POLLUTION: We really do need ‘clean air now’

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I was privileged to have a letter published (News Guardian, October 8), on the ever growing menace of air pollution by motor cars, and the general pollution from all other engines, mobile or static, including steam driven.

Two other letters on October 8 dealt with the same subject in widely different ways.

I know Vicki Gilbert to be a tireless volunteer worker as the chairman of Tyne and Wear Transport Users’ Group, as well as a promoter of ‘green’ issues. The other correspondent is not known to me.

If the ‘other side’ of the issue was being stated by someone who has to get by, earn a living, provide for others, compared to the ‘warnings’ of Vicki Gilbert and myself, I must state there is ‘no other side’ in this case.

Individuals may have reasonably diverse opinions about the look of buildings and coastal ‘improvements’, electronic gadgets of continuous evolution outdating something only a year old, the effectiveness of a given bus service, etc.

I am only too well aware that there are millions of engines of all types in the world burning carbon fuels in the form of hydrocarbons, even wood, waste, and recovered chip shop oil.

The diesel engines are dominant in the use of engines in transport, with some on the latest container ships five storeys high, say 80,0000 horse power, and increasing. Motor vehicle exhaust fumes can be cleaned to some extent by catalytic devices, but also these rely on precious metals, such as platinum, which get quietly removed by opportunist thieves.

Volkswagen cars, the ‘people’s car’, are surely no worse than any other makes, but we really need “clean air now”, as stated in Vicki Gilbert’s literature, by more responsible car use.

Though stuck with a few million polluting cars for some years yet, other forms are being developed and are available, but at a cost.

The least we can ask for is that governments must be aware and working towards something more suitable, even limiting car use as in Beijing. Passing an MoT, and paying for tax and insurance is only the start for road vehicles.

AM Johnson