Pollution Man

We saw 'The environment' not as a coherent lump, but a matter of class distribution. Working people copped more pollution than middle class, while the rich also owned more of the resources than the rest. This analysis led to the development of a 'Pollution Man' (sic), who concentrated on people living round factories, powerless to do anything about the pollution descending upon them. This led inextricably to realising that the worst affected are those in work - and hence the development of 'Hazards'.


There has been a paradigm change in environmental concerns since then. We were concerned about toxins - whether inside or outside factories. These included DDT, Dioxins, PCBs, additives in food and any number of hazardous substances. In the last few years there has been a growing realisation that it is not unnatural substances/toxins/poisons that are causing the main troubles, but natural substances running amok. In food nutrition, it is not lack of vitamins that are causing ill health, causing 70,000 early deaths due to obesity related disorders, but eating too much / many carbohydrates - naturally occurring substances. Similarly the end of the world as we kowit is not going to be caused by carbon monoxide poisoining, but by excessive carbon dioxide - something quite harmless to us as individuals.

Quite what we would be saying know about climate change, I'm not sure. But I suspect, we would insist on the term 'global warming' and be muttering about 'carbon reductionism'. The recent 'climategate' about leaked emails threw into relief the role of scientists. They were taken by surprise at the affects, believing till then their facts were enough to convince politicians and economists and seemed naive about the role of science in society today. But similarly society didnt seem to realise scientists are also human beings.

While helping people fight against the perils of BP Baglan Bay, there emerged news that the process was killing people working in such PVC plants. The monomer used to make PVC was vinyl choride. It was found to cause a rare liver cancer - angiosarcoma, mainly as a result of the compnay doctor of G.F Goodrich noticing a 'clump' of cases. Link to article 'Science in the Plastics Factory

And Pollution man was called in to comment on the disaster at Seveso in Italy, and whether it could occur in Britain. Here is article in News of the World from 1976 (picture on left)

However, class analysis got lost on the 1990s, particularly in reference to 'the environment'. It is now - at best the environment versus economics - rather than versus powerful interests. And more often it is reduced to the very individualistic ' what you can do for the environment'.