Growing up in Central London it was evident that during the winter every person I knew had some form of cough that lingered. Our flat in Paddington was shared with two other families the Howies and the Gates. We were on the lower two floors. No central heating existed and our flat was heated by coal fire or space heaters.
Every week a horse drawn cart deposited a bag of coal through a hole in the sidewalk. Below the street was a bunker and somehow each family figured out who had what. My job was to collect enough coal in a skuttle to be burnt in the fireplace. All over London you could see smoke billowing from the chimneys.
In 1952 in the month of December a perfect weather storm occurred. London has hills to the North and South and a river that snakes through the valley. The relative close proximity to the coast brings frequent fogs to the City at various times of the year. This particular December extreme cold air was trapped from above by hot air. This resulted in the worst smog event ever in the U.K. Within a week 12,000 people died from the extreme pollution and poisonous gases present at the street level. Visibility was down to 1-2 feet and cars and trains were stopped.
In 1956 as a result Parliament enacted the Clean Air Act. Gradual changes were required for industry and how people heated their homes
During the 1950’s and into the next decade London had typically colder and colder Winters. 1954 saw severe weather, bitter cold conditions with snow up to two meters.In May of 1955 London experienced the heaviest snowfall in over 100 years. The next year February had brought cold weather four degrees below normal on average and so it went.
My question is with terrible carbon emissions how can the weather get colder? I am thankful for clean air. The health effects from the putrid yellow fog can’t be good for anybody. But has the effect on carbon emissions been overstated for political purposes?