Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Air Pollution Alerts - August 28th, 2011

News & Information; Every Sunday
(Last on August 21st, 2011)

Science Daily, August 28th, 2011
Nitrogen Pollution's Little-Known Environmental and Human Health Threats.

The Guardian, August 26th, 2011
WikiLeaks reveals China's failure to measure dangerous pollution.

Newsdek, August 25th, 2011
Historic Los Angeles neighborhood continues to bear the brunt of air pollution.

Irish Weather, August 24th, 2011
Monsoon Rains Clear Air Of Dust And Pollution.

People's Daily Online, August 24th, 2011
China to revise ambient air quality standards.

Center for American Progress, August 24th, 2011
China Eyes Competitive Edge in Renewable Energy.

The Guardian, August 24th, 2011
China's love affair with the car shuns green vehicles.

CNTN, August 23rd, 2011
Heavy industry: Culprit for soaring power consumption in Jiangxi.

Press Information Bureau, August 23rd, 2011
Electric Vehicles under JNNURM.

Press Information Bureau, August 23rd, 2011
Level of Air and Noise Pollutions in the Country.

Mail and Guardian, August 23rd, 2011

Waging war on Durban's poison.

The Lanka Island, August 22nd, 2011
Sampur coal power plant - an opportunity lost?

Science Daily, August 22nd, 2011
Nitrogen in the Soil Cleans the Air: Nitrogen-Containing Soil Is a Source of Hydroxyl Radicals That Remove Pollutants from the Atmosphere.

Expert Reviews, August 22nd, 2011
From four wheels to two - the Smart ebike.

UN News, August 22nd, 2011
New satellites battle pollution 'ghosts'.

Wired, August 22nd, 2011
Where Will We Plug In?

China Daily, August 22nd, 2011
Beijing should not be ranked 8.

Financial Express, August 22nd, 2011
WB launches study on quality of spending in road sector.

Monday, August 22, 2011

An Animated Film from 1957 Discussing Then Energy Use

The only thing about this 1950s educational cartoon that’s more remarkable than its stylishness is how badly it botches its core prediction. It projects that between 1957 and 1975, electricity use in the U.S. would increase four-fold. But America's electricity consumption didn't quadruple from 1950 levels until 1989. Cartoons, we trusted you! How could you get it so wrong? Read More on Grist News.

Don't Park Your Car Illegally !!

The mayor of Vilnius in Lithuania, Arturas Zuokas, was filmed at the controls of the eight-wheeled camouflaged armoured vehicle as it rolled over a Mercedes car illegally parked in a cycle lane.

In the video released by the city government, he said he was signalling that there would be a zero-tolerance policy towards illegal parking from now on

Japan Shifting Back to Fossil Fuels (NYT)

From the New York Times, August 19th, 2011

Japan Quake Is Causing Costly Shift to Fossil Fuels

YOKOSUKA, Japan — The half-century-old, oil-fueled power generators here had been idle for more than a year when, a day after the nuclear accident in March, orders came from Tokyo Electric Power headquarters to fire them up.

“They asked me how long it would take,” said Masatake Koseki, head of the Yokosuka plant, which is 40 miles south of Tokyo and run by Tokyo Electric. “The facilities are old, so I told them six months. But they said, ‘No, you must ready them by summer to prepare for an energy shortage.’ ”

Now, at summer’s peak, Yokosuka’s two fuel-oil and two gas turbines are cranking out a total of 900,000 kilowatts of electricity — and an abundance of fumes.

The generators are helping to replace the 400 million kilowatt-hours of daily electricity production lost this summer because of the shutdown of all but 15 of Japan’s 54 nuclear reactors in the wake of the Fukushima Daiichi disaster. Across the country, dozens of other fossil-fuel plants have been fired up, and Japan is importing billions of dollars worth of liquefied natural gas, coal and oil to keep them running.

Japan, the world’s third-largest user of electricity behind China and the United States, had counted on an expansion of nuclear power to contain energy costs and greenhouse gas emissions. Instead, its nuclear program is in retreat, as the public and government officials urge a sharp reduction in the nation’s reliance on nuclear power and perhaps an end to it altogether.

As its nuclear program implodes, Japan is grappling with a jump in fuel costs, making an economic recovery from the March earthquake and tsunami all the more difficult. Annual fuel expenses could rise by more than 3 trillion yen, or about $39 billion, the government says.

The country, until recently a vocal proponent of measures to curb climate change, is also leaving a bigger carbon footprint. According to government calculations, Japan’s greenhouse gas emissions could rise by as much as 210 million metric tons, or 16 percent, by 2013 from 1990 levels if its nuclear reactors were shut permanently. Under the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, a global agreement on greenhouse gas emissions, Japan promised to reduce its emissions by 6 percent over that period.

“Can nuclear be eliminated?” asked Adam Schatzker, an energy analyst at RBC Capital Markets. “It’s possible, but very costly.”

If necessary, Japan could replace the energy capacity lost in the shutdown of its nuclear fleet by increasing the use of natural gas and coal, Mr. Schatzker said. “But even if fossil fuel facilities can make up for the loss of nuclear, it would likely take time, cost a great deal more money and pollute significantly,” he said.

For resource-poor Japan, it is an energy shift of an unprecedented scale and speed. A generation ago, the oil shock of 1973, which exposed the country’s overdependence on Middle Eastern oil, forced Japanese companies to focus on energy efficiency and prompted the government to invest heavily in nuclear power.

But as it doubled down on nuclear power plants, Japan was slow to develop alternative forms of energy, like solar or wind power, which account for just 1 percent of its electricity supply.

Prime Minister Naoto Kan has called for a gradual move away from nuclear energy, and proposed a goal of generating 20 percent of Japan’s electricity from renewable sources, including hydroelectric plants, by the early 2020s. The Parliament is debating legislation to spur that change.

A nuclear-free future could come much sooner, however. Nervous local governments have blocked the restart of reactors idled for routine inspections, which occur every 13 months. If no reactors can restart, Japan’s entire nuclear fleet, which provided 30 percent of its electricity in 2009, could be closed by spring.

The shutdowns are already causing an energy squeeze. At least three utilities have come close to full capacity during peak demand hours this summer. The government has warned that eastern Japan, including Tokyo, could face an electricity shortage of about 10 percent next summer if no nuclear plants are running.

A 10 percent shortage may not be disastrous. This summer, for example, a major energy-saving drive by households and companies drove down peak electricity demand in July by about 20 percent, to 46.3 million kilowatts, averting blackouts despite the energy shortfall, according to Tokyo Electric, the operator of the stricken Fukushima plant.

Still, “we take this situation very seriously,” Toshio Nishizawa, chief executive of Tokyo Electric, said this month. Only three of the company’s 17 nuclear reactors are running.

A protracted increase in fossil fuel costs is possible to make up for the shortfall, traders say.

Japan’s liquefied natural gas imports have jumped for three consecutive months, squeezing global supplies amid strong demand from China and other emerging economies. Imports of coal, which still accounts for 25 percent of Japan’s energy, are also rising.

Analysts at RBC Capital Markets predict that in Japan, the world’s largest importer of coal, coal-fired generation could climb as much as 20 percent, equivalent to 3 percent of global supply.

Last month, Japan’s power utilities said they would raise electricity prices in September to make up for higher fuel costs.

Some businesses worry about the impact of a long-term energy deficit.

“We could see Japanese companies start to move overseas,” Hiromasa Yonekura, chairman of Sumitomo Chemical and head of Japan’s largest business lobby, the Keidanren, told reporters last month. “A prolonged energy shortage could harm business and investment.”

Meanwhile, the sharply higher energy costs are helping to undermine Japan’s formerly rock-solid balance of trade, which swung into the red for three straight months after the earthquake as exporters struggled to restart production. The country’s trade surplus for July was down 90 percent from a year earlier, on a combination of weak exports and rising energy imports.

Elon Musk, the American entrepreneur and founder of the electric car company, Tesla Motors, was in tsunami-stricken Soma late last month to donate $250,000 to build a solar farm there. He said that he saw potential for renewable energy in Japan, but that cumbersome regulations and government foot-dragging were holding the industry back.

“The cost of solar power has dropped in recent years, but government policy hasn’t caught up to that,” Mr. Musk said in a telephone interview.

One roadblock for renewable power in Japan has been the inability of producers to get an adequate price for their electricity on the market, where they must compete with cheaper power from coal, natural gas and nuclear power.

Lawmakers are debating a law that would require utilities to buy electricity from solar, wind, geothermal, hydroelectric and other renewable power sources, even if it means paying a premium. According to Japan’s Trade Ministry, the move would raise average home electricity bills by about 200 yen (more than $2) a month.

“If we, as a society, are willing to pay more, this technology will most certainly spread,” said Norihiro Okumura, an economist with the Tokyo-based Institute of Energy Economics. “And though some in industry say this hurts competitiveness, renewable energy will create new businesses, too.”

Until then, the huge generators at the Yokosuka power plant will continue to pick up the slack, fumes notwithstanding.

“People once called this the No. 1 power plant in the Orient,” Mr. Koseki said. “We are back, doing what we can.”

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Air Pollution Alerts - August 21st, 2011

News & Information; Every Sunday
(Last on August 14th, 2011)

People and the Planet, August, 2011
The changing climate and a warming world.

Times of India, August 21st, 2011
Metro, BRTS may create more housing demand.

American Thinker, August 20th, 2011
USEPA: Hell-Bent on Over-Control.

Science Daily, August 20th, 2011
Growth of Cities Endangers Global Environment.

Grist News, August 19th, 2011
Cool new game is like SimCity for the whole environment.

Mongolia Solutions, August 18th, 2011
Eco-friendly ger heaters before winter in Mongolia.

Business Day, August 18th, 2011
Cooking gas usage will checkmate climatic change, reduce CO2’.

Bernama, August 18th, 2011
Hyundai Becomes Largest Passenger Car Seller In Mongolia.

Media Update, August 17th, 2011
Get in touch with nature on 50|50.

Live Mint, August 17th, 2011
Using emissions trading and insurance to clean up pollution.

DNA India, August 17th, 2011
Improvements needed in planning transport projects under JNNURM.

CSE, August 17th, 2011
CSE’s international conference on parking reforms.

Energy Pulse, August 17th, 2011
Electric Utilities and Carbon Taxes.

Grist News, August 17th, 2011
Animated film from 1957 predicts explosion in energy use.

Grist News, August 17th, 2011
Solar could be as cheap as coal by end of decade.

Grist News, August 17th, 2011
London pumps up bike infrastructure.

Science Daily, August 17th, 2011
Greenhouse Gases: The Measurement Challenge.

Shanghai Daily, August 16th, 2011
Cleaner fuel use up.

People and the Planet, August 15th, 2011
Low energy light bulbs still 'value for money'.

Khaleej Times, August 15th, 2011
China boosts Pakistan’s power sector.

China Daily, August 15th, 2011
China's power consumption up 12.2%.

Global Trader, August 15th, 2011
Africa's potential to leapfrog ahead ... with renewables.

International Business Times, August 13th, 2011
New Energy Tools to Assist in China’s Rapid Urbanization.

Pollution Online, August 11th, 2011
Study Will Make People Think Twice About How They Discard Food Waste.

Pollution Online, August 10th, 2011
Climate Change Committee's Assumptions ‘Implausible', Say Researchers.

Forbes, August 9th, 2011
Climate Forecasting Models Aren't Pretty, And They Aren't Smart.

Pollution Online, August 8th, 2011
Greenhouse Gases: The Measurement Challenge.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Breath of Fresh Air in London (CNN)

Hydrogen cabs, bicycle super highways, and a liquid spray that captures emissions are all part of London's clean air initiatives

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Film on Climate Refugees Strikes a Chord (New York Times)

During the shooting of his 2010 documentary “Climate Refugees,” the Irish-American filmmaker Michael Nash visited nearly 50 countries in about 18 months, interviewing politicians, scientists, health workers and victims of floods, cyclones, hurricanes and droughts.

His conclusion was that short- and longer-term changes in climate are causing vast numbers of people to abandon their jobs, homes and countries to seek better lives elsewhere, or to simply survive. (Jeffrey Gettleman’s recent coverage of the Somali refugee crisis in The Times has offered some vivid and disturbing examples, although Somalia’s troubles are also inextricably linked to political turmoil.)

Read more on New York Times.

Painting Reality - Movement of Cars in Berlin at a Traffic Junction

500 liters of waterbased environmentally-friendly paint on asphalt spread by 2000 cars on Rosenthaler Platz Berlin. By IEPE & the anonymous crew. Directed by AKIZ

Air Pollution Alerts - August 14th, 2011

News & Information; Every Sunday
(Last on August 7th, 2011)

The Independent, August 15th, 2011
Bike-sharing scheme 'saves lives'.

Science Daily, August 14th, 2011
Catalyst That Makes Hydrogen Gas Breaks Speed Record.

The New York Times, August 14th, 2011
With Post-Its and Checklists, Schools Cut Their Energy Bills.

Deccan Herald, August 14th, 2011
Metro shuts doors on media to shun scrutiny.

EV Hub, August 14th, 2011
Electric Vehicle Infrastructure China Summit 2011 will be held on 29th-30th November 2011 Shanghai China.

Courier Journal, August 14th, 2011
Pollution violates human rights.

Business Standard, August 14th, 2011
Poor infra could be serious threat to growing population.

Times of India, August 13th, 2011
Pune to get air quality monitoring system.

China Daily, August 13th, 2011
Nation to double solar capacity this year.

Live Mint, August 12th, 2011
Urban Change | How Bangalore saw the big picture.

UB Post, August 12th, 2011
Ulaanbaatar's Fumes to Decrease by 30%.

The City Fix, August 12th, 2011
Cars Paint Roads.

The Grist List, August 12th, 2011
How to tell if your city is going places.

Environmental Finance, August 11th, 2011
China, California likely to dictate US carbon market.

Scientific American, August 10th, 2011
Garbage in, Energy out: Turning Trash into Biofuel.

The Grist List, August 10th, 2011
Coal-fired power plants close down rather than clean up their emissions.

The City Fix, August 10th, 2011
Challenges to Urbanization in Tianjin.

The Guardian, August 10th, 2011
Top writers tackle climate change in short stories.

Bangladesh News, August 10th, 2011
Govt inks deal with ADB on Sustainable Transport.

The Hindu, August 10th, 2011
Centre for limiting subsidised LPG to 4 cylinders a year.

MSNBC, August 9th, 2011
GM's autonomous pod cars await the future.

The Guardian, August 9th, 2011
UK shipping industry rejects EU's carbon reduction programme.

New York Times, August 9th, 2011
Heavy Trucks to Be Subject to New Rules for Mileage.

The New York Times, August 9th, 2011
Gore Flings Barnyard Epithet at 'Organized' Climate Change Critics.

Reuters, August 9th, 2011
CO2 caps not enough to save China CDM: Point Carbon.

Science Daily, August 9th, 2011
Forests Absorb One Third of Fossil Fuel Emissions.

Xinhua Net, August 8th, 2011
China not yet ready to cut fuel, diesel prices.

Science Daily, August 8th, 2011
Peak Oil and Public Health: Political Common Ground?

The New York Times, August 8th, 2011
An Economist for Nature Calculates the Need for More Protection.

Shanghai Daily, August 8th, 2011
Air quality companies 'lying to customers'.

NPR, August 8th, 2011
NASA's Eyes In The Sky Study Pollution On Earth.

The Hindu, August 8th, 2011
Prioritise this Bicycle scheme in India.

The New York Times, August 7th, 2011
Wind Power Gains as Gear Improves.

NOAA, August 3rd, 2011
NOAA study: Slowing climate change by targeting gases other than carbon dioxide.

China Daily, August 2nd, 2011
Poor air quality hits many big cities.

Center for American Progress, August 1st, 2011
Europe Moves to Limit Aviation Emissions, China Follows.

Climate-L News, July 31st, 2011
ADB Report Warns Against Climate Change Impacts on Health.

Xinhua Net, July 31st, 2011
China's Silk Road city to develop new energy to protect environment.

Xinhua Net, July 29th, 2011
Hot summer leads to record power generation.

NOAA, July 21st, 2011
NOAA study: Increase in particles high in Earth’s atmosphere has offset some recent climate warmiLinkng.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Impacts of Climate Change on Health (ADB)

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has released a report titled "Accounting for Health Impacts of Climate Change." The report highlights that Asia and the Pacific host the greatest number of people vulnerable to the projected adverse impacts of climate change, which will challenge the public health community at the global, national, and local levels with the appearance of new diseases and the proliferation of existing ones.

The report, based on a study of the impacts of climate change on health in Tajikistan, the Philippines and Nepal, notes that existing knowledge on the relationship between climate change and health, and how it may change with the socioeconomic characteristics of populations, is anecdotal and insufficient to guide policy making. It further suggests that unless developing countries anticipate and plan cost-effective responses to the health effects of climate change, the health impacts and costs of climate change are likely to overwhelm the capacity of the public sector.

Key messages of the report include that: planning adaptation investments in the health sector must be an important part of a climate change adaptation strategy; the health benefits of adaptation investments in agriculture, water, and disaster risk reduction (DRR) should be explicitly accounted for in the design and economic analysis of such investments; and climate experts, health experts, and economists need to improve the way they communicate to ensure greater project integration.

Download the report.

Monday, August 08, 2011

TED Talks: Naomi Klein on the Environment Risks of the Modern Society

In her 2007 book The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, Naomi Klein makes the case that corporations (and capitalism-friendly governments) not only profit from disaster and conflict, but actively work to exploit countries in crisis. The “shock doctrine,” as Klein defines it, falls into place after a terrorist attack, a killer hurricane, a regime change—when corporate interests swoop in on a disoriented people to rewrite the rules in favor of commerce and globalization.

In her deeply historical, carefully sourced book, Klein shows the link between commerce and crisis. The Shock Doctrine was adapted into a feature-length documentary by Michael Winterbottom; it premiered at the Sundance in 2010.

TED Talks: The Science Behind a Climate Headline (Rachel Pike)

In 4 minutes, atmospheric chemist Rachel Pike provides a glimpse of the massive scientific effort behind the bold headlines on climate change, with her team -- one of thousands who contributed -- taking a risky flight over the rainforest in pursuit of data on a key molecule.

At TED2009, Al Gore presents updated slides from around the globe to make the case that worrying climate trends are even worse than scientists predicted, and to make clear his stance on "clean coal."

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Surprising Maths of Biology, Cities, and Corporations (TED Talks)

Physicist Geoffrey West has found that simple, mathematical laws govern the properties of cities -- that wealth, crime rate, walking speed and many other aspects of a city can be deduced from a single number: the city's population. In this mind-bending talk from TEDGlobal he shows how it works and how similar laws hold for organisms and corporations.

Air Pollution Alerts - August 7th, 2011

News & Information; Every Sunday
(Last on July 31st, 2011)

The New York Times, August 7th, 2011
Wind Power Gains as Gear Improves.

Cleveland News, August 6th, 2011
No-idling rules help reduce air-alert days, asthma attacks.

Mother Nature Network, August 5th, 2011
Air pollution causes: What’s making us sick?

The Economic Times, August 5th, 2011
Suzlon shares fall 6% on US pollution violation penalty news.

Reuters, August 5th, 2011
Air cleaner helps asthmatic kids living with smokers.

CNN, August 5th, 2011
Gas-guzzling Gulf cities bid to go greener.

The Guardian, August 5th, 2011
Bike hire schemes may save lives.

Science Daily, August 5th, 2011
Human Influence On the 21st Century Climate: One Possible Future for the Atmosphere.

The Guardian, August 4th, 2011
China to cap energy use in national low-carbon plan.

Financial Express, August 4th, 2011
Counting the cost of congestion.

The City Fix, August 4th, 2011
Putting Alternative Fuel Stations on the Map.

Center for American Progress, August 3rd, 2011
It’s Easy Being Green: Sustainable Motor Works.

China Daily, August 2nd, 2011
Beijing to scrap old cars through subsidy.

China Daily, August 2nd, 2011
Poor air quality hits many big cities.

The Guardian, August 2nd, 2011
Himalayan glaciers shrinking.

Press Information Bureau, August 2nd, 2011
Pollution in Big Cities.

Press Information Bureau, August 2nd, 2011
Improving Air Quality in the Major Cities.

China Dialogue, August 1st, 2011
End of the high-speed myth?

City Limits, August 1st, 2011
Their Smoke, Our Smog: Meet These Midwestern Power Plants.

China.Org, August 1st, 2011
45 cities have poor air quality.

Science Daily, August 1st, 2011
Aerosols Affect Climate More Than Satellite Estimates Predict.

Science Daily, August 1st, 2011
Climatic Benefits from Carbon Sequestration Are Largely Offset by Increased Nitrous Oxide Emissions.

The CityFix, August 1st, 2011
Zipcar Reduces Driving, Improves Sustainable Transport.

New York Times, July 30th, 2011
The Dutch Way: Bicycles and Fresh Bread.

The Guardian, July 29th, 2011
Barack Obama unveils 'historic' agreement on fuel economy standards.

China Dialogue, July 26th, 2011
Eight cases that mattered.

Friday, August 05, 2011

Removing the Subsidy on Diesel for Cars and SUVs

This is a such a welcome change in the thought process - to remove the subsidy or find alternative pricing mechanisms for diesel fuel consumed in the cars and SUV's. A table posted in the article - diesel consumption in India by vehicle type

Cars and SUV's = 15%
Farms = 12%
Buses = 12%
Trucks = 37%
Industry = 10%
Power generation = 8%
Railways = 6%

Published in Mail Today, August 5th, 2011

"With the government indicating on Thursday that it would look for a way to end the flow of cheap diesel to fuel cars and sports utility vehicles (SUVs), auto manufacturers, who were banking heavily on this segment, are keeping their fingers crossed.

Finance minister Pranab Mukherjee stated in the Lok Sabha that passenger vehicles consume about 15 per cent of the diesel sold in the market and the government would try to work out a mechanism so that this section is not subsidised.

Diesel, which is considered a politically sensitive fuel because of its use in the farm and public transport sectors, is currently priced ` 23 per litre below the price of petrol. This has swung the demand in favour of diesel cars and SUVs.

Oil minister Jaipal Reddy said the government is considering various proposals, which include either levying a duty on diesel cars or having dual pricing for the fuel.

However, the proposal to sell diesel at two different prices for cars and tractors at the same pump had been rule out earlier as it would lead to black marketing.

“ We think subsidised diesel is not being properly utilised,” Reddy said, adding that levying hefty duty on diesel cars is also one of the proposals under consideration.

“ Even though it is too early to comment but if the government takes any such move, this will be a blow to the auto sector in general,” a senior official at Maruti Suzuki India Ltd told M AIL T ODAY .

“ Diesel cars are doing better sales than petrol cars from past few months, thanks to the hike in petrol prices. This move will be a blow to the automobile sector in general as many of them have invested hugely in their diesel models,” the official added.

The demand for diesel cars has been rising in the recent months. Currently, it accounts of about 70 per cent of MSIL’s sales. The company was already in the process of expanding the production capacity of diesel engines on the back of the recent surge in demand.

The company is already to launch the diesel version of its popular Swift model this month.

Other companies, including General Motors and Hyundai are already investing in expanding their diesel portfolio.

Hyundai Motors has announced investment of ` 1,500 crore for its diesel unit near Chennai.

The new diesel engine plant will be ready for production by 2013.

Ford India has also said it will invest $ 72 million to boost capacity at its local engine plant, with special emphasis on diesel engines.

“ Ford plans to raise production capacity at its Chennai factory in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu by 30 per cent, to meet the rising demand for diesel- powered vehicles,” the company had said earlier.

According to Karl Slym, president and managing director, General Motors India, “ If you look at the composition of the hatchback segment, 80 per cent sales is of diesel and 20 per cent of petrol cars.” However according to market analysts it will benefit companies like Honda Siel Cars India as the company has no diesel variants. The petrol- fuelled iconic Honda City model was hit hard due to the rise in petrol prices. However, the government’s latest move may give a push to the company’s sales."

Another article of interest, "Diesel Subsidy Skewing the Indian Car Market"

Thursday, August 04, 2011

The Cost of Congestion in Dhaka Traffic

From the Financial Express, August 4th, 2011

Much has been written about the mega city's horrendous traffic problem and many seminars have also been taking place, analyzing the causes, solutions and effects of congestion. Many initiatives have already been taken while many projects are ongoing as well. However, to be honest, people have got little respite from the problem. Rather the situation is worsening day by day. While addressing congestion, we forget to consider the economic and other losses that result from the main problem.

According to a 2010 study, conducted jointly by Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI) and Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CMILT), based on only loss of time of people, a staggering amount of US$ 2 billion is lost every year in traffic jams in the capital city. The study also revealed that traffic jam was liable for the loss of people's 8.15 million working hours, 40 per cent of which are business hours.

The aforesaid money is lost due to 3.2 million business hours wasted in congestion. Again, from another study of Dhaka Transport Coordination Board (DTCB), it has been found that against the speed capacity of 40 kilometers per hour (kph), motorized vehicles can run in the city on a speed of average 15 kph. In reality, the speed is much less now.

In fact, the quality of life and mental as well as physical stress remain uncountable which means the loss is much more than the calculated amount.

Apart from the mentioned losses, motorists are burning extra liters of fuel or extra cubic metres of compressed natural gas as they crawl along in stop-start traffic on the choked roads.

From a reliable research paper, it has been found that cars use four times more fuel on congested roads than when traffic is flowing at a normal speed. When a car is at a standstill, stopping and starting or moving slowly in heavy traffic, it uses 24.4 litres of fuel for every 100km driven. If the same car moves in free-flowing traffic, traveling at 50km/h or more, the fuel consumption drops to 6.4 litres per 100km. This is how our valuable resources are wasted. Points to be considered are: the government pays a huge amount of money for importing fuel; the government gives a significant amount of money as subsidy to keep fuel within the reachable limit of the people; and gas, the country's valuable natural resource, is being wasted.

Traffic congestion is one of those things we put up with in our lives of quiet desperation. It doesn't seem to get proper recognition as a problem, except to scream for wider roads as if that would solve traffic congestion. Over the years, traffic problem has been generating a number of negative effects:
  • Wasting time of motorists and passengers ("opportunity cost"). As a non-productive activity for most people, congestion reduces regional economic health.
  • Delays, which may result in late arrival for employment, meetings, and education, resulting in lost business, disciplinary action or other personal losses.
  • Inability to forecast travel time accurately, leading to drivers allocating more time to travel, and less time on productive activities.
  • Wasted fuel increasing air pollution and carbon dioxide emissions owing to increased idling, acceleration and braking. Increased fuel use may also in theory cause a rise in fuel costs.
  • Wear and tear on vehicles as a result of frequent acceleration and braking, leading to more frequent repairs and replacements.
  • Stressed and frustrated motorists, encouraging road rage and reduced health of motorists
  • Emergencies: blocked traffic may interfere with the passage of emergency vehicles traveling to their destinations where they are urgently needed.
Many a time, the government has expressed its concern about brain drain but the answer to the question "why do educated people try to leave the country," can be found in the problem of perennial traffic congestion. It is certainly physically exhausting to stay on the road hour after hour each day only to go to work, while keeping other activities postponed for the weekends. Desperate situations need desperate solutions but sadly, much has been said than done to solve the problem.

Monday, August 01, 2011

Air Pollution in Hong Kong

From the BBC, July 31st, 2011.

"Officials have long blamed factories in China for the city's dirty air, particularly in autumn and winter when prevailing winds blow from the north.

But environmentalists say much of the problem lies closer to home.

Arthur Lau, a researcher at the Hong Kong's University of Science and Technology, says the city is the main source of its own pollution around half the time, with roadside pollution the main culprit.

Hong Kong has many green areas, with 40% of land reserved for nature conservation and recreation.

But this means most of the city's seven million residents live and work in less than 25% of the land that is developed, leading to one of the highest traffic densities in the world - 275 vehicles per kilometre.

Roadside pollution is also magnified by a street canyon effect created by the wall-like, high rise buildings that line many of the city's roads.

Yet the city has no congestion charge or road pricing scheme such as those found in London or Singapore."

Read the full article.

The Clean Air Network has tried imaginative approaches to campaigning before, including a spoof infomercial featuring the heartthrob Hong Kong actor Daniel Wu selling canisters of “fresh air,” which became an instant hit among YouTube users in Hong Kong.

Now, the group is roping modern art into its cause. Click here to see some more videos on air pollution in Hong Kong.

Also see

Check out the series of pictures posted on China Daily, summarizing the merits of traffic management system in Hong Kong.