Today the British Prime Minister dismissed the current concerns about smog over the UK saying :
“I didn’t go for my morning run this morning. I chose to do some work instead. You can feel it. But it’s a naturally occurring weather phenomenon. It sounds extraordinary, Saharan dust, but that is what it is.”
Well that’s not entirely true is it? The truth is that we have our own pollution created largely from burning of fuels which has built up due to a stable high pressure weather system. This weather pattern then drew in polluted air from the continent. To this toxic, but largely invisible (and so unnoticed) mix was added sand blown into the atmosphere by strong winds across the Sahara. Only the last part of this is in any way natural.
We are told that as the weather shifts to the usual westerly direction the air will come from the Atlantic and be much cleaner, blowing the pollution away. Presumably to Europe, thus creating an export we should not be proud of.
Annually 29,000 die prematurely in the UK from air pollution. Globally the figure is 7 million according to the WHO. That’s more than Aids, smoking, road accidents and diabetes combined, and makes it the world’s single biggest environmental health risk. Whilst the combination of factors have created a highly visible ‘perfect storm’ in the UK the fact is that air quality falls below European standards regularly. Yet there seems to be no action taken, indeed there have been criticisms of ‘over reaction’ levelled at climatologists. When we are told not to exercise outside and children are kept indoors at school breaks I think it should make headline news.
With my coaching clients I often use Stephen Covey’s concept of circles of concern/influence, to which I add control. Surely this is a matter over which, regardless of my concern I have little influence and no control. On that analysis I would better spend my time on those things that I can control or influence. Whether it is correctly attributable to Burke or not, it feels like the right time to use the quote
“All that is required for evil to prevail is for good men to do nothing.”
I can influence by raising awareness and I can personally reduce my own trail of pollution. With that in mind my wife went off to work on her trusty bike this morning – risking her own health to save adding to the toxic brew we call an atmosphere.
What can you do to make a difference, however small?