Posted by: Matthew | December 9, 2009

So if you knew your neighbour didn’t like the smoke, would you stop?

Speaking up and saying “Hey I don’t like wood smoke. Please don’t do it to me.”  isn’t really a recipe for social success.

The reaction I have got over the years, and have heard stories from others, ranges between a small amount of hostility to outright hostility.

First they want me to shut up, usually attached to a bout of swearing, and asking me who the hell am I to tell them what to do? Answer: their victim. Tell them that and they go even more over the top.

Then they go into denial that they could be doing anything wrong and say things like “we’ve been doing it for years”. “Yeah, so what?” I think, “You’ve been doing the wrong thing for years.”  Or my favourite response “but it is natural”, well so is leukaemia, radioactivity, cockroaches and yeast infections.

Or that other justification they use “I only burn clean dry wood, and therefore I don’t make any smoke” which is 100% a fallacy. Complete combustion only occurs on gaseous fuels, or aspirated liquid fuels. Solid fuels always produce smoke.

Then they think I’m a crank and go off and try to deny the science. The ignorance of any chemistry in society is profound. It’s not hard to read about the science nowadays with the world wide web. Ignorance is no excuse.

But I ask these questions:

Why should I shut up? If I don’t like something I’m going to reserve the right to speak out and I am going to speak out.

And if you know something detrimentally affects someone, because they says it does, why would you continue to do it?

If someone came to me and said my music was too loud I’d turn it down. If someone came to me and said “next time you ride past my horse, can you slow down so you don’t scare her?” next time I’d slow down.

When I say “Please do you mind not polluting the neighbourhood?” I think the answer should be “You know what, I am going to do my best to fix the problem.”

So if you knew your neighbour didn’t like the smoke, would you stop? What about a passer-by  like someone walking their dog or a cyclist and they said they didn’t like the smoke, would you stop then?

Now if you said yes, you would stop, have you actually asked any of your neighbours what they do actually think? Not just someone else who pollutes too, but your neighbours without smoke billowing out their flues.

Do you know how many people have moved away from your area because of wood smoke? It’s probably more than you think.

What would you do if your neighbour declared their home wood smoke free? Would you respect their wishes? Or would you impose your will on them and their lungs and nostrils?

And if you said no you wouldn’t care about your neighbour’s objections to wood smoke, do you consider yourself of a certain moral character in other regards? ie selfish about polluting, but moral in other regards, like not telling lies, or not cheating on your taxes, being kind to animals, not coveting thy neighbour’s ass, etc?

Would you dismiss what I think, and pretend that what I think is of no consequence? Because that is exactly the same as not caring about your neighbour’s objections to wood smoke. So if you’ve followed my logic, and you continue to burn off indoors or out, I think your moral compass is seriously out of whack and that’s why we need laws to protect us from harm, or to put it another way, that’s why we need laws to protect us from you.

It’s no good doing things to only get a 4% reduction in smoke levels, because 96% of the problem remains. We need to do things to get us a 100% reduction in smoke levels.

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