About twenty years ago, just after the collapse of the DDR Eli and Ms. Rabett found themselves on a cold winter night in the middle of Erfurt Germany. There was what first appeared to be fog in the air but it was not exactly pleasant to breathe, and Ms. Rabett was not enjoying the taste. There were halos around the street lamps, everything was surreal and then the lights went out. Over the entire city.
The Rabett thought that it reminded him of something. Indeed it did, Monet's pictures of the Houses of Parliament
Before this experience Eli had thought that the pictures were simply the result of an impressionist take coupled with bad eyesight. It was not, it was the reality of burning coal for heating and industry. If bunnies search out photographs of London during the early 1950s a time of killer (like thousands) smog in London the same pictures emerge, although the colors are lacking
and today, well today it is Beijing's turn
and, of course Shanghai
The Rabett visited both during the early 1990s on his tour of polluted cities. Erfurt was a useful clue as to what was going on.
Eli, of course, is an old bunny, who grew to rabetthood in New York City, in the age when, again, coal was the primary fuel for heating. The Rabett remembers two things. First how grumpy Dad and Grandpa were about having to get up in the middle of the night and adjust the fire when kicked out of bed by Mom and Grandmom Rabett, second, the soot on every building. In the 60s and 70s people started to wash their brick and stone houses. it was astounding.
The recent nonsense from the Ridleys and Lomborgs about coal being the fuel of development brings back not so fond memories. And, oh yes, coal mine owners have a richly deserved reputation. Not for kindness to their workers and the rest of us.