On December 5, 1952, the residents of London woke up to a chilly, clear morning. However, as the day went on, a fog slowly settled over the city. While fog was hardly uncommon for the damp London environment, as the day went on the fog slowly became thicker and thicker, even taking on a sickly, yellowish hue towards the middle of the day. This fog, so dense that people couldn’t even see their feet on the ground, refused to let up for a full five days in the breezeless city (Klein). Traffic was completely disrupted (excluding the Underground transport), local events and concerts had to be canceled, and people were forced to stay inside for fear of getting lost or suffocated in the thick mist. Not only was the routine of the city disrupted, but the fog had terrible health effects on several of the residents. The smog damaged the health of both the elderly and the very young, and had long lasting effects on the city as a whole. This smog was the Killer Fog of 1952, one of the most deadly environmental disasters in all of history.
The fog was caused by the massive amounts of pollution in the air of London. During the year 1952, it was a particularly cold winter in Great Britain. An unusual cold had been gripping the capital of Britain for weeks before the fog came, and this meant that the British had been pumping massive amounts of soot into the air as they burned coal to heat their houses up (Klein). This soot accumulated in the air every day during the morning, so when the fog rolled in on December 5, it mixed with the moisture in the air and created an especially thick fog. The fog was so thick and dark due to the amounts of soot that the distance of visibility was recorded as only being one foot in front of s...
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...the first that spurred environmental movements and changed the way the world looked at the industrial boom.
The Killer Fog of 1952 will stand in history as one of the first and worst environmental disasters caused by humans. It brought an entire city to a standstill for five full days in December, taking thousands of lives in the process, and there was no one to take the blame other than the local people. The disaster was completely due to the actions of humans, both through the industrial boom at the time and the burning of coal for heat. It was one of the events that triggered the first environmental movements, and was basically the awful wake-up call needed to spur awareness about pollution. While it will go down in history as an infamous event, without it acts to clean up the air may have never come about and even worse environmental effects could have occurred.
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