Well, obviously, which idiots don’t know this?

The gathering of discarded timber in urban areas for fashionable wood-burning stoves and an ignorance of fire techniques is contributing to Britain’s air pollution crisis, it has been claimed.

People living in cities who grew up with gas-fired central heating but have now turned to “cosy” wood-burning stoves need to be educated on the use of appropriate wood, academics and industry leaders say.

Their warning comes after Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, said that the capital’s “filthy air”, which on Monday exceeded the pollution levels of Beijing, was creating a health crisis.

Previous studies have suggested that levels of particulate pollution surge at weekends as people light up stoves.

This is simply so friggin’ obvious. What’s happened, everyone become morons or something?

52 comments on “Well, obviously, which idiots don’t know this?

  1. What’s happened, everyone become morons or something?

    You import Third World peasants, you get Third World slums as people turn their backyard sheds into favellas. Inevitably you get Third World behaviour like heating homes illegally with wood burning.

    It may be hipsters behind this. I doubt it.

  2. Properly installed stoves, with appropriate fuel (dried timber or low-smoke coal) are fine.

    Poor fuel choices are not. Unfortunately there aren’t enough native elephants for us to move to dung burning 🙂

  3. Try as I might, I can’t visualise the owners of “fashionable wood burning stoves” grubbing about for “discarded timber”. Letting Nathan loose on a piece of scrap four by two with an axe is going to involve a trip to the E&R for one thing.

  4. As Tim N said, they are lying. The American embassy must cause the Chinese government no end of annoyance because they measure Beijing’s PM 2.5 level and publish it on the internet. Here:

    http://beijing.usembassy-china.org.cn/070109air.html

    This was the most recent peak:

    01/26/2017 1:00:00 PM
    01-26-2017 13:00; PM2.5; 311.0; 361; Hazardous (at 24-hour exposure at this level)

    361.

    Hazardous
    (301-500) Serious aggravation of heart or lung disease and premature mortality in persons with cardiopulmonary disease and the elderly; serious risk of respiratory effects in general population. Everyone should avoid all physical activity outdoors; people with heart or lung disease, older adults, and children should remain indoors and keep activity levels low.

  5. “Unfortunately there aren’t enough native elephants…”

    Too many on my local High Street, but I wouldn’t fancy collecting their dung.

  6. Perhaps more people are burning their domestic refuse because the frequency of bin collections has been reduced. It’s a fairly dumb and anti-social thing to do, but people respond to incentives – in this case cheap fuel and lower pest control costs.

  7. People spend a couple of grand on a wood burning stove then look around for wood to burn. Sure kindling is nice but its not the only wood available.
    So people burn any old wood or rubbish. What exactly was anyone expecting that was different?

    Are we going to have government inspectors going through the ash from the stove? Are we going to be required to fit monitoring equipment to stovepipes to measure what sort of things are being burnt?

    I looked into a stove system at my warehouse, the common consensus was use old pallets and other stuff.

  8. It’s already illegal to burn firewood in an open fire in most of London; and has been for decades. This was the legacy of the Clean Air Act 1956.

    However they left open an exemption for wood-burning stoves, presumably on the grounds that they still produce much fewer emissions than open fires, and that (as with diesel cars) there weren’t very many of them in the first place. A few decades later everyone and their dog owns one, and getting rid of them becomes a political problem (as with diesel cars).

  9. as Tim says.

    That and seriously moving the goal posts so that even if PMI was down to 0, there would always be something else.

    I remember not so long ago when London was full of diesel smoke spewed by empty buses. It’s nothing like that nowadays, not even close. And I’m pretty sure the PMI level then was 10 or more.

  10. SMFS,

    It’s entirely possible that London’s air quality was worse than Beijing’s on a particular day. Pollution is highly variable. We know from the article that London was having a bad day on Monday; if Beijing happened to be having a good day, then one could be higher than the other.

    It’s also therefore an entirely meaningless fact.

  11. Martin: “Are we going to have government inspectors going through the ash from the stove? Are we going to be required to fit monitoring equipment to stovepipes to measure what sort of things are being burnt?”

    *yelps in dismay* Stop giving them ideas!!!

  12. If only they could construct great big fans to break up the inversion layer over London when they occur?

  13. Did they publish the reading for London on that day? It would be simple to compare it to Beijing and find out if they were lying or not.

  14. Well, in Beijing they have a crackdown on pollution once every year, by rounding up 5 people with open stoves, and they confiscate them and chop them up (the stoves, not the people) for the TV news.

    Next day back to business as usual, and the stove makers sell another 5 units.

  15. Bloke in Germany – be cheaper to chop up the people not the stoves.
    Can make it a media event.
    Siobhan has been abusing the air of other people by burning wood she purchased from a garden centre in her wood burning stove. She will be chopped up and sent to landfill in the appropriate recycling bin. Her stove will be auctioned off to a collector.

  16. Beijing is always up and down. I have an app on my phone that shows AQI data over the previous month. One day it can be 50, two days later it’s 500. I think the government shut down factories and restrict cars when it gets high so you see this huge variation.

  17. Machiavelli said: “If only they could construct great big fans to break up the inversion layer over London when they occur?”

    I’d rather see them try that with a new fleet of Vulcans. Dive down or weave about to try and churn up the air.

  18. Readings depend on the time of day.

    Beijing

    01/26/2017 2:00:00 PM
    01-26-2017 14:00; PM2.5; 152.0; 202; Very Unhealthy (at 24-hour exposure at this level)

  19. Gareth. If only. That would be a spectacle.
    I’m rather hoping the Greens would like big fans as a solution, taking power from windmills elsewhere to power them.
    The ultimate green scam, moving wind. 😉

  20. “…which idiots don’t know this?”

    Governments dishing out subsidies to burn wood ‘cos CO2 from wood is magic and has no greenhouse effect and if we replace coal and gas with wood – Planet saved. Home in time for tea.

  21. There are numpties where I live in London who have BBQs on apartment balconies which are no more than 1.5 x 2 metres in size. One is from a gas bottle the other charcoal. Their neighbours must delight in this during the summer months.

  22. Governments dishing out subsidies to burn wood ‘cos CO2 from wood is magic and has no greenhouse effect

    It’s not quite as stupid as that. I think the idea is that wood has captured CO2 recently as it grew and therefore burning it releases CO2 into the atmosphere that was there only a few years/decades ago, as opposed to fossil fuels, whose burning releases CO2 that had been captured millions of years ago. Plus any tree that dies and falls in the forest will release CO2 into the atmosphere as it rots, so burning it (once the wood is nice and dry and seasoned) only anticipates its eventual fate anyway.

    I live in a fairly large house in upstate NY (a rambling pile, I believe you Brits would call it) and I have 2 wood stoves and a fireplace, which I use for comfort and enjoyment when the fancy strikes (notwithstanding Andrew M’s link upthread to the effect that it is a very bad thing to do). I would not consider using them as my only sources of heat, if only because the amount of work required is daunting.

    A few years ago my propane furnace broke down in the winter (of course), when the daytime temperature was hovering in single digits Fahrenheit, and it took the repairmen two days to fix it. To avoid frozen pipes I kept the house warm with all of my log-burning appliances, which necessitated a trek to the woodshed through deep frozen snow every 6 hours, and of course it meant that I wasn’t able to go to work for those 2 days. As I like to say, for 2 days I lived in the nineteenth century.

    The idea of providing subsidies for wood burning is beyond idiotic. The efficiency of even the best wood stove (and I have a Scandinavian one, the kind called Kachelofen in German, which is actually pretty good) is abysmal compared to propane or natural gas. But it is in keeping with governments’ attitudes towards energy, most of which seem geared to getting us back to the nineteenth century, when most of the population could reliably be found at home and traveling was reserved to the upper classes.

    As the Duke of Wellington is reported to have said about steam trains: “It will only encourage the lower classes to move about.”

  23. “Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups” i.e. for Guardian readers? Who probably are the sort off asses who buy wood-burning stoves in London anyway.

  24. What’s happened is that the PTB are gradually working themselves up to impose their favourite thing – a ban.

    The excuse will be environmentalism and “think of the children”.

    The real reason will be that they need everyone to have a heating system that the State can control centrally in case people get uppity.

  25. “You import Third World peasants, you get Third World slums as people turn their backyard sheds into favellas. Inevitably you get Third World behaviour like heating homes illegally with wood burning.”

    Based upon what exactly? Oh nothing, just another example of the crap produced by a Thick.Racist.Prick.

  26. The abiding appeal of the open hearth or the wood/coal burning stove is it’s independence of any infrastructure that may be subject to government bungling or interference.

  27. Of course we do have several rather large wood burning stoves that used to be power stations that used coal, the facts are included here
    http://theconversation.com/british-power-stations-are-burning-wood-from-us-forests-to-meet-renewables-targets-54969

    These are of course government sanctioned, and of course when evaluating CO2 outputs the transport from the USA and the process to turn the wood into pellets is never included, so when I throw a log, locally sourced from my garden, large, I have absolutely no qualms at all.

  28. I am wondering why I have not seen people around here scavenging for discarded timber. It must happen as otherwise the journalist would not have mentioned it but….As far as I can tell, by nose, there is a LOT more coal being burned than pre 2010 but I would be surprised if it were coming from these wood-burning stoves. You have to go to garden centres to get those nicely pre-trimmed log-ettes, don’t you?

  29. I’ve never understood the “joys” of a wood burner. I grew up with one in the house and it was a bugger to keep clean, cutting/stacking/drying the wood took ages and if we didn’t have the wood from the farm it would have cost a fortune to buy it in.

    My house has an oil fired stove, all the flamey goodness of a wood burner but controlable and very clean

  30. @ Diogenes
    There is a lot of coal being burned to supplement the wonderful green wind-power that unfortunately always seems to hit a low of 1% of capacity utilisation in January – e.g. on Sunday and Monday this week – because there isn’t enough efficient CCGT capacity to meet peak demand thanks to demands that we spend £billions on windfarms instead of reliable nuclear or CCGT power stations. As coal-burning hit a high for 5 days out of the last eight, your nose can smell more coal than usual.

  31. Lionel, Sneezy,

    Give it ten years and they’ll be after barbecues too. Perhaps we’ll be limited to only having barbecues on windy days, when the pollution gets blown away quickly.

  32. @Diogenes, January 26, 2017 at 6:04 pm
    “As far as I can tell, by nose, there is a LOT more coal being burned than pre 2010 but I would [not]be surprised if it were coming from these wood-burning stoves.”

    Did you omit the “not” by mistake?

    As @Hedgehog, January 26, 2017 at 3:31 pm says wood burning stoves need a lot of re-stoking. Same volume of coal, being denser, burns for longer.

    Perhaps the wood-burners have lost their novelty appeal to owners and they are using coal instead.

    Wood burners were promoted as a green heating solution using scrap wood, unfortunately there is not enough scrap wood to fuel all the domestic wood burners, let alone Drax.

  33. Isn’t there a law that requires new central heating systems have a ‘renewable’ fuel source? The only one that is practical to achieve being wood chips?

  34. @ Pcar
    “unfortunately there is not enough scrap wood to fuel all the domestic wood burners, let alone Drax.”
    That depends on how many wood-burning stoves there are in the neighbourhood: I only use wood that would otherwise go to landfill and I’ve never had to buy a single stick in twenty years. I’ve got a majority from scavenging from skips with the owners’ permission but a heck of a lot has been given to me by people.

  35. Ironman – “Based upon what exactly? Oh nothing, just another example of the crap produced by a Thick.Racist.Prick.”

    Still obsessing about my genitalia there Flopsy? Well I can understand that. It is all natural and it is spectacular.

  36. The abiding appeal of the open hearth or the wood/coal burning stove is it’s independence of any infrastructure that may be subject to government bungling or interference.

    A mate of mine had one installed when he learned about the forced installation of “smart meters” which would allow the powers that be (the Illuminati I presume) to restrict the temperature of his central heating.

    I’m not exactly convinced by his paranoia, but given the UK governments poor track record on power generation, it certainly wouldn’t surprise me if they got into a situation where brownouts and blackouts were happening and used remote smart meter control (if such a means exists) to manage the remaining power supplies.

    I did point out that the government did pretty much the same thing during the horror of the 3-day week back in the winter of 1973/1974 without smart meters being in place, just by turning the bloody power off.

    Still, it’s nice to sit in front of his fire on a winter’s evening and quaff some wine, so it does have that advantage.

    In addition, when society does collapse, he’ll be able to eat his annoying neighbor cooked instead of having to eat him raw.

    I’ve told him to lay in additional supplies of Jamaican hot sauce for that very eventuality.

  37. The main reason people have wood burners is ‘aesthetics’ *

    Most houses that have them have fully functional central heating

    * disclaimer: we have one, at the request of the missus, easy life and all that…

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