Sunday, September 27, 2009

Air Pollution Alerts - September 27th, 2009

News & Information; Every Sunday (Last on September 20, 2009)

Himal, October 2009
Beyond sun and dung.

OECD, September 27th, 2009
The Economics of Climate Change Mitigation: Policies and Options for Global Action Beyond 2012.

Sunday Observer (Sri Lanka), September 27th, 2009
Moving towards sustainable urbanism.

Guardian, September 27th, 2009
Dust storms spread deadly diseases worldwide.

Sindh Today, September 27th, 2009
An Australian campaigns to clean the Taj city.

Times of India, September 26th, 2009
Delhi limps behind in walkability index.

VOV News, September 26th, 2009
Paradox of Vietnam’s automobile sales.

China, September 26th, 2009
Memories of Chongqing in Cartoons.

Examiner, September 26th, 2009
Community riddled with industrial pollution, illness focus of new study.

Environment News Service, September 25th, 2009
G-20 Countries Will Phase Out Fossil Fuel Subsidies.

Business Standard, September 25th, 2009
Sunita Narain: Why authorise it?

Herald Tribune, September 25th, 2009
Pollution hits where they live.

BBC, September 25th, 2009
Africa's burning charcoal problem.

World Watch Institute, September 24th, 2009
OPINION: The New Case for Natural Gas.

TIME, September 24th, 2009
Is China Now the Climate Change Good Guy?

Times of India, September 24th, 2009
Mumbai dump gets Rs 26cr in carbon.

Gulf Breeze, September 24th, 2009
Reduce your home's air pollution and save energy.

Daily Telegraph, September 23rd, 2009
Sydney dust storm pollution record worst.

Guardian, September 23rd, 2009
Climate change is killing our people.

Guardian, September 23rd, 2009
China and India are leading the way.

Washington Post, September 23rd, 2009
Dust storm blankets Sydney as drought bites.

Live Mint, September 23rd, 2009
The full climate change tale.

Epoch Times, September 23rd, 2009
European Mobility Week Aims to Improve City Climates.

Bombay News, September 23rd, 2009
Living under a dusty black cloud near Raipur.

National Post, September 23rd, 2009
Emerging nations must cut emissions, Obama says.

Money Show, September 23rd, 2009
Cleaning Up in Asia.

NPR, September 23rd, 2009
Going Green: What Cities Can Teach The Country.

NPR, September 23rd, 2009
In India, Many Small Steps To Combat Big Problem.

CNN, September 22nd, 2009
Obama warns recession makes climate change fight harder.

The Business Times, Singapore, September 22nd, 2009
Bringing clean air into offices.

Wales Online, September 22nd, 2009
Invisible air pollution remains silent killer.

Ulaanbaatar Post, September 22nd, 2009
New Master Plan on Nature and Environment.

Science Daily, September 22nd, 2009
Ozone Layer Depletion Leveling Off, Satellite Data Show.

Houston News, September 22nd, 2009
Texas plan to reduce Houston smog may not be enough.

Science Daily, September 22nd, 2009
Current Total Greenhouse Gas Emissions Pledges Leave Climate Targets In The Red.

BBC, September 22nd, 2009
Climate change - where the centre leads.

Business Standard, September 22nd, 2009
Tea with BS: Jairam Ramesh.

NPR, September 22nd, 2009
Clock Is Ticking On Copenhagen Climate Treaty.

NPR, September 22nd, 2009
Rediscovering Natural Gas By Hitting Rock Bottom.

NPR, September 22nd, 2009
Obama: Action On Climate Change Needed.

NPR, September 21st, 2009
U.N. Climate Chief: China Poised To Take A Lead Role.

NPR, September 21st, 2009
Electric Cars Make Progress With New Batteries.

The Evening Standard, September 21st, 2009
Boris Johnson row with ministers over pollution ‘was covered up’ in London.

WBCSD, September 21st, 2009
Carbon emissions fall thanks to global downturn.

Deccan Chronicle, September 19th, 2009
No feet for city pedestrians.

Times of India, September 18th, 2009
India generates 150 million tonnes of waste per day.

Times of India, September 17th, 2009
24 critically polluted areas under scanner.

Indian Express, September 8th, 2009
PMPML bus plan hits roadblock as PMC, PCMC sit on JNNURM funds.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Frequently Asked Questions: (8) Local vs Global Pollution Nexus

While health effects drive most of the PM pollution concern, PM also affects regional and global atmospheric chemistry and the radiation balance. Aerosol particles scatter and absorb solar radiation, and also alter the formation of cloud droplets. These physical interactions change the earth’s radiation balance, affecting local and global temperatures and possibly precipitation.

The Aerosols (PM) and ozone that are usually considered only in the air quality domain, also affect climate change. The understanding of the impact of aerosols on the climate system and how to evaluate this impact for policy relevant issues is very low. Research continues to assess the effects of many different types of aerosols on climate under different conditions.

Also see a review - Black Carbon to the Rescue.

PM pollution can also impact visibility in urban centers. Mountains or buildings once inplain sight can suddenly be blocked from view. Air pollution that reduces visibility is often called haze or smog.

The term smog originally meant a mixture of smoke and fog in the air, but today it refers to any visible mixture of air pollution. The incidents of haze and smog in cities are increasing, which typically starts in cities and travels with the wind to appear in the more remote areas.

One consequence of smog over any given area is that it can change the area’s climate. Certain dark particles, such as carbon, absorb solar radiation and scatter sunlight, helping produce the characteristic haze that is filling the skies over the world’s megacities and reducing visibility.

See other FAQ's.

Frequently Asked Questions: (7) What is Particulate Dispersion Modeling?

The importance of the dispersion modeling, the effect of the long range transport of various pollutants along with their possible chemical transformation was briefly discussed earlier. Similar to the emissions inventory development, the dispersion modeling is also an intense exercise, which requires both computational power (nowadays, which is not a problem) and the data assimilation.

The modeling systems are plenty, with varying capacity and complexity. However, selection of the modeling system should be based on the objective of the program and institutional strength to absorb the analytical challenges.

See tools for air quality modeling and management.

The table below provides a general understanding of the types of the models available and the level of possible complexity with the handling of physical and chemical mechanisms.

See other FAQ's.

Frequently Asked Questions: (6) Is PM the Most Harmful?

There is no direct answer for this question.

The new research on the fine PM, ultrafine PM, and nano PM suggest that the impact of the PM particulates on human health is underestimated (e.g., HEI Studies). The complexity in pointing out a single source or a single pollutant is primarily due to the inter-independencies and the chemical mechanisms involved in the formation of the PM, which combines the properties of most of the criteria pollutants.

See SIM Series "Estimate Health Impacts of Air Pollution" for average dose response functions for mortality and morbidity.

While the dose response functions give an indication of the possible impacts of PM pollution, there is more, in terms of smog (visibility impacts), linkages to ozone pollution and agricultural yield, and impact of aerosols on climate change (and inherent impacts of local and global environment).

Also see
See other FAQ's.

Frequently Asked Questions: (5) Is Transport the Main Culprit of Air Pollution?

A common question with a difficult answer of “it depends”. Yes, the transport is growing rapidly in most of the developing country cities and the quotient its contribution to local and global air pollution problems is also increasing significantly. Yet, the answer lies in the mathematics of the points raised in the earlier questions.

On one side, the visibility of the growing sector creates an atmospheric cloud that multiples its contribution. Since the people are spending more time on the roads, because of traveling or due to sitting in a congestion zone, tend to experience the most and in such situations, the contribution of transport seem like the main culprit.

Yes, along the main corridors of the major cities, the contribution of the transport sector is the main culprit. However, city as a whole, it is important that a holistic picture and understanding of the sources (including the domestic and industrial) is established before a decision is made on the contribution (source apportionment).

For example, during the Olympics, the city of Beijing, did not achieve the reductions in the air pollution levels by cutting the vehicular fleet by half for the games period. They were able to achieve this reduction in conjunction with closing down a number of small and large industrial sites in the city.

Now, the long range transport plays a critical role. The transport emissions are ground based and tend to increase the local concentrations significantly. However, the industrial sector contributes farther distances. And for pollutants like sulfur dioxide, the transport quotient is even higher and this was also evident in Beijing during the games. A series of measures, based on the modeling studies, resulted in closing down of industries in the neighboring cities, to achieve the necessary air pollution reductions during the Olympic Games.

So, transport is an important culprit, but not necessarily the main culprit at all times.

Another example is Delhi. In 2001-02, while the bus fleet was being converted from diesel to CNG, a major intervention in the industrial sector was to relocate a significant number of smelters out of the city limits, which resulted in significant reductions. However, all the reduction are wiped out due to large increase in the car population; different story !!

See AQM in Delhi - Then, Now, and Next.
See Beijing to Delhi - Traffic problems highlighted
See Nano-carnomics in Urban India

See other FAQ's.

Frequently Asked Questions: (4) What is Particulate Source Apportionment?

By definition, this is the process of estimating the contribution of various sources to the pollution. It is important to keep in mind two concepts.

One method is via an emissions inventory. Once an emissions inventory is established, through a series of surveys, data collection, and multiplication of emission factors, for each of the sectors involved and for the indirect sources such as fugitive emissions, one could arrive at the proportions of contribution of each of the sectors to each of the pollutants.

Second method is via the ambient concentrations. Let’s assume the PM measured at various hot spots in the city, the samples are then analyzed for the chemical composition, which are then regressed through the profiles for various sources, to arrive at a series of numbers estimating the possible contribution of the known sources.

It is very IMPORTANT to understand that the two methods are different and the numbers they indicate are different, although they are talking about the same PM pollution.
  1. The emissions are not same as ambient concentrations.
  2. The contributions estimated from emissions need not be the same as the contributions estimated via the ambient measurements.
  3. The emissions inventory is usually for the whole of the city or the area of interest, while the later method represents more of the measurement area features.
The emissions undergo advection and chemical transformation, before they appear as a sample measured for the ambient concentrations.

The long range transport plays a key role in the advection scheme, as the tall sources (industries) tend to disperse farther than the roadside emissions and hence the difference in their signatures in the contribution calculations.

When discussing the emissions inventory, each of the pollutants is discussed separately (such as PM, SO2, NOx, CO, etc.) and it is important that the pollutants are NOT added to average the contribution – each of them have a role to play. Whereas, the contribution estimates from PM ambient sampling, is a combination of all the pollutants and sources – primary and secondary.

None the less, both the top-down (ambient) and bottom-up (emissions) methods are very important (and essential) to understand the strength of the sources and their potential to control.

If health impacts are the deciding factors, then the ambient contributions (from the second method discussed above or following the dispersion modeling of emissions) are the most important.

Also see
See other FAQ's.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Air Pollution Alerts - September 20th, 2009

News & Information; Every Sunday (Last on September 13, 2009)

Boston Review, September/October, 2009
Living with Coal.

Wall Street Journal, September 21st, 2009
Alternatives Are Simply Too Expensive.

New York Times, September 20th, 2009
New Gadgets and Demand for Energy.

The Week, September 20th, 2009
Luxury bus makers are set to cash in on the changing urban transportation landscape in India.

Tehelka, India, September 20th, 2009
The Price of Surreal Estate.

Guardian, September 20th, 2009
UN plans 'shock therapy' for world leaders on environment.

New York Times, September 19th, 2009
No Climate Change Leader as Nations Prepare to Meet.

Science Daily, September 18th, 2009
US Tax Breaks Subsidize Foreign Oil Production.

Guardian, September 18th, 2009
China's top climatologist stays cool over 2C rise.

Ulaanbaatar Post, September 18th, 2009
City Air.

Xinhua News, September 18th, 2009
Beijing's air quality best in decade.

Telegraph, September 18th, 2009
Climate change campaigners should not have fixated on carbon dioxide.

Earthweek, September 18th, 2009
Smoggy Hong Kong Means Economy Is Rebounding.

Scientific American, September 18th, 2009
How much in subsidies do fossil fuels get anyway?

China Dialogue, September 18th, 2009
No shared vision on climate change.

Terra Daily, September 18th, 2009
Car sales spike in Beijing, capital nears 4 million auto mark.

The Economist, September 17th, 2009
Developing countries and global warming - A bad climate for development.

Gov Monitor, September 17th, 2009
World Bank says Economic Growth in Africa depends on plan for climate change.

Environmental Protection, September 17th, 2009
Heinz Awards 1 Million for Environmental Achievements.

The ViewsPaper, September 17th, 2009
Dealing with Smoke Spewers.

Partnership for a Secure America, September 17th, 2009
Hazy Reasoning on Black Carbon.

Guardian, September 17th, 2009
China emissions: 'It says richer countries are more responsible'.

Guardian, September 16th, 2009
Copenhagen begins in Beijing. The world waits.

New York Times, September 16th, 2009
Following Trash and Recyclables on Their Journey.

Science Daily, September 16th, 2009
Changes In Earth's Ozone Layer Predicted To Increase UV Radiation In Tropics And Antarctica.

Science Daily, September 16th, 2009
Failure To Tackle Climate Change Spells A Global Health Catastrophe.

IAP News, September 16th, 2009
Quantification of carbon savings from improved biomass cookstove projects.

US EPA , September 16th, 2009
EPA Announces it Will Reconsider National Smog Standards.

AFP, September 16th, 2009
Week of meetings could make or break climate effort.

Wall Street Journal, September 16th, 2009
White House Unveils Plan to Curb Auto Emissions.

Scientific American, September 16th, 2009
Lack of U.S. Climate Change Legislation Will Delay Global Treaty Talks.

Wall Street Journal, September 16th, 2009
China Carbon Truths.

New York Times, September 15th, 2009
EPA to Limit Metal Discharges From Coal Plants.

Scientific American, September 15th, 2009
Pocket-Size Pollution Sensors Promise Big Improvement in Monitoring Personal Environment.

Reuters, September 15th, 2009
PetroChina to double gas supply to Beijing by 2015.

Times of India, September 15th, 2009
Bangladesh deploys army to control Dhaka traffic.

Grist, September 15th, 2009
Everything you always wanted to know about EPA greenhouse gas regulations.

NPR, September 15th, 2009
Can Solar Energy Pay Off Without Subsidies?

Scientific American, September 15th, 2009
Pocket-Size Pollution Sensors Promise Big Improvement in Monitoring Personal Environment.

Scientific American, September 14th, 2009
Climate Forecasts for All.

China Dialogue, September 14th, 2009
A bold plan for India.

Jaunted, September 14th, 2009
Visiting The Land of Brown Smoke and Basketball Lovers.

Times of India, September 14th, 2009
Union ministry frames service benchmark for public transport for JNNURM cities.

USA Today, September 14th, 2009
EPA to propose ways to cut car emissions.

Earth911, September 14th, 2009

Small Programs, Big Impacts.

Guardian, September 13th, 2009
Sustainable Cities are the Solution.

NPR, September 13th, 2009
Good For Acid Rain, But Can It Slow Climate Change?

Telegraph, September 12th, 2009
New 'hockey stick' graph on climate change under fire.

China Daily, September 8th, 2009
Pollution tax will not be levied.

New York Times, September 7th, 2009
Environmental Ideas Put in Print With Select Audiences in Mind.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Frequently Asked Questions: (3) What is Particulate Emissions Inventory?

This is one of the most important and difficult tasks, although the equation that derives the emissions inventory is quite straight forward; Emissions = Activity * Emission Factors; for the direct emissions.

The activity is in terms of the fuel consumed by various types and the emission factor is defined as the amount of pollutant released upon fuel combustion, which depends on the fuel quality, combustion technology, and pollution control efficiency. The level of uncertainty in the definition and the data available on these emission factors is high, but not an impossible task to better understand the same.

Ideally, any institution concerned about the PM pollution, is expected to have an emissions inventory, but due to inherent challenges in collecting the necessary data, disclosure issues with the industries or handling agencies, or lack of institutional and technical capability to handle the knowledge base, leads to an incomplete or inconsistent emissions inventory.

While a detailed emissions inventory covering all possible sources is desired, it is important that an effort is put in place to start the process of establishing the same, even if it means starting with averages, gross consumption levels, and borrowed factors.

Most often, the non-existence of an emissions inventory is primarily due to the lack of this first step and waiting to develop 100 percent capacity, before a preliminary estimate is made, delays the institutional capacity building aspect.

As much as it is important to establish a baseline, it is also important to acknowledge the uncertainty of the factors in use. If average numbers from similar experiments in a different city or nation are being used, that should be noted and when the local capacity is developed to study more, the factors should be corrected for the local numbers. This is a “learning while building” exercise and only by establishing a baseline with what is available that what is lacking and how to improve is better understood.

See other FAQ's.

Frequently Asked Questions: (2) What & Why to Monitor for Particulate Pollution?

PM is generally measured in terms of the mass concentration of particles within certain size classes:
  • Total suspended particulates (TSP, with aerodynamic diameter <~30 microns (μm)
  • PM10 (with an aerodynamic diameter of less than 10 μm, also referred to as coarse)
  • PM2.5 (with an aerodynamic diameter of less than 2.5 μm, also referred to as fine)
  • Ultrafine PM are those with a diameter of less than 0.1 micron
These size distinctions result because coarse and fine particles come from different sources or formation mechanisms, which lead to variation in composition and properties. The range of sizes also affects the atmospheric lifetime, spatial distribution, indoor-outdoor ratios, temporal variability, and health impacts of particles.

To date, most measurements are conducted for PM10 and most of the developing country cities still monitor PM10 as an indicator. Slowly, with the growing knowledge on the higher importance of PM2.5 and finer fractions on human health, the new regulations are prescribing a focus change and make the PM2.5 the new criteria indicator.

What to monitor is a tricky question. Depending on the purpose of the experiment, the monitoring equipment and the monitoring scales change. For example, for a regulatory body, it is important to know the ambient levels of criteria pollutants only, at various designated locations, along with some meteorological parameters. However, for a research body, it is important to measure more than the criteria pollutants, to better understand the chemical mechanisms leading up to the measured ambient levels and also to study the evolution of the pollution.

What to monitor also depends on the financial status of the city or concerned institution. It is important that as many monitoring stations are established as possible, to better map the city or the area of interest, for each of the pollutant in concern, and this is highly dependent on the local institutional capacity, not only from procuring it, but also to operate and maintain the same.

Since the PM pollution is of the concern for most of the growing cities, effort should be made to monitor the same. With the growing advances in technology, there is a wide array of monitors, in size, precision, and cost, available to the users, and an informed decision will help make the most of what is available.

See other FAQ's.

Frequently Asked Questions: (1) Primary vs Secondary Particulate Pollution?

PM pollution is a mix of primary and secondary sources.

By definition, primary pollution, is a direct emission source and forms a significant portion of the PM pollution, in the form of soot from the coal and diesel burning, also known as black carbon. A good portion of these emissions is also called organic carbon. Besides the carbon, the primary PM emissions also include metals in various forms. For example, the metals in coal, after combustion get vented through a chimney, along with a multitude of other pollutants.

Other primary pollutants include sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, volatile hydrocarbons, methane, carbon monoxide, and carbon dioxide.

The secondary pollution is due to chemical transformation of the primary emissions. In case of PM, the secondary components include sulfates from sulfur dioxide emissions, nitrates from nitrogen oxide emissions, and organic aerosols from hydrocarbon emissions. The path and the quantity of chemical transformationation depend not only on the strength of the pollutant emissions, but also on their mix. In an atmospheric chemical mechanism, the number of interlinkages can run as long as 300 equations (among the known studies).

Most of the secondary pollutants, sulfates, nitrates, and secondary organic aerosols, form part of the fine PM (PM2.5).

Other secondary pollutants include ozone.

A primary source, which is not a direct product of combustion activities, but dependent on the combustion activities, is re-suspension of the dust. Along the corridors, depending on the silt loading, the road dust is known problem. This emission, though a primary source, depends on the local conditions –vehicular activity, relative humidity in the air to support the re-suspension and the silt loading on the roads.

In a measured sample of PM, the secondary pollution is known to form a significant portion of the fine PM, which is a vital indicator for health impacts. Hence, any decision to control PM pollution needs to be a multi-pollutant strategy, in order to maximize the cost effectiveness of the measures.

See other FAQ's.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Lord Nick Stern Comparing China and the Western World

This article is from Wall Street Journal "Stern Truths: Some Parts of China Have Western-Style Emissions" and an interesting comment below.

When it comes to comparing countries’ greenhouse-gas emissions, lots of developing countries prefer to use per-capita emissions, rather than absolute emissions. That makes India and China look pretty tame, and countries such as the U.S. and Australia pretty awful.

Plenty of rich-country diplomats bristle at such talk, most recently Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in India. Today in Beijing, Nicholas Stern offered another reason why per-capita emissions might not be a very useful yardstick.

Lord Stern, the former chief economist of the World Bank and author of a reknowned report on the cost of tackling climate change, was speaking in Beijing today. Much of his talk revolved around the usual climate-speak: China has to play ball one way or another with global efforts to tackle climate change, and the West can help China get there.

But he also noted something important: There are parts of China that are starting to look very Western indeed—when it comes to the amount of greenhouse gases they produce. AFP reports:

“There are many parts of China where emissions intensity and emissions per capita are looking much like some of the richer countries in Europe,” [Lord Stern] said in a speech that laid out his predictions on global warming.

He said there are 13 regions with higher per-capita emissions than France, and six with higher per-capita emissions than the U.K. (None, apparently, have yet caught up with Australian or American levels.) These are the countries, remember, that are being asked to underwrite China’s transition to a cleaner economy. Lord Stern has also come out lately in favor of the West paying for emissions from Chinese factories, and also for limiting atmospheric carbon-dioxide levels to 350 parts per million, a really tall order.

Why does the regional difference matter? Those “dirtier” regions are presumably the more urban and industrialized bits of China, precisely the parts of the country responsible for the bulk of China’s absolute greenhouse-gas emissions and economic growth. They are also the regions expected to grow the most through migrations from the countryside over the next 20 years.

In other words, when it comes to the global climate debate, there’s not one “China,” with a relatively low level of greenhouse-gas emissions which could grow by leaps and bounds before ever coming close to American or European levels of emissions.

There are several Chinas—and one, in particular, is already on par with rich countries which do have obligations under the Kyoto Protocol to reduce emissions and which are being asked to shoulder much of the burden of China’s economic transformation.

Something to keep in mind as the climate-policy poker game continues in the months before the big December summit in Copenhagen.

A comment on the WSJ blog:

That fact that anyone believes there is a single China on anything is still one of the more interesting pieces of this debate.

OF COURSE Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou are going to have the highest contribution from a personal consumption sense. these are properous cities where residents began driving cars, buying larger reseidential properties, and enjoying the life of happy consumers before anyone else.

Take a deeper dive, and there are probably 15-20 other cities who are the provincial capitals (Nanjing, Tianjin, Chengdu, Xian, Wuhan, Xiamen, etc) that are growing at rates (GDP, buildings, and people) faster than the first three mentioned. These are the cities that are going to absorb the next 400 million that are expecteed to move to the city over the next 15-20 years.

Dive a bit deeper than that though, and that is where you will find American emissions. Not American “like” emissions”. America’s Emissions. Call it a carbon trade if you like, but a visit to the city of Shantou, Foshan, Dongguan, or any one of China’s industrial clusters, and one will find goods that are being produced for American consumers in carbon belching factories. Many of which are American owned and managed.

Which brings me to the point that the previous anon poster made. Per capita carbon rates are not an accurate measure of anything excepted the media’s misunderstanding of the issues. On the one hand, no one is calculation the carbon footprint of American consumers that can be found in China’s factories, and no one is accurately determining the various carbon footprints that exist in China…. and those are just two of the major adulterations that exist before you take into consieration the fact that carbon readings from either State as a whole are just guesses.

Where that leaves us in the COP15 is in a position where little will be achieved. there are rumors of a backroom deal between the US and China on developing technologies, but if anyone is looking for a “cap” and “trade” deal, I think they should look elsewhere. The two States operate in different realities of the same issue, so developing a solution is near impossible when only focusing on “carbon” as it is not the real problem.. it is the byproduct of many problems.

Air Pollution Alerts - September 13th, 2009

News & Information; Every Sunday (Last on September 06, 2009)

The Lancet, September 12th, 2009
Global patterns of mortality in young people: a systematic analysis of population health data.

Xinhua Net, September 12th, 2009
Beijing's Sixth Ring Road opens to traffic.

The Daily Star, September 12th, 2009
Can we arrest the decline of Dhaka city?

Wheels Unplugged, September 12th, 2009
Tata Motors and Ashok Leyland slip in supplying buses to state government.

NPR, September 11th, 2009
Climate Change Taking A Toll On The Arctic.

Science Daily, September 11th, 2009
Climate Change Adaptation Expected To Cost 2–3 Times More Than Previously Estimated.

Science Daily, September 11th, 2009
China Could Meet Its Entire Future Energy Needs By Wind Alone.

Guardian, September 11th, 2009
CO2 is not the only cause of climate change.

Economic Times, September 11th, 2009
Australians overtake US as biggest CO2 polluters.

Insead, September 11th, 2009
Crisis, Clear skies and China opportunities.

India, September 11th, 2009
Energy ….Indian perspective.

China Dialogue, September 10th, 2009
Understanding the energy challenge.

Cascada, September 10th, 2009
The Economist: Global Car Fleet Growth Requires Electrification.

World Changing, September 10th, 2009
New York City Girds Itself for Heat and Rising Seas.

Science Daily, September 10th, 2009
Scientists Seek New Emphases In Arctic Climate Change Research.

Emirates Business 24/7, September 10th, 2009
Full steam ahead for nine key economic sectors in the UAE.

Economist, September 10th, 2009
India's water crisis: When the rains fail.

Reuters, September 9th, 2009
Birth control could head off climate crunch.

New York Times, September 9th, 2009
At Long Last, Environmental Supplement to GDP Takes Shape.

Yale Daily News, September 9th, 2009
Smoky air in Ghana bars fuels thesis study.

Raise the Hammer, September 9th, 2009
Transition to Low Carbon Urbanism: The Energy and Economic Challenge.

Reuters, September 8th, 2009
Inhaling a Heart Attack: How Air Pollution Can Cause Heart Disease.

Science Daily, September 8th, 2009
Pollution From California Wildfires Spreads Across The United States.

Economic Times, September 7th, 2009
Kolkata breathes easy sans its old vehicles.

Times of Malta, September 6th, 2009
Call for action against traffic fumes.

South Africa Times, September 6th, 2009
Air pollution law loophole.

Science Daily, September 6th, 2009
Economists Measure GDP Growth From Outer Space.

BBC, September 1st, 2009
Earth experiment could buy precious time.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Pollution Mapping: 1 Monitor, 10 Cities, 100 Points, and 1000 words

Following up on the last post "5 basic things for urban air quality management" in the developing countries, here is a proposal for the readers and anybody who is interested in pursuing pollution mapping in their respective cities.

In general, in the urban centers, where the monitoring is conducted, it is mostly restricted to a limited number of hot spots and the number of operational monitors are less than the required to support the mapping (or indicate) of the pollution of the city...

For policy discussions, a point measurement of 100 pollutants is not enough, but one pollutant measurement (say PM, which is critical for exposure and health analysis) at 100 points will provide larger support to argue and explain the science and physics of urban air pollution.

In today's day and age, the accuracy is not an issue, we have access to state of the art monitors, and all sizes and all kinds. It is a matter of purpose - mapping or many pollutants !!

The proposal goes like this..


Pollution Mapping: 1 Monitor, 10 Cities, 100 Points, and 1000 words

1 Monitor: I have in mind the "Dust Trak"

This is not the only monitor in the market, but this seem to be economical and works well. The new features on the instrument allow to log the data with GPS synchronization (latitudes and longitudes) and blue tooth for online mapping (and more possible offline with a GIS interface). It is important to note that this is for PM only. With calibration, this instrument is known to measure up to PM1.0.

10 Cities.. lets say, a mix of big and the medium ones.

Personally, doing it in just one city as a pilot is not worth it. The monitors have been tested before and in use.. a good number of industries use them and the methodology is established. This is the scale up time and putting a larger framework down with at least 10 cities simultaneously will help mobilize others to follow.

100 points.. the measurement points around the city.

For each city, this would be ideal. More the merrier. We know how important the process of monitoring is and how often we quote and read that a proper baseline is missing or lack of enough data on the ground to show the hot spots of the city.

On one side, we have the continuous monitoring systems $300,000 (which measure most of the pollutants) and a tier lower anything between $50,000 to $100,000. This is still a finance intense program and limits the number of monitors (these are not mobile) that one can actually put to map the city.

What will really complement is at least a 100 point scan of the city and consolidate the numbers from both sides. And it is possible to do cheaply. Once done and overlaid on physical map with residential, road, and industrial backgrounds, with some interpolations and calculations, you will be sitting on an immense data set for hot spots. It will be lot more easier to argue with the locals using the measurements from this methodology than from the modeling (which is also as important).

1. Get a dust trak or similar monitor
2. Setup the points around the city, get a student or two to do the rounds every other day and measure the PM concentrations.

One could argue that, this is only one data point per day per site.. then again, the end results is a 100 point scan of the city on every other day (depending on the time period chosen)

1000 words..

Bring the points to Computer, load them to GIS, do some analysis, finalize results, and disseminate the idea in thousand words (according to New York times (some time back), that's the reading limit).

An exercise like this, provides a movie of the city air pollution in 3D, which is usually done by modeling - with perfect emissions inventory and full meteorology at the ground level.

Monday, September 07, 2009

5 things for “Urban Air Quality Management”

For any pollution control board, where air pollution is increasingly becoming part of the urban talking points, there are many examples to learn from and lessons to follow. However, there is a vast information gap, especially to know the priority areas to support and implement an effective air quality management plan for a city. While it is obvious that there are no cookie cutter solutions that fit all the cities, there are some simple steps that a city should follow in order to improve their respective capacities.

5 things that a city should plan to do are


Monitoring is the key for better air quality management. This is probably the easiest of the steps that a pollution control board can undertake at various stages. The term “easiest” is relative and refers more to the easiness of the possible logistics involved in setting a monitoring station compared to the logistics involved in the following steps. A number of monitors are available for monitoring a variety of pollutants together or separately, and yet there is a serious lack of scaling this step in many of the cities in the developing countries, including the megacities.

The monitoring of air pollution is crucial not only for the regulatory bodies, who are responsible for the clean air, but also for the academic and other supporting agencies who can help in the later stages, by calibrating the models and providing necessary inputs for better air quality management. The pollution control boards should work with academia and other officials to the lower monitoring costs and expand the ability to track pollutants. Recent mitigation and clean air activities in Beijing for the Olympic Games and similar upcoming events in Shanghai for Expo 2010 and Delhi for the Commonwealth Games 2010, there is a renewed interest in knowing more about the air quality in the cities and possible impacts during the event.

Knowing the sources and the geography

Being able to identify different air pollution sources accurately is a key element in an effective air quality management system. This brings together the scientific activities of determining air pollution emissions, ambient concentrations by pollution type, and resulting health impacts with political and regulatory aspects to formulate a society’s reaction to air pollution. There is an acute need for source apportionment analysis in developing countries, and with proper training and capacity development (both technical and financial) source apportionment can make a valuable contribution towards air quality management.

Also, it is important to understand the geography of the cities, which is an integral part of understanding how the emissions from various sources will interact and impact the observed air pollution patterns.

Emissions database – baselines

Ideally, any institution concerned about the particulate pollution (responsible for most of health impacts) is expected to have an emissions inventory, but due to inherent challenges in collecting the necessary data, disclosure issues with the industries or handling agencies, or lack of institutional and technical capability to handle the knowledge base, leads to an incomplete or inconsistent emissions inventory.

While a detailed emissions inventory covering all possible sources is desired, it is important that an effort is put in place to start the process of establishing the same, even if it means starting with averages, gross consumption levels, and borrowed factors.

Most often, the non-existence of an emissions inventory is primarily due to the lack of this first step and waiting to develop 100 percent capacity and delays the institutional capacity building aspect.

As much as it is important to establish a baseline, it is also important to acknowledge the uncertainty of the factors in use. If average numbers from similar experiments in a different city or nation are being used, that should be noted and when the local capacity is developed to study more, the factors should be corrected for the local numbers. This is a “learning while building” exercise and only by establishing a baseline with what is available that what is lacking and how to improve is better understood.

Modeling analysis - sources and alternatives

The importance of the emissions and dispersion modeling, the effect of the long range transport of various pollutants along with their possible chemical transformation was briefly discussed in the past studies and this takes the next step. Similar to the emissions inventory development, the modeling is also an intense exercise, which requires both computational power (nowadays, which is not a problem) and the data assimilation.

The modeling systems are plenty, with varying capacity and complexity. However, selection of the modeling system should be based on the objective of the program and institutional strength to absorb the analytical challenges.

Dissemination of information

While the availability of the relevant data on air pollution is a challenge, there is a growing challenge with the dissemination of the information. I had my share of experience on reporting last week, but the problem with possible unreliable data is high in the developing countries and can be better managed with more dissemination of information and proper public awareness (see Photo Dairy of Pollution from Beijing).

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Air Pollution Alerts - September 6th, 2009

News & Information; Every Sunday (Last on September 01, 2009)

AFP, September 5th, 2009
Tackling wider air pollution would speed climate action.

The New Nation, September 5th, 2009
Traffic jam in Dhaka city: Some remedies.

Reuters, September 4th, 2009
Widen global warming fight beyond CO2.

The Guardian, September 4th, 2009
Walking the climate talk.

The Guardian, September 4th, 2009
Local governments keep Chinese public in the dark about pollution.

TIME, September 4th, 2009
Worst climate change offenders to escape effects.

Inhabitant, September 3rd, 2009
Does Pollution Actually Fight Global Warming?

NPR, September 3rd, 2009
Can Dirt Really Save Us From Global Warming?

Cleveland Metro, September 3rd, 2009
U.S. EPA launches detailed study of Cleveland-area air quality.

BBC, September 2nd, 2009
India emissions 'triple by 2030'.

World Changing, September 2nd, 2009
China Gradually Improves Environmental Transparency.

Daily Star, Lebanon, September 2nd, 2009
Climate change: challenge of tomorrow, solution for today.

Guardian, September 2nd, 2009
Further anti-pollution riots break out in China.

Business Standard, September 2nd, 2009
Reinventing Delhi: Cutting the Gordian Knot.

China Peoples Daily Online, September 2nd, 2009
Beijing extends ban on motor vehicles below emissions standards.

Science Daily, September 2nd, 2009
Time To Lift The Geoengineering Taboo.

Wall Street Journal, September 1st, 2009
Hot Job: Calculating Products' Pollution.

Science Daily, September 1st, 2009
Increasing Residential And Employment Density Could Mean Reductions In Vehicle Travel, Fuel Use And Carbon Dioxide Emissions.

Telegraph (UK), September 1st, 2009
Air pollution killing 24,000 every year.

Examiner, September 1st, 2009
Will support for Cap-and-Trade energy tax melt away? It's costly, but won't help the environment.

Spiked, September 1st, 2009
Dongtan: the eco-city that never was.

Guardian, September 1st, 2009
10:10: What's it all about?

Green Flow, September 1st, 2009
Asian City Growth: "Elephants in the Room" for Climate Change, Environmental Devastation.

Scientific American, September 1st, 2009
EPA Draft Greenhouse Gas Rule Focuses on Large Emitters.

Press Information Bureau of India, September 1st, 2009
Mysore gets first Intelligent Transport System and Innovative Environment Project under JNNURM.

Science Daily, August 31st, 2009
Restoring The Ecology Can Boost The Economy.

Scientific American, August 31st, 2009
How Sunlight Controls Climate.

Economist, August 27th, 2009
Virtues of Biochar.

Scientific American, August 27th, 2009
Laughing Gas No Laughing Matter in Atmosphere.

China Dialogue, August 21st, 2009
Biofuels: learning from Obama.

China Dialogue, August 18th, 2009
Africa looks to the sun and wind.

Business Standard, July 14th, 2009
Daunting urban challenge in India.

EEA, June, 2009
EMEP/EEA air pollutant emission inventory guidebook, 2009.

EEA, May 2009
Annual European Community greenhouse gas inventory 1990–2007 and inventory report 2009.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Compact Development Could Reduce Vehicle Travel, Energy Use, CO2 Emissions (NAS)

Publication by National Academies, "Compact Development Could Reduce Vehicle Travel, Energy Use, CO2 Emissions" (2009)

By increasing population and employment density in metropolitan areas, vehicle travel, energy use, and CO2 emissions could decrease anywhere from less than 1 percent up to 11 percent by 2050, says a new congressionally mandated report from the National Research Council. The reductions depend on the extent to which current development patterns could be reversed, and some members of the study committee disagreed on the plausibility of achieving the higher estimate.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

1000 Cities and 1000 Lives - WHO Campaign

The theme for World Health Day 2010 was selected in recognition of the effect urbanization has on our collective health globally and for us individually. Embracing the positive side of urban health goes beyond the roles and responsibilities of government. It includes the contributions that civil society, community groups, architects, engineers, and responsible businesses can make.

The "1000 cities - 1000 lives" campaign is dedicated to bring communities together towards a common goal united around health – municipal authorities, community groups, and individuals. But it also represents an opportunity for people to enjoy exercise, music and being outdoors with friends and neighbours. Local businesses can enjoy increased sales, and all can enjoy the sense of community the day will bring.

Urbanization is associated with many health challenges related to water, environment, violence and injury, noncommunicable diseases (cardiovascular diseases, cancers, diabetes and chronic respiratory diseases) unhealthy diets and physical inactivity, harmful use of alcohol as well as the risks associated with disease outbreaks.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Clear Skies and Hazy Data - China & India !!

"Clear Skies and Hazy Data" says the Economist, published on August 14th, 2009, referring the pollution levels in Beijing, China and the pollution data in print. And the Guardian writes, "China's environment ministry says polluters are protected by a 'black box' of secrecy as local governments withhold information".

The Economist article continues that "A recent joint study by scientists from Peking University and Oregon State University found that pollution during the Olympics was 30% worse than had been reported, and that the air held two to three-and-a-half times more particulate matter than in the previous three summer Olympics." Recently, the air quality in Beijing made several headlines for what was observed during the summer Olympics, what was reported, and what is being observed now.

The challenge for the regulatory bodies in the monitoring. Most often, the cities are growing so fast that there aren't enough monitoring stations to observe and report the exact air quality in the city. A value monitored in one corner of the city is not the same and appropriate for the second corner. For example, it is common to observe higher particulate pollution levels along the main corridors (roads) in a city, but these numbers do not represent the levels in the residential areas. Similarly, what is observed during the daytime when the people are active and exposed the most to the harmful levels of pollution will be different from the night time pollution levels. Having said that, the data is always hazy for many reasons and is never enough. A twitter page is dedicated for reporting the air pollution levels and air pollution index in Beijing for every hour. Also, see reports, inquires, and discussions on the Beijing air quality at Live From Beijing.

The problems with availability of data and reporting in not confined to one country. A recent post (August 25th, 2009) on India Together by Mr. Shripad Dharmadhikary, reports on the findings presented in 2009 Environment Report of India. He writes about the the quality of the data available with the pollution department, "the report mentions that central and state pollution control boards have identified 1532 grossly polluting industries in India. But the source for this information is a World Bank publication, and that too of 1999. In fact, the MoEF should be the primary source of information on such parameters, since pollution is something the ministry itself is supposed to monitor! And its State of Environment reports should be presenting latest figures." What is missing here - is the ministry lacking the technical prowess or the funds to carry out the necessary monitoring themselves that they have to rely on external sources for information on their industries?

With the Commonwealth Games around the corner, a lesson from Beijing to Delhi, is very obvious. The involved institutions need to focus more on the air quality - not only improving the number of monitors that the city already operates, but also better understanding the sources, the contributions of in-city and outside-city pollution sources, the hot spots of industrial and residential areas, a series of interventions which could make effective air quality management (given Delhi will not be able to shut down industries nor stop half their in-use fleet during the games), and above all, an open data dissemination platform.

A major intervention that Beijing and Delhi are counting on is the extension of the metro rail system, to shift the motorized transport trends to the metro rail. The expected level of shift is uncertain, which depends on a number of factors, some of which are recently discussed on the sustran listserve. An analysis conducted by UrbanEmissions.Info reveals a possible reduction of at least 7 percent in the criteria pollutant emissions in 2010, by the introduction of expanded metro rail system in Delhi, India.

CRUDE - The Documentary

Read more about the movie and the screening dates here.

10:10 Campaign

What is 10:10?

10:10 is an empowering climate change campaign with the aim of getting individuals, companies and institutions to reduce their carbon footprints by 10% during 2010.

Why 10% in 2010?

Although politicians argue about targets for 2050 and 2030, the scientists say world emissions must peak and begin to fall within the next few years. That means we need deep cuts in the developed world as quickly as possible. The longer we leave it, the smaller our chance of avoiding disastrous warming.

Read more about the campaign @ The Guardian

Air Pollution Alerts - September 1st, 2009

News & Information; Every Sunday (Last on August 30, 2009)

Telegraph, September 1st, 2009
Clean air mission - Pollution board chalks out plan for Dhanbad, Jharia.

Xinhua Net, August 31st, 2009
Beijing sees better air quality in August.

Science Daily, August 30th, 2009
How Cities Mimic Life: Megacities Breathe, Consume Energy, Excrete Wastes And Pollute.

Science Daily, August 30th, 2009
Tunnels Concentrate Air Pollution By Up To 1,000 Times.

Global Arab Network, August 29th, 2009
Environmental challenges for the Arab world.

Financial Express, August 28th, 2009
Clean Stoves, Health, & Climate in India.

Science Daily, August 28th, 2009
Nitrous Oxide Now Top Ozone-depleting Emission.

NPR, August 28th, 2009
Nitrous Oxide: A Necessary Evil Of Agriculture.

Science Daily, August 28th, 2009
Small Fluctuations In Solar Activity, Large Influence On Climate.

Times of India, August 27th, 2009
No-pollution three wheelers unveiled in New Delhi.

Science Daily, August 27th, 2009
Scientists Investigate Urban Climate In Rotterdam And Arnhem.

Economist, August 20th, 2009
Carbon Markets in China.

CNN, July 20th, 2009
Computer Software to Track Climate Change.

Capital Weekly, August 20th, 2009
Climate benefits, community safeguards can come together.

Grist, August 19th, 2009
Hotter summers will pose public health challenges.

Chian Daily, August 19th, 2009
UNEP praises China's green efforts.

TIME, August 19th, 2009
Are Chinese Citizens Ready for a Green Revolution?

OMB Watch, August 18th, 2009
CDC Attempts to Track Health and Pollution Connections.

MedIndia, August 18th, 2009
Unsee Air Pollutants Responsible For 380,000 Human Deaths Annually.

UPI, August 18th, 2009
China's air pollution is reducing rainfall.

Shanghaiist, August 18th, 2009
China's CO2 emissions will continue to rise until 2030.

AFP, August 18th, 2009
Chinese city aims for greener growth.

Rising Voices, August 18th, 2009
Nomad Green: More Workshops In Ulaanbaatar.

India PR Wire, August 18th, 2009
Agilent Technologies sets up "Clean Air Challenge" workshop for middle and high school teachers.

Auburn Journal, August 17th, 2009
Fire smoke can make air unfit for some.

New Times, August 16th, 2009
Increase in air pollution in China over last 50 years reduces rainy days by up to a quarter.

Epoch Times, August 16th, 2009
Beijing Air’s Quality More ‘Hazardous’ Than Officials Report.

Press Information Bureau, India, August 15th, 2009
Prime Minister's Independence Day Address.

Economist, August 14th, 2009
Pollution in China: Clear skies; hazy data.

Discovery News, August 14th, 2009
Air Pollution Travels, Kills Thousands Annually.

R&D, August 14th, 2009
The sky is not falling: Pollution in eastern China cuts light, useful rainfall.

Peoples Daily Online, August 13th, 2009
How does China deal with climate change and environmental problems?

Economist, August 13th, 2009
Economics of Natural Gas: Drowning in it.

Gasgoo, August 13th, 2009
China has an opportunity and the luxury to develop a competitive electric vehicle industry.

Center for Sciences and Environment, August 12th, 2009
Official delay in setting fuel economy standards smacks of state-sponsored fuel guzzling.

Economist, August 6th, 2009
Rainforest: Burning issues.