Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Beijing's Dirty Air Staying Around Longer

Beijing Choking on 'Hazardous' Air

Beijing's air pollution index has been over 300 for the past five days and its air quality continues to deteriorate. The WSJ's Deborah Kan speaks with WSJ Reporter Wayne Ma about why Beijing is seeing longer-lasting hazardous air.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

India Should Swtich to Bharat-V, Nation-wide, Soon, for Better Air Quality

"One Nation - One Fuel"

Article published in the journal of Energy Policy
"Re-fueling road transport for better air quality in India"

Road transport in India plays a vital role in our growing economy. Given an aggressive vehicle sales outlook through 2030, in order to maintain a balance between the energy demand, growing on-road emissions, and overall air quality in the cities, there is a need to implement and enforce Bharat-5 standards (equivalent of Euro-V) nationwide by 2015. Any delay in its implementation or even staggered implementation of the standards will result in a delayed response for improving air quality in the Indian cities.

Link to the press release in Hindustan Times

Political Ignorance in India - Union Health Minister Delinks Illness from Air Pollution

Union health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad has claimed that there is "no conclusive information" available with Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) regarding high prevalence of respiratory or other diseases caused by air pollution.

Link to the article in Times of India

Azad was replying to a question in Parliament on February 18. However, a large-scale study sponsored by CPCB and conducted by Kolkata's Chittaranjan National Cancer Institute indicated that air pollution compromised lung function of children in Delhi.

How Bad is the Outdoor Air Quality in India?

"Clearly, this official denial of mounting evidence, both locally and globally, is holding up action against air pollution in the country and aggravating public health risk," said Anumita Roychowdhury of Centre for Science an Environment (CSE). Roychowdhury quoted Global Burden of Disease (GBD) 2013 report which estimated that 6,20,000 premature deaths occur in India from air pollution-related diseases each year. This is six-fold increase from 1,00,000 deaths in 2000. In 2013, World Health Organization classified outdoor air pollution to be carcinogenic.

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

Pulmonologists and chest medicine experts were shocked at the minister's comments. According to Dr Arup Kumar Basu, chairperson of department of chest medicine at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, there are umpteen studies that correlate respiratory illnesses with air pollution.

"There are very eloquent studies done in Bangalore that have compared OPD visits for respiratory problems with the increase in automobile registrations. It has exponential curve. There is a clear relationship between childhood asthma and high levels of sulphur dioxide, oxides of nitrogen and suspended particulate matter (SPM) from diesel vehicles," said Basu. SPM levels more than 10 PPM, for instance, are linked to conditions of the upper airways.

India's Air Pollution Woes (The World Bank)

Basu noticed respiratory illnesses increase during winter when the air is calm and SPM levels are high near the ground level. "The hot air in summer is like a honeymoon period for patients in Delhi because they gradually recover. But in winter, ICU admissions go up. I think the minister can say what he thinks but there is not much doubt that these illnesses are increasing because of air pollution," he stated.

The minister also said in his reply that Central Bureau of Health Intelligence (CBHI) has no information on the number of cases and deaths due to air pollution in India. As for action to deal with air pollution-related diseases he said, "The government is implementing National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) for prevention and control of various diseases."

Experts like Sarath Guttikunda, director, urbanemissions.info said he wouldn't take the minister's comment seriously. "There are plenty of studies both international and Indian that suggest that respiratory illnesses because of air pollution are increasing. Impact of air pollution in the form of respiratory illnesses, cardiac conditions on pregnant women and children is well documented. In the late 2000's for instance Public Health and Air Pollution in Asia (PAPA) program conducted studies on impact of air pollution in Delhi and Chennai," he said.

Shreekant Gupta, an academic also said that there is inconvertible evidence that air pollution impacts health. "CPCB's own data shows PM 2.5 (fine, respirable particles) to be way higher than the safe standard for breathing," he said.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

50 Children Treated Every Day for Respiratory Diseases in Delhi

Almost all agree that the number of children who need medical attention as a direct result of the Capital’s polluted air is three times as much in the last decade. No less than three thousand children and infants die every year in Delhi because of pollution.

Link to the article on Mail India Today.

“ The worsening air pollution in the Capital has become the primary killer of infants and is slowing poisoning them with every passing day. Not only is the toxic air responsible for the various respiratory diseases that infants are developing, but it is also shortening their life span. The gains of the introduction of CNG in 2000 have been lost. We are heading for dark days if policy- makers fail to wake up to the growing environmental health hazard. The new Euro- IV technology, which is the latest we have for cars, is still 10 years behind the technology being used in the US and Europe,” CSE Executive Director Anumita Roychowdhury told Mail Today. Recent air quality studies conducted by the Centre of Science and Environment (CSE) have said Delhi is the most polluted city in the world.

Real time air quality and air quality index in Delhi

“ We have encountered a faceless enemy, but it is as dangerous and lethal as it gets. Pollutants like PM10, PM2.5, SO2 and NO2 mixed with smog and other dust particles have increased by over 300 per cent in a decade, and are destroying Delhi’s atmosphere. Children are the most vulnerable, especially infants under the age of two,” said veteran pediatrician and Nephron Clinics Chairman Sanjeev Bagai. He treats about 50 infants every day for respiratory diseases and conditions directly attributable to air pollution. The lowest figure of daily infant patients quoted by a range of doctors Mail Today contacted was 25.

Prof. Randeep Guleria, head of the Department of Pulmonary Medicine at AIIMS, said Delhiites are facing breathing problems they never had and say their problem is now prolonged.

“ Patients who have an underlined chronic respiratory disease like asthma and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) are now experiencing a worsening of their respiratory status with coughing, breathlessness,” Guleria said. According to the Delhi Pollution Control Committee, Delhi’s concentration of particulate matters exceeds national standards as well as WHO guidelines.

Most of these doctors feel quite helpless. “ In the last decade, from about 10 cases a day the number has increased to over 25, especially in the age group of under two years, most of whom have bronchial and respiratory disorders,” said Dr Naresh Bhatia, consultant pediatrician at Max Hospitals.

Dr Bagai said that the inordinate amount of time he must devote to children with respiratory trouble has begun to take a toll on the time he can give to others.

As per the CSE, the most widely monitored pollutants in India are particulate matter (PM), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), sulphur dioxide (SO2), and, on a limited scale, carbon monoxide. Particulate matter has gone up by 75 per cent in the last five years, CSE has said. The monitoring station at R. K. Puram recorded 985 micrograms per cubic metre on December 16– the highest ever recorded. Winter is when cold air above the city’s lower warm layers keeps it all in like a giant lid, reducing the city into one big pollution zone.

“ The ever- increasing numbers of diesel- guzzling passenger cars and trucks plying unregulated on the city's roads are largely to blame for the situation. As I had earlier told Mail Today that conventional pollution is not just confined to heavy traffic. Fuel pumps also contribute significantly to the toxicity. The evaporative emissions at these pumps release a large amount of pollutants in the atmosphere. None of the pumps have a mechanism called the Vapour Recovery System (VRS) like in Western countries.

If we have to survive in a healthy atmosphere, VRS have to be installed immediately,” Anumita added.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Air Pollution News & Alerts - February 20th, 2014

Yale News, February 20th, 2014
Petition would regulate wood smoke.

The Hill, February 20th, 2014
Doctors push for curbs on traffic pollution.

Bloomberg, February 20th, 2014
Beijing Pollution Alert Issued for Three Days of Smog.

Prague Daily, February 20th, 2014
Sahara dust falls with rain in some places in CzechRep.

Voice of America, February 20th, 2014
India's Air Pollution Triggers Comparisons with China.

Pune Mirror, February 20th, 2014
Black carbon cloud hangs over city.

The Guardian, Februrary 20th, 2014
Air pollution: how big a problem is it for cyclists?

The Guardian, February 20th, 2014
Air pollution: European commission launches legal action against the UK.

NRDC Switchboard, February 19th, 2014
The Solution to Mexico's Air Pollution Problem could serve as a Model for North American Leaders as they meet to Discuss Trade Negotiations.

China Car Times, February 19th, 2014
Nobody Cares About EV’s in Beijing.

Mail Online India, February 19th, 2014
QUANTUM LEAP: Price cuts for SUVs spell doom for India's air pollution.

Business Standard, February 19th, 2014
Int'l agency GIZ to launch pilot project in logistics space.

The Guardian, February 18th, 2014
Climate trends demand better response to drought.

The Guardian, February 18th, 2014
Obama rolls out plan to tighten fuel efficiency standards for large trucks.

NY Times, February 17th, 2014
Financier Plans Big Ad Campaign on Environment.

Inhabitat, February 17th, 2014
Obama Blames Global Warming for California Drought, Pledges $183 Million in Aid.

Yale 360, February 17th, 2014
Five Questions for Elizabeth Kolbert On Facing Up to the Sixth Extinction.

China Daily, February 17th, 2014
China outlines strategy for energy sector.

China Daily, February 17th, 2014
Govt aims to get larger fleet of alternative-fuel vehicles on road.

Asian Correspondent, February 17th, 2014
China: Transparency, incentives are first steps in combating air pollution.

South China Morning Post, February 17th, 2014
Hong Kong’s air quality to ‘drastically improve’ within five years.

Wall Street Journal, February 16th, 2014
How Crop Burning Affects Delhi’s Air Pollution.

The Atlantic Cities, February 16th, 2014
How Vancouver's Olympic Legacy Is Shaping the Future of Transit.

The Atlantic Cities, February 16th, 2014
How Vancouver's Olympic Legacy Is Shaping the Future of Transit.

Simple Climate February 15th, 2014
Is our weird weather linked to climate change? Oddly, sport can show us the score.

The Guardian, February 14th, 2014
Climate change is here now and it could lead to global conflict.

NPR, Feburary 14th, 2014
Massive Volcanic Eruption In Indonesia Blankets Region In Ash.

NPR, February 14th, 2014
Got Road Salt? Cities Across The Country Are Running Out Of It.

The Guardian, February 14th, 2014
Students call on universities to reduce investments in fossil fuels.

Bloomberg, February 14th, 2014
Air Pollution Spikes in New Delhi.

The World, February 14th, 2014
Signs and Wonders: Beijing ‘barely suitable’ for life.

The New York Times, February 14th, 2014
India’s Air Pollution Emergency.

Christian Science Monitor, February 13th, 2014
Electric cars: China exends EV subsidies beyond 2015.

Sciene Daily, February 13th, 2014
Air pollution increases risk for hypertension in pregnant women.

Global Times, February 13th, 2014
Claims Beijing uninhabitable ‘exaggerated’.

Science Daily, February 13th, 2014
America's natural gas system is leaking methane and in need of a fix.

NY Times, February 13th, 2014
China to Reward Cities and Regions Making Progress on Air Pollution.

Times of India, February 13th, 2014
Green tribunal notices to Maharashtra, ministry for environment and forest on 132 power plants in Vidarbha.

The Guardian, February 12th, 2014
China to set up $1.65bn fund to tackle air pollution.

Vancouver Sun, February 12th, 2014
Opinion: What are health risks of expanded coal exports?

The City Fix, February 12th, 2014
Bogotá’s car-free week shows the viability of bicycle transport.

Xinhua Net, February 12th, 2014
Beijing to shut down 300 polluting factories.

Science Daily, February 12th, 2014
Algae research gives hope for renewable carbon-negative source of food, medicines.

The Daily Progress, February 11th, 2014
Pollution sweeping in South Asia.

Science Daily, February 11th, 2014
Are wind farms changing Europe's climate?

Indian Express, February 11th, 2014
Tax hike for car owners: SC seeks govt response.

The Outlook, February 10th, 2014
Pollution: delhi - Smokescreen City.

Climate Progress, February 10th, 2014
Coal Dust Pollution, Dirty White Pants, And Coverups: The Consequences Of Exporting Coal.

New York Times, February 10th, 2014
India's Particulate Problem.

The City Fix, February 10th, 2014
Understanding the “t” in bus rapid transit oriented development.

Brookings Institute, February 9th, 2014
India's Particulate Problem.

ABC News, February 9th, 2014
New Delhi urged to rethink traffic limits after study suggests smog 'worse than Beijing's'.

Bloomberg News, February 9th, 2014
China Reduces Electric Car Subsidy Cuts in Air Quality Campaign.

NPR, Feburuary 9th, 2014
Oil, Gas Drilling Seems To Make The Earth Slip And Go Boom.

IBNLive, February 9th, 2014
Delhi beats Beijing as the world's most polluted city.

MyDesert.Com, February 8th, 2014
Despite L.A. smog, our air quality's improving.

ABC News, February 8th, 2014
Delhi smog capital of the world.

The Economist, February 8th, 2014
China’s environment - A small breath of fresh air.

The Guardian, February 7th, 2014
Europe's 40% emissions cuts target has set the course for a low-carbon future.

The Guardian, February 7th, 2014
Google Earth: how much has global warming raised temperatures near you?

Global Times, February 7th, 2014
Smoggy city cuts coal.

China Dialogue, February 7th, 2014
San Francisco's 40-year battle against air pollution.

Global Times, February 7th, 2014
Severe weather causes holiday migration chaos.

Japan Times, February 7th, 2014
Hazardous’ air pollution in New Delhi now seen to rival Beijing’s.

China Daily, February 7th, 2014
China’s environment: A small breath of fresh air.

RTCC, February 7th, 2014
Beijing firework sales slump 38% as air pollution concerns grow.

Daily Star, February 7th, 2014
Brick kilns, old vehicles major polluters in Dhaka.

Financial Express, February 6th, 2014
Pollution: Delhi, Beijing both in most-polluted list, but who is on the up?

NRDC Switchboard, February 6th, 2014
How Can India Defeat its Debilitating Smog?

Renewable Energy February 6th, 2014
Biomass Outlook 2014: Is Biomass About To Go Bang?

Steel Guru, February 6th, 2014
L&T Power supercritical plant starts commercial operations.

The Energy Report, February 6th, 2014
Fight China's Smog with Ethanol.

Science Daily, February 6th, 2014
Best weather forecasting models evaluated: Which one best predicted September 2013 Colorado floods?

The Hindu, February 6th, 2014
Diesel cars have negated CNG gains.

India Today, February 6th, 2014
Delhi morning walkers inhale killer benzene and carbon monoxide.

Times of India, February 6th, 2014
Delhi needs policy for air pollution.

eNEWS, February 6th, 2014
NRDC Experts: EPA Carbon Pollution Limits for New Power Plants Workable, Popular and Would Address Climate Change.

Bloomberg, February 6th, 2014
Haze Over Cities Is a Problem Bigger Than China.

Global Times, February 6th, 2014
Beijing fireworks, firecracker sales fall.

Live Mint, February 6th, 2014
The polluted heart of the particulate matter.

Daily Reporter, February 5th, 2014
Bad pollution plagues both New Delhi and Beijing, but which city is taking steps to tackle?

Korean Times, February 5th, 2014
Nationwide fine dust forecast to be available in South Korea.

NPR, Feburary 5th, 2014
More Than 80,000 Tons Of Coal Ash Flow Into N.C. River.

Science Daily, February 5th, 2014
Environmental impacts of the financial crisis evident.

The City Fix, February 5th, 2014
From traffic flow to pedestrian access: Shifting Mumbai’s parking policy.

 Los Angeles Times, February 4th, 2014
What's in Beijing smog? 1,300 microbe species.

Wall Street Journal, February 4th, 2014
In Pollution Battle, Seoul Targets BBQs, Spas.

Hindustan Times, February 4th, 2014
Your house is a major source of pollution.

Atlantic Cities, February 4th, 2014
9 Reasons the U.S. Ended Up So Much More Car-Dependent Than Europe.

Energy Central, February 3rd, 2014
Toshiba Subsidiary Wins Contract for Major Coal-Fired Power Generation Project in the Philippines.

Japan Times, February 1st, 2014
Air pollution in Asia intensifies cyclones.

Bakerfield Californian, January 31st, 2014
Air quality: Where do we go from here?

BBC, January 31st, 2014
'Delhi pollution higher than Beijing' report denied.

Hindustam Times, January 31st, 2014
Breathing hard in Delhi’s winter.

Phys.Org, January 31st, 2014
Tracking air pollution aids policy makers.

The Guardian, January 31st, 2014
Air of revolution: how activists and social media scrutinise city pollution.

CNN, January 31st, 2014
And the world's most polluted city is .... Delhi !

Hindustan Times, January 31st, 2014
Breathing hard in Delhi’s winter.

Sourcable, January 31st, 2014
Smog Spurs Demand for Environmental Engineers in China.

Yale Environment 360, January 30th, 2014
NASA Animation Shows Relentless Pace of Warming Since 1950.

South Africa, January 30th, 2014
South Africa demonstrates algae-to-energy technology.

Indian Express, January 30th, 2014
Particle alarm from city to city.

The Himalayan, January 30th, 2014
New Delhi denies pollution worse than in Beijing.

Hindustan Times, January 30th, 2014
Pollution control plan in limbo as Delhi gasps for breath.

Times of India, January 30th, 2014
Devil in the air: Pollution levels head north in Kochi.

Times of India, January 30th, 2014
India’s air quality among five worst.

IBN Live, January 30th, 2014
Delhi: NGT asks DPCC to check if DMRC took steps to reduce pollution.

UBC, January 30th, 2014
Air pollution and asthma.

Counter Punch, January 30th, 2014
India’s Coal Inferno.

India Outlook, January 29th, 2014
Delhi Beats Beijing in Air Pollution.

Khaleej Times, January 29th, 2014
Delhi is world's most polluted city.

Science Codex, January 29th, 2014
Cooperative SO2 and NOx aerosol formation in haze pollution.

Hindustan Times, January 29th, 2014
Delhi world’s most polluted city.

The Telegraph, January 29th, 2014
India’s air worst in the world - China acts faster than neighbour.

Natural News, January 28th, 2014
Beijing air pollution reaches crisis levels; can China survive its toxic environment?

MIT News, January 28th, 2014
Global black carbon emissions double previous estimates.

Climate Progress, January 28th, 2014
Black Carbon Pollution Is Two To Three Times Worse In India And China Than Previously Thought.

Power Technology, January 28th, 2014
World Bank head calls for fossil fuel divestment to combat climate change.

Dhaka Tribune, January 27th, 2014
New power plants to go green, cut costs.

Next Future, January 26th, 2014
More details about Skyscraper water spraying to mitigate air pollution.

Power Engineering, January 24th, 2014
Natural gas prices to slow nuclear development; 60 GW of coal to close.

The Hill, January 23rd, 2014
Obama: Fossil fuels are here to stay, so let's clean them up.

Xinhua Net, January 21st, 2014
China cracks down on solid waste smuggling.

China Daily, January 21st, 2014
Smog a "two sessions" concern for China's provinces.

Global Times, January 20th, 2014
Beijing law sets stiff targets for PM2.5 levels.

Power Engineering, January 16th, 2014
FutureGen clean coal power plant receives final approval.

Global Times, January 5th, 2014
Vanished into thin air.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

9 Reasons the U.S. Ended Up So Much More Car-Dependent Than Europe

In 2010, Americans drove for 85 percent of their daily trips, compared to car trip shares of 50 to 65 percent in Europe. Longer trip distances only partially explain the difference. Roughly 30 percent of daily trips are shorter than a mile on either side of the Atlantic. But of those under one-mile trips, Americans drove almost 70 percent of the time, while Europeans made 70 percent of their short trips by bicycle, foot, or public transportation.

Link to the article in Atlantic Cities

Mass Motorization

Mass motorization occurred earlier in the United States than in Europe, mainly facilitated by assembly line production that brought down cost. By the mid-1930s there was already one registered automobile for every two U.S. households, while car ownership in Europe was mostly limited to wealthy elites. Moreover, greater personal wealth in the U.S. allowed households to more readily afford cars than comparatively poorer European households, particularly in the years immediately after World War II.

Road Standards 

As a result of early mass motorization, American cities were first to adapt to the car at a large scale. U.S. planners and engineers developed initial standards for roadways, bridges, tunnels, intersections, traffic signals, freeways, and car parking. Successful innovations quickly spread elsewhere, often in the form of standards. Europeans also experimented with automobile infrastructure—Stockholm opened a large inner city clover-leaf interchange in the 1930s—but European cities adapted to cars much more slowly than U.S. metros did, especially before World War II.

Vehicle Taxes 

Taxation of car ownership and use has traditionally been higher in Europe and helped curb car travel demand. Today a gallon of gasoline is more than twice as expensive in Europe than in the United States. Moreover, in Europe gas tax revenue typically contributes to the general fund, meaning roadway expenditures compete with other government expenditures. In many U.S. states and at the federal level, large parts of the gas tax revenue are earmarked for roadway construction, assuring a steady flow of non-competitive funds for roads.

Interstate System

In the 1950s, the U.S. federal government offered a 90 percent match to build the Interstate Highway System that soon crisscrossed most U.S. urban areas. Combined with urban renewal and slum clearance programs, interstates destroyed and cut-off entire urban neighborhoods and facilitated suburban sprawl (itself subsidized through mortgage policies). European national governments also provided subsidies for roadways, but typically at a lower level or for shorter periods of time. Moreover, European highways, such as Germany’s high speed Autobahn system, typically link cities rather than penetrate them.

Government Subsidies

Over the last 40 years, gas taxes, tolls, and registration fees have covered only about 60 or 70 percent of roadway expenditures across all levels of U.S. government. The remainder has been paid using property, income, and other taxes not related to transportation. These subsidies for driving reduce its cost and increase driving demand in the United States. In European countries, meanwhile, drivers typically pay more in taxes and fees than governments spend on roadways.

Technological Focus

Policy responses to problems of U.S. car travel have focused on technological changes rather than altering behavior. For example, responses to air pollution or traffic safety consisted of technological fixes — such as catalytic converters, reformulated cleaner fuels, seat belts, and air bags — that let people keep driving as usual. European countries implemented these technological requirements as well, but also more aggressively reduced speed limits in entire neighborhoods, created car free zones, reduced car parking, and implemented other policies that encourage behavioral shifts.

Public Transit

Sustained government support helped European transit systems to weather the rise of the car more successfully. Particularly after World War II, privately owned U.S. transit systems increased fares, cut services, lost ridership, and either went out of business or were saved by public ownership — with help from U.S. governments often coming too late. For instance, many cities saw their trolley systems disappear entirely in the 1950s and '60s, though there has been a streetcar reemergence of late.

Walking and Cycling

Only a few U.S. cities, such as Davis, California, have a tradition of implementing pedestrian and bicyclist amenities since the 1970s. By contrast, many European cities, led by Muenster, Amsterdam, and Copenhagen, have implemented entire networks of bike lanes, separated cycle tracks, off-street bicycle paths, and traffic calmed neighborhood streets — allowing easy travel by bicycle between any origin and destination in a city or region. European cities also have a longer history of providing networks of sidewalks, crosswalks, and car free zones in city centers. Additionally, European traffic laws protect pedestrians and cyclists, often putting the responsibility for a crash on the driver, while U.S. traffic laws, police, and court juries often fail to prosecute or punish drivers who kill pedestrians or cyclists.

Zoning Laws

There are many differences between land-use planning systems in the United States and Europe. Europeans tend to allow a greater mix of uses in their residential zones, thus keeping trip distances shorter. For example, in Germany, a residential zone can include doctors' offices, cafes, corner stores, or apartment buildings. By contrast, single family residential zones in the United States typically forbid those uses. Zoning in Germany also occurs for smaller land areas—almost at the block level—facilitating shorter trips than in U.S. cities, where zones tend to be much larger. And while most U.S. zoning codes still require a minimum number of parking spots, many European countries operate with maximum numbers to limit parking.

Transparency and Incentives Are First Steps in Combating Air Pollution

Pollution in China has reached levels that make it no longer possible to ignore. The Chinese government must face up to the fact that rapid economic growth, coupled with high levels of industrialization, is making some areas unliveable.

Organizing Life Around PM2.5 Went Mainstream

Link to the article on Asian Correspondent.

Air Pollution in Beijing - By Numbers

According to a recent report by the Beijing’s Social Science Academic Press and the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, out of 40 major international cities, China’s capital was the second worst place to live. Beijing scored low mainly due to poor environmental conditions, only losing out to Moscow because of the Russian capital’s high cost of living, security issues and pollution. 

500 Barbecue Grills Seized and Destroyed for Better Air Quality in Beijing

From the Guardian:
Beijing was hit by severe levels of pollution at least once every week, according to the 2012 Blue Paper for World Cities report. That was on top of a significant level of air pollution covering the capital for 189 days in 2013, according to the city’s Environmental Protection Bureau.

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

Though not exactly known for its candid self criticism, China’s government seems to be accepting the fact that it must take steps to earn the trust of the Chinese people, particularly when it comes to the hot-button issue of pollution. It’s even causing some key drivers of the Chinese economy to leave the country. A recent report by the Social Sciences Academic Press, entitled the Global Talent Blue Book: Chinese International Migration 2014, found that 70% of the country’s emigrants considered the environment and health concerns major reasons for leaving. The report also highlighted a growing trend that may eventually lead to reverse urbanization — people migrating to smaller cities in search of a healthier environment.

Who's More Toxic - China or India?

As an answer to appeals from environmental groups, China’s government recently released unprecedented amounts of information regarding the country’s pollution — a move that cannot be overestimated in light of previous policies. Furthermore, last week the government announced a monetary reward scheme, which encourages cities and regions to control air pollution. A total of $1.65bn US will be set aside to reward places that make significant progress in efforts towards clean air.

1 Million Lung Cancer Patients in China by 2025

From the New York Times:
The announcement of the financial incentives revealed how difficult it has been for some leaders in Beijing to get many Chinese companies and government officials to comply with environmental regulations. Though central officials have been saying with growing vigor that pollution of all kinds must be curbed, their efforts to force other parts of the bureaucracy and the state-run economy to obey rules have been stymied by the self-interest of some groups.

Environmental Immigrants - Urbanites Flee China’s Smog for Blue Skies (NYT)

At a cabinet meeting last week Premier Li Keqiang claimed that the country’s air pollution had accumulated over a long period of time so there would be no quick fixes.
Yet some forms of air pollution have a sudden onset and can be avoided. Take the example of the pollution from fireworks that accompanied the recent Lantern Festival. Particulate matter spiked dangerously in some cities due to a combination of heavy firework use and unfavorable weather conditions. It then reportedly eased after two days.

257,000 Premature Deaths Annually due to the Air Pollution from the Coal-Fired Power Plants in China

Is pollution forcing China towards a breaking point, where it will radically change its policy and behavior regarding environmental issues? The environmental and human health consequences of China’s headlong development have already been so catastrophic that one wonders how much worse things could get.

Really, A Giant Vacuum Cleaner to Suck Pollution?

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Air Quality Data for Indian Cities is Hard to Come by !!

In fact, very hard - websites do not work, only hard copies of averages which are at least two years old are available only at the centers, and usually no response to most of the data requests by phone, email, or letter :-(


Here is an article in Times of India

Yale University issued a statement on Thursday clarifying that they don't compare air quality in major cities as part of the annual Environment Performance Index (EPI). The index ranks countries on the basis of environmental parameters. However, the university also suggested that there was no reliable data from India which could help them analyze city-specific trends and that is why they had to rely on satellite data.

"We found the air quality data available for India to be limited, inconsistent and difficult to access. Data for half of the monitoring stations in Delhi was unavailable when we checked CPCB on Wednesday. While we could find evidence of some data for PM2.5, it required specialized knowledge of what to look for and multiple layers of searches. Moreover, we could find little to no information with respect to how the government regularly (if they do at all) communicates air pollution information to the public, such as via an Air Quality Index, which is used by the United States and major cities in China with a mandate for national implementation by 2016," Angel Hsu, lead author of EPI, told TOI.

How bad is Outdoor Air Quality in India?

China started releasing hourly and 24-hour data for PM2.5 in 113 major cities at the end of 2013, with an eventual goal of increasing the number of monitoring sites to 1,500 in all prefecture-level cities by 2015. "There is no substitute for reliable, timely, local-level air quality measurements. It is precisely the absence of global network of such data that forces us to rely on satellite data," added Hsu.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Six Decades of Warming Earth

This color-coded map displays a progression of changing global surface temperatures anomalies from 1950 through 2013. The intensity of the yellow, orange, and red colors shows how much temperatures have increased compared to baseline temperature data collected from 1880 to the present. (Credit: NASA/GSFC, GISS).

This visualization shows the steady and rapid warming of the planet since the middle of the 20th century, with regions in the Arctic and Siberia warming as much as 2 to 4 degrees C (3.6 to 7. 2 degrees F) above a long-term average. READ MORE @ Yale 360