Recently, the Guardian Newspaper published a column by respected activist and journalist, George Monbiot, titled “My burning shame: I fitted my house with three wood-burning stoves.”
In the column, Monbiot owns up to the fact he had installed three wood stoves in a home he was renovating in 2008 — and then began to learn about how harmful they were for human health and the environment.
As he writes:
“These poisons can affect every organ in the body. Tiny particles pass straight through your lungs into the bloodstream. Wherever they lodge they cause harm. They’re associated with a wide range of cancers, heart and lung disease, strokes, dementia and the loss of intelligence. They age your skin and damage your liver. They harm foetuses in the womb and children’s development. It’s especially ironic to find wood burners in the homes of people who buy only organic products, to reduce the chemical load on their bodies. Burning wood is consistent with the “naturalness” of this approach, but what we deem to be “natural” (a term we often use to mean “old”) is not always best.”
Like so many others, it was difficult for him to publicly acknowledge his mistake but, by doing so, he set a good example of how one can unknowingly make a mistake, learn more about the issue, and commit to making positive changes. It also highlights how education on the very real health impacts is so important to creating such change.