I was not used to go to the Environment Pages of Le Monde (the most popular French newspaper) but I did it yesterday and I am shocked and angry by what I have read in an article of November the 16th 2005:
A study published in 2000 have shown that small particles* (present in the air) produced by some human activities are suspected to reduce Europeans life expectancy by an average of 9 months and it will possibly be responsible for the premature death of 348,000 Europeans in the 25 countries of the EU.
The European Commission is working now on the project to “solve” this problem.
The first thing that upsets me is precisely that: why has the European Commission waited so long to begin working on this, as if Europeans lifetime wasn’t important enough? The problem is that the EU has a steadfast department for Environment even when the danger affects one of our vital elements of nature capital: the air.
Anyway as a French saying says, “it’s never too late to do the right thing” (we hope it will never be too late). But now that the European Commission decided to face the problem, it has to do it really, with conviction and strength.
Unfortunately, this is not what is happening. The article explains that 36 scientists have precisely written to the President of the European Environment Committee to denounce the project which is according to them too lax. In fact, the project allows a rate of small particles in the air much higher than the dangerous rate for human’s health. The several health consequences revealed by experts are severe and frequent asthma crises for children, premature deaths due to cardio-respiratory diseases, cancer…
The experts also denounce the fact that the project does not create any kind of repressive tool to restrain and to make sure that it will be respected.
So what is the problem? We know what are the consequences of our current unsustainable way of development; experts are pushing the alarm button everyday and surveys shows that Europeans are more and more concerned by environmental problems. So why are not the authorities following?
I think that as long as Environment will depend on politicians, situation will never change. They are always thinking in a short term way, always thinking how to be re-elected and so they easily give up to companies lobbying.
The Environment question is a global interest question. To speak in an economic way, the Earth is our most precious equity, so I think that some kind of Supreme Court of Environment should be created, totally independent and with a real power to execute, restrain, punish: NOT WORDS, ACTION.
* The small particles are very dangerous: Because of its size, it goes very deep in the lung. These particles are spread in the air by diesel engines cars for example.