Q: Are you in favour of pollution?

A: No, we are opposed to pollution.

Pollution is the transfer of unusual or harmful matter or energy to another person’s property without their consent. Thus I should not allow smoke, ash particles, industrial effluent, noise, noxious gases, bad smells or light from my property to annoy anyone else unless we have negotiated an agreement.

Burning of carbon fuels has been part of the natural cycle of the earth since the first plant was set on fire by the first lightning strike. All the products of burning natural carbon fuels are easily and beneficially absorbed by the atmosphere, dissolved by rain and go to fertilise the soil.

However there are some emissions that are annoying or dangerous in concentrated amounts, for example nitrous oxide, hydrogen chloride, sulphur dioxide. And others such as soot and ash that are not so dangerous, but visible and annoying. Bush fires produce all of these, but usually not in troublesome amounts.

Burning coal or oil in power stations can produce continual pollution in a small area, so modern clean plants remove almost everything from the emissions except water vapour and carbon dioxide, which are disseminated into the atmosphere via a tall stack. These two are normal beneficial atmospheric gases not pollutants. Taking them out of the emissions would be a silly and very expensive exercise for no benefit.

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