Turning tide on nuclear option

sunday times

Sunday Times, 21 August 2016:

Michael Sheridan understands a lot more about Chinese intent than George Osborne or the hapless Boris Johnson (“Hinkley Point could split us from America.  That’s what China wants”, Comment, last week).  The exorbitant cost of Hinkley Point C would be better directed towards tidal power, which is completely predictable, free at the point of use, lasts for ever and is not subject to terrorist attack or Chinese interference.  Every independent observer advocates conservation and renewables, but the latter will soon reach capacity in the UK and we are then faced with the problem of intermittency.

The solution is a pan-European high voltage DC super-grid so that Spanish sunshine can power the cooking of Scottish porridge on a windless day, and Scottish wind can power the cooking of Spanish paella on a cloudy day.  The money saved from scrapping HS2, for example, could also be put to better use by forging links with our continental partners and ensuring we remain part of the European project.

Dr Robin Russell-Jones
Help Rescue The Planet

Toxic agenda

sunday times

The Sunday Times, 3 April 2016:

It appears diesel exhaust fumes are linked to psychological problems in children, including attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, depression and anxiety.There is also data showing an IQ deficit of approximately 4 points among children highly exposed to particulates and oxides of nitrogen. Many parents will prefer to bring up their children in the country, as did I, to avoid exposure to another potent neurotoxin, lead.

Meanwhile, it is tragic that the chancellor’s “budget for the next generation” did nothing to discourage the continued use of diesel: 10p a litre on the fuel would raise £1.7bn — enough to fill the hole left by the abandoned disability cuts.

Dr Robin Russell-Jones
Stoke Poges, Buckinghamshire

Drive to cut pollution

Sunday Times, 14 February 2016:

It is all very well for cameras to photograph polluting vehicles, but what we need is intervention, not observation (“Pollution cameras to snap toxic cars”, News, last week). I am perplexed by why we tolerate a situation wherein 1,000 people die every week in the UK from air pollution, largely as a result of diesel emissions. Breathing air that does not poison our children is surely a basic right that the government seems determined to ignore.

The situation demands an urgent programme of reform, in which diesel vehicles are heavily taxed and banned from city centres. I have no doubt that this will induce the customary howls of rage from car manufacturers, but they have exhausted their credibility by rigging emissions tests and — in Volkswagen’s case — installing technology designed to hide their culpability.

Dr Robin Russell-Jones
Stoke Poges, Buckinghamshire


Cameron’s double standards over climate change deal

Sunday Times, 20 Dec 15:

Your editorial last week, (A climate deal must work in our interests this time) appears contradictory.

The UK’s Climate Change Act of 2008 had all party support and was one of the most far-sighted pieces of legislation. In calling for an 80 per cent reduction in emissions of CO2 by 2050, it pre-dated the Paris Accord by seven years and encouraged green investors that the UK  was the best place to do business.

Since the election earlier this year all that has been put at risk. David Cameron’s Government  has cancelled the Green Deal, is stopping on-shore wind farm subsidies; has slashed subsidies for solar, and  has abandoned carbon capture and storage. It is also subsidising the development of yet another fossil fuel, shale gas, and bypassing local  authorities over fracking applications.

After the deal in Paris the prime minister stated: “We have secured our planet for many, many generations to come- and there is nothing more important than that”.  It is time for the real Cameron to stand up.

Dr Robin Russell-Jones
Stoke Poges,Buckinghamshire

Car makers exploited EU desire to curb climate change and pollution

Sunday Times, 4 Oct 2015:

Dominic Lawson would like us to believe that the European Union considered climate change more important than public health (Take a deep breath and say it Brussels: the US is right about pollution, Sept 27). A more accurate assessment is that the EU considered both to be vitally important, and that the car manufacturers cynically promoted diesel as a way of reducing carbon emissions without admitting that the technology needed to properly control other pollutants would inevitably compromise fuel efficiency. This trade-off would have been exposed by the stricter emission standards in the US, so car manufacturers cheated by fitting defeat devices. How tragic that VW’s ingenuity and resources weren’t put to better use developing a genuinely clean alternative to fossil fuel-dependent engines.

Dr Robin Russell-Jones MA FRCP FRCPath
Former Chair, Campaign for Lead-Free Air
Stoke Poges, Buckinghamshire

Diesel dangers spotted decades ago

Sunday Times, 7 June 2015:

More than thirty years ago I gave evidence to a House of Lords Select Committee on the adverse health effects of traffic pollution, using data from the US showing higher rates of lung cancer in urban areas, even amongst non-smokers. (Diesel pollution in cities raises risk of stroke, May 31)

The main culprit was small particulates from diesel engines which contain a significant number of carcinogens. Unfortunately the smaller the particulate the more dangerous they are to health, and the more difficult they are to filter out.

That is why a ban on diesel-powered vehicles in city centres is the only way that the Government can comply with the recent Supreme Court ruling on air quality.

Dr Robin Russell-Jones MA FRCP FRCPath
Former Chairman  of CLEAR ( Campaign for Lead-Free Air)
Stoke Poges, Buckinghamshire

There is no link to the original article as it is behind a paywall.

Shale Gas future is a pipe dream

Sunday Times, 19 February 2012:

Your eulogy about the benefits of shale gas (“Gas find is enough to last 70 years”, News, last week) neglects to make clear that the problem with methane is not just that It can get into the water supply, but is a powerful greenhouse gas with about 7 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide when measured over a 20-year timeframe.

A study by Professor Tom Wigley, with whom I co-edited a book in 1989 on zone depletion, showed that unless the release of methane from shale gas can be kept below 2%, the switch to this resource would have a negative effect on climate change. The answer to Britain’s energy needs is a combination of conservation and renewables – not yet another fossil fuel.

Dr Robin Russell-Jones
Help Rescue the Planet,
Stoke Poges, Buckinghamshire