The government has published its Clean Air Strategy 2019 and the media yesterday was awash with the news of how Michael ‘Blue Planet 2’ Gove is going to ban the worst polluting log burning stoves in 2022, after his pioneering plastic straw and plastic bag bans have been so spectacularly successful in protecting the environment.

Here is what the Telegraph says:

Michael Gove, the Environment Secretary, has announced a crackdown on emissions from the home as part of a wider push to reduce people’s exposure to particulate matter which is considered the most damaging pollutant.

The proposals, outlined in the Government’s Clean Air Strategy, include plans to outlaw the sale of the most polluting fuels and to ensure only the cleanest stoves are sold by 2022.

A recent surge in popularity means domestic burning on stoves and open fires is now the single biggest source of particulate matter emissions.

Michael Gove, Environment Secretary, said “strong, urgent action” is needed to reduce harmful emissions and improve the air we breath.

 “The evidence is clear,” he said. “While air quality has improved significantly in recent years, air pollution continues to shorten lives, harm our children and reduce quality of life.

Wood- and coal-burning stoves currently account for 38 per cent of particulate matter air pollution, which the Government plans to reduce 30 per cent in total by 2030.

This 38% figure triggered my bullshit alarm. I decided that I would investigate its origin. It is quoted in the government report I linked to above:

Open fires and wood-burning stoves have risen in popularity over recent years. They are now an additional form of heating for many households in both urban and rural areas; for a minority they may be the sole heat source. In addition, we have seen the growth of biomass boilers for home heating. This increase in burning solid fuels in our homes is having an impact on our air quality and now makes up the single largest contributor to our national PM emissions at 38%.

I went to the reference they provided for this figure of 38%, the Defra ‘Air Pollutant Inventories for England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland: 1990-2016’, but couldn’t find it amongst the masses of data there. I did find the summary data in nice table form here though. In the summary for the UK right at the bottom, it lists the figures for 2016 for PM10.0 and PM2.5 particulate pollution from various sources, and, lo and behold, the figure of 38.3% pops out nicely if you do the calculations for one source in particular. But that source is Residential, Commercial & Public Sector Combustion. So Gove and his compliant government propaganda media machine would have you believe that we are all going to die horribly because of the increased use of open fires/woodburning stoves or, as reported by some media outlets, just because of the increasing popularity of wood-burning stoves. The truth is very different. Residential domestic burning forms only a small part of the contribution to particulate matter pollution, and that mainly from open fires burning wood and coal and/or old, inefficient stoves burning solid fuels. The truth is that an efficient, modern stove burning dry wood produces very little smoke and lots of heat, enough not to rely at all upon oil-fired central heating during winter. I know. I had one.

But this isn’t the half of it. The scam goes deeper even than this. Gove admits that air pollution “has improved significantly in recent years”. What he doesn’t tell you is that, according to his government’s own figures, particulate matter pollution has declined drastically since 1970. Emissions of PM10 in 2016 have fallen by 73 per cent since 1970, to 170 thousand tonnes. Emissions of PM2.5 in 2016 have fallen by 78 per cent since 1970, to 108 thousand tonnes. Not only that, emissions are still falling:

PM10 emissions decreased by 1.9 per cent from 2015 to 2016. PM2.5 emissions decreased by 3.7 per cent between 2015 and 2016. The trend for both pollutants has been fairly static in recent years, but PM2.5 emissions in 2016 reached their lowest level in the time series.

Thus, most evidently, government alarm about the increase in particulate matter pollution due to the new found popularity of heating one’s home via renewable-energy-tax-avoiding, highly efficient wood burning stoves is, to coin a vulgar phrase, complete and utter bollocks. The “air pollution crisis” is, similarly, complete and utter bollocks, likewise the figures being bandied around concerning deaths attributable to air pollution similarly so, based as they are upon unsound so called ‘scientific’ research.


pollution 2

I’m not quite finished exposing this ‘domestic wood-burning air pollution’ scam yet. There’s one other thing. The government would have you believe that this ‘environmental protection’ initiative is its own, but it’s not, it comes from the EU, specifically the EU Eco Design Directive. But, but . . . . aren’t we supposed to be leaving the EU in March 2019? Why is the government proposing to ban the sale of wood burning stoves which don’t conform to EU regulations in 2022? Note, this won’t apply just to stoves manufactured in the EU and sold in Britain, which will have to comply with this standard, it will apply to all stoves on sale in the UK, regardless of their country of origin. Once again, the EU will be telling the British public what they can and can’t buy, which appliances they can and can’t use, according to their whimsical notions of what is ‘environmentally friendly’. When we voted to Leave, we expected not to have to endure any further EU meddling in our domestic market, especially EU legislative bureaucracy driven by EU green, ideological, eco-fanatical, ideological nonsense. But Gove, whose brain is infected by green maggots gnawing away at his neurones, severing logical connections, is all for it, just as he is all for not leaving the EU, ‘Brexiteer’ fraud that he is.






  1. “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by an endless series of hobgoblins, most of them imaginary.”

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ll add that one can only hope, with Big Brother kept at arms length from British politics, the people can find some lions to lead them rather than the sheep they currently have. The political establishment’s biggest fear of Brexit is that they will be ultimately responsible for the decisions they make.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Good catch.
    The extremists think they are in full control.
    Think of culture that permitted the Inquisition.
    Recall that Figueroa recently described nearly all of us climate criminals for the offenses of living our daily lives.
    We are all expendable, deplorable yellow vest scum to these dangerous people.
    The climatocracy is the new degenerate ruling class.
    These maniacal parasites are serious.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Do you have wood-fired boilers that are located outside the home available? This has been a popular option in “away from the cities” New York State because you just load up the combustion chamber and when the thermostat wants heat the draft is increased and you get heat. The problem is the rest of the time they just smolder. The result is in a valley on a cold night with an inversion there really is a pollution problem. The plan is to replace them with more efficient units but the new ones cost so much that the transition is going slow.
    My other issue with the PM health impacts is that that are based on studies that use data that are not available. After over 30 years those data are still protected due to privacy concerns. I wish that Trump would pay to have the data made available so it could be reviewed independently!


  5. Defra has a tool to display maps of (modelled) air pollutants. Using the tool you can display the levels of all pollutants for a range of years: for PM2.5 this runs from 2002 to 2017. It is striking to see the decline over this period. Something odd happens from 2002-3 when the pollution level jumps up. But comparing 2003-7 to 2017 shows a marked decline.


    Liked by 1 person

  6. I used to smoke (a pack a day) but gave up more than 40 years ago, and I had asthma as a boy. Nevertheless I am now supersensative to airborne particulates. One house in our neighbourhood commonly operates a wood-burning stove, which I become instantly aware of as my lungs become congested. So I can personally attest to the harm that wood-burning stoves can cause.
    I am not using my case as a reason to ban stoves, but as a reason to consider that there might be a good reason to question whether they might be causing some harm to everyone in their neighbourhood.


  7. Alan, I think you are probably the exception rather than the norm in being super-sensitive to particulates. I lived in a rural village for years where we were regularly severely affected by households burning coal on open fires and by residents burning straw and other waste material on bonfires. You would have been choking to death I’m sure if you had lived where we did. Some days it was just awful. Complained to the council numerous times but they did nothing. With the straw burning it was the particulates which got to you, but with the coal burning, the toxic fumes were far more irritating to the lungs than the smoke. Also, airborne particulate pollution in agricultural areas from wind-blown soil is far more prevalent and pervasive than pollution from domestic combustion. The only time our chimney ever smoked noticeably was when we were just lighting the stove.


  8. Roger, wood-fired boilers are very much a niche market in the UK. Some people have them but they are very expensive and run on kiln-dried wood pellets generally which, although they burn efficiently, are not exactly environmentally friendly.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Jaime. You may be correct, but my point really is that if you are not sensitive to wood smoke as I am, you nevertheless might still be adversely affected. Over turn any effect may be cumulative. I have no evidence for this , but I think it’s a reasonable conjecture.


  10. Jaime. That reference deals with death, my concern is that particulates cause tissue damage and irritation. Smoke clearly causes eyes to water, and I find any claim that particulates don’t cause similar damage to lung tissue difficult to understand. From there it is a small step to believing that it could contribute to death, whatever the statistics suggest.


  11. Alan, death is the extreme end result of ill health and tissue damage. I think you will find that most – if not all – causes of death in living beings also occasion non fatal ill health and damage to internal organs and other living tissue. If the attributable deaths to PM2.5 inhalation have been wildly exaggerated, it’s reasonable to assume that the damage to the health of the individual caused by breathing said pollution is also not as drastic as is being portrayed.


  12. Alan wrote: “I find any claim that particulates don’t cause similar damage to lung tissue difficult to understand.”

    If particulates caused serious damage, smokers would be keeling over after a couple of fags. I think the lungs are far more resilient than you give them credit for.


  13. DaveJR. You, like Jaime, are suggesting that particulates do not cause significant damage because the effects are not immediately severe. Effects are cumulative.
    You perhaps have not seen an old film that shows the effects of tobacco smoke upon the lung lining. Almost immediately cilia, that transport particulates and mucus up out of the lung stop beating. I would imagine that over time that has a deleterious effect. I don’t have to imagine, I watched my father cough his “guts” up.


  14. Alan, there is just no comparison between smoking and inhaling particulate matter in an outdoor environment. From the link I posted earlier:

    “The level of PM2.5 in average U.S. outdoor air — air that EPA claims can cause sudden death — is about 10 millionths of a gram (microgram) per cubic meter. In one day, a person breathing such air would inhale about 240 micrograms of PM2.5. In contrast, a cigarette smoker inhales approximately 10,000 to 40,000 micrograms of PM2.5 per cigarette. [8] A marijuana smoker inhales 3.5-4.5 times more PM2.5 — i.e., 35,000 to 180,000 micrograms of PM2.5. [9] Typical water pipe or “hookah” smokers inhale the equivalent PM2.5 of 100 cigarettes per session.”


  15. I’m with Alan on this one. As a fellow asthmatic I have to say that domestic wood burners are just another modern evil. I can assure everyone that whilst I’m coughing my guts up, statistics are the last thing on my mind.


  16. I think it’s more a case that asthma is the modern evil John. Wood burning stoves certainly aren’t! All that’s changed is they are a lot more efficient and less polluting than a hundred years ago and very often used in place of open coal fires which are hundreds of times more polluting than a modern wood burner using dry fuel.


  17. Jaime,

    When it comes to matters of evil I tend to judge all things in terms of what is, or is not, good for me 🙂
    In this case, the concept does not extend anywhere beyond what is good for my lungs. The only comparison that matters to me, therefore, is the one between my neighbourhood as it is now and how it was before everyone switched to wood-burners. The difference is this: Asthma under control versus asthma not under control. I suppose the lesson is that nothing is inherently evil, but some things enjoy a broader acceptance than others.


  18. The issue seems to be an overreaction of the immune system, not damage to the lungs. You don’t need damage to provoke an immune response. This is indeed a modern evil. The rates of allergies are rocketing. Ironically, at least part of this problem would appear to be down to excessive amounts of cleanliness.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. John, you do have my sympathy. I certainly don’t mean to trivialize your suffering, or that of Alan. I think, apart from it being ‘fashionable’ now to have a wood-burning stove, there is a real issue here too. Because of the thoroughly modern evil of spiraling energy bills due to green taxes and subsidies, many people have invested in a wood-burning stove as a relatively cheap and effective way to heat their homes. If gas and electricity were more affordable, your neighbourhood might not now be so unfriendly to asthmatics.

    Liked by 2 people

  20. Jaime, have you checked out the price of chopped wood suitable for burning in stoves? I certainly cannot agree that in and around Norwich dried wood is a cheap heating alternative.


  21. Dave, I think you’re right: the immune system is like a muscle – if you don’t exercise it, it atrophies or, in this case, starts working when you don’t want it to. In the 50s, 60s and 70s, childrens’ developing immune systems were challenged far more frequently and robustly by common environmental bacteria and viruses, inside and outside the home, than they are now. I’m sure this explains partly why so many children are developing asthma nowadays, plus other allergies. Homes are just so clinically clean and kids hardly play outside anymore! It doesn’t explain why John or Alan have asthma of course. Another factor I think is the advent of double-glazing and the trend to build houses which are more and more hermetically sealed, allowing virtually no direct ventilation from outside – in the name of ‘energy efficiency’. Victorian houses with open coal fires, wooden floorboards ventilated from beneath, sash windows and ill-fitting doors were very drafty and the air probably quite sooty and dirty, but the flow of air through the house was huge compared to modern homes. Hence, pollen, moulds and other pollutants could not build up in stale air. There’s also a huge additional chemical load in the modern house from furnishings, carpets, perfumes, cleaning chemicals etc., any of which might trigger the onset of asthma.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Alan, yes, chopped seasoned wood is expensive to buy, I agree, but there’s plenty of waste timber and fresh chopped wood around, which works out a lot cheaper, even free. You just have to season the wood and then chop it yourself.


  23. Jaime,

    Fear not, the problem is not one of life and death, it is merely a quality-of-life issue. I actually get more grief from the sulphides in the beer and wine that I refuse to stop drinking. Nevertheless, there are some folk who think wood smoke is a serious issue:

    I don’t necessarily agree that wood smoke is a global, environmental menace, but I will say I don’t respond well to it and my life would be easier without wood burners.


  24. In the 1970s, anti-nuclear folks in the United States had a buzzphrase: “Split wood, not atoms.” Well, once nuclear had been all but eliminated, they are now going after wood. These are anti-human people.


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