It sounds like madness – calling for a ban on the use of private cars on high pollution days – but in fact the real madness lies in us not having a serious debate about this hidden killer.
Our front page report on our columnist Donnachadh McCarthy’s call for such a ban to be considered will have drivers united in condemnation, about disruption to their daily lives. Even though he suggests that non business journeys only should be targeted, in a bid to minimise the impact on small businesses, it would still send a shockwave through communities, struggling to get their kids to school, going out to do their weekly shop, or simply getting from A to B.
But what’s the alternative? Just ignore the fact that 12 per cent of London schools above the legal limit for harmful Nitrogen Dioxide levels are in Southwark? If the gases were visible – like the pea-soupers that used to cover London in a shroud – can you imagine the outcry? Only because we can’t see them do we allow this to continue, accepting that we, and particularly our young and elderly, are having years taken off our lives. Maintaining the status quo simply isn’t an option.