A Dark and Dirty Sun


The incredibly hot lid of the heater spun from gloved hand to the floor, where it instantly branded a fragment of carpet with a dark and dirty sun, ‘like a bad half-crown in a basin of soap and water’.*

I was reminded of John Ruskin’s writing about plague clouds gathering over our towns and cities during the immense rise in coal consumption of the Industrial Revolution. In our post industrial age, smogs from coal have vanished from British skies, but this is not true of many countries around the world.

Burning charcoal for heat in theEgg will not create a smog, but I am still releasing carbon into the atmosphere; so far from about sixty kilos of charcoal and counting…

‘I should have liked to have blotted down for you a bit of plague-cloud to put beside this; but Heaven knows, you can see enough of it nowadays without any trouble of mine; and if you want, in a hurry, to see what the sun looks like through it, you’ve only to throw a bad half-crown into a basin of soap and water. Blanched Sun,—blighted grass,—blinded man.’

The Storm Cloud of the Nineteenth Century, Lecture 1, page 8. pub. 1884