Reverse graffiti, where you remove dirt from urban areas, is a great way to show the impact pollution has on the environment and cities.
Today, fifteen members of eco-activist group Climate Rush, armed with brightly coloured feather dusters and pinnies, cleaned the message 'We object to dirty air' onto the pavement outside the Royal Courts of Justice in London. The activist wanted to make a statement as today is the first day of a hearing where the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs' (DEFRA) action on air pollution will be scrutinised by the judicial system.
The case was brought to the High Court in December by law firm ClientEarth, resulting in DEFRA admitting to breaching EU laws on air quality. Sadly, the judge didn't force DEFRA to adapt its plans to improve air quality in the UK to address the breach of EU law at that point, and the case is now being heard again.
Long overdue their 1 January 2010 deadline, the air quality plans currently in place mean that 17 UK cities and regions, such as Manchester, London and Glasgow, will not achieve legal limits for air quality until 2020. It gets worse for those dwelling in the capital; safe breathing in London is postponed until 2025! Just another 13 years of smog and breathing in fumes then.
A spokesperson for Climate Rush, Andrew Tobert, said "We've cleaned a message outside the Royal Courts of Justice today to let DEFRA know that they need to clean up their act for the hundreds of thousands of people who are forced to breathe toxic air. This is a public health epidemic and our government should be doing all they can to improve air quality by improving public transport services, investing in cycling safety and banning the most polluted cars from the most polluted places."
Air pollution is linked to the early deaths of 29,000 people in the UK, childhood asthma and permanent reduced lung capacity in children as well as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and heart disease in people over 65. It is a public health epidemic that we simply cannot just ignore anymore - and neither should DEFRA.