The Myths of Global Warming – 2
by Peter Eyre on 09 Dec 2009 0 Comment

We now move to the Victorian period when industry progressively moved forward and we saw extensive use of coal-fired steam engines for industry, commercial vehicles and coal used in every home. This period was truly the dark ages in the environmental sense. Towns and cities contained many factories with chimneys as far as the eye could see. Each location became engulfed under a blanket of thick black smoke.


Overtime, new technology came into being, but the coal era continued into WW2 and of course the “Cold War”. When certain conditions prevailed towns and cities would get absolutely choked up with “Smog,” a combination of smoke and other contaminants mixed with fog. Right through these early days in Victorian times and right through the Cold War, pollution took its toll. Respiratory problems especially in such places as the Midlands of England kept the doctors and hospitals busy. A particular area north of Birmingham and extending up to Stoke on Trent was referred to as the “Black Country.”


The region was described as ‘Black by day and red by night’ by Elihu Burritt, the American Consul to Birmingham in 1862. Other authors, from Charles Dickens to William Shenstone, refer to the intensity of manufacturing in the Black Country and its effect on the landscape and its people. I can distinctly remember walking home wearing a white business shirt and many times noticing the collar inundated with tiny black specs. One could imagine the impact this had on people’s lungs.


It was a clear-cut case of intense manufacturing and to hell with the environment. As we progressed into the 1940’s, manufacturing intensified for the war effort and new foundries and factories popped up everywhere. Between this time and the 1950’s the level of airborne pollution was becoming totally unacceptable, but the government continued to press for production, production and even more production, especially in the steel industry. It was also during the period between the 1940’s and 1950’s that coal gas started to come into being. So we had coal fires and gas cookers (the latter being toxic if breathed from leaks or when the flame had accidentally gone out). Many places started to show extremely high incidents of lung disease coupled with much colder winter and freezing fog/smog. We had the added contamination from WW2 and the Cold War when the skies were always full of squadrons of bombers and fighters. 


Despite the levels of pollution in those early days it was an acceptable norm for people to walk around literally choking to death. The airborne pollution frequently blocked out the sun, which increased the problem two-fold as the temperature was kept low due to lack of heat penetrating the earths surface. Houses always appeared both dark and cold, thus requiring more heat and lighting. During the 1960’s huge reserves of natural gas were discovered and a full conversion took place that took away this terrible period in our environmental history.


During the Cold War period I ended up in the icy waters of the north. The area covered was between Greenland, Iceland and the Northern Tip of Norway. We found the ice in general was very unpredictable with access in many places. During this time US Nuclear submarines came into being and surfaced up through the ice. I found that ice never formed on the structure of the ships despite the cold, which would indicate that changes in the climate existed even in the mid to late fifties. It is my opinion that the levels of pollution after WW2 and during the early period of the Cold War were extremely excessive to say the least. Engines were extremely thirsty with high exhaust levels.


We had coal in every industry, every school, and every home, with uncontrolled levels of pollution that made the atmosphere almost impossible to breathe. On the aviation scene we had squadrons of long-range bombers and fighters on constant patrols, some of which had eight engines or more, all very environmentally unfriendly. They undertook long-range patrols towards the USSR and constantly remained airborne around our respective coastlines.


It is so important to look at the contribution made to our environment by the military and the oil and gas industry. There are so many measures that could have been taken into account both past and present by our respective governments if they were truly sincere about our carbon footprint. Commercially speaking, the west is accelerating its economic growth in all sectors with no regard for the environment; and blaming third world countries for the state of our planet. The US alone is one of the biggest energy consumers in the world. Governments could carry out many actions without punishing third world countries.


Peter Eyre, a former British Naval officer, worked at NATO headquarters, and spent a lot of time in the Middle East and South East Asia as a petroleum consultant; he lives in the UK and writes regularly for the Palestine Telegraph 

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