As regular readers of my blog will know, one of my pet peeves is when people sit in their cars with the engine running. This happens a lot outside primary school gates where children gather and inhale the fumes. Pollution from motor vehicles is especially harmful to children because they are smaller and absorb more fumes per kilogram of body weight than adults do.
Car pollution can damage the growth of their lungs, raise the risk of asthma and allergies, damage the development of their brains, and raise the risk of heart disease and cancer later in their lives. Source.
For the very first time this week I finally found the courage to ask a motorist to please switch their engine off. We were waiting outside Highland Dance and Elizabeth was standing not much more than 2 metres from his exhaust and he was just idling there for what seemed like an eternity. There was really no need to keep the engine on. I summoned the courage to approch him and asked him as politely as I could to please turn the engine off so the children don’t have to inhale the fumes. His answer was surprising.
He said, “Oh but this isn’t a petrol car. It’s diesel”.
Diesel fumes are more damaging to health than petrol fumes. I thought everyone knew this but clearly not. Indeed the motorist thought the opposite was true. I replied that diesel is worse but I don’t think he believed me. He said he’s an asthmatic and knows but he still turned the engine off and that’s the main thing.
More needs to be done to educate people on the harmful effects of air pollution. I think if people knew what it did to their health and the health of their children they wouldn’t sit for ten minutes next to a children’s playground with the engine running. Vehicle idling is also illegal in Scotland and you can be fined for it.
An item of news on Twitter yesterday caught my eye. Keir Starmer evidentally hit a cyclist in London while driving his SUV to a private tailor’s appointment. There is so much to be disappointed with in this story. I am dismayed to read he drives an SUV. These cars are dangerous, selfish, gas guzzling, climate polluting vehicles that have no place in a city. They are useful off-road, on farms, and in the country. Keir Starmer could be setting a good example by owning an efficient electric car. Driving to a private tailor who caters to celebrities also doesn’t really seem fitting for a Labour leader. How many of us can afford to do that? Then of course the hitting of the cyclist who, thankfully, is ok.
Our actions are more important than our words. Many people claim to be concerned about climate change but when it comes to making changes themselves like cycling rather than driving or following a plant-based diet, their actions fall short.