Dystopia

“Dystopia: An undesirable place to be”.

It is the opposite of ‘Utopia’, being the best possible place. Thus, the Garden of Eden was wonderful for Adam and Eve. At the other end of the scale, the smog-filled horror of industrial England around the 1950s was undoubtedly a prime example of ‘dystopia’.

I remember smogs even though I did not live in London and never have. Here in the South of Lancashire – the cotton mill and coal mine industrial ‘utopia’ – horrid smogs occurred from time to time, but, thankfully, not that often. Typically, they would occur in cold, but still, weather. We all know what a thick fog is like – a white veil, but smog was yellow. Almost certainly, the yellowness was caused by sulphur.

In ‘the good old days’, when I was a youth, I used to cycle into Manchester to the ice-rink there up Moss Side. It closed at about 10 pm, so it was around the right time to cycle back home, taking about three quarters of an hour, so as not to be too late at night. I remember with great clarity cycling back home and hitting a smog a couple of miles from home. It was yellow, dense and cloying. When I got home, my mother was astonished. I looked in the mirror, and my face was filthy, streaked with black deposits. So were my clothes. Thankfully, I had YOUNG LUNGS, which were able to survive the smog onslaught unscathed. God only knows how many OLD LUNGS gave up the ghost.

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Those days, despite the obvious, known dangers of smog, were comparatively innocent days. Industry was necessary for recovery from WW2. Whatever ‘dystopic’ consequences ensued had to be accepted – at the time. But the longer term health effects are unknown, because no one was doing epidemiological studies. Instead, they were doing such studies on smoking. Weird, is it not? A perfectly plain and obvious cause of lung problems, SMOG, was virtually ignored, and a vast industry of tobacco blame was instituted. Even at that time, it was well known that lung problems were more evident in inland, shrouded cities than coastal cities. I have a study by Kittie Little from South Africa somewhere on my computer which showed the difference between coastal areas and inland areas clearly. But there is also the well-known difference between rural areas and urban areas as well, and these differences are well documented.

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The ‘dystopia’ of smog has been replaced by the ‘dystopia’ of the Tobacco Control Industry. In the UK, we are, as a people, very fortunate. We are, on the whole, healthy and wealthy. Very few of us are starving to death and dying from plagues. The measure of ‘poverty’ is not the absolute lack of food, warmth and shelter, but is the comparative difference in incomes. Thus, a person is calculated to be ‘poor’ if his income is about 60% less than the median income. The crazy part of that calculation is that it is quite possible for such a person to take a couple of weeks holiday in sunny Spain each year and still be classed as ‘poor’. The point is that any specific person might well have a sub-median income but still have an income sufficient for his needs – and more beside. It all depends upon his costs. I remember talking to a young woman, many years ago, who had a council flat and lived on her own. As far as food was concerned, she survived on £7 per week with no trouble at all. As I recall, that did not mean that she scoured food-banks and such. She just looked for bargains. There are lots of them.

And she was content.

Contentment is a dirty word these days. Everyone must strive. But what is wrong with contentment? Apart from the General Smoking Ban, the disgustingly unfair tax on tobacco, the disgustingly unfair tax on alcohol, I am content with my life.

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But what is of the greatest importance is the Tobacco Control Industry Zealots want to squeeze me more and more into a mould of their choosing. That mould is a cretinous, sub-human, filthy, stinking, disgusting, addict. I hope that readers would not share that view.

Those of us who enjoy tobacco are not in a situation of dystopia. It is the likes of Chapman, Glantz and McTee who are in that state. They are not-so-well and are in need of medication. Perhaps a few puffs from an ecig will help them.

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But, seriously, a sort-of ‘utopia’ which existed before the General Smoking Ban, in which pub goers and restaurant goers and cafe goers enjoyed the aroma of tobacco, has been displaced and replaced with a ‘dystopia’ in which these pleasurable places have ceased to exist. I dare say that, in my opinion, very few real pubs exist.

Is there any possible solution to the isolation of individuals as a result of pub closures and the closures of bingo halls, etc? The answer must be NO, as long as the General Smoking Ban exists.

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I have gone on and on, to some extent, about the societal dystopia of the Ban. Imagine the possibilities of the repeal of the General Smoking Ban. I doubt that the Magnificent Edifices will be able to compete with small bars. A proliferation of small bars is very likely. Funnily enough, such a proliferation might well be the solution to the ‘dystopia’ of ‘chucking out time’.

 

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5 Responses to “Dystopia”

  1. Rose Says:

    It was precisely because of the dreadful death toll of the Great London Smog that Doll and Hill’s dubious study was accepted by the panicking government of the day.

    They felt that they might have been responsible because of their own policy of sending all the good coal for export and leaving only the dirty, sulphurous coal to burn.

    When an atmospheric Inversion clamped a lid over London the smoke couldn’t get away.

    Things were just the same across the Pennines.

    From the archive: More smog deaths: rise in Leeds pollution
    Originally published on 7 December 1962

    “The smog menace – which has now caused 67 sudden deaths in London since midnight on Monday – was spreading yesterday. At Leeds, which was experiencing its third successive day of thick fog, 30 acute respiratory cases were admitted to hospital.

    Pneumonia cases in Glasgow have trebled in the past four days.

    The Leeds sufferers were mainly elderly people. They had been breathing air with a much higher sulphur dioxide content than in the 1952 London smog which caused many deaths. The air pollution station at Kirkstall, a low-lying area, had recorded in the 24 hours up to noon yesterday 5,195 microgrammes of sulphur dioxide per cubic metre of air. In London in 1952, the highest reading was 3,825mcg.

    Central Leeds, which is in a smoke control area, recorded 3,970mcg; three of the city’s nine stations recorded still higher concentrations. A “reasonable winter day” in Leeds, with no fog, would give a reading of about 400mcg.

    Air pollution in Manchester was reported to be three times above the average for December, 1961. Reports from Birmingham were brighter. The medical officer, Dr E. L. Millar, said the city’s death figures did not indicate any noticeable increase due to fog. He thought Birmingham was reaping the benefits of smoke control. The Department of Scientific and Industrial Research said that pollution had been comparable to the 1952 smog, but would have been much worse without the clean air campaign.

    After a clear afternoon, blankets of fog covered London and 22 counties of England last night. For the third successive night many parts of London were blacked out completely by early evening. A London Transport spokesman described conditions as “the worst of the three days”.

    Most of the RAC radio rescue vans in Central London were fogbound last night and one patrolman had to park his vehicle and walk home. “Fortunately there are just no motorists about,” a spokesman said. “Driving conditions are the worst any motorist will ever experience.”

    London Airport was at a standstill after more than sixty hours. Fog-free Gatwick Airport was stated last night to be “in a state of chaos”. A Ministry of Aviation official said that Gatwick was having to handle all London Airport’s flights as well as its own.

    Fog and icy patches were reported by AA radio patrols to be affecting all roads in the Home Counties and most Southern counties, East Anglia, the Midlands, and Yorkshire, with visibility varying from nil to 50 yards. Icy patches were reported also on roads in another 10 counties of England and Wales.”
    http://www.theguardian.com/theguardian/2009/dec/07/from-the-archive

    The great smog’s deadly toll – 1962

    1962

    “LONDON and Leeds were the areas worst hit by smog yesterday. In London last night the number of deaths neared the 70 mark and in Leeds over 50 people were in hospital “acutely ill” with respiratory illness.

    But there was good news last night when 22 English counties were covered in fog. The Meteorological Office forecast that it was expected to thin in the morning and to clear from all areas during the afternoon.

    A Ministry of Health spokesman reported 235 people admitted to hospitals in London up to 9pm yesterday through the Emergency Bed Service. The figure on Wednesday was 394.

    From midday to 3pm and 3pm to 5pm in London yesterday the average concentration of smoke was four and five times higher respectively than the concentration on a normal winter day. The Department of Scientific and Industrial Research also said that the sulphur dioxide concentration was six and five times higher than normal.

    Pollution compared to that of the 1952 smog, the experts said. But without the Clean Air Act conditions would have been worse than in 1952.

    In the Kirkstall Road area of Leeds, the sulphur dioxide concentration was greater than that registered in London in 1952. At 5,185 microgrammes per cubic metre it was the highest ever registered in the city.

    The smoke content of the air has decreased since the last bad smog in 1959 said Mr RA Dalley the city’s analyst. This was due to the smoke control zone.

    Admission to St James’s Hospital, Leeds, of patients with respiratory disease has been limited to emergency cases. The position would be reviewed daily said a spokesman for the ‘A’ Group Management Committee.

    Smog figures from other Yorkshire centres:

    Wakefield – Three or four times as much sulphur dioxide in the air as on any ordinary December day.

    Bradford – At its worst, six times higher than normal – strong enough to tarnish metal. Last night down to five times the average.

    Doncaster – Thirteen times more smoke and nine times more sulphur dioxide in the air than on a normal day.

    Sheffield – Four times normal – but “we are winning all along the line” said Mr JW Batey, chief smoke inspector of the city’s clean air campaign.

    Visibility over most of Yorkshire last night was between 50 and 200 yards. The Automobile Association said that key patches were likely throughout the country.”

    Under the heading “Smog : The Guilty Ones”, this is what our leader writer had to say about it.

    “Fog mixed with smoke, chemicals and fumes, such as the major industrial conurbations and London have suffered in the last three days, damages lung tissue, stomach lining, nasal passages.

    Children’s lungs so damaged “will never be the same again”. So said Dr Mary Catterall, Research Officer in Respiratory Diseases at Leeds General Infirmary on Tuesday. She added: “Tonight there are probably thousands of people in the West Riding alone not only suffering from breathlessness but from pain in the chest and sleeplessness. In the great London smog of 10 years ago thousands died as a direct result of smoky fog. Nor is it to physical health only that damage is done; but it is by far the most important.

    Can nothing be done? Of course it can. The United States has turned many once grim, grimy, lethal industrial cities into shining, clean places where it is not only a joy to live but is also safe to live. Not so Britain. The Clean Air Act was passed over six years ago. Local authorities were vested with full powers to enforce smokeless zones.

    They have done very little. They have preferred to enlarge small difficulties into major obstacles; they have temporised. By so doing, they have put the health and well-being of those to whom and for whom they are responsible in hazard. They are responsible for deaths by smog.

    It is not to be tolerated that Leeds will not be smokeless before 1975, Hull before 1971, York before 1972, Bradford before 1975. The inhabitants of the cities and towns of England should bring every kind of pressure to bear on local authorities and MPs to accelerate the abatement of this filthy, costly, deadly nuisance. They will be supported by The Yorkshire Post.”
    http://www.yorkshirepost.co.uk/news/main-topics/local-stories/the-great-smog-s-deadly-toll-1-2551929

    Successive Governments had to do something, so they brought in the various Clean Air Acts as the problem persisted and publicly blamed smoking.

    “A committee was appointed by the Royal College of Physicians in 1959 to consider both the connection between smoking and air pollution, and to produce a report. But when it met on 17 March 1960, it decided to publish a separate report, giving smoking priority.

    ‘It was agreed that the evidence would be of an entirely different quality and nature’, explains Professor Berridge. ‘It was pointed out that individuals could avoid the dangers of smoking but not those of pollution. It was also thought that a section on atmospheric pollution within the main report might detract from the main arguments on smoking and lung cancer’.
    http: //www.lshtm.ac.uk/pressoffice/press_releases/2002/smogpollution.html

    • junican Says:

      ‘It was agreed that the evidence would be of an entirely different quality and nature’, explains Professor Berridge. ‘It was pointed out that individuals could avoid the dangers of smoking but not those of pollution. It was also thought that a section on atmospheric pollution within the main report might detract from the main arguments on smoking and lung cancer’.

      Illustrates the deviousness of academia and the weakness of politicians. What sort of argument permits thousands of deaths NOW from industrial air pollution in favour of emphasising the vague possibility of long-term future deaths from smoking?
      The more that you find out, the sicker the whole anti-tobacco fraud becomes.

      • Rose Says:

        Of course this deviousness is only apparent to us, anyone under 60 has never seen or smelt the smogs that were around at the same time as anti-tobacco started in England and therefore will have nothing to compare it with.

        It’s almost as if Anthropogenic Global Warming theory was invented as a cover for Anti-Tobacco’s tracks.

        After all, if fossil fuel are phased out under the auspices of “savIng the planet” rather than to protect people’s health, once again there will be nothing for younger people to compare with , Doll’s study will still stand and all the people since who have contrived to turn a wisp of plant smoke into The Phantom Menace that creeps through walls will get away with it.

  2. garyk30 Says:

    From yesterday:
    “I find it weird that Parliament can be so inexact about the laws that it passes. The ‘Clean Air Acts’ were misnamed. They should have been called ‘Air Safe to Breath Acts.”

    “Clean Air’ is a political term meant to sway the voters into believing that some positive step has been taken.

    After all, people can see the difference between ‘clean air’ and ‘unclean air’.

    ‘Air safe to breathe’ is a quality control statement.

    ‘Clean air’ is not automatically ‘Air safe to breathe’.

    ‘Unclean air’ is not automatically air that is ‘unsafe to breathe’.

    Factories may limit their pollutants; but, Mother Nature has no problem with concentrating those polutants to a point of the air being ‘unsafe to breathe’.

    Politicians feel that they must be seen as doing something and Mother Nature is outside of their control.

    Anti-smokers never call for ‘air safe to breathe’, instead they claim a ‘right’ to breathe clean/smoke-free air.

    I would guess that the UK, as does the USA, has air quality standards for workplaces.
    That would include pubs and restaurants.
    Such standards would include all possible toxins, even those from the expected cigarette smoke.

    So, by govt mandate, the quality of air in such ‘public’ places must be ‘safe to breathe’.
    Not only for the workers; but, also for the patrons.

    Smoking Bans will not make the air ‘safe to breathe’, it already is.

    • junican Says:

      Gary.
      It was a calculated decision to bring in ‘air quality’ demands via the Health Act rather than workplace standards. It was deliberate, and the dangers of SHS were exaggerated way beyond workplace standard emissions.
      The problem is that there seems not to be the political will to stop the Zealots. It is as simple as that. Well, not yet anyway.

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