Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Luxury Bus in San Francisco

A luxury-bus startup called Leap Transit relaunched in San Francisco last week, carting passengers from the wealthy Marina district to downtown. It's the latest company to offer a high-end alternative to public transit.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Kathmandu to Thrashmandu !!

They don't call it Trashmandu for nothing. In Nepal's capital city of Kathmandu, garbage is pretty much everywhere. It's stuffed in plastic bags and dropped in drainage ditches. It's piled high in empty lots, on the roadside and on the edges of the city's sewage-filled rivers. It is thrown out of bus windows and off rooftops into neighbors' yards. It's hard to believe Kathmandu could get any worse. But this month, it did.

The piles of trash that are smothering Kathmandu are a reminder that the world itself is drowning in garbage. A World Bank report puts daily garbage generation at 3.5 million tons, expected to hit 6 million tons by 2025. And governments aren't always willing to pick up the trash. Nepal's government, for example, has shown little commitment to the disposal of the valley's garbage despite passing a Solid Waste Management Act in 2011. The government is trying to prepare a new landfill site, but a road needs to be built and a river needs to be diverted. That will take at least another three years.

Read more @ NPR

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Paris Imposed 50% Vehicle Ban to Curb Smog

Paris on Monday imposed a partial driving ban and made public transport free in an attempt to cut noxious smog, after pollution levels briefly surpassed that of Shanghai last week. Authorities announced that all cars with plates ending in even numbers must stay off the roads on Monday, after days of political wrangling over how to tackle the high amount of harmful particles shrouding Paris.

Anne Hidalgo, the Socialist mayor, had wanted to impose the ban last week after lack of wind or rain and cold nights helped push up pollution levels. According to Plume Labs, Paris for a few hours last week hit 127 in its air pollution index chart of 60 cities, with Shanghai in second place on 106 and London on 91. However, the government of fellow Socialists refused, reportedly so as not to annoy suburban voters ahead of Sunday’s local elections.

Read more @ Telegraph.UK

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Air Pollution Alert Issued in England

Smog over parts of England, Wales and Northern Ireland has prompted a warning from Public Health England. The Department for Environment said there was moderate to high levels of the pollution, which is caused by traffic fumes and other sources. Air pollution has also blown in from Europe and Public Health England said the conditions could affect people with lung or heart problems or asthma.

Defra said levels were due to fall to moderate or low levels by Friday. More @ BBC

Smog is formed when pollutants, dust, pollen and other particles that would normally be dispersed by winds are prevented from escaping from the layer of cool air that is trapped at the Earth's surface.
Sotiris Vardoulakis, head of Public Health England's air pollution and climate change group, said: "While most people will not be affected by short term peaks in air pollution - some individuals, particularly vulnerable groups such as those with existing heart or lung conditions, may experience increased symptoms."

Technical Solutions are not Enough to Solve Air Pollution Problems in Indian Cities

In 2006, Al Gore broke down the complicated issue of climate change in “An Inconvenient Truth” to make it understandable to the public. In a similar manner, a month back, “Under the Dome” — a documentary on air pollution in China — highlighted the known linkages between pollutants and human health. Even though the documentary is in Chinese, the message is global. It is especially relevant for Indian cities where air pollution is going from bad to worse, and where there is a lack of understanding of where this pollution is coming from and what we must to do about it.

Read more @ the Hindu

Documentary on Air Pollution in China

According to the World Health Organization, 25-30 cities in the top 100 most polluted cities in the world are from India. The Global Burden of Disease assessments for 2010 estimated that 6,27,000 premature deaths in India can be attributed to outdoor air pollution. Of the pollution-related risks, a substantial increase was observed in the cases of ischemic heart disease (which can lead to heart attacks), cerebro-vascular disease (which can lead to strokes), chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases, lower respiratory infections, and cancers (in trachea, lungs, and bronchitis). These estimates do not include acute impacts such as asthma attacks, eye irritations and other respiratory ailments. We still do not know and have not quantified the long-term health impacts of air pollution on vulnerable populations such as children and the elderly. The pollutant with the most impact on health is Particulate Matter. Particulate Matter with an aerodynamic diameter of less than 2.5 micron-meter is especially harmful as they are small enough to settle inside our lungs and cause long-term health problems. Other pollutants are Sulfur dioxide, Nitrogen oxides, Carbon monoxide, and ozone.

According to the 2011 census, by 2030, with a majority of the population classified as urban, the expected growth and demand in industrial, transportation, and domestic sectors will consequently result in an increase in problems of air pollution, which will spread from the big cities to secondary and tertiary cities. In the early 2000s, Delhi mandated a policy to convert auto-rickshaws, taxis and buses from diesel to Compressed Natural Gas. The benefits from this switch lasted for 3-4 years, but as the number of vehicles kept increasing, pollution levels from the transport sector were once again high. Such a large-scale conversion or any such intervention to target air pollution was not attempted again in any other city.

Air pollution is a complicated issue and is most often a symptom of inadequate urban planning. Lack of power supply leads to the use of diesel generator sets; lack of buses to support the public transport demand leads to higher use of personal vehicles; lack of infrastructure to promote walking and cycling leads to more motorised transport; lack of road maintenance and traffic management by allowing on-road parking leads to congestion; lack of a sufficient waste management system leads to garbage being left behind and often burnt in residential areas; and lack of paved or covered roads leads to re-suspension of dust when vehicles are passing by. The fact that air pollution is an externality from multiple sectors means that it needs to be addressed by multiple ministries that are willing to coordinate with one another. Technical solutions alone, like introducing CNG or changing standards for vehicles and industries, will not be sufficient to control air pollution in Indian cities. We need a change in the institutional setup in ways that will allow department and ministries to work together.

As citizens, it is our right to know the quality of air that we breathe, the severity of pollution in the air, and where this pollution is coming from. There are multiple sources and there is little that one can do as an individual that would make an impact on reducing emissions. Only when the government takes the lead to address this seriously, by mandating policies in the context of wider social and economic development, will we have any real change towards improving the quality of air. This will not be easy as it is a complicated issue, but we need to start somewhere. Getting a sense of how bad the air is through regular monitoring, and allowing citizens to demand action, is the first step. And we must take that step.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Air Pollution News & Alerts - March 15th, 2015

Ecologist, March 15th, 2015
Coal industry setting its own air pollution standards.

The Diplomat, March 15th, 2015
What India Needs to Learn from China.

NY Times, March 15th, 2015
Chinese Premier Vows Tougher Regulation on Air Pollution.

Business Standard, March 15th, 2015
Cleaning up power.

The Guardian, March 15th, 2015
Global emissions stall in 2014 following slowdown in China's economy.

NY Times, March 15th, 2015
Chinese Premier Vows Tougher Regulation on Air Pollution.

UT San Diego, March 13th, 2015
Revamped environmental law raises hope for cleanup in China.

Australian Business Review, March 13th, 2015
China sees surge in court cases against polluters.

Climate Progress, March 13th, 2015
In Reversal, Chinese Government Bans Pollution Exposé.

Earth Island Journal, March 13th, 2015
The Big Haze: China’s Great Leap Backwards.

Eco business, March 13h, 2015
India needs to cut down on its black carbon emissions.

The Guardian, March 13th, 2015
US and Chinese companies dominate list of most-polluting coal plants.

Indian Express, March 12th, 2015
Government keen on Better Fuels, Automobile Industry Stalling.

Hindustan Times, March 12th, 2015
Restrictions on diesel vehicles in capital soon?

Council on Foreign Affairs, March 12th, 2015
Do India’s Renewable Energy Targets Make Sense?

Business Report, March 12th, 2015
India must also embrace US measure of air pollution.

First Post, March 12th, 2015
Dust-free roads: Delhi govt's new plan to battle air pollution.

The Hindu, March 12th, 2015
Fresh air a birth right, says Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar.

Wall Street Journal, March 12th, 2015
The Problem With Delhi’s Air Pollution Readings.

India Today, March 12th, 2015
India needs habitable cities before smart cities.

Smithsonian, March 12th, 2015
With Wearable Devices That Monitor Air Quality, Scientists Can Crowdsource Pollution Maps.

Hindustan Times, March 12th, 2015
Country’s first: BHEL manufactures indigenous 800 MW turbo generator.

Nigerian Tribune, March 12th, 2015
Nigeria will generate 5,000MW from coal.

Times of India, March 12th, 2015
Euro VI can filter out problem.

Hindustan Times, March 12th, 2015
Restrictions on diesel vehicles in capital soon?

Energy Collective, March 11th, 2015
The Fog of Protest: The Promotion and Censoring of "Under the Dome".

The Hindu, March 11th, 2015
Singareni plants to be oil-fired in May-June.

Economic Times, March 11th, 2015
NGT raps Delhi government for delay in traffic congestion plan.

DNA India, March 10th, 2015
Residents protest against rising level of air pollution in Ghaziabad.

NYT, March 11th, 2015
Plan to Verify Delhi Pollution Data Raises Suspicions.

NDTV, March 11th, 2015
Environment Ministry to Set Up 'Unified System' to Monitor Delhi's Air Quality.

Indian Express, March 11th, 2015
As Delhi air thickens, govt still awaits study on pollution to draft policy.

Eco-Business, March 11th, 2015
Urgent campaign to curb pollutants’ deadly effects.

Economic Times, March 11th, 2015
Concern in Rajya Sabha over rising air pollution in Delhi.

Global Times, March 11th, 2015
New-energy vehicles exceeded 120,000 by 2014.

The Guardian, March 11th, 2015
Have diesel cars been unfairly demonised for air pollution?

Power Engineering, March 11th, 2015
Delhi plan for coal-fired power plant gets underway.

Business Standard, March 10th, 2015
Industry sceptical about proposed 5 ultra mega power plants.

VOX, March 10th, 2015
Pollution is changing the way China does politics.

Huffington Post, March 10th, 2015
The Morning Wrap: Delhi Govt To Censor Pollution Data; 'Uber' Rich In India Set To Increase.

World Coal, March 10th, 2015
Japan seeks coal, but not Australian coal.

Asian Oil & Gas, March 9th, 2015
India to add 103 GW of coal power.

Shanghai Daily, March 9th, 2015
70% of city waste to be burned next year.

My digital, March 8th, 2015
BHEL to develop ultra super-critical power equipment.

Want China Times, March 8th, 2015
Beijing to reduce coal burning, close factories to curb air pollution.

Tehran Times, March 8th, 2015
Environment is a national concern.

NPR, March 8th, 2015
Why China's Pollution Could Be Behind Our Cold, Snowy Winters.

The Diplomat, March 8th, 2015
India's ‘Airpocalypse’.

Wall Street Journal, March 6th, 2015
Pollution Documentary Pulled From Chinese Websites.

Climate Action, March 6th, 2015
Beijing could be smog-free by 2025.

Xinhua Net, March 6th, 2015
Beijing to reduce coal burning, shut down factories to curb air pollution.

Wired Magazine, March 6th, 2015
Opinion: How the US Embassy Tweeted to Clear Beijing’s Air.

Global Post, March 6th, 2015
Beijing to reduce coal burning, shut down factories to curb air pollution.

All Africa, March 5th, 2015
Zimbabwe: Imported Used Vehicles Drive Air Pollution.

New Zealand Herald, March 5th, 2015
NZ air quality a 'good news story'.

The Hindu, March 5th, 2015
Hyderabad, Pune top Mumbai and Delhi in quality of life.

Indian Express, March 5th, 2015
Regulate congested Lajpat Nagar traffic by March 10: NGT.

IBN Live, March 5th, 2015
High Court to hear plea on increasing air pollution in Delhi.

Wall Street Journal, March 5th, 2015
Bad Air Chokes New Delhi’s Livability Ranking.

India Today, March 5th, 2015
How Beijing breathes easier.

Air Quality News, March 5th, 2015
Defra defends industry inclusion in EU air pollution talks.

PR NEwswire, March 5th, 2015
China Thermal Power Denitration Industry Report, 2014-2017.

Nepali Times, March 5th, 2015
The other bad carbon.

Nepali Times, March 5th, 2015
Clean kilns.

Climate Progress, March 5th, 2015
Here’s What Gas Would Have To Cost To Account For Health And Environmental Impacts.

Inter Press Service, March 5th, 2015
In India, an Indoor Health Crisis.

Foreign Policy, March 4th, 2015
Don’t Get Caught Up in the Air Pollution Hype.

The Telegraph, March 4th, 2015
China vows to defeat pollution with energy 'revolution'.

NPR, March 4th, 2015
The Anti-Pollution Documentary That's Taken China By Storm.

International Business Times, March 4th, 2015
Smog In Korea: Coal Power Plants, Not China, Are Major Culprits.

Scintific American, March 3rd, 2015
Can Carbon Dioxide Replace Steam to Generate Power?

Economic Times, March 3rd, 2015
National Green Tribunal pulls up Delhi government for its lackadaisical approach.

Mail Online India, March 3rd, 2015
QUANTUM LEAP: We need an air quality crackdown.

ECNS, March 3rd, 2015
Clearing the air about pollution.

The Nation, March 3rd, 2015
Smog linked to jump in heart attacks.

Breaking Energy, March 3rd, 2015
Chinese Air Pollution Documentary Paints Chilling Picture, Goes Viral.

Washington Post, March 2nd, 2015
China is disappearing.

Global Research, March 2nd, 2015
India’s Tata Strikes a Deal with Russia’s Biggest Coal Producer.

Forbes, March 2nd, 2015
Pollution Becomes China's 'Inconvenient Truth'.

Energy Central, March 2nd, 2015
DOE expects 27 new power plants before end of P-Noy's term.

Digital Journal, March 2nd, 2015
Report says air pollution killing thousands in Europe each year.

Business Standard, March 2nd, 2015
Ultra Modern Super Critical Coal Based Thermal Power Technology.

Wall Street Journal, March 2nd, 2015
Beijing Quietly Curbs Discussion of Documentary on Air Pollution.

Harvard School, March 2nd, 2015
Partnership Results in a Study Quantifying Air Pollution’s Severe Health Costs in India.

IBN Live, March 2nd, 2015
Status check: The impact of the toxic air pollution in Delhi.

Climate Progress, March 2nd, 2015
China’s Surprising Reaction To An Online Video Exposing The Country’s Extreme Pollution Problem.

Scientific American, March 2nd, 2015
China's War on Air Pollution May Cause More Global Warming.

Global Times, March 2nd, 2015
Beijing kicks off drive to up environmental inspections.

Times of India, March 1st, 2015
Bihar to get more power from Barh by March-end.

Energy Central, February 28th, 2015
India,United Kingdom : OPGS POWER to begin operations of its new thermal power plant in KUTCH on 28th of this month.

Live Mint, February 28th, 2015
Budget 2015: Jaitley cuts allocation to environment ministry.

Power Engineering, February 27th, 2015
Coal chief takes aim at EU energy policy.

Bloomberg Press, February 26th, 2015
Modi Commits to Clean Environment by Doubling India’s Coal Tax.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

No More Real-time Air Quality Data from DPCC Stations in Delhi

Under watch across the world over the alarming quality of air in its national capital, are Indian authorities trying to shoot the messenger? The Delhi Pollution Control Committee, which runs a real-time air pollution monitoring system, has been rapped for releasing "raw" or "unedited" air quality data on its website. In a meeting last week, the Union environment ministry has decided that DPCC's data will be "validated" by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and "quality control" mechanisms put in place before it is released online.

The decision appears strange because automatic air quality monitoring usually doesn't require any editing. While it defeats the purpose of having a real-time monitoring system because any vetting would delay the process, experts also fear that the edited data may be "dressed up" and not give the true picture. Another official from CPCB confirmed that a meeting was held on March 4, in which the environment ministry decided that a protocol will be put in to place for releasing the data. "Unedited data will not be released. The figures will be validated either by us or a team of scientists. There will be quality control. We have to work out a new system by March 20," the official said.

More @ Times of India

Saturday, March 07, 2015

Air Pollution in Indian Cities

While it may be true that developed nations are the ones to blame for rapid global warming and the rampant ruination of air, Indian cities are now among the worst affected, and among the most dangerous places to live and breathe in. Dust from construction, exhaust fumes from vehicles, coal plant and factory emissions, diesel generators, stubble burning in fields, garbage fires and makeshift cooking appliances have made air pollution a public emergency.

A 2014 WHO study of 1,600 cities revealed that Delhi has the world's dirtiest air. Of the 20 most polluted in terms of super-fine PM2.5 particles, which are the most harmful, 13 are in India alone. Last winter, Delhi recorded 400 micrograms per cubic metre of the larger PM10 particle, for which the safe limit is 20 micrograms. Behind these numbers lies a disturbing human story. Bad air is preying on us all, starting with the most vulnerable. The ones most adversely affected are children, who are increasingly suffering from respiratory and other disorders, including cognition and memory. The next targets are the elderly, pregnant women, people with a history of respiratory trouble, and those forced to work and live outdoors.

The problem is not just of lifestyle but also policy and enforcement. While India keeps talking about how serious it is about controlling pollution, we haven't been able to create a working solution, perhaps because we do not understand what constitutes bad air well enough.

Read the full feature article in this week's India Today Magazine

How US Embassy Tweeted Beijing's Air Quality Data (Wired)

This is a feature article in WIRED magazine.

When the US Embassy in Beijing started tweeting data from an air-quality monitor, no one could have anticipated its far-reaching consequences: It triggered profound change in China’s environmental policy, advanced air-quality science in some of the world’s most polluted cities, and prompted similar efforts in neighboring countries.

Real time air quality index in Beijing

As the former Regional Strategic Advisor for USAID-Asia, I have seen first-hand that doing international development is incredibly difficult. Billions of dollars are spent annually with at best mixed results and, even with the best intentions, the money often fails to move the needle. That is why I was so inspired by the story of the US embassy’s low-cost, high-impact development project. They tapped into the transformative power of democratized data, and without even intending to, managed to achieve actual change.

Air quality in cities across the world

Here’s how it happened.

In 2008, everyone knew Beijing was polluted, but we didn’t know how much. That year, the US Embassy in Beijing installed a rooftop air-quality monitor that cost the team about as much as a nice car. The device began automatically tweeting out data every hour to inform US citizens of the pollution’s severity (@beijingair).

Read the full article @ WIRED

Monday, March 02, 2015

Documentary on Air Pollution in China

Millions of Chinese, riveted and outraged, watched a 104-minute documentary video over the weekend that begins with a slight woman in jeans and a white blouse walking on to a stage dimly lit in blue. As an audience looks on somberly, the woman, Chai Jing, displays a graph of brown-red peaks with occasional troughs. Read more @ New York Times

Sunday, March 01, 2015

NTPC (India) Says Badarpur Power Plant Utilizes 113% of Ash

Really 113%.

The 40-year-old Badarpur thermal station has repeatedly made news for being 'inefficient' and 'polluting'. A recent study by Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) listed it among the most polluting power stations in the country, and recommended closing it. But state-run NTPC, which owns and operates it, has cited data to claim that the plant, although old, is neither inefficient nor polluting.Last week, CSE had released a report claiming the Badarpur thermal station is one of the most polluting and inefficient thermal power plants in the country. NTPC official  said "The ash utilization at NTPC, Badarpur is more than 113% — way more than the industry standard"

Read more @ Times of India


Either they are under reporting the amount of ash collected from the boiler; or over reporting the amount of ash utilized; or the facts are wrongly reported in the news article. Which one is it?