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Pursuits | By Alan Judd

Diesel and Pollution

The passion for prohibition and for lambasting us miserable sinners runs rich in the puritan conscience –  and is nowadays nowhere more strident than among environmental enthusiasts. The trouble is, they spoil a good case. The latest demon that must be expelled from our sinful breasts is diesel, the fuel that propels nearly half our cars and delivers 99 per cent of all deliverables. Air pollution – not just diesel, note – kills more than 9,000 a year in London, we’re told. Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London, claims it kills 40,000 a year nationwide. Who are – or were – these poor nameless people? Would they all still be alive if there were no pollution? The reason they remain nameless, it appears, is because they don’t exist. The figure is quoted as if it represents 40,000 individuals, but it doesn’t. It’s a statistical extrapolation expressed in terms of ‘equivalent...

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