Air quality EU

On some days of the year there is a cumulative effect of bad influences on air quality in Europe. Cold winter temperatures increase emissions from heating. Outdated heating with coal, still important in Eastern Europe, causes high amounts of extra particles in the atmosphere. In January 2024 a train conductor strike in Germany irrespective of the good reasons for it, makes people take their cars. Road blockades by opponents to reducing diesel subsidies to agri-business add to the pollution situation on a specific day. Overall the population suffers and breathes additional amounts of cancerous particles. Particles settle as dust on crop producing soil, of which we all feed ourselves. This is a vicious circle, which we need to break in the interest of all of us, particularly for the more fragile people and children. The latter start to crowd the medical doctors with sometimes lacking the delivery of crucial medicines for this target group. Where do we go from here? Compromises are key, security of supply chain and allowing, not too much, time for transition periods.

source 2024-1-10


Particularly around holiday seasons across the whole year we observe the “emergencification” in modern societies. This not so new trend consists in the strategy to artificially create emergency situations in which it is considered reasonable to ask for higher prices. It appears to be just another kind of a “greedflation”, whereby extra profits can be reaped due to shortages of food or particular forms of energy. Medical services have also pushed for an emergencification of their services due to ever longer waiting queues for appointments and treatments. The strategy here is easily disclosed. (1) You decline any appointment earlier for inspection of cars, heating systems, office equipment or medical check-ups and sooner or later a “planned” emergency will arise, which allows you to charge higher prices than the routine in time appointment or treatment. This makes prevention of more costly interventions far more difficult. In sum, the costs to society as a whole rise by the simple way of emergencification.
Even using a repair platform, we did not receive a single offer for a more lengthy and costly repair of my 10+ year old car. Hence, we just wait for a breakdown with more serious and costly consequences. Unfortunately, the same holds true for many medical services. If you no longer manage to assure a timely consultation you are more likely to go directly to the emergency services of a hospital. This is then the costly, but only alternative left to you. In the artificially created emergency you have little room for negotiation and a choice of different offers and conditions. It is a shift in negotiation powers to the service provider. The emergencification creates a price inflation of a specific kind. Worryingly, this kind of inflation is well beyond the normal statistical measurement of inflation national statistical offices observe. In addition to the much debated “greedflation” we should deal with the emergencification as an additional price mechanism. Just ask about examples among your friends or in the neighourhood whether they have lived through an example of emergencification. The stories are abundant and full of surprises. The example I heard: “birth and death, both come as a surprise or emergency, and yet we have the whole life to prepare the latter one”. Part of image taken from “Loriot “on the pleasures of driving (2022. Subtitle:” I suppose the screen wipers caused the trouble”.

Air pollution

Only if we measure air pollution , we shall be able to be sure it is not getting worse or is improving. The European Environment Agency has developed an app that gives us fairly accurate measure of several important indicators of air pollution or air quality as they prefer to name the indicators. With the wild fires in Canada and the repercussions of this in U.S. cities we are certainly aware that air pollution by neighbours  is just as important to know as air polllution originating in your own country.
In Europe this matters as well. Therefore the comparative view on air pollution is a necessary precondition to coordinate action within the EU. Specific meteological conditions yield SMOG in winter and too much heat facilitates SMOG in summer. Thousands of people die every year due to effects of air pollution. This is all well-known and documented.
In Science Advances (2023-6-9) new evidence is presented that fine particles (PM 2.5) in air transport influenza H1N1 viruses into the lower respiratory system and even other more distant organs like liver and kidneys. The conclusion is easy: Reduce air pollution much further, this saves lives and lots of costs in the health system as well. Well-being is advanced sometimes by doing less rather than more. Working more in the home office than in the inner city might reduce the peak of an influenza wave. New solutions to old problems are feasible with new technological advances and implementation like fibre-optic cables for fast internet service also in remote areas. Using the “Science Advances” should allow us to rethink our production and consumption model for the improvement of living and working conditions for all. Many extensions of our economic model shall be based on the “beyond growth” logic. We just need to dare to think and implement policies accordingly, rather than to continue to do the same mistakes over and over again. (Image: still building new Autobahn in Berlin 2022 in residential areas).