IAIN ROBERTSON 

ISQA NYC cabs

ISQA NYC cabs

While it may sound extreme, there is much truth attached to the impact that humans have on their environment and, when Iain Robertson is informed about one aspect of pollution that is 1,000 times worse than car exhausts, his ears prick up.

Panic not. I am not turning all ‘Greta’ on you. Yet a sense of ecological reality does bite. The Coronavirus ‘thing’ that has developed legs of its own, despite being less fatal than influenza so far, might be termed a ‘modern disease’, even though it has been in existence for at least the past two decades in less virulent form. When you consider its impact, it does beg a question of whether, or not, it is just today’s ‘designer’ ailment. After all, society does have a social media tendency to whip up almost anything into a frenzy, even where none may have existed before.

In some ways, the recent rash of gender fluidity, by which some girls appear to wish themselves male, while their young male counterparts want to go the other way and the questionable middle-ground remains characterised by crewcuts, body art, dungarees and sibilant S’s, is also a result of ‘designerism’, of feeling a need to be fashionable. Clearly discontented about simply wearing a gender uniform, the search for something mutilatingly different, emphasised once more by social media hyperactivity, just adds to the confusion.

FF

FF

Equal reckoning needs to be applied to the body beautiful set that will contemplate everything from non-ethical pharmaceuticals, to surgical enhancements, many of which either go wrong, or are just simply wrong from the get-go. As an overweight 60-year old, I can state categorically that I will not remove the shirt from my back, even when the world overheats and temperatures soar into the high 30Cs. In fact, more fearful of the impact on elderly women, ankle-biters and domestic creatures, my back will only ever be seen by my GP, as even I am too frightened to look. The ‘designer’ look is fashion gone wrong, supported by idiotic TV docusoaps presented by mentally unbalanced, perma-tanned perma-teens.

You may have noticed a word I may have ‘invented’, EVangelists (EVangelism etc), that I direct at a small but highly vocal bandwagon of carbon-purging fanatics. It is promoted by governments, it includes the aforementioned Swedish teenager, who insists on barracking everybody without contemplation, often supported by quivering lip, most unbeguilingly angry sneer, guilty finger-pointing and a well-funded back story utilising her mild autism most cruelly and injudiciously. However, my barb is not aimed at her but rather the wheels behind her. As to the rest, a job’s a job, when there is nothing else available and the eco-era is aflame…the currency of the moment.

AT BMW brakes

AT BMW brakes

Having stated it previously, I repeat, we must take action to reduce waste, to resist global warming, to cut air pollution and to find alternatives to fast diminishing natural resources. Thanks to the efforts of David Attenborough, who, remember, has changed his tune significantly over his career, from natural history TV presenter to environmentalist, the world is more aware of its issues. Yet, David Bellamy’s career was curtailed the instant he dared to question governmental policies and suggest that no crisis existed. Yet, sea-changes take time and, yes, I know, it may be time in which we cannot afford to luxuriate. However, it has always been easier to target the most obvious aspects and the transport population, which includes our demands on it, has increased immensely in the last forty years. The car has become the unwitting focus and path of least resistance. Yet, the car and its drain on oil reserves is not the key issue, even though it is reported by the German TUV-Nord research body that the current GDi type of petrol engines are up to 2,000 times more polluting than conventional types and that pollution levels have therefore taken an upwards spike.

Research work continues to alter the face of commercial transport but, despite a bit player like Flybe biting the dust, air, sea, rail and other forms of moving people and goods around need to be placed expediently, or not, beneath the intense glare of the microscope. I can recall writing a story around thirty years ago about ‘Sick Building Syndrome’ (a ‘designer’ fad of the early-1990s), which delved into poorly serviced air-con stacks on the roofs of city buildings that emitted unnamed pollutants into the atmosphere. Nothing has changed, although the buildings proliferate and the amount of CO2 (let alone anything else, which will include Legionnaire’s Disease) multiplies exponentially. The fashion of working in the cityscape has led to this issue.

Arkonik LR

Arkonik LR

However, certain aspects of car emissions, enhanced by design dictates, are now starting to be recognised by scientific specialists such as Oxford-based Emissions Analytics. Following extensive research, it reveals that harmful particle matter from tyres and also the brakes are a very serious and growing environmental problem, one that is being exacerbated by the increasing popularity of larger, heavier vehicles, such as SUVs, and the growing, albeit slightly, demand for electric vehicles, which are significantly heavier than standard motorcars, because of the mass of their battery packs.

The situation is not helped, as vehicle tyre wear pollution is completely unregulated, unlike exhaust emissions, which have been reduced overall by carmakers, as a result of pressures placed on them by European emissions standards (apart from the current spike). In fact, the tuner car scene is soon to receive a severe jolt of reality, arising from an increase in official roadside noise, MOT legality and emissions checks. While today’s cars are emitting more particulate matter, there remains growing concern around ‘non-exhaust emissions’.

Mazda MX

Mazda MX

Known as ‘NEE’, they are particles released into the air from brake wear, tyre wear, road surface wear and the resuspension of road dust during on-road vehicle usage. There is zero legislation in place to limit, or reduce, NEE, even though they cause immense concern for air quality. According to Emissions Analytics figures, NEEs are currently believed to constitute the majority of primary particulate matter (PM) from road transport, with 60% of PM2.5 and 73% of PM10. In its 2019 report ‘Non-Exhaust Emissions from Road Traffic’, by the UK Government’s Air Quality Expert Group (AQEG), it recommended that NEE levels are recognised immediately as a source of ambient concentrations of airborne particulate matter, even for vehicles boasting zero exhaust emissions of particles, such as EVs. It is their impact on soil and waterways that is of the greatest concern. Apart from breathing-in particulates, we are eating and drinking them too. Organisations like Brake and mums.net ought to recognise these factors sooner, rather than later.

Emissions Analytics is one of the leading independent global testing and data specialists for the scientific measurement of real-world emissions. It performed its tyre wear testing, using a popular family hatchback running on brand new, correctly inflated tyres and found that the car emitted 5.8g/km of particles. Contrasted with regulated exhaust emission limits of 4.5mg/km, the completely unregulated tyre wear emission is higher by a factor of well over 1,000. Emissions Analytics warns that this would increase, if its tyres were underinflated, or the road surfaces were rougher, or the tyres were of lower quality. The bigger the tyre, the greater the impact.

Conclusion:    It is suggested that we love our ‘designer’ lifestyles but, when you look at how they are impacted with poorer health quality, dysphoria, costs, jealousy and greed, remove the design influences and normality might have a chance of returning.