France's Ecology Minister, Delphine Batho, cut short an official trip to Berlin to rush to the site of the leak at a chemical plant in the picturesque city of Rouen in Normandy, claimed there was no health risk, but the rotten egg smell affected everyone as the wind blew – France and England. (www.smh.com.au)
Winds carried the foul-smelling invisible gas down the densely populated Seine valley to Paris and later northwards over the Channel and into Britain, where it even reached south London – even a French Cup match in Rouen between the city's football team and Marseille was cancelled.
A similar 'wind' catastrophe carried nuclear radiation from the Chernobyl power plant in the Ukraine on 26 April 1986. It was Sweden's search for the source of radioactivity, after they had determined there was no leak at the Swedish plant, that at noon on 28 April led to the first hint of a serious nuclear problem in the western Soviet Union.
Hence the evacuation of Pripyat on 27 April 36 hours after the initial explosions, was silently completed before the disaster became known outside the Soviet Union. The rise in radiation levels had at that time already been measured in Finland. (en.wikipedia.org)
Needless to say, that although the wind carried both the gas and the radiation, wind nonetheless is an essential part of the environment. Winds are often referred to according to their strength, and the direction from which the wind is blowing. Short bursts of high speed wind are termed gusts. Strong winds of intermediate duration (around one minute) are termed squalls. Long-duration winds have various names associated with their average strength, such as breeze, gale, storm. Hurricane, cyclone and typhoon. (en.wikipedia.org)
Quintessential Australian Effect
Perhaps the quintessential Australian effect of the wind carrying smells was in 1962 when the famous Goons show recorded "The Flying Dustman of Outback Australia". This spoof has the team engaged in a new Government program of removing the rubbish of outback Australia and dumping it into the Pacific Ocean (this was well before environmentalism came to the fore).
The spoof continues that the Japanese got into the act by undercutting the new program but exporting 'plastic look-alike' rubbish in order that the poor people might also have the distinguished honour of having rubbish to be collected by the flying dustmen's motley crew.
In this Goons show, the issue of rubbish is raised in Parliament where one of the rural representatives complains of being able to smell the reek of the neighbours – mind you, this is the next property some 20 miles away – alas, the point of all this, it's the wind that carries the smell.
So too the wind carries pollution away from our cities, the winds clears the air, the wind has a purifying effect and it is essential to our environment and well-being. The wind carries with it huge dust storm and the horrific bush fires are pushed at frightening speed by the wind.
Wikipedia described the wind as caused by differences in atmosphere pressure. When a difference in atmospheric pressure exists, air moves from the higher to the lower pressure area, resulting in winds of various speeds. On a rotating planet, air will also be deflected by the Coriolis effect, except exactly on the equator. Globally, the two major driving factors of large-scale winds (the atmospheric circulation) are the differential heating between the equator and the poles.
The Bible is replete with stories of the effects of the wind. Two well known stories is how Elijah prayed for rain and the first sign was a small cloud in which the wind bought followed by great rains. The New Testament is from Jesus who spoke of the Spirit of the Lord coming unseen like the wind.
The wind - there is much to be thankful.
Dr Mark Tronson is a Baptist minister (retired) who served as the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years (2000 ret) and established Life After Cricket in 2001. He was recognised by the Olympic Ministry Medal in 2009 presented by Carl Lewis Olympian of the Century. He has written 24 books, and enjoys writing. He is married to Delma, with four adult children and grand-children.
Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/mark-tronson.html