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  • Writer's pictureLiza Stirlinglass

People are dying, now!

No, this isn't a diatribe about Covid 19 and the new lock down rules. I borrowed the title from a fourteen minute broadcast on the BBC by #JaneBurston, the Executive Director of the Clean Air Fund. Her words literally took my breath away as she described the impact of pollution of peoples lives and the fact that 7 million people die, or 15% of all deaths, is from polluted air around the world. I am not very good at stats and math, but even to my ears 15% seems like a horribly large percentage and something that we all contribute to. It's time for change.

When I moved back to Scotland from Canada I chose to live somewhere with good public transport so that I didn't need a car. And to date, with the exception of Sundays when the rail operator doesn't offer a train that will get me to work on time for 8am and I borrow my daughters car, the decision has felt good. I am doing my bit. But as I listened to Jane's letter to 2021 I realise that my bit is no where near good enough, I need, we all need to do way more. To prevent deaths like little Ella who died from air pollution in London last February, because her home was too close to the South Circular. Air pollution is named as the cause of death for Ella. Surely as a preventable death, that term thrown around by governments to save money, Ella's was indeed preventable. Yet from what I hear investments and relationships with industry that still pollutes continues.

I have no claim to fully know the science or industry economics, but common sense tells me that to continue to invest in these old industries, for example to allow the plant at Grangemouth, near me, which churns out pollution by the bucket load and has "exemptions" enabling it to run dirty due to cronyism, is simply not acceptable.

So my 2021 resolve is to do a little bit more than my bit. Secretly I have hated the dark early morning trudge to the train station and despite what I know have been considering buying a used car. Jane's talk this morning has changed my mind. Perhaps, if they get affordable, an electric car will be a possibility. I will look into changing our gas central heating and making sure that the insulation "planned, but not done" is taken care of properly. Because our household doesn't receive any government credits I am not eligible for this to be funded, but it will be worth the investment. And as for rubbish and recycling, I am going to do better. Refuse to purchase any and all unnecessary plastic on fruits and vegetables and try to buy everything as locally as possible.

Thanks Jane for your pep talk, your reality check has made a huge difference to me this morning. To find out more about the Clean Air Fund, this is the link: #cleanairfund Jane's broadcast can be found on BBC sounds on Radio 4 under Letters to 2021.

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