Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Smarter Solutions To Traffic Congestion in 2014

From Todd Litman, VTPI

Most people can agree that traffic congestion is wasteful and frustrating, but that is where the consensus ends. There are often contentious debates concerning which solution is best: whether to expand roads, improve public transit services, price road use, or implement transportation demand management strategies. These debates are often simplistic, based on incomplete and biased analysis.

A new article, "Smarter Congestion Relief In Asian Cities: Win-Win Solutions To Urban Transport Problems" published December 2013 in the United Nation’s "Transport and Communications Bulletin for Asia and the Pacific," describes better ways to evaluate traffic congestion problems and select congestion reduction strategies. These principles apply to any urban area, not just Asian cities.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Organizing Life Around PM2.5 Went Mainstream

Throughout the year, PM2.5 was so consistently high that the measurement “entered into mainstream Chinese life,” as Angela Hsu, a doctoral candidate at Yale University, told The Guardian. Hsu’s research of Chinese social media site Sina Weibo found that the term “PM 2.5″ went from 200 mentions in January 2011 to 3 million in January 2013. 

It became fashionable for Sina Weibo users to share photos of themselves protecting their lungs:

Link to the article the Atlantic
2013 China - The Year of Smog

Highlights from the article
  • Air quality in the Chinese cities
  • Air pollution cause medical emergencies
  • Buildings disappeared
  • Chinese tried everything to fight the pollution
  • Air pollution's economic toll became more obvious
  • The Government finally decided to do something

Saturday, December 28, 2013

National Food Festival in Delhi (December 16-22, 2013)


From Mr. Lalloobhoy Battliwala

Photos in the text are from http://www.thedelhiwalla.com

Among the things I miss out on. Not that I would've been able to go or eat much if I was in Delhi.

As a youngster, I used to wish I could stay on the streets (near my home, on the frontage of shops) or railway platforms (where I could also bathe in the open) and live on street foods, read, sing. Near my middle and high school, one man started with a cart some 50 years ago. Now there are some 20 such carts and stalls, some with tables and chairs set in the open in an area given up by the city authorities in exchange for promises to keep it clean and the food fresh. Thousands of people walk or drive over every Sunday evening. Once a vendor called up his grandfather from the back to come speak with me as his old customer.

Street food is not a distinct South Asian phenomenon; but Indian cities have the greatest variety (incl. Chinees Food, Pijja and Makroni, Bargad and Fris) . From tea to full meals. And it has evolved from eateries for specialized groups (brahmins) or cooks (brahmins, because other castes would not eat anything made by someone below their castes) and even sureties of purity ("100% Dalda Ghee", which was hydrogented oil).

Those were in shops or run out of homes, and they still are. But carts and stalls have grown phenomenally during my lifetime. Small towns, highway junctions, railway stations (on the platforms and outside), beaches, temples, markets, malls, everywhere you see food and drinks in a country that has some 200+ million under- and malnourished people including, I am guessing, 100 million children.

A lot of it is because of migrant or transient labor, single workers, and now has become the main snack alternative for the middle class. And of course tea, coffee, and soda are for everybody all the time. Or ready-to-eat seasonal fruits - watermelon - and vegetables - cucumber - and juices - sugarcane, now orange, pineapple, musambi. Then of course roasted peanuts, chickpeas, dry fried snacks and biscuits.

On the carts, own or rented. Netting sometimes as little as $2 a day in Delhi. Walking miles and miles for their set place, sometimes paying the police or the gangs their cut, and yes, sometimes giving the beggars some leftovers at night.

A little over a year ago I developed the concept of "outsourcing of the kitchen". This is surely a major example. Now there are home deliveries and take outs, and the middle class of course has household help to run fetch the food and drinks. This is where cooking has been growing rapidly, along with institutional cooking in dormitories, hospitals, office buildings, and restaurants of course. And then there is the food processing, canning, packing, freezing industry - from chips and cereals to fish and dairy/meat products.

That is a cooking market segment ignored by those who cook up "improved stoves" programs, because most of them are obsessed about the poor in their imaginations and marketing brochures, not the real people who cook to eat or purchase food outside. They also ignore the poor who in fact work in such outsourced kitchens, from chopping and hauling to running the stoves and cleaning up. Or their working conditions, and their environmental conditions - water and air quality, food quality throughout the supply chain. The street food industry in India is also a major employer of children, just as children go as cooks and servants in the homes of the better off or in other areas of food preparation and service.

What the poor need is training in home economics, domestic and food sciences, food marketing, not just stoves.

Who knows, cleaner, fresher, more efficient street food may be better nutrition for the burgeoning urban masses. As Anil Rajvanshi said some time ago, the poor don't have the luxury to cook own meals. And as we find in the rich countries, the poor go for cheap prepared foods (in the US, qualifying for food stamps), and nearly everybody including the rich has either no time for or forgotten cooking (don't even know their vegetables).

The energy problem of the human machine is rarely even thought of.

Vending Machines Renting Smart-Car Like EV Cars in China for $3.25 per Hour

China's cities are blanketed by toxic haze with air pollution that can shut down places like Beijing. Of course, there are many citizens who want to move from a scooter to a car, but that could create more pollution. In steps carsharing, and an idea from Kandi Technologies Group that its small electric vehicles could be part of the solution in the city of Hangzhou, an hour-long train ride from Shanghai.

Link to the article from AutoBlog.

Kandi produces a small, Smart-car like EV that can go 75 miles on a charge and reach a top speed of 50 miles per hour. Seems like boilerplate EV territory, right? Except that they're being stored in vending machine-like parking garages and can be rented for $3.25 per hour. See for yourself in the video below by filmmaker Aaron Rockett.

Through its joint venture with Geely Automotive, Kandi plans to build 750 (!) of these garages in Hangzhou over the next four years. This will be supported by the government and Kandi's 50-50 joint venture with Geely Automotive. Kandi wins, too, since it could supply up to 100,000 EVs to serve carsharers. If things work well in Hangzhou, this business model could spread to other Chinese cities and regions such as Shanghai, Shandong and Hainan.

Geely and Kandi started their joint venture early in 2013 with an initial investment of one billion yuan (about $160 million US). The idea has been to research, develop, produce and market EVs together, and the car-vending machine project could play an important role in where the companies go from here. 

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Open Waste Burning Causing Pollution Problems in NOIDA

NOIDA is one of the satellite cities of Delhi.

View Larger Map

Lack of a proper solid waste management policy with Greater Noida Authority has invited the ire of residents and environmental activists. The Authority has chosen rural areas for disposing and burning municipal waste thereby causing large-scale air pollution and smog-like conditions, which has been spreading to urban areas as well.

Link to the article in Times of India.

Air Quality in Delhi

Activists allege that this practice was started after a cooperative housing society approached National Green Tribunal opposing dumping of garbage at a site owned by it in Greater Noida. They have complained that the Authority is dumping garbage adjacent to a 130m-wide road in Knowledge Park-V, near Tushiyana village.

115,000 MT of Solid Waste are Generated Every Day in India

The most affected areas are Khedi, Bhanauta, Tushiyana, Sunpura, Saini, Khodna and Bhuda villages. "An epidemic might result from this practice as chances of diseases spreading to even urban sectors cannot be ruled out," said Vikrant Tongad, environmentalist.

In addition, garbage disposed in this area is also being burnt regularly thereby generating large quantities of smoke. As a result, smog-like conditions have been prevailing in the area and spreading to expressways and main roads.

Composting Wet Household Waste for Green Surroundings !!

Activists have written to Greater Noida Authority and the district magistrate demanding end of this practice. They have asked Greater Noida Authority to speed up work on the proposed solid waste disposal plant in Astauli village.

They have also drawn the attention of EPCA-NCR to the issue of air pollution and diseases resulting from improper disposal of solid waste.

What a Waste?

Greater Noida Authority officials said that the site has been chosen for waste disposal during the period the proposed MSW plant is commissioned. They have also rejected complaints of burning garbage. "The waste is probably being burnt by some miscreants despite prohibition. We have launched an inspection and will heavily penalize the offenders," said a senior official.

Fake Backdrop of Clean and Blue Skys in Hong Kong

Picture this: Tourists visiting one of your city's most prominent attractions are unable to see it because of smog, haze and a bevy of other airborne pollutants.

Hedley Environmental Index for Hong Kong's Air Pollution.

Real time air quality in Hong Kong.
What's the solution? Erect a backdrop for visitors to pose in front of. One that's impervious to pollution and projects an image of the city as always sunny and full of clean air. Welcome to Hong Kong's Victoria Harbor, where bright banners of the city's skyline block the view of its gray, polluted, real-world counterpart.

Real time air quality index in Hong Kong.

Photos from Huffington Post


Steve Colbert on Cooling the Earth: An All-Chocolate Dinner


From Mr. Lalloobhoy Battliwala

Happy holidays! Enjoy the show. There are enough people to be saved right now from the climate.

Link to the article on NY Times Blog.

The Colbert Report
Get More: Colbert Report Full Episodes,Video Archive

by Andrew Revkin

I’ve been meaning to post this since Tuesday, but better late than never. I encourage you, as a tonic for anything that ails, to watch Stephen Colbert’s conversation with David Keith, the Harvard professor of applied physics and public policy, on his book, “A Case for Climate Engineering.”
The discussion is all aimed at humor, of course, with Colbert reacting to Keith’s argument for blunting global warming with sun-blocking sulfate aerosols this way:
So we owe acid rain an apology, is what you’re saying.
And to drive the point home further, he adds:
This is the all-chocolate dinner. I get to have my CO2 and I get to spray sulfuric acid all over the Earth.
But behind the laughs, they end up circling to serious issues, including the question I’ve explored here several times: Who gets to set Earth’s thermostat?

Highly paid comedians aren’t alone in touching on engineering the climate in a lighthearted way. In case you missed it, here’s a student-shot video explaining geo-engineering, which I first highlighted in my 2008 post “Fun With Mirrors and Dust – a Climate Fix?”:

Air Pollution News & Alerts - December 22nd, 2013

Times of India, December 22nd, 2013
Thick smog hints at increased air pollution.

Times of India, December 21st, 2013
Burning of waste causing air pollution in NOIDA, Delhi.

Reuters, December 20th, 2013
India struggles to control rising vehicle use, pollution.

Xinhua Net, December 20th, 2013
China follows green path to urbanization.

Times of India, December 20th, 2013
Fog clears, visibility still low in Delhi.

CNN, December 20th, 2013
Ship emissions blamed for worsening pollution in Hong Kong.

Wall Street Journal, December 19th, 2013
5 Things to Know About Pollution in Delhi.

Xinhua Net, December 19th, 2013
Cleaning China's air may cost 300 billion U.S. dollars.

Pollution Solutions, December 19th, 2013
New policy package to clean up Europe's air.

NDTV, December 19th, 2013
Delhi: Thick smog blankets city, transport disrupted.

International Business Times, December 19th, 2013
China News Roundup: A Recap Of China's Best And Worst Of 2013.

NRDC, December 19th, 2013
EPA and the States Positively Engage on Carbon Pollution Standards.

Times of India, December 19th, 2013
Fog thins but air pollution shoots up.

People's Daily, December 18th, 2013
Beijing's mooted subway fare hike sparks controversy.

Xinhua Net, December 18th, 2013
China Focus: China announces greener petrol standard.

South China Morning Post, December 18th, 2013
Beijing recruits scientists to tackle air pollution, but doesn't say how.

Huffington Post, December 18th, 2013
Chinese Hospital Opens Smog Clinic To Combat Worsening Air Quality.

Chicago Tribune, December 18th, 2013
Draft pollution law seeks to tackle lethal European air.

ECNS, December 18th, 2013
Burn more low-quality coal, power plants urged.

Public Opinion, December 17th, 2013
Air pollution from burning coal hits Bosnian town.

Tennessian, December 17th, 2013
Is our air quality improving quickly enough?

Wall Street Journal, December 17th, 2013
Rush Hour: Limits Fuel Huge Car Sales Surge in Tianjin.

Scientific American, December 17th, 2013
Flame-Taming Electric Fields Could Make Power Plants Cleaner.

Morning Express, December 16th, 2013
Dimapur air pollution increasing.

Environmental Leader, December 16th, 2013
Beijing Brings in Cleaner Buses to Cut Air Pollution.

China Daily, December 16th, 2013
China's transport industry biggest polluter.

Times of India, December 16th, 2013
Vehicle fumes, construction dust cause drop in Adyar air quality.

IEA, December 16th, 2013
Global coal demand growth slows slightly, IEA says in latest 5-year outlook.

China Daily, December 15th, 2013
China, Japan, ROK urge joint smog treatment.

Reuetrs, December 15th, 2013
Tianjin becomes latest Chinese city to restrict car ownership.

Times of India, December 13th, 2013
Breathless in Pune? Blame it on temperature, trapped pollutants.

Bloomberg, December 13th, 2013
Shanghai Air Pollution ‘Moderate’ at 7 Times PM2.5 Guidelines.

Imaging Source, December 13th, 2013
China’s current air pollution is so bad, it’s visible from space!

Times of India, November 13th, 2013
IIT experts list pollutants affecting Golden Temple.

Global Times, December 13th, 2013
Air despair.

Times of India, November 12th, 2013
20% lung cancer caused by air pollution in Hyderabad.

Reuters, December 12th, 2013
Beijing to buy new buses to clear city smog.

POPsop, December 12th, 2013
Saatchi and Saatchi ‘helps dissipate fog’ and cheer people up on the streets of smoggy Shanghai.

Bloomberg, December 12th, 2013
China Orders Pilots to ‘Land Blind’ as Smog Delays Flights.

NRDC Switchboard, December 12th, 2013
Another U.S. Public Funding Institution Will Get Out of Coal Power Plants: New Export-Import Bank Guidelines Adopted.

EE Publishing, December 12th, 2013
Coal-related air pollution has killed hundreds of thousands in Chinese cities.

Xinhua Net, December 12th, 2013
Beijing firework ban if New Year turns smoggy.

DW News, Decemeber 12th, 2013
EU's air pollution problems festering.

VECC-MEP, December 12th, 2013
Motor vehicle fuel desulfurization international seminar held in Beijing.

Bloomberg, December 11th, 2013If You Can't Beat the Shanghai Smog, Change the System.

Global Post, December 11th, 2013
Gov't aims to slash Seoul's fine dust levels by 2024.

Hydrogen Fuel News, December 11th, 2013
China attacks air pollution with renewable energy.

The Himalayan, December 11th, 2013
Norway‚ ICIMOD sign ambitious deal to combat air pollution.

Examiner, December 11th, 2013
Models, Chinese, smog: Air Pollution forces China models to don surgical masks.

Global Post, December 11th, 2013
S. Korea, China to discuss ways to cut air pollution.

Times of India, December 11th, 2013
China’s official media jokes about pollution, sparks criticism.

The Guardian, December 10th, 2013
US supreme court to rule on EPA's powers to enforce air pollution limits.

EDF, December 10th, 2013
Why Doesn’t Texas Want Clean Air?

The Hindu, December 10th, 2013
India lives in her (mid-sized) villages.

CNN Money, December 10th, 2013
Air pollution clouds Shanghai.

China People Daily, December 10th, 2013
Ripple effects of air pollution felt in many sectors.

National Geography, December 10th, 2013
Three Ways U.S.-China Conflict Is Helping on Climate Change.

Xinhua Net, December 10th, 2013Eight Chinese cities fined for air pollution.

Climate Progress, December 9th, 2013
There Are Multiple Benefits To China’s Record-Breaking Smog, Claims Chinese State Broadcaster.

Reuters, December 9th, 2013
U.S. Northeast states ask EPA to crack down on Midwest pollution.

Clean Air Asia, December 8th, 2013
Citizens of India Demand for Livable Cities.

BBC, December 8th, 2013
Shanghai suffers one of its worst bouts of pollution.

Forbes, December 7th, 2013
China Traveler: Flights Delayed In Shanghai Amid Haze, Heavy Air Pollution.

Geo News, December 7th, 2013Rising air pollution badly affecting Karachiites.

Huffington Post, December 6th, 2013
The Value of U.S-China Clean Air and Climate Cooperation.

Wall Street Journal, December 6th, 2013
Heavy Pollution Plagues Shanghai.

Bloomberg, December 6th, 2013
Shanghai Orders Cars Off Roads as Pollution Exceeds Scale.

Wall Street Journal, December 6th, 2013
China Chases Renewable Energy as Coast Chokes on Air.

New York Times, December 5th, 2013
Air Pollution Shrouds Eastern China.

News Talk, December 5th, 2013
Investigation into health impacts of Chch air pollution.

Medical News, December 4th, 2013
Occupational air pollution tied to COPD mortality.

The Hindu, December 4th, 2013
Household air pollution way beyond safe limits in India.

Economic Voice, December 3rd, 2013
Front-Running Cities Changing Transport, Improving Quality Of Life.

New York Times, December 3rd, 2013
The Poor Need Cheap Fossil Fuels.

Air Quality News, December 3rd, 2013
Transport still ‘major contributor’ to EU air pollution.

Times of India, December 3rd, 2013Time to improve technology in coal-based industries.

The Hindu, December 3rd, 2013
Coal will continue to be dominant energy source.

The New York Times, December 3rd, 2013
The Poor Need Cheap Fossil Fuels.

Ceylon News, December 3rd, 2013
Ceylon Electricity Board On A Coal Spree.

China Daily, December 2nd, 2013
Looking to clear the air.

Reuters, December 2nd, 2013
U.S. environment chief to share air pollution lessons with China.

Global Times, December 2nd, 2013
Pollution persists amid weak winds.

Bloomberg, December 2nd, 2013
Shanghai Warns Children to Stay Indoors on Air Pollution.

Click Green, December 1st, 2013
UK coal power plants cause 1,600 premature deaths a year.

Hindustan Times, December 1st, 2013
Breathing kills : A story on how air pollution plagues India.

The Hindu, December 1st, 2013
BHEL commissions first super critical thermal unit.

Climate Progress, November 30th, 2013
41 Scientists Warn Obama Admin Against Burning Trees To Produce Electricity.

New York Times, November 29th, 2013
Power in 2030: The Roads We May Take.

Phys.Org, November 29th, 2013
Will electricity save the car?

Global Times, November 28th, 2013
China tightens rules for coal industry.

Times of India, November 28th, 2013Sheila Dikshit now willing to scrap BRT pilot.

ADB, November, 2013
Clean Air Scorecard Helps Clear the Air in the People's Republic of China.

The Guardian, November 29th, 2013
Climate science: can geoengineering save the world?

NPR, November 28th, 2013
How Fracking In Pennsylvania Helps Clear The Air In New York.

Xinhua Net, November 27th, 201328 Chinese cities, regions to promote green cars.

Think Progess, November 27th, 2013
Citing Too Many Deaths From Air Pollution, Polish City Says Goodbye To Coal.

The Guardian, November 27th, 2013
Beijing confiscates barbecues in drive to cut air pollution.

Indian Express, November 27th, 2013
Will dismantle BRT, didn’t work.

Times of India, November 27th, 2013
Green advantage with CNG, Metro lost over the years.

The City Fix, November 27th, 2013
Can this Santiago Metro innovation end gridlocked platforms once and for all?

The City Fix, November 26th, 2013
Exchanging transport lessons between developed and developing countries: Q&A with Dr. V. Setty Pendakur.

New Yorker, November 26th, 2013
China’s Polluted Steel Town.

NPR, November 26th, 2013
A View From China, India On Carbon Dioxide Emissions.

NPR, November 26th, 2013
Why Countries Invest Differently In Environmental Issues.

Science Daily, November 26th, 2013
The Lingering Clouds: Why Pollution Results in Larger Storm Clouds, Colder Days, Warmer Nights.

Reuters, November 26th, 2013
China destroys 500 barbecues to tame Beijing pollution.

The Guardian, NOvember 26th, 2013
Why are fossil fuel reserves growing?

New York Times, November 25th, 2013
Emissions of Methane in U.S. Exceed Estimates, Study Finds.

Scientific American, November 25th, 2013
Human Health Depends on a Healthy Environment.

IT News Online, November 25th, 2013
Stringent Air Pollution Norms Boost Adoption of Air Pollution Control Equipment.

Xinhua Net, November 24th, 2013
China's coal consumption to hit 4.8 bln tons by 2020: forecast.

Common Dreams, November 23rd, 2013
New York City Prepares for Nation's Largest Bike Share System.

China Daily, November 23rd, 2013
Beijing won't enforce 'idling engine' rule.

Times of India, November 22nd, 2013
Will go ahead with BRTS in Pune.

Science Daily, November 22nd, 2013
Pre-Industrial Rise in Greenhouse Gases Had Natural and Anthropogenic Causes.

Xinhua Net, November 22nd, 2013
Fresh smog shrouds east, north China.

Global Times, November 21st, 2013
When it's really too hard to breathe a sigh of relief.

The Guardian, November 21st, 2013
How China's action on air pollution is slowing its carbon emissions.

International Business Times, November 20th, 2013
Smoking And Air Pollution Creating Deadly Hazards In China: 1 Million Lung Cancer Patients By 2025.

Times of India, November 20th, 2013
Chronic respiratory illness cases rise with air pollution.

Epoch Times, November 19th, 2013
Smoking and Smog a Deadly Duo in China.

New York Times, November 19th, 2013
Unavoidable Answer for the Problem of Climate Change.

China Daily, November 19th, 2013
Xinhua Insight: A choking city's road to reform.

Scientific American, November 17th, 2013
Burying Coal Ash for Good.

The Guardian, November 16th, 2013
China's children may become the drivers of environmental change.

Xinhua Net, November 14th, 2013
Interview: China can help lead world to transform to ecological future.

China Daily, November 14th, 2013Inspection uncovers air pollution problems.

RFF, November 13th, 2013Cheaper Fuels for the Light-Duty Fleet.

Xinhua Net, November 11th, 2013
Commentary: Why China can be counted on to cut emissions.

US$ 300 Billion Investment to Clean Up Air Pollution in Chinese Cities

A total of 1.75 trillion yuan (290 billion U.S. dollars) will be invested from 2013 to 2017 to deal with China's worsening air pollution, an environment expert said on Wednesday.

Link to the article from China Daily.

Wang Jinnan, deputy head of the Chinese Academy for Environmental Planning, said at the 4th Caixin Summit in Beijing that the investment would drive up GDP by nearly 2 trillion yuan and create over 2 million jobs.

Real-time air quality and air quality index in Shanghai

According to Wang, 36.7 percent of the investment, or 640 billion yuan should go on cleaning up industry, followed by 490 billion yuan (28.2 percent) on cleaner energy sources. Cleaning up motor vehicles will absorb 210 billion yuan.

Real-time air quality and air quality index in Beijing

The State Council issued the Air Pollution Prevention and Control Action Plan in September to control PM2.5 (airborne particles of less than 2.5 microns diameter).

Real-time air quality and air quality index in Guangzhou

The action plan requires PM2.5 in populated regions and metropolises to be reduced significantly by 2017. The annual average of PM2.5 in Beijing would be expected to drop to 60 micrograms per cubic meter.

Link to the article in the Guardian.


From Global Times

Over 1 trillion yuan ($163.4 billion) will be allocated to the fight against air pollution in Beijing amid a newly-issued five-year action plan, dubbed the strongest since 1988, an official in the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Environmental Protection said Monday.

Real-time air quality and air quality index in Chengdu

However, only 200 to 300 billion will come from the government.

The rest of the money will be taken from enterprises and other organizations, Wang Xiaoming, director of the publicity department of the bureau, told the Global Times, adding that the contributing enterprises would be those responsible for air pollution.

Real-time air quality and air quality index in Kunming

Over the next five years, the plan calls for the cutting of the concentration of PM2.5 particles (airborne particles measuring less than 2.5 microns in diameter) to a level of around 60 micrograms per cubic meter. This would represent a decline of about 25 percent compared with the 2012 level, according to the Airborne Pollution Prevention and Control Action Plan (2013-17) released on September 12.

Of all the plans, this represents the most comprehensive since 1988, when the city started to tackle air pollution, Fang Li, deputy head of the bureau, said at a press conference Monday, The Beijing News reported.

Real-time air quality and air quality index in Tianjin

 "One trillion yuan is a large investment into combating air pollution," said Ma Jun, director with the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs, adding that transparency would need to be a key component of the plan.

The action plan includes eight pollution reduction projects with 84 specific tasks, divided among 42 bureaus and 23 enterprises in 14 districts and two counties of the city, and outlines the specific people responsible and the timetable, the China Economic Weekly said in a report on Monday.

The plan also calls for the city to cut coal consumption by 13 million tons.

Real-time air quality and air quality index in Chifeng

Although 13 million tons is not a small amount, this will not have a significant influence on the city  due to the large coal consumption of  industrial bases in the surrounding areas, Wang Tao, a resident scholar at the Carnegie-Tsinghua Centre for Global Policy, told the Global Times Tuesday.

The measures to reduce coal consumption should be carried out on a regional basis in coordination with surrounding areas like Hebei, Shanxi and Shandong provinces, and without efforts by these areas, the city alone cannot tackle the pollution from burning coal, Wang said.

Real-time air quality and air quality index in Baoding

Friday, December 20, 2013

2000 People in Bulgaria Die Prematurely Due to Air Pollution

An abnormally high concentration of dust particles in the air was measured Wednesday in 14 cities in Bulgaria, the country's executive environmental agency has alarmed.

Link to the article.

Link to the report from European Environmental Agency.

The Bulgarian Executive Environment Agency reported high pollution levels in Blagoevgrad, Burgas, Varna, Gorna Oryahovitsa, Vratsa, Pernik, Pleven, Lovech, Plovdiv, Ruse, Smolyan, Sofia, Dimitrovgrad and Kurdzhali.

Air Quality in European Cities

The levels of dust particles exceeded the average daily rate by 1.02-3.78 times. The highest concentration of dust was reported in the capital city of Sofia.

Experts have attributed the abnormally high pollution levels in Bulgaria to domestic heating, thermal power plants, fog, road traffic and industrial emissions.

The international ecological organization Greenpeace has released a report earlier in 2013, according to which the highest air pollution with sulfur dioxide and fine dust particles per produced kWh of electricity in Europe has been registered in Bulgaria.

According to the report, over 2 000 people in Bulgaria die prematurely due to air pollution from Thermal Power Plants (TPPs). The number of victims of TPP coal burning exceeds four times the number of traffic fatalities in the country. Over 3 000 adults and 2 600 children suffer from respiratory diseases, and another 3 700 experience reduced job performance.

List of Power Plants in Bulgaria

Greenpeace warned about an increase in the number of people with cancer in the region of Stara Zagora in recent years, which is designated in the report as the most problematic spot.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Breathless in Pune - Blame it On Chilling Temperatures and Trapped Pollutants

Vehicle Exhaust Emissions in Pune in 2010-11

People living in Hadapsar, Katraj, Bhosari and Shivajinagar may be more susceptible to respiratory infections such as asthma and chronic bronchitis because the chill the city is currently experiencing has pushed air pollution levels to a new high in these places.

Link to the article on Times of India.

Real Time Air Quality Data in Pune

The city continued to shiver with the minimum temperature at 7.4 degrees celsius on Tuesday. The levels of particulate matter less than or equal to 10 micrometer (PM10) has crossed the maximum permissible limits by more than 100% in Hadapsar, Katraj, Bhosari, Shivajinagar. Data from the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM) shows that on December 10, air quality of Pune had reached 'very low' levels, with some stations recording PM10 levels beyond 200 ug/m3. The maximum permissible limit is 100 micro-g/m3.

Air Pollution Sources in Pune, India

There was a marked difference in the air quality which remained good to moderate on November 30 and on December 10. The minimum temperature on November 30 was close to 22 degrees Celsius and only Shivajinagar, Alandi and Hadapsar recorded PM10 levels a little above the permissible limits.

Pollution from Brick Kilns and Quarries in Pune, India

On December 10, all locations--Pashan, Shivajinagar, airport area, Hadapsar, Alandi, Katraj, Bhosari, Nigdi and Manjari had PM10 levels hitting the roof, ranging from 103 ug/m3 to 221 ug/m3.

The minimum temperature on December 10 was considerably lower, with the city experiencing around 9 degrees celsius as per IITM data. "Hence, the increase in pollution levels," said Gufran Beig, IITM chief scientist and project director of System of Air Quality Forecasting and Research (SAFAR).

SAFAR-PUNE Research Page

As the temperature drops, the boundary layer or the cape of the surface or the upper boundary of the local environment reduces in height. "It is this boundary layer which traps the pollutants emitted from the surface and near the surface, preventing them from mixing upward and diluting into the atmosphere. On November 30, the boundary layer was 1.5 km. However, within 10 days, from November 30 to December 10, the minimum temperature has gone down to around 9 degrees celsius and the boundary layer has reduced to around 700 meters," said Beig.

Typical Mixing Layer Heights in Pune - from NCEP Reanalysis

Though the same amount of man-made pollutants are being emitted in Pune in winter, weather conditions and cooling have brought the boundary layer down, confining the pollutants to this limited envelope. Air pollution levels have thus been ranging from moderate to very poor in Pune, Beig added.

Press Release: Better Air Quality = Better Cities

On December 7, the minimum temperature was between 12 to 13 degrees celsius and PM 10 levels crossed the 100 ug/m3 mark in all areas, shooting to 156 ug/m3 in Shivajinagar, and 168 ug/m3 in Hadapsar.

When the minimum temperature in the city was around 10 degrees celsius on December 8, PM10 levels in Shivajinagar were close to 160 ug/m3, while PM 2.5 here was around 90 ug/m3, which means 'poor' air quality, said Beig. The maximum permissible limit for PM 2.5 is 60 ug/m3.

On December 9, with Pune's temperature falling to around 9 degrees celsius, most polluted areas were Katraj (with PM10 levels close to 163 ug/m3, and PM 2.5 levels around 96 ug/m3), Hadapsar (with PM10 levels close to 220 ug/m3, and PM2.5 levels around 98 ug/m3) and Bhosari (with PM10 levels close to 161 ug/m3).

Walkability in Indian Cities

Forecast of pollution levels by IITM scientists, using the SAFAR model, revealed that the current levels of PM10 and PM2.5 are likely to remain almost at the same level for the next two-three days with temperature dropping further.

Frequently Asked Questions about Particulate Matter Pollution

The term Particulate Matter (PM) includes both solid particles and liquid droplets found in air. Many man-made and natural sources emit PM emissions directly or emit other pollutants that react in the atmosphere to form PM. These solid and liquid particles come in a wide range of sizes. PM has two sets of cautionary statements, which correspond to the two sizes of PM that are measured:
  • Particles up to 2.5 micrometers in diameter (PM 2.5)
  • Particles up to 10 micrometers in diameter (PM 10)
Health effects have been associated with exposures to PM over both short (such as a day) and longer periods (a year or more). When exposed to even small levels of PM, people with existing heart or lung diseases-such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, congestive heart disease, or ischemic heart disease-are at increased risk of premature death and or admission to hospitals or emergency rooms.

More than 3,000 Premature Deaths in Pune Every Year Due to Air Pollution

The elderly are very sensitive to PM exposure. They are at increased risk of admission to hospitals or emergency rooms and premature death from heart or lung diseases. Children and people with existing lung disease may not be able to breathe as deeply or vigorously as they normally would, and they may experience symptoms such as coughing and shortness of breath when exposed to levels of PM.

Is LPG Bad for the Air Quality in Indian Cities?

PM can increase the susceptibility to respiratory infections and can aggravate existing respiratory diseases, such as asthma and chronic bronchitis, causing more use of medication and more doctor visits.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

What is it Like Living in Ulaanbaatar?

What is the word? Smoky. Let me start with that.

Link to the article on Huffington Post.

If reading this article as someone who has never experienced poor air quality, here is some simple imagery to help you understand: it feels like you are trapped in a small room with a big camp fire and no ventilation. Now imagine, this is for the duration of the 8-month heating season, as you are trapped in the room in the coldest capital in the world.

Air Pollution in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia

Ulaanbaatar today is ranked by the World Health Organization as one of the most polluted cities in the world. In short, the combination of the burning of coal by the city power plants and the residents that reside in the ger districts surrounding the city center are the major sources for the toxic air omnipresent during the winter months. The Ulaanbaatar population is roughly 1.3 million today according to a 2010 National Population Center census and an estimated 60% live in the ger district.

10% of the city's total mortality is due to the outdoor air pollution

The ger districts, are residential zones where most families reside in Mongolian traditional felt tents or shoddy wooden buildings with for the large part, limited access to water, sanitation, and unreliable power. The district expanded exponentially as a transient living space when nomadic herders first began moving into the capital city, dramatically, after the transition of Mongolia to capitalism in the early 90's. Since then it has morphed into uncontrollable urban sprawl with no foreseeable solution in the short term.

In addition,the sheer number of cars which include both SUVS and old rickety imported passenger cars with poor emission (unofficial numbers estimate 300,000 in UB) sitting idle in traffic caused by the lack of proper roads contributes significantly to poor air quality. Clearly, keeping in mind that to travel 3 kilometers in downtown UB one might sit in traffic for up to an hour, Ulaanbaatar infrastructure is obviously not up to pace with economic growth. To give you an idea of how quickly the scene in Ulaanbaatar has changed, reflect on these numbers:according to the Mongolian traffic institute, there were 40,000 vehicles registered in Ulaanbaatar in 1991. In 2010, that number rose to 120,000. Today most estimates average as earlier mentioned, 300,000 vehicles both unregistered and registered.

Poisonous Air in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia

The entrance of Mongolia into the global market, coupled by Mongolia's recent mining boom, more and more herder families come to Ulaanbaatar seeking the opportunities of capitalism. Recent, harsh winters conditions making nomadic life devastatingly difficult have also contributed to a large influx of nomadic migrants. For when a herder loses his animals, he loses his livelihood and most feel that after losing herd, the best opportunity lies in the city center as Mongolia itself has no manufacturing or industry beyond Ulaanbaatar. There are 19 "aimags" or provinces in Mongolia, and opportunity for employment is minimal.

Stoves and Air Pollution Crisis in Mongolia

I was fortunate to arrive to the city during the summer when the air pollution is minimal, however, this also gave me the chance to see and smell the decline in air quality intimately. By late September, I avoided walking when I could, and by October, I had become a proud owner of a sophisticated air filter mask. Nowadays, I don't leave the house without it, and even find myself wearing it when driving as well.

Coal Briquettes in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia

Thankfully, I was lucky to find a local salesperson, a graduate of Green River Community College located in Washington, USA, who took the initiative to contact the seller in Singapore to become the first local distributor of the so-called "Totobobo" mask last winter. People who wear air filter masks are a rare oddity and most local Mongolians opt for cloth masks. However, the change in attitude is visible, there are more businesspersons trying to capitalize on the need and with that said, one can find advertisements for air filter masks dotted sparsely around the city. I expect more health advocates to vouch for the effectiveness and necessity to wear a mask and to see more people adjusting to wearing them in the near future. The local Facebook page, Expats in Mongolia, had an interesting post a few weeks ago where one man was offering to deliver air filter masks for free from an American company for fellow expats as he was already having a shipment delivered to himself.

The trouble is air filter masks are expensive (generally around 40+ USD) not including the cost for replacement filters. An alternative are masks similiar to those used on construction sites, which cost around 3-4 USD available in certain stores. The people most likely to be found with the air filter masks are unsurprisingly expats and Mongolians educated abroad. Usually when asked about my mask the reactions vary from shock at how expensive the mask was and general doubt about its effectiveness. Contextualized, this makes sense; the minimum monthly wage requirement by law is 193,000 MNT or 130 USD.

Perhaps, the most frustrating and liberating aspect of living under a cloud of smoke is that, you can escape. Ulaanbaatar is the largest city in Mongolia, however, is a meager 1,816 sq miles. If one drives a few miles out of the city, into isolation albeit a few gers, the air is incredibly fresh. Those who have the means to leave the city during weekends and holidays seem to take every opportunity.
The government has taken initiatives to address the problem. Most notably, through a partnership with the World Bank on the "Ulaanbaatar Clean Air Project", a 5 year project with a closing in 2017.

Estimated 4,000,000 Deaths from Household Cooking Smoke - A Note from Dr. Kirk Smith

The main objectives of the project are to provide access of more efficient heating appliances that produce less particulate matter emissions and to develop systems for continued measuring and evaluation of the air pollution of Ulaanbaatar. The project is projected to cost a total of 21.9 million USD, and 50% will be provided as a soft loan from the World Bank. The World Bank is not alone; many other international organizations have enlisted in the fight for better air quality including the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), Asian Development Bank, Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.

Asian Cities With Air Quality As Bad As Beijing

Improving the air quality in Ulaanbaatar with short term solutions is a priority, as it means greatly reducing the daily suffering of breathing in toxic air and its health consequences which include and aren't limited to irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat, worsening of existing lung and heart problems like asthma, and an increased risk of heart attack.

Stricter Regulations for Pollution Control in Ulaanbaatar

The medium and long term solutions will undoubtedly prove to be more complex. How and when the Mongolian government plans to solve the urban planning crisis of the Ulaanbaatar ger district remains to be seen. The crisis is multifaceted and requires a comprehensive outlook on improving education, lowering the unemployment rate, sustainable infrastructure of roads, power, heating and sewage, and the list goes on. However, it should be no surprise that the sooner the city can solve this problem, this developing city will be able to avoid astronomical health costs that shadow the toxic air being breathed in by young citizen population of Mongolia (68% of the total population is under the age of 35).

Air Pollution in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia - Emissions, Dispersion, and Health Impacts Modeling (Journal Article)

This blog post titled "What is it like living in Ulaanbaatar?" and might seem to have strayed off topic. However, for anyone living in this city, like the air pollution itself, these discussions become inescapable. Living in Ulaanbaatar is more than just air pollution, but for now, it is all I can think about. I am lucky to be able to afford the luxuries of air filter masks and air filters in my home; however, knowing that the majority of Ulaanbaatar citizens cannot is hard to cope with. The young children in these slums, who go to bed in smoky rooms, and wake up to hazy fog is devastating. I can only hope that those qualified and those capable of acting for change, act with courage and urgency. This city is killing its citizens, and that is no dramatization.


UB Post, November 19th, 2013
Luxury apartment sales increases in Ulaanbaatar.

UB Post, November 19th, 2013
Mayor promotes electric cars to reduce air pollution.

UB Post, October 8th, 2013
Poison air pollutes the city.

UB Post, October 1st, 2013
UB and JICA launch second phase of air pollution control project.

UB Post, September 15th, 2013
Citizens of the city facing lung damage.

Mongolia News, June 12th, 2013
Modun Resources wins preferred coal briquettes supplier to Mongolian Govt.

UB Post, April 30th, 2013
Inspections measure car exhaust emissions.

Huffington Post, December 12th, 2012
Postcards From the Second Most Air Polluted City in the World.

TUNZA Eco Generation, November 27th, 2012
Face to air pollution of Ulaanbaatar.

Mongolia News, November 25th, 2012
Air Pollution Killing Ulaanbaatar's Residents.

Mongolia News, November 16th, 2012
Philippine company makes air-cleansing device in Ulaanbaatar.

UB Post, November 9th, 2012
Another Winter Looms and So Does the Smog.

UB Post, November 9th, 2012
National Committee for Reducing Air Pollution Convenes.

20% of the Lung Cancer Cases are Due to Air Pollution in Hyderabad, India

Around 20% of lung cancer patients who eventually die in the city are exposed to high levels of air pollution, city doctors said, weeks after the WHO classified pollution as carcinogenic to humans and leading to lakhs of deaths globally. The air in Hyderabad is dangerously laced with carcinogenic agent benzene and ozone and their levels shoot up dangerously in summer months, says the Central Pollution Control Board.

Link to the article in Times of India.

Real time air quality data from the continuous monitoring station located at APPCB in Hyderabad, India

At the Chest Hospital, at least 25 new cases of lung cancer are reported every month, while individual oncologists in the city receive up to 10 cases on an average.

"Rising pollution is related to rising incidence of lung cancer. After Delhi, Hyderabad has reached a stage, where harmful substances in the air are recorded much above normal levels at most of the junctions," said Dr P N S Reddy, a top pulmonologist with Yashoda Hospital and former superintendent at the Chest Hospital.

Majority of these patients report late to specialists and the delayed diagnosis enormously shoots up the mortality rate among patients with the cure rate at a dismal 10%.

Particulate Pollution Source Apportionment in Hyderabad, India

"We all the time used to say air pollution is the contributory factor for lung cancer, but the WHO's revelation shows that a lot is at stake," said Dr Praveen Saxena, an expert in environment medicine.
Experts attribute the rise in lung cancer among non-smokers to diesel smoke, which is the main pollutant in the city, with disastrous health consequences .

They say diesel smoke is so dangerous that the changes can either result in cancer or can get carried on to the next generation.

Source Emissions and Health Impacts of Urban Air Pollution in Hyderabad, India

"The particulate matter of diesel has got mutation changes capacity. It can cause changes in the DNA and RNA and also cause changes in the cell metabolism," said pulmonologist Dr Vyaykarnam Nageshwar.

Autorickshaws are the major contributors to the harmful diesel exhausts, he added. The other causes of air pollution are power generation, industrial or agricultural emissions and residential heating and cooking. Experts also say that people who have air condition in cars feel they have avoided the toxic effluents but not really.

"You need to pull down your glass after you cross the polluted area to allow proper cross ventilation. When the glass is not pulled down, there is some amount of pollution in the car itself," said Dr Nageshwar .

Lung cancer statistics are startling with 80,000 new lung cancer cases detected in India every year, of which around 90% die.

Andhra Pradesh Pollution Control Board

"The problem is majority of the lung cancer cases are automatically assumed to be tuberculosis. By the time we figure out it is lung cancer we lose a lot of valuable time. If detected early, it can be cured," says Dr Saikrishna Yendamuri , head thoracic surgery at the Citizen's Hospital . Deteriorating air quality can be disastrous for children, experts say. By adopting simple measures such as wearing face masks and full helmets, the effects of vehicular pollution can be reduced to a certain extent, he suggests.

GoSUN - Solar Cooker (Video)

Link to the website with more information

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Shanghai - A City Lost in Smog (December, 2013)

Thick smog swallows the city’s tallest buildings. The visibility and air quality is so bad that the city has notched record pollutions levels.

The AirNOW-International program piloted one project in Shanghai to run the state-of-the-art state-of-the-art air quality notification and forecasting system as a collaborative project between the U.S. EPA and the Shanghai Environmental Protection Bureau (SEPB) and its Monitoring Center (SEMC).

Real-time air quality and air quality index in Shanghai

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Shanghai Environmental Monitoring Center

Air Quality Monitoring Station - US Consulate, Shanghai

(link to the Photo Journal on CNN Money)

Home to more than 20 million people, the city of Shanghai has been blanketed by a thick layer of smog for days. Reduced visibility has resulted in hundreds of canceled flights, and health worries have prompted schools to close. A change in weather patterns is causing conditions to improve, but air in the city is still classified as unhealthy for sensitive groups. 

At its worst, the city's air quality index topped 500. The U.S. categorizes any reading over 300 as "hazardous." It is notoriously difficult to get accurate pollution readings in China. When severe smog hits Beijing, residents rely on the U.S. Embassy's own readings published via social media.

China's leaders face growing pressure to clean up the air as record pollution levels choke the nation. It's not just the air -- anger has swelled in the world's most populous country over contaminated food and water. Environmental standards were once low on Beijing's priority list, and often overshadowed by efforts to boost economic growth. Now there are signs the government is shifting its focus as more and more Chinese insist on a healthier environment. An ambitious blueprint for economic and social reform unveiled last month, for example, included measures to tackle pollution.

China's central government announced a fresh round of environmental targets in September. The new blueprint sets a nationwide goal to cut the concentration of harmful particles in the air by at least 10% over the next four years, compared to 2012 levels. The targets are even more ambitious in heavily polluted regions. In northern China -- including Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei -- the goal is to cut the level of particles by 25%, while in Shanghai and the Yangtze River Delta the target is 20%.

A recent study found that severe pollution has slashed an average of five and half years from life expectancy in northern China. The researchers made this determination by comparing the health of northern Chinese to citizens living south of the Huai River. For decades, free winter heating was provided to areas north of the river, while no such luxury was extended in the south due to budgetary restraints. The free heating was powered by coal boilers, which resulted in significantly higher levels of pollution.

Until this wave of pollution hit, there was a perception that Shanghai was better equipped to handle dirty air than Beijing. The ramifications could be major -- and even effect the development of the Shanghai Free Trade Zone, an experimental commerce area that is seeking to attract foreign firms.