industry is creating more jobs in the US than coal and gas.
If we don’t go in this direction, we could always go down the route China have, where the pollution has reached such a debilitating point that people are stocking up on bottled air from the Canadian mountains. Which option sounds more appealing?