Monday 08 June 1998
The smoke is an unwelcome visitor from south of the Rio Grande and from across the Gulf of Mexico. Fires have destroyed more than a million acres of vegetation in drought-stricken Mexico and Central America this year. Some have been caused naturally, but many are being blamed on farmers clearing the land, and on drug traffickers intent on diverting state resources away from drug-detection and into firefighting operations.
We in Britain are spared from such horrors, but that has not always been the case. Right up to the 1960s coal-fired power stations and factories, as well as millions of domestic coal fires in the middle of our cities helped to produce smoky fogs that are almost unimaginable today.
In London, between 5 December and 8 December 1952, the visibility was so bad that movement on foot was impossible, and in the Isle of Dogs, according to The Weather of Britain, the bible of weather lore by Robin Stirling, it was reported that people lost sight of their own feet, and blowing your nose left a black mark on the handkerchief for some days.
Such pea-soupers are now rare. The last coal-fired power station in London, Battersea, closed 18 years ago and it is illegal in many conurbations to burn raw coal in domestic fires. Sadly, the increase in traffic is helping to push air quality down again.
Geoffrey Macnab reviews American Hustle, also starring Christian Bale and Bradley Cooper
Dennis Rodman will coach the North Korea basketball team
Jennifer Lawrence: 'It should be illegal to call someone fat on TV'
Ian Watkins: Police probed over earlier allegations as paedophile Lostprophets singer sentenced to 35 years for child sex offences
Iain Duncan Smith leaves Commons food banks debate early
DNA from a 50,000 year old toe shows Neanderthals were highly inbred
Devyani Khobragade: India-US row escalates over arrest of diplomat in New York
Exclusive: Young people ‘want UK to stay in Europe’: Four in 10 adults aged 18 to 24 are ‘firmly in favour’ of membership, poll shows
You can STILL be jailed for being a republican, government confirms, and it remains illegal to even 'imagine' overthrowing the Queen
Tom Daley ‘is gay because his father died’ says UK evangelist
Kiss and yell: Italian protester charged with sexual assault after kissing riot police officer
Fighting back: the woman giving a voice (and 49,999 others) to the victims of sexism - by giving an airing to their horror stories
PM denies two child limit for benefits is part of Tory welfare policy
- 1 America's 'virgin births'? One in 200 mothers 'became pregnant without having sex'
- 2 Sun will 'flip upside down' within weeks, says Nasa
- 3 Christmas comes early: Justin Bieber is 'retiring from music'
- 4 Iain Duncan Smith leaves Commons food banks debate early
- 5 Children evacuated from swimming pool after prosthetic leg mistaken for paedophile
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