Monday, March 30, 2009

Tallying Emissions from Ports and at Sea

This article in Science News, "Tallying Emissions from Ports and at Sea", presents a global assessment of the amount of pollution spewed by ships, as well as pinpoint where those emissions occur. Some of the report conclusions include
  • In 2004, the world’s merchant fleet included almost 91,000 ships that each weigh at least 100,000 tons
  • Ships worldwide burned about 217 million metric tons of fuel in 2004, about 5 percent of which was consumed while in port
  • The research suggests that the largest sources of emissions are container ships
  • Ships account for about 11 percent of the acid rain due to NOx emissions and about 4.5 percent of the acid rain due to sulfur dioxide emissions
  • The findings are published online on March 24 in Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Why is Science Important - by Alom Shaha

A very interesting 28 minute video by Alom Shaha on "Why Science in Important". Entire video is available @

Part 1 of 14 is embedded here.

Clean Air News - March 29th, 2009

On March 29th, 2009 (News Every Sunday)
See the last issue on March 22, 2009

Bangla News, March 22nd, 2009
Asthma thrives on air pollution in Dhaka City.

Bangla News, March 21st, 2009
Dhaka City’s air quality back to square one.

MSNBC, March 22nd, 2009
Lethal air pollution booms in emerging nations, says WMO.

Daily Mirror (Sri Lanka), March 23rd, 2009
Vehicle Emission Testing in Sri Lanka.

The New Nation, March 23rd, 2009
Mass awareness to prevent environmental pollution stressed in Bangladesh.

The NewYorker, March 30th, 2009
Economy vs. Environment.

China Business News, March 23rd, 2009
Opportunities abound in China's environmental monitoring sector.

Washington Post, March 24th, 2009
US EPA Presses Obama To Regulate Warming Under Clean Air Act.

BioGeosciences, March, 2009
Anthropogenic CO2 emissions in Africa.

Express Buzz (India), March 23rd, 2009
Bangalore Transport Corporation has the money, but no buses.

The Star, March 24th, 2009
Cheap Nano carries high pollution cost.

Science Daily, March 23rd, 2009
Mount Redoubt Volcano In Alaska Erupts Explosively.

Express India, March 24th, 2009
Pollution display boards will now smile...and weep.

ABC Science, March 24th, 2009
Science nabs two new greenhouse gases.

Economist, March 23rd, 2009
The world's cheapest car is set to go on sale.

Science Daily, March 24th, 2009
Palm Oil Development May Threaten Amazon.

Guardian, March 24th, 2009
US to review global warming health threat.

Climate Ark, March 24th, 2009
The fight plan for clean air.

EcoEarth Info, March 24th, 2009
US EPA finds greenhouse gases endanger health.

In Science, March 24th, 2009
Bushfires in Australia cloud air pollution problem.

Modern Ghana, March 18th, 2009
Environmental awareness; a must! in Ghana.

Discover Magazine, March 13th, 2009
What Happened to Acid Rain.

Science Blog, March 24th, 2009
It's official: we really have saved the ozone layer.

US News, March 24th, 2009
10 Things You Should Know About the Tata Nano.

New York Times, March 25th, 2009
EPA port regulations failing to protect public health.

South China Morning Post, March 26th, 2009
Wan Chai (Hong Kong) air pollution report spurs push for traffic-free streets.

Science Daily, March 25th, 2009
Ocean Proximity Aggravates Houston's Ozone Pollution.

Science Daily, March 25th, 2009
Airborne Acid May Help Soot Turn Into Cloud Seeds.

Yale Environment 360, March 25th, 2009
China Considers CO2 Plan That Would Count Nations’ Past Emissions.

The Standard, March 26th, 2009
New alarms sound on HK's pall of pollutants.

Market Watch, March 27th, 2009
The Clean Coal Myth.

Bloomberg, March 27th, 2009
Clampdown on ‘Easy’ Chinese Carbon Deals Will Cost Companies.

Engineering News, March 27th, 2009
African refineries need to give priority 
to reducing sulphur levels in fuels.

US EPA, March 27th, 2009
EPA Helps Put America Back to Work Protecting Human Health and Cleaning Up the Environment.

Planet Green, March 27th, 2009
Which Six Air Pollutants Does the EPA Regulate?

Vietnam, March 27th, 2009
Ho Chi Minh City chokes on traffic pollution.

Pioneer, March 27th, 2009
Smog problem serious in Quinte, says lung association of Canada.

Council for Foreign Relations, March 19th, 2009
Debating a "Clean Coal Future".

Science News, March 27th, 2009
Tallying emissions in ports and at sea.

Reuters, March 28th, 2009
Obama starts climate change forum for big economies.

Guardian, March 29th, 2009
Earth Hour: When the World Put Out the Lights.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Anthropogenic CO2 Emissions in Africa

This new article in the Journal of Biogeosciences, "Anthropogenic CO2 Emissions in Africa", focuses on the analysis of trends and drivers of anthropogenic CO2 emissions in Africa (fossil fuel + land use). Given the limited peer-reviewed information that exist for the African continent, this is a good one..

Abstract:An understanding of the regional contributions and trends of anthropogenic carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions is critical to design mitigation strategies aimed at stabilizing atmospheric greenhouse gases. Here we report CO2 emissions from the combustion of fossil fuels and land use change in Africa for various time periods. Africa was responsible for an average of 500 Tg C y−1 for the period 2000–2005. These emissions resulted from the combustion of fossil fuels (260 Tg C y−1) and land use change (240 Tg C y−1). Over this period, the African share of global emissions from land use change was 17%. For 2005, the last year reported in this study, African fossil fuel emissions were 285 Tg C accounting for 3.7% of the global emissions. The 2000–2005 growth rate in African fossil fuel emissions was 3.2% y−1, very close to the global average. Fossil fuel emissions per capita in Africa are among the lowest in the world, at 0.32 t C y−1 compared to the global average of 1.2 t C y−1. The average amount of carbon (C) emitted as CO2 to produce 1 US{$} of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in Africa was 187 g C/$ in 2005, close to the world average of 199 g C/$. With the fastest population growth in the world and rising per capita GDP, Africa is likely to increase its share of global emissions over the coming decades although emissions from Africa will remain low compared to other continents.

Monday, March 23, 2009

The Nano Car-nomics in India

Download the report (Working Paper SIM 11-2008) @

As urbanization gathers pace in India, personal transport is among the priorities (for access and mobility), especially since mass transport is often not available or is of poor quality. Two wheelers - with the father driving, the elder child standing in front and the wife behind holding a baby – is very much the norm in this country. In an interview after unveiling the cheapest car, the Nano, to the world, Ratan Tata said that this two-wheeler image is what got him thinking that Indian families need a safer form of transport.

Safety on roads is the number one priority.

With more vehicles on road, safety is an issue for the person riding, other drivers, and the people walking, especially when a family is on the motorcycle. Is driving a car safer than driving a motorcycle, especially given the condition of roads or the regard for traffic management? An analysis of the roads and transport in India is presented in the Seminar Magazine in November, 2007.

Introduction of the cheapest car in the world had some heads turning and critics talking. Since unveiling of the Nano car in January, 2008, there has been an increased media attention towards possible traffic congestion problems and an increased number of articles projecting the serious impacts of a new fleet on road, and consequently on air pollution and health. (recent article in WIRED summarized some of these arguments).

Also see "India's Nano and World's Climate" aired on On-point by host Tom Ashbrook on January 22nd, 2008.

However, the lingering questions, before we conclude that the introduction of the world’s cheapest car is going to congest the road and deteriorate the air quality; bad for the energy scenario, are
  • How is the current travel demand being met?
  • Do economics justify the modal shift expected from the middle class families riding motorcycle to Nano cars?
  • Who will buy the Nano?
  • What is the final selling price?
Travel Demand

People use a car because it is convenient and comfortable. In India, many people (who can afford to) prefer using cars to public transport for everyday travel - for work and leisure. Reasons are plenty – starting with safety on the road, breathing less pollution in the car (though car is breathing out gases and particulates), and more importantly lesser access to public transport. As a result, this decade, cities across India are experiencing a jump in private passenger vehicles and consequently deteriorated air quality, long tailbacks on the motorways and health complains (report by ADB in 2006 on EE & CC Considerations for On-road Transport in Asia).

Travel demand is growing rapidly due to continued economic success and is densely concentrated in certain parts of the networks and at certain times of the day (rush hours). Scenarios are different in different cities. For example, Mumbai depends on its subway system as much as it does on road transport by buses and taxies; Hyderabad and Chennai are a mix of bus and private vehicles; whereas Delhi and its satellite cities are dominated by private transport.

It is important to note that Delhi will be more connected with public transport as soon as the metro system is fully functional. These are just four examples from megacities. If left unchecked, the secondary cities, such as Pune, Indore, Mysore, Baroda, Vizag, and Chandigarh, which are following the path of more cars on lesser road space, will incur the rising cost of congestion, air pollution and health impacts. Ministry of Urban Development has a series of programs in place and has released "Transport Policies and Strategies for Urban India" in May, 2008 and hosting a national level workshop on Urban Mobility in December, 2008, to disseminate these policies for sustainable transport in India. Also see SUMA program by Clean Air Initiative for Asian Cities

But, this has nothing to do with the Nano car.

The relationship between traffic and congestion is not linear. According to an article by Dr. Narain of CSE (The Nano-flyover Syndrome), the average speeds on road reduced to 10 km/hr in 2006 compared to 30 km/hr in 1997. On an average, Delhi and Pune are registering ~1000 vehicles per day, compared to Hyderabad at ~600 vehicles per day. The trend continues in other large and small cities.

Urban Air Quality

Emissions from the transport sector are a significant and growing contributor to primary air pollutants such as particulates, sulfur oxides (mainly from diesel fleets), nitrogen oxides, and greenhouse gas emissions, and the emissions are expected to grow in the coming decade mainly due to increase in the shear number of vehicles in use (see the six-city source apportionment study). While the greenhouse gas emissions impact long-term economic growth by contributing to global climate change, the local pollutants are most critical and harmful to human health in the short-term. Among the air pollutants, PM is the primary pollutant associated with health risks.

In the Indian cities, the ambient concentrations of primary pollutants of PM, SO2, and NOx, increased significantly. In 2006, annual average PM10 (PM with aerodynamic diameter less than 10 micron meter) measured (by Central Pollution Control Board) in major Indian cities ranged between 50 micro-gm/m3 to 150 micro-gm/m3, with some daily highs of ~300 mg/m3, and exceeding the daily and annual average limits set by World Health Organization.

Increased vehicular activity on roads mean increase in the direct vehicular emissions (especially from diesel operated heavy duty vehicles and passenger vehicles) and indirect fugitive road dust - representing a significant source contributing to the generation and release of PM into the environment at the human breathing level. CPCB has compiled an extensive list of emission factors for major vehicle categories – Motorcycles (MCs), 3-Wheelers (3W), and Passenger Cars (P.Car). This list is representative of emission tests conducted by Automotive Research Association of India. The Nano is expected to comply with Bharat III standards, equivalent of Euro III standard (see Dieselnet for a summary of standards). Although the PM emissions per car are small, the total number of vehicles on road will impact the net rate in emissions.

Besides the direct exhaust emissions, a major source of PM is the fugitive dust due to vehicular activity on the road. This dust includes the wind blown dust which settles on the road, wear and tear of tires and the dry deposits of other pollutants. While we discuss transport sources, this is the source of most importance (especially in the developing countries, see Dust Busters) and forms the significant portion of the transport sector PM emissions.

Estimating the road dust emissions is not an easy process. Assuming that the car weighs an average 2 tons and an average slit loading of 100 grams per square meter on the paved Indian roads, following empirical methodology presented in USEPA’s AP-42, I estimated an average of 30 gm/km of resuspended PM10 emissions. This implies, every new car on road for 30 km a day, 6 days a week on road will resuspend 0.28 tons of PM10 annually. Please note that this is assuming an average silt loading of 100 gm/m2, which could be a high number for a clean urban road or low for a rural unpaved road. Download the v-dust, vehicular fugitive dust calculator, here, to better understand the parameters involved in these calculations.

This when compared to an emission rate of 0.05 gm/km of PM (for a petrol based car with less than 1000 cc engine - see CPCB Emission Factors) is ~600 times more (=30/0.05). So, adding a car on the road is not the problem for air pollution, but the possible dust emissions due to an extra car on the road is.

PM, especially the fine fraction with aerodynamic diameter less than 2.5 micron is associated with a range of adverse health effects including hospitalization for lung and heart problems, increases in emergency room visits for lung problems, increases in days of restricted activity in adults and school absenteeism in children, increases in respiratory symptoms, and to some extent the increased risk of premature death (see "the Literature Review on Health Effects of Outdoor Air Pollution in Developing Countries" by Health Effects Institute). Irrespective of the vehicular type, any form of increased fossil fuel combustion will lead to increase in ambient concentrations and heightened health risks.

Still very little to do with the Nano, because the air pollution problems are already persistent in the developing countries and megacities are already under scrutiny for their compliance and exceedances to health guidelines (see the coverage on Beijing [1] [2] [3] air quality for the 2008 Olympic games and Delhi is next for the 2010 common wealth games).

Introduction of a new model car (cheap or expensive) is expected to add to the growing trend, but how much? The trend is expected to be any different, if it wasn't for the Nano, since the cities are already registering in excess of 600 vehicles per day?

Who Will Buy the Nano?

It is highly speculated that the majority of the buyers for Nano (expected for release in 2009) will come from the motorcycle users. But, I think, this may not be as much as it is anticipated, purely from the energy and pricing structure involved (also see the City Fix).

Energy and transport experts are in no doubt that in a growing economy like India, demand for cars through 2015 will be persistent at ~14% a year, maybe a little less in the megacities with saturation (see analysis by SIAM). The Nano car will be a success (similar to Maruti 800 when it arrived in the 80's). However, as the experts predict, it is inconclusive to say that the cheapest car in the world will be the new mode of transport for the middle income group and a majority of the motorcycles will shift to buy the Nano, especially in the immediate future.

There is also some discussion of Maruti 600 (and other manufacturers) in competition to the Nano in the similar price range.

A comparative operational assessment between motorcycles and the Nano cars is presented in the Table below. This is an assessment for a family traveling 30 km per day, six days a week and 52 weeks a year.

(authors interpretation)

These are still conservative estimates. On an average, new motorcycles are known to perform at 75 km a litre of gasoline and given the road conditions and congestion stats, cars are known to perform at no more than 15 km per litre of gasoline or diesel. Based on the fuel price alone, we are looking at 3-5 times higher expenses for a family converting their daily usage from a motorcycle to car.

On an average, a middle class family with a motorcycle in India earns between Rs.10K to Rs.15K per month. Above calculations reflect the higher end of Rs.15K per month. From the Table, the three times difference (4% vs. 13% between the operational costs of a motorcycle and a Nano) will be one of the deciding factors for a family. This is no chump change and a big jump in family expenses.

Note that this does not account for the price and interest difference they incur for 5 or 10 years on loans, insurance, and maintenance. As an already paid motorcycle is being replaced by a car, we are looking a 4% transport expense vs. 22% (includes payments). Also, the price included in the calculations is 1 Lakhs + 25% taxes and extras, which is for the base model only.

Motorcycles are by far the largest number in the country and will remain so for the coming decades. On the other side, a good price differential and extra tax for cars, the Nano car (or any of the other smaller and efficient models) could shift some people away from buying larger cars and utility vehicles.

Similarly, an argument on how the Nano will cut into the 3-wheeler and taxi market, is stretching the limits. In the cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad, or Bangalore, parking has already become a problem around the markets, shopping centers, and cinemas, and more cars will not make it easy. In India, main transport issue has always been access to mobility and preferably cheap, safe, and convenient, and that is one of the advantages with 3-wheelers and taxis in most of the cities.

Overall, the Nano will eat into some of the lower-end and higher-end motorcycle, scooter market, and to some extent the higher-end car market – which will depend on the fuel efficiency and the fuel prices in the coming years.

It is also expected to create a niche market of its own which did not previously exist with any of the big manufacturing companies. We can only hope that the niche market is not for the second or third car for the family as witnessed in the West.

Supply and Production Costs

The Nano car production hasn't started yet; the plant is still under construction and not expected to deliver the cars till 2009 or early 2010. Although a large number of orders are already in place. However, it is important to note that the current production capacity is only 250K a year, which is nothing compared to the number of in-use cars on the road today. According to the WIRED magazine article, company won't give an estimate of demand for Nanos.

"Eight million Indians currently own cars, according to the Mumbai-based credit-rating agency Crisil. Another 18 million have the means to buy one. However, the Nano could increase that pool of potential auto owners by as much as 65 percent, to 30 million, the organization reports." - this stat is still years from now and the production capacities are not there yet, and this is not necessarily due to introduction of the Nano car; it could be any the possible cheap cars (relatively) in the future.

The Nano is cheap at 1 Lakhs per car, which is approximately USD 2,500.00. This is the base model and with taxes and shipping charges, an extra 25% is added. Given the heat and humid conditions, the owners are expected to add some features like air conditioner, extra wipers, a radio, and a couple of other things, which will bring the car value to anywhere between 1.5 to 2 Lakhs. At the end, 1 Lakhs figure is just nominal.

According to an article in TIMESONLINE (published on August 5th, 2008) the final production costs are expected to be much higher than what was quoted in January, 2008, as surging raw material costs scramble its low-cost business model, according to industry insiders

Ratan Tata, the chairman of Tata, has admitted that he faces a dilemma. “If we pass on all costs to the consumer, it will affect demand, and if we don't, it will affect margins,” he told investors recently.

Ian Fletcher, of Global Insight, said: “I can't see the 100,000 rupee price being maintained for more than three months, largely to let Ratan Tata keep his price promise, before the company raises it.”

It will be interesting to see what the final production cost will be.

In Conclusion

Considering the rapid increase in private vehicles, both cars and two-wheelers, combined with the poor public transport system — traffic experts forecast that vehicular speed will drastically reduce in the coming decade, unless a new course of action is decided fast. Problem lies with the growing demand for vehicles, safety, and convenience. For middle & lower class populations (especially in the growing secondary cities), basically fight for "Access to Mobility".

Cars are not bad, but more cars on road make it worse. The current economic trend will not stop the consumer market from buying cars (the Nano or any other) and outcome of such life style (an increase in the social status) could be very sad for environment.

Could the public transport be a simple solution for these issues (see the example of Bogota)? As we argue about cars and motorcycles, we have to keep in mind the lack of "public transport" in place to take the current travel loads and convenience on roads. This is not to undermine the current infrastructure and urban planning programs in place to further promote the public transport in the big cities. In Mumbai, share of public transport via metro and buses is the largest and same is true for cities such as Kolkata and Hyderabad. In Delhi, a 100 percent CNG bus fleet is the single largest clean transport in the world (see Report by RFF in February, 2007).

To encourage people using public transport, certain improvements must be implemented, like: increasing of frequency of public transport, especially in rush hours, better travel comfort and accessibility (see article by ITDP on changes introduced for buses and pedestrians in Delhi)

A good public awareness campaign is necessary - explaining what the expenditures are - in terms on money (principle, loans, parking), time (behind the wheel on road, idling in congestion), and health (impacts of vehicular emissions and road dust).

To summarize, public transport and its clever use could bring us many advantages - it reduces air pollution, reduces traffic congestion, and makes life healthier. These benefits could be achieved by encouraging people to use urban transport together with improved service quality and ameliorating comfort of passengers; irrespective of the people's car Nano.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Clean Air News - March 22nd, 2009

On March 22nd, 2009 (News Every Sunday)
See the last issue on March 15, 2009

International News, March 16th, 2009
Traffic jams could increase risk of heart attack.

The Standard, March 16th, 2009
Deadly stir-fry fumes, Hong Kong.

Thailand News, March 16th, 2009
Govt to tackle possible smog, wildfire in 8 upper Northern provinces.

LA Times, March 16th, 2009
Global warming: Do Americans care?

The Hindu, March 16th, 2009
Facemasks prevent pollution-related health hazards.

Princeton News, March 16th, 2009
China, Olympic air-quality study tests lasers and scientists' political savvy.

Slate, March 17th, 2009
Can cigarette smoking ever be green?

Middle East News, March 16th, 2009
International Conference On Environmental Health Begins In Abu Dhabi.

Hedon, March 12th, 2009
Quantification of Carbon Savings from Improved Biomass Cookstove Projects.

Hedon, March 12th, 2009
Afghanistan: Energy, insulation and cook stove improvement in Badakshan.

WBCSD, March 12th, 2009
Low-carbon economy worth 3 trillion pounds.

Yahoo News, March 17th, 2009
South Africa fires fuel air pollution in Cape Town.

Bloomberg, March 17th, 2009
Hong Kong’s Air Pollution Index Climbs to ‘Very High’ Level.

Science Daily, March 16th, 2009
As Planet Warms, Poor Nations Face Economic Chill.

Science Daily, March 16th, 2009
Carbon Sinks Losing The Battle With Rising Emissions.

Merinews (India),March 18th, 2009
Pune's traffic woes.

Climate Ark, March 20th, 2009
Nobody Is Predicting Cleaner Air for Santiago, Chile.

Grist News, March 11th, 2009
Sweden unveils 'ambitious' clean energy strategy.

BBC, March 10th, 2009
Cold reality of global warming efforts.

BBC, March 16th, 2009
What message, and whose, from Copenhagen?

New York Times, March 6th, 2009
Little Impact Is Foreseen Over Change for Emissions.

7th Space, March 20th, 2009
EPA Announces $211 Million of Recovery Act Funding Available to Reduce Diesel Emissions.

The Guardian, March 19th, 2009
China dust storm: Global dimming starts here.

New York Times, March 21st, 2009
Natural Gas, Suddenly Abundant, Is Cheaper.

Gulf News, March 21st, 2009
First draft of environment health plan nearly ready for Abu Dhabi.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

City Air We Can Breathe - BioVision Forum

Cities pollute the air, and rapidly growing cities, especially in the developing world, are making a bad situation worse. Coordinated international collaboration is urgently needed to ensure that cities have air that we can breathe.

This session focused on the role that advances in science and technology, notably in the life sciences, can play in this effort. From air pollution detection, to emission reductions, to protection against pollution-induced diseases, the session discussed the primary targets for additional scientific investigations and assess the prospects for delivering solutions in Mexico City, Delhi, and Beijing. This session was organized on Tuesday 10th, 2009, in Lyon, France. Speakers at the session are
  • Claudia Sheinbaum-Pardo, Mexico City, Mexico
  • Robert Vautard, France
  • Sarath Guttikunda, New Delhi, India
See the session report here. You can access my presentation @ Air Quality & Management in Delhi, India.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Clean Air News - March 15th, 2009

On March 15th, 2009 (News Every Sunday)
See the last issue on March 08, 2009

The News & Observer, March 7th, 2009
Air pollution case gets fresh look in US States.

BBC, March 4th, 2009
Big Problems Need Big Solutions (Climate Change).

Grist, March 5th, 2009
India seeks to partner with U.S. on climate change.

Yale e360, March 5th, 2009
Electric Vehicles Are Key To Ford’s Long-Term Strategy.

China Dialogue, March 2nd, 2009
The high cost of low carbon.

IPS, Chile, March 9th, 2009
Controversial Fuel Taxes and Subsidies.

CNN, March 10th, 2009
Hot air linked to headaches, but how?

Canada.Com, March 10th, 2009
Manitoba pulp mill pleads poverty on pollution controls.

Ghana, March 10th, 2009
Ghana’s waste challenges: Veep hints at plastic ban.

Business Standard, India, March 11th, 2009
No 'green' light for Vedanta plan - Pollution mapping.

WebMD, March 11th, 2009
Air Pollution Is Dangerous, but Deadly?

Columbus Dispatch, March 11th, 2009
US Feds target coal-fired pollution.

Nigeria, March 13th, 2009
Greenhouse emission and environmental standards.

IPS News, March 13th, 2009
Capital Shapes the Creation of Waste, South Africa.

EU, March 13th, 2009

Better use of existing transport infrastructure essential.

Energy Efficiency News, March 12th, 2009
European Commission triples green investment to €105 billion.

The Daily Star (Bangladesh), March 12th, 2009
The World Bank offers $62 million to Clean Air in Dhaka.

US News, March 11th, 2009
Ozone Pollution Taking Toll on American Lives.

New York Times, March 11th, 2009
Leaked EPA draft highlights new research on climate risks.

NPR, March 9th, 2009
Climate Skeptics Gather In New York City.

NPR, March 11th, 2009
Smoggy Skies May Cause Respiratory Death.

Times of India, March 12th, 2009
Now, a project to nail global air polluters.

Scientific American, March 11th, 2009
Cleaning up the dirtiest fossil fuel: One company's coal fix.

Economist, March 12th, 2009
America & Climate Change - Sins of Emission.

Science Daily, March 13th, 2009
New Aerosol Observing Technique Turns Gray Skies To Blue.

Science Daily, March 12th, 2009
New ‘Pollution Radar’ Developed To Provide Unprecedented Picture Of Urban Smog.

Science Daily, March 13th, 2009
New Method For Monitoring Volcanoes & Emissions.

Boston Globe, March 15th, 2009
Transport measure calls for public health research at the Boston Airport.

Arab Times, March 14th, 2009
Toxic, hazardous gases being emitted into the air; Waste dumping tied to health problems.

Newswatch, March 15th, 2009
We are in Trouble - Air Pollution in Lagos, Nigeria.

WHO, March 15th, 2009
Health impacts of climate change need attention.

Vietnam News Service, March 14th, 2009
Climate change report signals urgent need for firm solutions.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Decreasing Global Visibility Linked to Increasing Particulate Matter

From Science Daily (March 13th, 2009) "Air Pollution: Clear Sky Visibility Over Land Has Decreased Globally, Indicative Of Increased Particulate Matter"

A University of Maryland-led team has compiled the first decades-long database of aerosol measurements over land, making possible new research into how air pollution changes affect climate change.

According to the researchers, the visibility data were compared to available satellite data (2000-2007), and found to be comparable as an indicator of aerosol concentration in the air. Thus, they conclude, the visibility data provide a valid source from which scientists can study correlations between air pollution and climate change.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Clean Air News - March 8th, 2009

On March 8th, 2009 (News Every Sunday)
See the last issue on March 1st, 2009

Daily Times, March 2nd, 2009
Increasing air pollution causing respiratory diseases in Pakistan.

Times of India, February, 28th, 2009
Alarm bells ringing for Charminar, Hyderabad, India.

WBCSD, March 2nd, 2009
Asia's biofuel dreams shelved as crude oil tumbles.

WBCSD, February 19th, 2009
China likely to trade emissions by year end.

WBCSD, February 19th, 2009
A vision for low carbon future.

Sun2Surf (Malaysia), March 2nd, 2009
Move away from power plants.

US News, March 2nd, 2009
City Kids Find the Breathin' Is Easier Elsewhere.

New Energy Focus (UK), February 24th, 2009
Assembly proposes wood-fuelled future for Wales (UK).

Biomass Magazine, March, 2009
Contaminated Sites = Renewable Energy Hotspots.

American Chronicle, March 1st, 2009
Threat of Nitrate to our environment and health.

The National (UAE), March 3rd, 2009
Transport plans for rail and road get green light in Abu Dhabi.

TIME, March 1st, 2009
UK tops league for toxic traffic fumes.

The Nation, March 3rd, 2009
Dust masks distributed as smog worsens in Chang Mai.

Iran News, March 1st, 2009
5 New Small Stations to Gauge Air Pollution in Tehran.

Mmegi Online, March 3rd, 2009
Japanese vehicle exports to Botswana to increase.

Online News, March 3rd, 2009
Health impact assessment of particulate pollution in Tallinn using fine spatial resolution and modelling techniques.

Gulf News, March 3rd, 2009
UAE loses Dh10.5b to traffic congestion.

The National, March 4th, 2009
Agency blames two sectors for majority of air pollution in Abu Dhabi.

Grist, March 3rd, 2009
Sweden's ozone layer thickest in decades.

In Today India, March 1st, 2009
Delhi is India's asthma capital.

Ethical Corporation, March 6th, 2009
Coal & Climate Change: Can King Coal Clean Up?

Reason Online, March 2009
Selling Air Pollution: The politics go in before the market goes on.

Bangkok Post, March 8th, 2009
Bangkok Footpaths.

US-China Today, March 6th, 2009
China Goes Green?

Science Daily, March 8th, 2009
Sunlight Turns Carbon Dioxide To Methane.

Science Daily, March 5th, 2009
Indoor Air Pollution? Samples From Couch Cushions And Drywall Reveal Chemicals Used In House.

Reuters, March 6th, 2009
Has recession trimmed CO2 output? We'll know by 2010.

The Economist, March 5th, 2009
The illusion of clean coal.

The Economist, March 5th, 2009
Carbon Capture: Scrubbing the skies.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Modeling Tools for Air Pollution Analysis & Management

A number of tools have been developed to analyze air pollution and estimate costs and benefits of an array of management options. A number of institutions have developed many useful models to simulate various components of the air quality management (AQM) cycle. Ideally, it would be excellent for all cities/provinces/states/nations to develop a detailed knowledge base and have a working version of all the key appropriate models, but the tools have their advantages and disadvantages at handling the various components of AQM - from emissions to dispersion to impacts assessment. This post provides a summary of such tools available.

SIM-air: Simple Interactive Models for better Air quality (SIM-air) is, free to use, an excel based, multi-utility, integrated air quality management tool covering the aspects of emissions inventory to dispersion modeling to impacts assessment to optimization of management options across multiple pollutants in a co-benefits framework (health and GHGs). The family of tools are supported by a working paper series provided background notes of various modeling techniques and case studies across the world.

RAINS & GAINS: The Regional Air Pollution Information and Simulation (RAINS) model for Asia and Europe, developed by IIASA, Austria, is an analytical tool to help decision-makers analyze future trends in energy & emissions, estimate regional impacts of resulting acid deposition levels PM pollution, GHG emissions, and to evaluate costs and effectiveness of alternative mitigation options.

US EPA: A repository of over 50 air pollution models and training kits.

MOBILE 6: Developed by US EPA to analyze emission factors for predicting gram per mile emissions of Hydrocarbons, Carbon Monoxide, Nitrogen Oxides, Carbon Dioxide, Particulate Matter, and toxics from cars, trucks, and motorcycles under various conditions. 

BenMAP: The Environmental Benefits Mapping and Analysis Program (BenMAP), estimates health benefits of PM and ozone pollution.

HEAT: Harmonized Air Emissions Analysis Tool (HEAT) is developed by the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI). HEAT aims at being a multi-national, multi-pollutant, Internet-based database for storing, tracking, and reporting GHG emissions and co-benefit information on NOx, SOx, CO, VOCs, and PM emissions, to provide optional tools to compute emissions from residential, commercial, industrial, transportation, waste buildings, streetlights, etc. and to be an unprecedented data repository on local government energy use, with hundreds of inventories and action plans.


APHEBA: Developed by Dr. Luis A. Cifuentes, from the Catholic University of Chile. This is an object-oriented model that quantifies the change in health effects and social benefits associated with a change in ambient pollutant concentrations.

IDEAS: Informed Decision-support for Evaluating Alternative Strategies (IDEAS), developed under the DIESEL program in Bangkok, can be used to analyze and visualize the impacts of various options for pollution management. The primary tasks being pursued on IDEAS involve the development of an appropriate knowledge base and modeling tools relating to the analysis of pollution management options.

IVE: The International Vehicle Emissions (IVE) Model is designed to estimate emissions from motor vehicles in developing countries to focus on control strategies and transportation planning that are the most effective. The model includes local air pollutants, greenhouse gas emissions, and toxic pollutants.

COPERT 4: This methodology is part of the EMEP/CORINAIR Emission Inventory Guidebook. The Guidebook, developed by the UNECE Task Force on Emissions Inventories and Projections, is intended to support reporting under the UNECE Convention on Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution and the EU directive on national emission ceilings.

DSS/IPC: The Decision Support System for Integrated Pollution Control, developed by World Bank, helps the users to assess pollution sources in an area and organize in a systematic way to gather relevant information for to make an informed decision on control options.

ADMS: The Atmospheric Dispersion Modeling System (ADMS) is an advanced model for calculating concentrations of pollutants emitted both continuously from point, line, volume and area sources, and discretely from point sources. The model includes algorithms which take account of the following: effects of main site building; complex terrain; wet deposition, gravitational settling and dry deposition; short term fluctuations in concentration; chemical reactions; and meteorological conditions

MARKAL: MARKet Allocation model (MARKAL) was developed in a cooperative multinational project over a period of almost two decades by the International Energy Agency. MARKAL is a comprehensive energy/economic model that simulates a nation, region, or state's energy system by representing the technologies and demands for energy services addressing environmental challenges, including acid rain and climate change. Briefly, the model finds the least-cost way to meet a given set of demands for energy services (such as building heating and cooling, or transportation).

TAPM: The Air Pollution Model (TAPM) is a software package developed by CSIRO to estimate and analyze spread of air pollution in diagnostic mode.

HYSPLIT: Hybrid Single Particle Lagrangian Integrated Trajectory (HYSPLIT) model, developed by NOAA, is the newest version of a complete system for computing simple air parcel trajectories to complex dispersion and deposition simulations.

SEI Emissions Workbook: This emissions workbook, co-funded by BOC foundation, U.S. EPA & Sida (Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency), summarizes the results of a study comparing existing international emissions inventory approaches.
Manual is here.

TREMOVE: This is a policy assessment model, designed to study the effects of different transport and environment policies on the emissions of the transport sector. The model estimates for policies as road pricing, public transport pricing, emission standards, subsidies for cleaner cars etc., the transport demand, modal shifts, vehicle stock renewal and scrappage decisions as well as the emissions of air pollutants and the welfare level.

WRF: The Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) Model is a next-generation mesocale numerical weather prediction system designed to serve both operational forecasting and atmospheric research needs. It features multiple dynamical cores, a 3-dimensional variational data assimilation system, and a software architecture allowing for computational parallelism and system extensibility. WRF is suitable for a broad spectrum of applications across scales ranging from meters to thousands of kilometers.

ATMoS: The Atmospheric Transport Modeling System (ATMoS) is a lagrangian puff transport model, utilized for regional and urban scale modeling of PM (including secondary from SO2 and NOx). The model and supporting material @ ATMoS

Youtube Clips on "Clean Coal" Myth

Why "Clean Coal" is an ultimate climate change oxymoron (Guradian, 2009).
"The Illusion of Clean Coal" (The Economist, March 2009).

Carbon capture won't be possible till 2030 (Guardian, 2009)

Cohen Brothers on Reality of Coal

There is no such thing as clean coal.

Coal is dirty.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Quantifying Impact of Idling on Air Quality

Access the working paper here.

In a number of cities, vehicular congestion on roads is a growing problem. Now a range of innovative ways exist to know, in advance, where the congestion is, what roads to avoid at certain times, and what alternatives exist. While the time and resources (fuel) are wasted sitting in congestion, an invisible problem hurting the human health, the most, is the extra pollution due to idling.

This piece is an effort to quantify these emissions due to idling on road and illustrate a methodology.

Please note that the calculations presented are subjected to authors assumptions and approximations, and the reader should pay attention to the methodology and use the parameters presented with discretion.

Click on the tables to enlarge view.

In a previous post, a set of average emission factors (gm/km) for various vehicular categories were presented and summarized below.

Lets assume an average mileage (km/lit), as shown below, for the mix of vehicles presented in the above table.

Now, gm/km * km/lit = gm/lit
This would result in the emission per liter of fuel (gm/lit), for the mileage assumed for the vehicular fleet and the results are summarized below.

On an average, idling is assumed to consume about 1 liter per hour for cars and about 2 liter a medium size heavy duty vehicle. An average amount of fuel required for idling (lit/hr) is presented in the table below.

On an average, for an urban vehicular fleet, the following VKT is assumed (km/day). For more on how to survey the on road fleet for VKT's, see the SIM-series.

How much is the idling in real time?
This is THE question and the answer will guide the rest of the calculations and any conclusions will depend on this assumption. My assumed idling minutes (mins/day) are below.

In the above table, a higher value is assumed for the buses because of their multiple trips and the amount of time they spend on the road, compared to the 2Ws or Cars, which depend on the usage type (work or personal). These assumptions also depend on the local travel conditions.

Now, total emissions due to driving (gm/day/vehicles) = gm/km * km/day, which results in the following table, with units of gm of pollutant emitted per day each category of vehicle, for that many km's of travel per day.

Now, total emissions due to idling (gm/day/vehicle) = gm/lit * lit/hr * mins of idling/60, which results in the following table with units of gm of pollutant emitted per day for each category of vehicles, for the assumed amount of idling per day.

An interesting analysis lies in the table below, which presents the percent of emissions due to idling for the assumed scenario.

The percent emissions due to idling per day and per vehicle, for 2Ws and Cars, is proportionally high due to their less VKT's compared to HDVs or Buses.

At an individual level, the 2Ws and Cars look like they emit less, but when multiplied with the number of vehicles on road, their portion of total emissions is high and their impact on local air pollution (and human health) is very evident, along with the trucks and buses.

Note that these calculations will be different, with any of the numbers changed.

Having said that, it is important to note that idling is increasingly contributing more to the air pollution than before and lot of can be avoided by either using the vehicles less at the personal end and a better traffic management at the policy end.

See some analysis on impact of idling by Dr. Suvrat Kher for Pune, India.

Gulf News, March 3rd, 2009 - UAE loses Dh10.5b to traffic congestion.

Please turn off your engine, if you are going to idle for more than 30 sec.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Clean Air News - March 1st, 2009

On March 1st, 2009 (News Every Sunday)
See the last issue on February 22, 2009

Progressive Democrats of America, February 21st, 2009
Coal Ash: The Hidden Story.

The Guardian, February 22nd, 2009
NASA launches carbon dioxide tracker satellite.

The Guardian, February 24th, 2009
NASA's CO2 satellite crashes into Antarctic ocean.

World Watch Institute, February 19th, 2009
In Amsterdam, the Bicycle Still Rules.

Grist, February 18th, 2009
Biofuels may speed up, not slow global warming.

China Dialogue, February 20th, 2009
China and US must lead the Climate dialogue.

Reuters, February 22nd, 2009
Afghans face another crisis: air pollution.

The Guardian, February 23rd, 2009
West blamed for rapid increase in China's CO2.

Carbon Offset Daily, February 22nd, 2009
Delhi Metro prevents emission of 90,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide.

Bongkok Post, February 23rd, 2009
Authorities to monitor air pollution in Chang Mai.

Yale Environment 360, February 23rd, 2009
The Dam Building Boom: Right Path to Clean Energy?

AlterNet, February 19th, 2009
So Climate Change Is Real, Now What?

Jakarta Globe, February 19th, 2009
50% of Jakarta’s Professionals May Be Literally Sick of Work Due to Air Quality.

Euro Alert, February 24th, 2009
Budapest wins European Mobility Week Award 2008.

Business Green (UK), February 24th, 2009
Government rewards London for tackling congestion.

Epoch News, February 24th, 2009
China Faces Environmental Health Challenges.

Washington Post, February 24th, 2009
U.S. May Set Greenhouse Gas Standard for Cars.

China Daily, February 24th, 2009
Water, air pollution in China still serious.

Times of India, February 24th, 2009
Pune's feeder service plan get World Bank boost.

Platinum News, February 25th, 2009
US EPA ordered to review particulate pollution standards.

Yahoo Finance, February 25th, 2009
New Air Pollution Study Reports Clean Alternative Fuels Gains at Top U.S. and International Container Shipping Ports.

MSNBC, February 27th, 2009
Ships big source of particulate pollution.

Science Daily, February 24th, 2009
Rich Countries’ Invisible Carbon Dioxide Emissions - Exports from China.

Science Daily, February 25th, 2009
Climate Change Is Not Taken Seriously Because Media Is Not Highlighting Its Significance.

Science Daily, February 25th, 2009
Scientist Models The Mysterious Travels Of Greenhouse Gas.

The Guardian, February 24th, 2009
China's growth is no figleaf for the real source of CO2 emissions.

Cebu Daily (Philippines), February 26th, 2009
BRT corridor feasibility study in Cebu.

Oil Drum (Europe), February 26th, 2009
Costs and environmental impacts of electric cars.

Times of India, February 27th, 2009
Kolkata choked by air pollution.

Thai News, February 27th, 2009
Smog Problem Still Worrisome in Northern Provinces.

Science Daily, February 27th, 2009
Indoor Air Pollution Increases Asthma Symptoms.

Science Daily, February 27th, 2009
Commercial Ships Spew Half As Much Particulate Pollution As World's Cars.

Reuters, February 27th, 2009
U.S. urged to lead China into carbon emission cuts.

Guardian, February 26th, 2009
Why 'clean coal' is the ultimate climate change oxymoron.

Guardian, February 27th, 2009
Driving to disaster - We need a worldwide 50% fuel economy improvement by 2050.

Grist, February 28th, 2009
China's environment problems serious.

New York Times, February 24th, 2009
US E.P.A. Is Told to Reconsider Its Standards on Pollutants.