Pollutionwatch: how lessons from 1920s were forgotten for 50 years

In August 1921, John Switzer Owens had a UK holiday. He went to Holme, Norfolk, and took his latest invention with him. Each day he took his device to the beach to sample the air. He also flung thistledown into the sky and noted its passage over the sand to understand where the wind came from.

When the wind came from Germany’s industrial Ruhr, it became hazy and particle pollution soared. Later he found that air pollution from the Midlands reached the south coast and pollution from London reached Devon and Wales. In spring 1922, Owens also discovered widespread air pollution enveloping all of south-east England at the same time but could not find a source.

Later, two long-distance balloonists using Owens’ device died in a storm near Bement, Illinois. His invention was put to one side soon after.

For the next 50 years air pollution scientists focused on local coal smoke, forgetting evidence that air pollution could travel long distances.

If Owens’ device had been perfected, we might have taken early steps to control UK coal burning to prevent Scandinavia’s acid rain crisis of the 1970s and 1980s, and action to avoid the air pollution that still covers western Europe each spring and summer.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Enter Your Information Below To Receive Free Trading Ideas, Latest News, And Articles.

Please Enter Your Email Address:




Your information is secure and your privacy is protected. By opting in you agree to receive emails from us and our affiliates. Remember that you can opt-out any time, we hate spam too!

Latest

Extra bonuses from InstaForex? Sure!

While some countries are still on the lockdown or start to reopen, InstaForex traders continue to take part in different campaigns and regularly receive...

Jeff Bezos sells more than 3bn in Amazon stock

Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos has sold more than $3bn worth of Amazon stock, after the company's share price surged 36% in the...

What else happened as coronavirus swept the globe

What if it had just fizzled out? What if leading Chinese scientist Zhong Nanshan had gone on state television on 20 January and delivered...

County diary: a perfect warm, windless morning on the fell tops | Country diary

There are precious few September mornings as perfect as this on the fell tops: windless and warm, with, after heavy rain, crystal-clear views over...

At least 40 dolphins die in area hit by Mauritius oil spill

Causes of death yet to be confirmed as witness describes last moments of one dolphinAt least 40 dolphins have died mysteriously in an area...