Doctors and scientists warn PM of conspiracy theory dangers

Deadly cloud of pollution: Croydon and the rest of London has been under an air pollution red alert this week

Politicians have been attending rallies run by conspiracy theorists. They have dismissed our science on social media…. Facts have been questioned and scientists have been discredited in an attack on the very essence of our scientific community’

Discrediting science: PM Rishi Sunak has been warned by climate scientists and NHS medical staff this week

More than 200 health professionals have written to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak urging him to take firmer action to tackle air pollution, after a week when high temperatures and winds from continental Europe have seen Londoners placed on red alert because of toxic air.

Earlier this week, dozens of the country’s top scientists also lobbied No10 to warn of the dangers of allowing Conservative MPs and London Assembly Members to discredit scientific evidence around the global climate crisis and air pollution.

In a letter, the scientists accused politicians in Parliament and the London Assembly of “not believing the science”.

“We ask you to join us in making the case for urgent action on air pollution,” said the letter, signed by 36 of the country’s leading scientific experts.

The 36 signatories include Prof Frank J Kelly and Prof Marta Blangiardo, of Imperial College London, which has done much work on the demaging air quality in the capital which has been used in setting transport policy by Transport for London.

Sunak, Tory MPs and Assembly Members have opposed the expansion of ULEZ, the Ultra Low Emission Zone, which is due to be extended to outer London, including most of Croydon, Sutton and Bromley, from August.

The scientists’ letter to Sunak urged the PM “to value science and understand the incredible advantages it bestows upon modern society”.

Value the science: Prof Marta Blangiardo

They write: “Our colleagues in UK universities and institutions have uncovered the extent to which poor air quality contributes to the development of asthma, strokes, heart attacks, cancer and even dementia.

“Recently the facts have been questioned and scientists have been discredited in an attack on the very essence of our scientific community.

“Mainstream politicians have been attending rallies run by conspiracy theorists. They have been loudly repeating their dismissal of our science on social media accounts and broadcast interviews. They have spoken of not believing the science in the London Assembly and in Parliament.

“We urge you to disassociate from the merchants of doubt and, in no uncertain terms, to tell your party colleagues to not endorse them or emulate their pervasive claims that sow cynicism and undermine the factual and true foundations of life.”

Downing Street has now received a further letter, this time signed by mor than 200 GPs, nurses, paediatricians, radiologists, psychotherapists and other hospital staff.

Written to mark Clean Air Day, the letter says, “The scientists have given us disturbing evidence but we, as health care providers, are left on the frontline with the heartbreaking impacts.

“We deal with children struggling to breathe, parents grieving lost babies, adults suffering from cancer, heart attacks, stroke and dementia. All made more common by the toxic air we breathe.”

Some estimates suggest as many as 4,000 Londoners die each year as a consequence of the city’s toxic air pollution.

The healthcare workers said that interventions like ULEZ are needed to protect their patients’ health.

“Sadly there are very few effective actions that our patients can take to reduce their personal exposure.

“Much more powerful are the interventions that only coordinated action from national, regional and local governments can achieve.

“These include providing environments where our patients can travel safely on foot and by bike, ultra-low emission and clean air zones as in London, Newcastle and other cities, local traffic control solutions such as school streets, and effective regulation of wood burning in urban areas.

“The science shows that this clears the air, reduces hospitalisation and makes our frontline work easier.

“It is deeply worrying that some politicians have chosen to deny the science and promote delay and disinformation. We call on you to set an example to your peers.”

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News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email
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