Time to Kill Off Top Gear?

The Telegraph has reported that the BBC may axe the Top Gear show after the serious accident involving Freddie Flintoff last year. He sustained serious injuries from which he is still recovering. See article here: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/tv/2023/09/11/freddie-flintoff-top-gear-crash-bbc-crisis/

This was not the first time that reckless driving on Top Gear injured a compere with Richard Hammond seriously injured in 2006. But it is surely the case that the programme is well past its retirement date.

It was always a promoter of excess speed and risk taking with only Jeremy Clarkson offsetting that with his wit. But it surely has not been promoting responsible driving. A programme on cars and driving is worth broadcasting as cars are so essential to modern life. But it needs a new formula that discourages the boy racer mentality.

We might see fewer unreasonable attacks on cars and driving, such as 20 mph speed limits, if the programme content was refocussed.

Yes it’s time to kill off Top Gear before someone gets killed.

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Biased Reporting by the BBC on the Silvertown Tunnel, including Paedophrasty

A queue of traffic on the approach to Blackwall Tunnel

A queue of traffic on the approach to Blackwall Tunnel

Yesterday evening an item on the BBC London evening news covered the announcement of London as a “National Park City” and the new Silvertown Tunnel. I have sent in the following complaint to the BBC about the bias in this programme and the use of children to promote an agenda:

“In the BBC TV London Evening News on 22/7/2019 BBC Transport Correspondent Tom Edwards reported on the “National Park City” and also covered complaints from schoolchildren at Thomas Tallis School and their teacher about the new Silvertown Tunnel. They complained about the possible air pollution from HGVs and the contribution generally to air pollution and global warming. There was no representative giving an opposing opinion except for the Mayor of London briefly explaining that HGVs would not likely use the new tunnel because it would be expensive for them to do so. There was nobody else who supports the new tunnel which will be of major benefit to many people and will not make air pollution worse in the area.

This programme followed on from a similar item by Tom Edwards in the previous week where a hysterical campaigner against the tunnel was interviewed, but again there was no contrary view represented of the substantial merits of the new Silvertown Tunnel.

Complaint 1: The BBC is not providing an independent and unbiased view of the merits of the Silvertown Tunnel as against those who oppose it.

Complaint 2: The BBC should not be using ill-informed schoolchildren in this way who had clearly been encouraged by their teacher and rehearsed in what they should say.”

The Silvertown Tunnel is essential to relieve congestion at the Blackwall Tunnel which has long queues of traffic most days and where even a minor incident causes massive traffic jams. As a result of the often stationery or very slow-moving traffic, air quality is poor in the vicinity and may be actually improved by the new Tunnel. Air quality was reviewed carefully in the planning process and charges on the new Tunnel, and the ULEZ zone charges/restrictions, will reduce traffic and air pollution. It is unlikely that many vehicles will divert from the Dartford Crossing to use the new Tunnel.

Note that Thomas Tallis school is very near the A2 – the road that leads to the Blackwall Tunnel. It was probably an unsuitable location for the school when it was built. The solution is obviously to relocate it which in comparison with the cost of the Silvertown Tunnel would not be expensive.

If you wish to make your own complaint to the BBC over their biased reporting on this matter, go here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/complaints/ . You could also complain to Tom Edwards via Twitter: @BBCTomEdwards . These reports were typical of the environmental coverage by the BBC which never represents contrary views to the extreme eco-terrorism of such groups as Extinction Rebellion.

Using school children to promote the agenda of their parents or teachers is of course unethical and is a favourite ploy of Mayor Sadiq Khan. In this case it was used against him though.

Here’s a new word for you: paedophrasty – “An argument involving children to prop up a rationalisation and make the opponent look insensitive and uncaring. As people are defenceless and suspend all scepticism in front of suffering children, nobody has the heart to question the authenticity or source of the reporting. Often done with the aid of pictures.”

Roger Lawson

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Fighting For Air – Another Piece of Air Pollution Propaganda from the BBC

Last night the BBC broadcast a programme on air pollution entitled Fighting for Air (BBC2 on 19/8/2018). It was presented by Dr. Xand van Tulleken in a populist and dramatic style.

He first did a simple test by “cleansing” his system by donning a chemical weapons suit followed by 3 hours of deliberately breathing in traffic fumes. He did blood pressure tests, analysed blood composition and checked for brain function before and after. This unscientific and uncontrolled test apparently showed a slight increase in blood pressure and blood clotting and possibly a very small change in cognitive function. No actual data was given. Bearing in mind that such tests as blood pressure can vary significantly from hour to hour, and the other tests likewise, this proves nothing at all. Note that there have been a number of scientific studies of a possible link between blood coagulation and air pollution but no clear conclusions about which pollutants are relevant and no specific link to heart disease or stroke risk identified. That did not stop Dr van Tulleken alleging such a link.

He then moved to Kings Heath High Street near Birmingham. This road exceeds national legal limits for NOX apparently by a small amount at some times. It is used by a large number of diesel buses (no hybrids or electrics), and by significant numbers of HGVs. Traffic is stop/start with high congestion because of traffic lights that are not linked and road side parking as people move in and out of the parking spaces.

Dr van Tulleken persuaded the local council to suspend the parking bays for a day (filled with bay trees instead) and to synchronise the traffic flights to provide a “green wave” and he also persuaded the bus company to offer free tickets. The result was the volume of traffic remained the same, but NO2 fell by 10%. It is not clear to what extent any adjustment was made for other factors such as weather changes although mention was made that the changes were measured against wider area changes.

Local shopkeepers were not happy particularly a butcher who had traded in the road for 50 years.

Comment: In summary all this programme showed is that smoothing traffic flows may significantly reduce some emissions from vehicles. We already knew that, for example from studies of speed hump schemes. Replacing road side parking by off-street parking is clearly something that councils should look at. I only wish that removing such parking be done in my local High Street (Chislehurst in the London Borough of Bromley) which has been proposed in the past but never progressed (there is already plenty of off-street parking). It would both reduce the air pollution and reduce congestion by improving the flow of traffic.

What the programme did not demonstrate was that air pollution is a major health hazard or a public health emergency as the Doctor disclaimed. Indeed the High Street Butcher demonstrated how much cleaner his shop is than it used to be suggesting particulate emissions were lower than a few years ago.

In conclusion, another disappointing and hysterical programme on air pollution rather than a truly balanced study of the issues.

Roger Lawson

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UK Air Pollution – The Facts

The BBC have published several articles recently on air pollution under the emotive headline “So I can breathe”. But one by BBC Environment Analysis Roger Harrabin is actually quite accurate. It’s title is “How bad is air pollution in the UK?” and his answer to that is “Air pollution is a major contributor to ill health in the UK, but it’s hard to say exactly by how much”.

He says that dirty air does not kill people directly but reports that it is estimated that it shortens the lives of around 40,000 people every year – mainly those who already have heart or lung problems. How accurate are the media headlines about this he asks? He says that claming that pollution kills 40,000 people is just wrong and it’s also wrong to say pollution is rising. The 40,000 is also a statistical construct with a lot of uncertainty involved – it might a sixth as big – or twice as big.

Air pollution in the UK has been dropping, but in London recommended NOx levels are still regularly breached and levels at the roadside have barely dropped at all.

He says diesel cars are portrayed as the main villains and the biggest proportion of pollution does come from road transport in general. But if you look at Greater London, private diesel cars only contribute 11% of NOx. Lorries produce a similar amount and in central London only 5% of NOx comes from diesel cars while 38% comes from gas used in heating homes and offices.

Mr Harrabin does suggest some solutions to the problem which you can read in the full article here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-38979754. It’s well worth reading as it debunks many of the myths spread by the Mayor of London, TfL and others.

If the Mayor persists in attacking diesel cars and other smaller vehicles while doing little about air pollution from heating, industrial processes and other big transport emitters such as HGVs, LGVs, buses and planes then he will be wasting our money.

Roger Lawson