At a time when a thick fog has engulfed New Delhi and other parts of north India, here’s a point to ponder over.
Another city was famously enveloped in dense fogs that brought visibility down to zero—the London that was captured in the Sherlock Holmes stories, the tales of Jack the Ripper preying on his victims in smoky streets, the famous impressionist painting by Claude Monet depicting the silhouette of the British houses of Parliament in a fog and some of the early films by Alfred Hitchcock.
One of the worst episodes was in December 1952, when a dense fog blinded the city and even seeped indoors, forcing theatre owners to cancel film shows because the audience could not see what was happening on screen.
All this is history. London is now blessed with clear skies on even the most wintry days.
Why? First, Britain is now a post-industrial economy with few functioning smokestacks. Two, the Clean Air Act of 1956 forced people to stop burning coal and wood to heat homes. There are lessons here for us. Fogs that bring entire cities to a halt are not inevitable.