A sad sign of the times in, well, The Times. An insistence that we should all have air just as clean as it can be. With absolutely no understanding of the costs associated with having that lovely clean air:[perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]This newspaper’s Clean Air for All campaign is right to call for an independent regulator with strong powers of enforcement rather than vague targets pushed into the foggy future. Yes, there is a political cost to cleaning up cities and industries while getting dirty cars off roads but the rewards are great, whether saving NHS cash or creating a greener and more pleasant land for us all to live in.[/perfectpullquote]
There is an economic cost to having clean air. For it means we can’t do all of the things which make the air dirty. We cannot, for example, use diesels. The most likely replacement being petrol engines, those use more fuel for the same distance travelled. That’s a cost. We can’t use wood burners – that’s a cost.
Now, it may be that not being able to do all of those things is worth not being able to do in order to have clean air. But that’s the calculation that has to be done. Are those benefits worth those costs?
There’s also that rather obvious point that dying young of pollution doesn’t cost the NHS money. Far from it, it saves. Because the NHS is a lifetime system of health care – they’re going to treat our terminal illness anyway. And doing so without another 10 years of hip replacements and dementia care is cheaper than with.