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Barometer

Ikea’s founder was a billionaire skinflint – but others were even worse

Also in Barometer: the animals most used for testing in Britain and how pollution has changed

3 February 2018

9:00 AM

3 February 2018

9:00 AM

Tight money

Ingvar Kamprad, the founder of Ikea, was worth an estimated £40 billion. Yet the eighth richest man in the world drove an old Volvo, flew economy class, bought his clothes in flea markets and had his wife cut his hair to avoid the cost of a barber. Some other wealthy tight-fists:
— The oil entrepreneur J. Paul Getty, worth $6 billion when he died in 1976, famously installed a payphone for guests at Sutton Place, his home in Surrey.
— Wall Street financier Hetty Green was worth $200 million when she died in 1951. It would have been a little less had she not lived in a small apartment, used charity health clinics (leading, it was said, to the amputation of her son’s leg) and only washing the hems of her dresses to save on soap. She once stayed up much of the night searching for a lost two cents stamp.

Of mice and monkeys

It emerged that a defunct research body, EUGT, had tested diesel exhaust fumes on monkeys and humans. UK animal experiments used which species in 2014?

Mice 2,900,000
Fish 419,000
Rats 254,000
Birds 139,000
Ungulates (hoofed mammals) 61,000
Other rodents 33,000
Reptiles/amphibians 17,000
Rabbits 14,000
Non-human primates 3,000


Source: House of Commons Library

Tube tumult

Passengers on the Central Line between Liverpool Street and Bethnal Green were found to be exposed to 109 decibels of noise: louder than a helicopter taking off. How does it compare with other noises?

Chainsaw 110 dB
Rock concert 110 dB
Siren 115 dB
Birds 120 dB
Bursting balloon 125 dB
Very loud football crowd 130 dB
Jet engine 140 dB

Burning issue

The government was said to be considering a ban on coal as a domestic fuel along with restrictions on wood-burning. How have polluting emissions changed since 1970?

Sulphur dioxide - 96%
Particulate matter (soot) - 73%
Nitrogen oxides - 69%
Non-methane volatile
organic compounds
- 66%
Ammonia (since 1980) - 9.9%

Source: Defra


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