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December 5th 1952: Great Smog of London begins

On this day in 1952, the Great Smog descended on London, beginning a national crisis which lasted for four days. Following the Industrial Revolution, which began in the late eighteenth century, London saw a sharp rise in polluted, smoky fog (known as smog) due to toxic coal fumes emitted by factories. Smog, unlike fog, is often thick, discoloured, and foul-smelling, and several smogs affected London throughout the nineteenth century. December 1952 was bitterly cold, and as Londoners burned large amounts of coal to keep warm, the smoke joined with toxic fumes from factories. The smoke was trapped by an anticyclone in the region, and, unable to disperse, combined with fog to create a smog. The thick smog caused chaos in London, with traffic halted by poor visibility of a few metres, opportunists committing crime, and the poisonous air filling hospitals with people suffering from breathing problems. Around 4,000 people, plus numerous animals and livestock, are known to have died as a result of the fog, though recent estimates taking into account long-term damage are much higher at 12,000. The smog was London’s worst civilian disaster, producing more casualties than any single incident during the Second World War and the Blitz. To prevent future disasters, Parliament passed the Clean Air Act of 1956 which tried to limit smoke emissions. Innovations in technology and environmental legislation ensured that no such smog has ever occurred again, but invisible pollution remains a grave concern for modern cities.

(see: metoffice.gov.uk, historytoday.com)

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The Wair smart scarf doubles as an air filter in polluted cities

  • French startup Clausette is hoping to capitalize on air quality concerns around with world with its anti-pollution scarf called Wair.
  • The startup has turned the everyday fashion accessory into a device that it claims can filter out harmful pollutants and bacteria found in poor air.
  • The device continuously monitors outside pollution in real-time and sends users air quality updates.
  • At also suggests travel routes to avoid overly polluted areas, all through a companion app called Supairman.
  • The company’s product line ranges from black neck tubes to wrap-around scarves and retails between around $56 and $91. Read more

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Consider donating old clothes when you don’t want them anymore.

Also, consider spending more on quality pieces of clothing that last and having less clothing vs. buying lots of cheaper clothing that wears out.

If you’re not sure what to buy or how to wear only a few pieces of clothing (and by few I mean a few dozen items including shirts, pants, shirts, etc.) go to Pinterest and look up “capsule wardrobe”. There are endless ideas there about how to own only a few things and style them endlessly.

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New York photographer J. Henry Fair showcases the human impact of industries like fracking, mining, and fertilizer production with the sweeping aerials he’s collected in Industrial Scars: The Hidden Costs of Consumption. “I wanted to make pictures that told a story about an economic system that wasn’t functioning,” he says.

SEE MORE: The disturbing beauty of oil spills and industrial waste.

In these 15 cities, exercising outside is actually bad for you because of air pollution

A new report from the Guardianpart of an ongoing series about air pollution — uses pollution numbers from the World Health Organization from May 2016 to identify at least 15 cities around the world that have pollution levels so high that biking outdoors becomes dangerous after just an hour or less of exposure.

Cyclists hit the tipping point into danger after an hour outside in these cities:

  • Kanpur, India
  • Shijiazhuang, China
  • Dammam, Saudi Arabia
  • Ludhiana, India
  • Delhi, India
  • Baoding, China
  • Xingtai, China

In these cities, the risks of exercise outweigh the benefits after just 45 minutes:

  • Bamenda, Cameroon
  • Raipur, India
  • Patna, India
  • Al Jubail, Saudi Arabia
  • Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

And in these cities, pollution levels are so high that just 30 minutes of outdoor cycling is more harmful than it is beneficial:

  • Allahabad, India
  • Gwalior, India
  • Zabol, Iran

Read more | follow @the-future-now

Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia is the world’s coldest capital city and gets down to 40 degrees below zero. People stay warm by burning coal in heating stoves, but this leads to massive air pollution problems in the city. 

UB residents used facebook to organize a protest in Sukhbaatar square December 26th. In response the government repealed taxes on electricity at night. So hopefully more people will be able to afford to heat their homes with electricity, which should help a little. Yay mongol internet! Good job!

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A Tasty Solution 

Saltwater Brewery created an answer to floating plastic six pack rings harming the ocean environment and its creatures. Their rings are edible and made from wheat and barley leftover from the beer making process. It’s a great way for the brewery to cut back on waste product and provides a snack for fish and other sea dwelling animals. If more companies recycled like this maybe we could cut down on the amount of garbage polluting our waters daily.

Kudos, Saltwater Brewery.