With the aid of the massive hype behind the current UN climate summit at Copenhagen, the US Environmental Protection Agency has declared that ‘greenhouse gases are a danger to public health.’
It’s hard to know what to say.
The EPA was founded in 1970 and pioneered the reduction of pollutants from the atmosphere, especially through the Clean Air Act. It forced carmakers to radically clean up car exhausts, bringing in extra-stringent regulations in California.
Indeed, so uncompromising was the EPA that in 1990 it effectively banned diesel cars – notorious for their NoX and soot pollution - from being sold in California.
Despite this admirable record of hardheaded science, the EPA has been strong-armed into declaring that a gas, which is not only essential to plant life, but also just 0.038% of earth’s atmosphere, is ‘dangerous to human health’.
The truth is that it is only by doing this that fuel economy regulations can be enacted across the United States. By declaring CO2 to be pollution, the US government can now lean heavily on not just cars but all types of industry that uses fossil fuels.
Fuel saving is always a good idea, but hype-science in order to achieve it does nobody any good.
Still, at least the US has the Clean Air Act. Here in the UK, the media and governmental debate is so CO2-centric that deaths due to pollution are being ignored.
Last Friday the London Evening Standard reported that the UK was likely to be fined £300m per year for breaching EU air quality regulations set down years ago. That fine, it’s claimed, would add £15 to every council tax bill.
Cities including London, Oxford and Manchester are choked, mainly with pollution from diesel engines. Indeed, it’s generally agreed that 3000 people each year die prematurely in the capital from the effects of air pollution.
Of course, with CO2 regarded as the enemy, virtually nothing has been done in the UK over the last decade to reduce inner city pollution levels. Much of the rest of Europe has, of course, been on the case, banning old vehicles from city centres and switching public transport to gas power.
So while the rest of the world gets worked up about whether a trace gas can rise to sufficient levels in the atmosphere to trigger global warming, thousands of Brits are dying from here-and-now pollution.