Thursday, July 25, 2013

Uttarakhand (India) Floods in the Context of Climate Change

From the Climate Revolution Initiative - an article that attempts to show that man-made climate change was responsible for inducing Uttarakhand disaster.

It's called: Nothing Natural About This Disaster and covers the follow issues

  • How does climate change influence extreme weather events
  • Scientific studies internationally and from India that had warned of this
  • How climate plays a role in ALL extreme weather events today
  • Studies that established climate link for past weather events
  • Connect the dots between Uttarakhand floods and similar events worldwide
It also highlights links that show the disaster could be related with record melting in the Arctic region.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Climate Change - 2 b 2 or not 2 b 2 (deg C)


From Mr. Lalloobhoy Battliwala

A piece from the Economist, leaked from second order draft of IPCC AR5 WG III (which deals with "mitigation", not physical science per se). Followed by a note from WG III secretariat cautioning that it's seven months to publication.

How much of the actual, observed GMST increase is or will be natural v. anthropogenic, nobody says and nobody asks. One of the many confusions or frauds about climate change politics. (My take: it doesn't matter. Human sensitivity to climate is far more important, at every point in time, than climate sensitivity to carbon.)
So, will the 2x of carbon lead to an increase of 2 degree C or not? 

Is it 2 b 2 or not 2 b 2?

Do-be-do-be-do. (Combining Krishna - do the right thing - and Buddha - be aware in order to be).

The climate may be heating up less in response to greenhouse-gas emissions than was once thought. But that does not mean the problem is going away.

Select paragraphs from the article...

OVER the past 15 years air temperatures at the Earth’s surface have been flat while greenhouse-gas emissions have continued to soar. The world added roughly 100 billion tonnes of carbon to the atmosphere between 2000 and 2010. That is about a quarter of all the CO₂ put there by humanity since 1750. And yet, as James Hansen, the head of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, observes, “the five-year mean global temperature has been flat for a decade.” 

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which embodies the mainstream of climate science, reckons the answer is about 3°C, plus or minus a degree or so. In its most recent assessment (in 2007), it wrote that “the equilibrium climate sensitivity…is likely to be in the range 2°C to 4.5°C with a best estimate of about 3°C and is very unlikely to be less than 1.5°C. Values higher than 4.5°C cannot be excluded.” The IPCC’s next assessment is due in September. A draft version was recently leaked. It gave the same range of likely outcomes and added an upper limit of sensitivity of 6°C to 7°C.

A rise of around 3°C could be extremely damaging. The IPCC’s earlier assessment said such a rise could mean that more areas would be affected by drought; that up to 30% of species could be at greater risk of extinction; that most corals would face significant biodiversity losses; and that there would be likely increases of intense tropical cyclones and much higher sea levels.
New Model Arm.

The IPCC’s estimates of climate sensitivity are based partly on GCMs. Because these reflect scientists’ understanding of how the climate works, and that understanding has not changed much, the models have not changed either and do not reflect the recent hiatus in rising temperatures. In contrast, the Norwegian study was based on an energy-balance model. So were earlier influential ones by Reto Knutti of the Institute for Atmospheric and Climate Science in Zurich; by Piers Forster of the University of Leeds and Jonathan Gregory of the University of Reading; by Natalia Andronova and Michael Schlesinger, both of the University of Illinois; and by Magne Aldrin of the Norwegian Computing Centre (who is also a co-author of the new Norwegian study). All these found lower climate sensitivities. The paper by Drs Forster and Gregory found a central estimate of 1.6°C for equilibrium sensitivity, with a 95% likelihood of a 1.0-4.1°C range. That by Dr Aldrin and others found a 90% likelihood of a 1.2-3.5°C range.

Read more.

Cost of Environmental Degradation in India = Rs. 3.75 Trillion (USD 80 billion) per Year

Report published by the World Bank
  • Although the past decade of rapid economic growth has brought many benefits to India, the environment has suffered, exposing the population serious air and water pollution.
  • A new report finds that environmental degradation costs India $80 billion per year or 5.7% of its economy.
  • Green growth strategies are needed promote sustainable growth and to break the pattern of environmental degradation and natural resource depletion. Emission reductions can be achieved with minimal cost to GDP.

Key Findings

Green growth is necessary. With cost of environmental degradation at 5.7% of GDP, environment could become a major constraint in sustaining future economic growth. Further, it may be impossible or prohibitively expensive to clean up later.

Green growth is affordable. Model simulations suggest that policy interventions such as environmental taxes could potentially be used to yield positive net environmental and health benefits with minimal economic costs for India.

Green growth is desirable. For an environmentally sustainable future, India needs to value its natural resources, and ecosystem services to better inform policy and decision-making especially since India is a hotspot of unique biodiversity and ecosystems.

Green growth is measurable. Conventional measures of growth do not adequately capture the environmental costs, Therefore, it is imperative to calculate green Gross Domestic Product (green GDP) as an index of economic growth with the environmental consequences factored in.

Data Availability for Measuring and Reporting Transport related Greenhouse Gas Emissions in Chinese Cities (GIZ)

China, one of the most rapidly growing countries in the world, is experiencing rapid and substantial growth in economic and motorized mobility. Transport related energy consumption and pollution problems are poised to soar further. In 2008, consumption of fossil fuels in the transport sector accounted for 36% of national total fossil fuel consumption.

Link to the GIZ Sustainable Transport Site

A fundamental requirement in the effort to control GHG-emissions and pollutants in any form is to quantify the emissions being released. A robust approach to measure energy savings and emission reductions in the end of the designed schedule is an essential element in reviewing the performance. A reliable and transparent model should be applied to track the emission reductions, but so far this kind of model is not publicly available in China.

The report on “Data Availability for Measuring and Reporting Transport related Greenhouse Gas Emissions in Chinese Cities” by the Institute of Comprehensive Transportation (ICT) and GIZ assesses availability and characteristics of data required for establishing a GHG emission quantification model in Chinese cities.

The Sino-German Climate Change Programme is implemented by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC).

Within the Low Carbon Transport Development component, the Programme supports national institutions in developing a climate protection strategy in the transport sector and to implement measures and incentive structures with a special focus on urban transportation. The Low Carbon Transport Development component therefore supports the development of tools to quantify and monitor GHG emissions in the Chinese transport sector both at the national and urban level.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Shortage in Bus Manufacturing Leading to Scrapped Buses Plying on the Delhi Roads

Published in DNA India 
1,600 'scrapped' buses still on roads

If you commute by DTC buses, you could be putting your life at risk.

This is because the Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) continues to operate more than 1,600 ‘scrapped’ buses that have more than lived out their lives.

Even though the buses have been declared unfit to ply on the streets for more than a decade, they continue to be on roads thanks to the Corporation’s indifferent attitude in phasing out the ‘ghost’ buses and bringing in new ones.

The city requires an estimated 11,000 buses for its transport needs. The Corporation runs 5,399 buses of which 1,624 are standard floor buses that were to have been phased out because the buses have either completed eight years on road or travelled 6 lakh km.

“These standard floor buses meet both the criteria,” said a DTC official on condition of anonymity. “In fact, all the buses met both the criterion between 2001 and 2003. Still, they continue to ply and end up breaking down on roads most of the times.”

The city has 3,775 swanky green- and cherry-coloured low-floor buses and another 620 orange cluster buses. With lakhs of daily commuters, the buses do not meet even half of its requirement. On an average, 100 DTC buses break down every day, officials concede. A majority of these are standard floor buses, some of which don’t even make it out of the depot.

The official said that the DTC lacks adequate number of buses which forces it to run the scrapped buses. The state government had told the Delhi High Court that of the 11,000 buses required, the supply would be equally shared by the DTC and cluster (private) buses.

“The ratio for buses was 50:50, but due to authorities’ lackadaisical attitude, the buses failed to arrive,” the official said.

The government was to procure 625 buses in the first phase of the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM). However, two years down the line, even the tenders to procure these buses have not been finalised.

“Another 1,100 buses were to ply on roads in the second phase, but after a year of planning, no decision has been taken on these either,” said the official.

“The plan exists only on paper, and commuters bear the brunt of the government’s negligent attitude.”

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Financing Coal Power Plants - YES or NO?

Review article from the Center for Global Development

Over the past few months, quite a bit of high-level rhetoric has surrounded World Bank funding of coal projects in developing countries.

On one side, Christiana Figueres, the executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, stated that “it is no longer necessary [for the World Bank to invest in coal projects] because we have many other technologies that can come forward.”

On the other side, World Bank president Jim Kim stated that “we will look for everything we can possibly do to avoid [coal projects] but look, poor people should not pay the price with their lives of mistakes that people have been making in the developed world for a very long time.”

More recently, President Obama addressed the issue as part of a broad set of executive actions to combat climate change. His recent remarks call for an end to public financing for coal plants “unless they deploy carbon-capture technologies, or there is no other viable way for the poorest countries to generate electricity.” This position, consistent with guidelines developed and used by the US

Treasury since 2009 (we participated in the development of these guidelines while both serving as deputy assistant secretaries at Treasury), was lent considerably more weight by the president’s remarks.

Competing stances on coal will be put to the test in the months ahead as the World Bank attempts to launch a new energy strategy, with a board discussion of the draft strategy next week.

In our view, detailed in a forthcoming CGD essay, the approach taken by both Obama and Kim is broadly the right one. The bank should be ambitious in working toward clean energy approaches in its development strategies, but it would be a mistake to definitively rule out coal in all circumstances.

Such a decision would be bad for development and would also undermine the very goals that the bank’s coal critics espouse by further pitting developing and developed countries against each other in the climate debate occurring within the bank.

The World Bank does need to minimize lending for coal-fired generation, and the bank’s new energy strategy should articulate an approach to coal that makes bank financing extremely rare. There are a number of key elements that should guide the bank’s strategy so that a restrictive posture on coal is consistent with the institution’s development mission:
  • Financing for coal should be limited almost exclusively to IDA-only countries. IDA-only countries generally lack alternative means of financing their energy needs. These countries should neither be hindered in their access to energy resources necessary for economic development, nor mistakenly led to invest in coal-fired capacity that is a less economical choice.
  • Financing for coal should be limited to circumstances where no economically comparable alternatives exist. This will require a compelling economic analysis, including a clear examination of alternatives, as the basis for any approach to future World Bank coal investments in poorer countries. Such analysis should provide the basis for ruling out coal definitively (in cases where economically viable alternatives are identified) or pursuing it under appropriate conditions. An important question is how to provide that analysis in a way that both is, and is perceived to be, accurate.
  • Environmental externalities, including climate change, should be considered by decision-makers. However, such costs do not determine the financial impact on end users, which is driven by actual outlays. When an alternative to coal has a lower cost inclusive of environmental externalities, but higher financial cost, the MDBs should assist borrowers in identifying funding to cover these incremental financial costs and avoid the use of coal.
  • However, if incremental funding is unavailable, and alternatives to coal entail higher costs to end users, poor countries should not be compelled by MDB policies to put a higher burden on poor constituents.
  • Outside of IDA-only countries, consideration of coal financing within the World Bank should be virtually nil. For IDA-only countries, the World Bank (along with the other MDBs) typically plays an irreplaceable role in financing energy projects, either directly or through guarantees. Absent bank engagement, IDA-only countries are unable to finance their projects. In contrast, the bank’s middle income clients mostly have some degree of access to private capital for energy projects. For these countries, any consideration of coal financing should come with significant strings attached—if at all. For political reasons, we believe it makes sense to think about where such an investment could arguably fit into a mitigation plan, highlighting opportunities for middle income countries to lead in this arena rather than solely implementing restrictions.
All of these elements are consistent with President Obama’s recent statements and guidelines developed and used by the US Treasury since 2009.

With appropriate policies and procedures in place, the World Bank and other multilateral development banks are in the best position to help poorer countries seek out alternatives to coal, to build and refurbish only the coal-fired generation that is needed, and to do so with the highest degree of environmental and social safeguards.

Beyond adoption of procedures to consider coal projects, the bank should pursue an ambitious agenda to assist countries in the pursuit of low and no carbon energy strategies. This could include substantial technical assistance, as well as the use of development policy loans aimed at addressing inefficiencies and distortions in the energy market that bias investment decisions against low and no carbon investments.

World Bank president Jim Yong Kim has forcefully defined a renewed development agenda for the bank, even as he has sought to position the institution at the center of the global climate agenda. Yet, his ambitions are threatened by the polarized debate around financing for coal. Both sides have sought to make the coal issue front and center: no institution that continues to fund coal can possibly be credible on the climate agenda; and no institution that rules out coal can be a credible partner in addressing the energy needs that are central to development.

But the issue need not be so polarizing. A carefully crafted approach to coal finance will ensure that the World Bank’s engagement is very limited but available when necessary. If both sides can accept this approach, then the bank will be well positioned to move aggressively on development and climate.


Coal fired power plants in India

Counting the Health Benefits of Renewable Electricity in the United States


From Mr. Lalloobhoy Battliwala

Looking at the Supplementary Info, some of the assumptions are questionable. So the numbers and merit orders open to doubt, but at least some effort is made to count for health benefits. Seems like the authors did cover quite a few modeling issues, though. 

"you have to take into account the sort of energy that’s likely to be displaced by the new solar panels and wind turbines... The regions with the biggest wind or solar resources aren’t always the most beneficial places to build renewable energy, at least in the very near term."

Duh! They should've listened to Kirk Smith eons ago - "If one is going to put carbon in the atmosphere anyway, CO2 is the least damaging from climate point of view". And health, by the way. 

All emissions, all impacts considered, even coal-fired electricity is better than direct coal use for cooking and heating in South Africa.

And grid electricity with some mix of coal, gas, hydro for substituting gasoline and diesel in small vehicles in urban areas. (Depends on location, costs, confounding variables).

Dan Klein and Ralph E. Keeney did something similar 10-odd years ago, but seems to have been neglected for reasons of political correctness, I suppose. 

Don't forget nuclear was advocated in the northeastern US for reduction of health pollutants from coal. What matters is marginal costs, which keep changing.


News coverage from the Washington Post

At first glance, it might seem obvious where the United States should focus on building more renewable energy. Stick the solar panels in sunny Arizona and hoist up the wind turbines on the gusty Great Plains, right?

Well, not necessarily. A recent study by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University offered another way to look at the issue. A solar panel built in cloudy New Jersey can actually offer more overall benefits than one built in Arizona — when you take into account all the carbon dioxide and other pollutants that get reduced. Likewise, a new wind farm in West Virginia can deliver more health benefits than one built in California, at least in the short term.

The reason, say the researchers, is that you have to take into account the sort of energy that’s likely to be displaced by the new solar panels and wind turbines.

Out in Texas or Oklahoma, wind turbines would crowd out relatively clean natural gas-fired plants. That would cut down on carbon-dioxide emissions and other pollutants. But it’s not quite as big a deal as, say, building a wind farm in Ohio — where the wind would displace coal power and lead to a 20 percent bigger reduction in pollutants that are heating the planet or causing respiratory problems.
The regions with the biggest wind or solar resources aren’t always the most beneficial places to build renewable energy, at least in the very near term. Here’s a map of the most wind-rich areas in the United States (the redder the breezier):
And next we have a map of where wind power would deliver the most benefits, once you factor in the reductions from pollutants like sulfur or particulates, which have been linked to health problems from asthma to heart attacks:
By the same metric, here are the most beneficial places to stick solar panels:
Note that California sees somewhat fewer benefits — in part because the state has already spent so many years cleaning up its energy supply compared with other states.

Now, to be clear, the researchers aren’t saying that California’s clean-energy spree in recent years has been pointless. Switching from natural gas to renewable energy has still led to a drop in carbon-dioxide emissions, which helps slow the pace of climate change at the margins and curbs other pollutants. The authors note that “the social benefits from existing wind farms are roughly 60% higher than the cost of the Production Tax Credit, an important federal subsidy for wind energy.”
But the authors do suggest that Congress could take these regional variations into account when structuring tax benefits for clean energy. “[T]hat same investment,” they note, “could achieve greater health, environmental, and climate benefits if it were differentiated by region.”

One final point: This study largely takes into account the existing power grid in the United States and focuses on near-term benefits. But in theory, it would also be possible to build gigantic wind farms in the Great Plains and then transmit that electricity all over the United States, to places like Ohio and West Virginia, through new high-voltage transmission lines. That would be a way of developing the most promising resources and delivering high benefits.

But there’s a big hitch. As Matthew Wald explained in the New York Times this weekend, these grand schemes always run afoul of the balkanized nature of the power grid. ”The technology, the engineering skill and even the money are all available, experts say, but the ability to reach agreement on such a grid is not,” Wald wrote. “For now, there is simply no momentum for a transmission system that would connect the best sites for renewable energy with the biggest areas of demand.”

Further reading: All credit to David Biello for the link to the Carnegie Mellon study, which was written by Kyle Siler-Evans, Inês Lima Azevedoa, M. Granger Morgana, and Jay Apt and published in the Proceedings of the National Academies of Sciences. Here are some of the assumptions the study made.

New Study - Global Premature Mortality due to Anthropogenic Outdoor Air Pollution and the Contribution of Past Climate Change

Published in Environmental Research Letters


Increased concentrations of ozone and fine particulate matter (PM2.5) since pre-industrial times reflect increased emissions, but also contributions of past climate change. Here we use modeled concentrations from an ensemble of chemistry–climate models to estimate the global burden of anthropogenic outdoor air pollution on present-day premature human mortality, and the component of that burden attributable to past climate change. Using simulated concentrations for 2000 and 1850 and concentration–response functions (CRFs), we estimate that, at present, 470 000 (95% confidence interval, 140 000 to 900 000) premature respiratory deaths are associated globally and annually with anthropogenic ozone, and 2.1 (1.3 to 3.0) million deaths with anthropogenic PM2.5-related cardiopulmonary diseases (93%) and lung cancer (7%). These estimates are smaller than ones from previous studies because we use modeled 1850 air pollution rather than a counterfactual low concentration, and because of different emissions. Uncertainty in CRFs contributes more to overall uncertainty than the spread of model results. Mortality attributed to the effects of past climate change on air quality is considerably smaller than the global burden: 1500 (−20 000 to 27 000) deaths/year due to ozone and 2200 (−350 000 to 140 000) due to PM2.5. The small multi-model means are coincidental, as there are larger ranges of results for individual models, reflected in the large uncertainties, with some models suggesting that past climate change has reduced air pollution mortality.


From CNN coverage

An estimated 2.1 million deaths are caused by anthropogenic increases of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) while a further 470,000 are killed annually as a result of human-caused increases in ozone pollution.

Jason West, co-author of the study published in the journal of Environmental Research Letters said: "Outdoor air pollution is an important problem and among the most important environmental risk factors for health."

East Asia is the worst affected area with researchers estimating more than a million people dying prematurely every year from PM2.5 pollution and 203,000 from ozone pollution.

India has the second highest air pollution mortality rates with an estimated 397,000 deaths from fine particulates and ozone accounting for, on average, 118,000.

Next comes Southeast Asia which has estimated average of 158,000 deaths from PM2.5 and 33,300 attributed to ozone.

Europe has fractionally less PM2.5 deaths (154,000, on average) and 32,800 premature deaths related to ozone while in North America there were an average of 43,000 deaths from fine particulates and 34,400 related to ozone.

New Bioenergy - Beer and Cigarettes?

Don Draper and fellow “Mad Men” would likely be horrified, but alcohol and tobacco — long joined at the hip by chain smokers and heavy drinkers — are countering the U.S.’ current aversion to excess by rebranding themselves as new sources of bioenergy.

Link to the original article on Renewable Energy World.

Tobacco, which has suffered declining market share and price yields for decades in the U.S., could reinvent itself as a genetically-altered biomass for production of biodiesel, bio-gasoline, or bio-jet fuels.

The spirits industry, meanwhile, is already using their industrial beer and liquor byproducts to generate bioenergy as a means of offsetting operational costs.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) is spending $4.9 million on a three-year program that aims to produce gasoline, diesel and jetfuel from tobacco. The DOE, along with partners at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), the University of California at Berkeley, and the University of Kentucky in Lexington, envision producing a genetically-engineered tobacco plant that has almost a third of its dry weight in hydrocarbons.

The group has been working on the project for more than a year and by early 2015, hopes to have engineered the plants to produce biofuels efficiently and directly in their leaves. By some estimates, a thousand acres of genetically-engineered tobacco could yield more than a million gallons of biofuel. That’s in contrast to the normal arduous task of biofuel production involving microbial reduction of sugars into biofuel.

“Algae already makes alkane and turpenoid oils, used for biofuels like biodiesel or bio-jet,” said Peggy Lemaux, a plant microbial biologist at the University of California at Berkeley and a principal investigator on the ARPA-E project. “Thus, by installing algal genes in tobacco leaf tissue, we can make these oils in tobacco and extract them directly from the green leaf biomass in a straightforward process.”

The aim is to engineer existing tobacco plants for more efficient carbon uptake so that photosynthesis will trigger the creation of these much sought-after hydrocarbon oils.

“We have produced these oils in tobacco,” said Lemaux. “But we are still not at the levels that we need to be able to compete with ethanol. But we know that can [happen].”

Historically grown in wide neat rows to ensure the highest quality product not the most quantity, farmers who wanted to grow tobacco for biofuels would flip that model.

“We could produce quite a bit of tonnage per acre if we didn’t plant it in [the] wide rows of today,” said Michael Moore, a tobacco extension agronomist at the University of Georgia’s Agricultural Extension Service, who notes this year the state will harvest 11,000 acres of tobacco. “We’re harvesting only the leaves with a statewide average of 2,400 pounds per acre. But we could vary our plant population from the current 7,000 plants per acre to 200,000 per acre easily enough.”

Tobacco farmers are already very supportive of this project, says Lemaux, who adds that with the exception of China, conventional tobacco markets are diminishing. She says tobacco also offers growers more flexibility in planting than switchgrass or miscanthus, noting that from year to year, tobacco farmers can switch out tobacco for another crop.

“The farmer will get the [new] seeds from the University of Kentucky,” said Lemaux. “Planting may be a little closer than normal, but the harvesting will be similar. We will extract [oil] from green biomass, so we won’t be drying it.”

Even so, tobacco’s future as a biofuel is not just whether it can compete with ethanol, but also whether it can compete with growers who are already growing and harvesting their crops for conventional tobacco companies.

Lemaux says that one reason ARPA-E chose tobacco for a project is precisely because, unlike corn grown for ethanol, tobacco has never been a food crop.

With tobacco, Lemaux says, there will never be a dilemma over whether to use it for food or for fuel, as has been the case with corn. She even predicts that within in 20 years, tobacco grown for dipping, chewing or smoking could be supplanted by tobacco grown solely as a biofuel source.

Alcohol and Bioenergy

Where there’s tobacco, there is also usually beer. In this instance, however, the brewing industry is further ahead in creating new sources of bioenergy.

Magic Hat Brewing Company is a case in point.

This South Burlington, Vt. brewery, which makes about 200,000 barrels of beer per year, is now using a large part of its spent waste to create biogas. Although the average brewery generates five parts of waste for every one part of beer, Magic Hat has a two-to-one waste-to-product ratio. As Eric Fitch, a mechanical engineer and the CEO and founder of Purpose Energy in Arlington, Ma., explains, up until the company began its bioenergy endeavor, most of the waste byproduct was trucked off site for use as livestock feed or for pet food.

Since June 2011, an anaerobic digester designed and manufactured by Purpose Energy has been supplying the brewery with 220 kW of biogas-generated electricity.

“We have three different bioreactors integrated into one tank at Magic Hat,” said Fitch. “Solids go into the first tank and break down into soluble sugars and acids. Then those sugars and acids go into the second and third reactors and are converted into methane biogas.”

Fitch says his company’s system takes Magic Hat’s waste and reduces the cost of byproduct remediation by over 60 percent. The methane gas that is produced is, in turn, run into a power plant that makes heat and electricity used in the brewery. As a result, Fitch estimates that magic hat has replaced about a third of its fossil fuel-derived electricity with renewable biogas.

Such concepts are also familiar to the Alaskan Brewing Company.

At 1,000 miles north of Seattle in the far-flung south-east Alaska panhandle, there’s little or no livestock on the Alexander archipelago. Thus, for nearly two decades, the Juneau-based Alaskan Brewing Company has shipped its spent grain to Pacific Northwest farmers and ranchers to use primarily as feed for their cattle.

But since February of this year, the craft brewer, which distributes throughout 14 western states including Alaska, has been using its dried spent wheat, malt and barley grain to fire the brewery’s boiler kettles, says Andy Kline, communications manager at the Alaskan Brewing Company.

As a result, the brewery, which produces 140,000 barrels of beer annually, projects its 4,500 tons of annual spent grain fuel will save over 1.5 million gallons of fuel oil over the next 10 years, while reducing the company’s fuel oil consumption by 70 percent.

It’s likely that we’ll see more brewers figure out that recycling their waste and using it as energy helps to bring down production costs. But tobacco as biofuel may be a harder sell to farmers used to growing the crop for generations of smokers. The idea might just need the marketing smarts of a latter-day Don Draper.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Air Pollution in China Responsible for People Dying 5.5 years Earlier than the National Average


From Mr. Lalloobhoy Battliwala

Breakneck growth chokes. "Mr Li estimates the shorter life expectancy identified by the study in northern China is equivalent to reducing the workforce there by one-eighth."

Not quite true. Economic growth and rising incomes permit better health care, greater productivity, and contribution to longevity. So the net cost may be much less than this alleged reduction. Or even negative.

"It shows how high the cost of pollution is in terms of human life – and that it is worth it for the government to spend more money to solve the pollution issue, even if we have to sacrifice growth.”


Source controls will not affect aggregate growth; just ban small coal users, shut down old plants and factories, and give incentives for boiler/furnace switch to gas and electricity (INCLUDING coal fired electricity) and early retirement of locomotives and vehicles.

When would environmentalists develop a holistic picture of costs and benefits? I suppose so long as gullibility is as bad as pollution.


In News

CNN Money, June 9th, 2013
Air pollution cuts life expectancy by 5.5 years in China.

USA Today, June 9th, 2013
In China, air pollution report brings despair, humor.

Wall Street Journal, July 9th, 2013
Air Pollution From Coal Use Cuts Lifespans in China.

New York Times, July 9th, 2013
Pollution Leads to Drop in Life Span in Northern China, Research Finds.

Washington Post, Junly 8th, 2013
Coal pollution in China is cutting life expectancy by 5.5 years.

Financial Times, July 8th, 2013
China smog cuts 5.5 years from average life expectancy.

National Geography, July 8th, 2013
Coal burning shortens lives in China.

Thursday, July 04, 2013

Air Pollution News & Alerts - July 4th, 2013

The Guardian, July 4th, 2013
Europe must tackle air pollution, warn UN scientists.

Phys.Org, July 4th, 2013
A tale of two cities.

Times of India, July 3rd, 2013
Ghaziabad, Allahabad most polluted in Uttar Pradesh.

South China Morning Post, July 2nd, 2013
Hong Kong's noise pollution needs taking seriously.

The Conversation, July 2nd, 2013
Air pollution is not yet a thing of the past.

New Indian Express, July 2nd, 2013
Supreme Court directs Centre to strictly follow pollution norms in Indian Cities.

Crenglish, July 2nd, 2013
No Quick End In Sight for Beijing Smog.

The Hill, July 1st, 2013
EPA sends White House revised emissions rule for new power plants.

Bangkok Post, June 29th, 2013
Indonesia says polluting haze fires greatly reduced.

The Grist Magazine, June 26th, 2013
Supreme Court will hear big clean-air case.

Peoples Daily Online, June 27th, 2013
Shanghai kids more likely to have asthma.

Bangkok Post, June 26th, 2013
SEA smog eases as rain douses fires.

Wall Street Journal, June 26th, 2013
SunCoke Energy to Pay $2 Million for Alleged Air Pollution.

Epoch Times, June 25th, 2013
Apples Grow Black in Polluted Chinese City.

The Atlantic, June 25th, 2013
China's Asthma Problem Is Bad—and Growing Worse.

The Breakthrough, June 25th, 2013
Coal Killer - How Natural Gas Fuels the Clean Energy Revolution?

The Hindu, June 23rd, 2013
The ubiquitous Bajaj remains an Indonesian Icon.

BBC, June 22nd, 2013
Singapore mulls legal action over smog from Indonesia fires.

China Daily, June 21st, 2013
Dairy measures start at source.

Forbes, June 21st, 2013
Chinese Still Affected By Mainland Pollution, Even After Moving To New York.

Bangkok Post, June 21st, 2013
Air pollution becomes Asia's migraine.

Forbes, June 21st, 2013
Indonesia's Forest Fires Sting Singapore As Smog Turns Hazardous.

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

A 3-D Noise Map of Hong Kong Island

Hong Kong's noise pollution needs taking seriously - read the full article.

Noise pollution in Hong Kong needs no research to show how serious the problem is. The pounding din of jackhammers, blaring of horns by agitated drivers, incessant drilling from renovations next door, loud phone conversation on public transport - the evidence is everywhere. However unpleasant it is, noise is considered part of city life, something that has to be put up with in a busy place like ours. Although the exposure to noise is arguably less damaging than breathing filthy air, that does not mean the problem does not warrant public attention and improvement. Excessive noise can lead to more than impaired hearing and insomnia. The need for more action is just as pressing.

Full appraisal of how serious the problem is will be a helpful step. This can be achieved by collating and analysing the noise-related complaints filed by the public. A designer in New York has produced a map of the city's noise topography, based on noise complaint details available on the city's Open Data website. Lauded as a work of art because of its visual impact, the project showed a striking disparity between rich and poor districts, which suggested noise in areas for the rich was handled by the authorities more seriously.

The European Union has mandated noise mapping for cities with more than 250,000 inhabitants since 2007. But noise complaint details are not publicised in Hong Kong. A request by this newspaper did not yield any result, with the police saying district divisions were too busy to tally the detailed figures. But overall, there were 15,692 complaints in the central districts last year. It shows that noise pollution is a serious problem.

A browse through the Environmental Protection Department website may give the impression that the authorities are doing a good job in abating traffic and construction noise. Noise mapping for certain infrastructure projects is also available, but whether the public is aware of the information is another matter. A government survey on noise impact two years ago showed that 64 per cent of the public said noise had no impact on their daily life. The finding sits oddly with the thousands of complaints received each year.

As air and light pollution get their fair share of attention, it is high time the government renewed momentum to combat noise pollution. Better education, tougher enforcement and changes in individual habits and behaviour can make a difference.

Prevalence of Asthma Attacks in Chinese Cities is 11% and Rising

Given the recent headlines, it probably surprises no one that China has 16 of the world's worst pollution hot-spots within its borders, and the negative health effects are beginning to become a major public health threat. In fact, air pollution contributed to over 1.2 million deaths in China in 2010. China recently approved 10 anti-pollution measures in response to persistent public outcry and environmental damage, but these will most likely be implemented over the course of years, and public health risks remain problematic in the meantime.

Link to the article @ the Atlantic

There has been a dramatic increase in the incidence of asthma in China over the last 20 years, and estimates that the rates are up by as much as 40 percent over the last five years. Shockingly, prevalence in some cities is 11 percent -- and rising.

Asthma, a potentially fatal disease, is the leading cause of hospitalization among children and carries a significant burden to families and communities in China. Children with asthma have increased rates of school absenteeism, and higher medical costs can be a major cause of stress for families.

Dr. Qian Qian Sun, a pediatrician working at Shandong's Binzhou Medical University Hospital, said in an interview that if her patient's asthma attacks are linked with air pollution, they often try to move to an area away from factories. Other families may take more extreme measures, such as this one reported in China Weekly about a young mother who moved their son to three different cities before sending him to London to control his asthma. The mother, well educated and resourceful, found leaving China to be the only remedy for her son's ailment.

The article set China's social media abuzz, and Internet users lamented the sorry state of China's air quality, but few people showed understanding of the signs and symptoms of asthma, which is sorely lacking in China, according to a recent study surveying 29 cities in China.

Most exposure to air pollution occurs indoors, and complete avoidance is challenging if not impossible. "The link between motor vehicle emissions and asthma is fairly strong", says Dr. Charles Weschler, Adjunct Professor at the Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences Institute at Rutgers University and visiting Professor at Tsinghua University in Beijing. "Most of the exposure to motor vehicle emissions actually occurs indoors, since this is where Chinese urban residents spend most of their time (and outdoor-to-indoor transport of motor vehicle emissions is significant). Other indoor pollutants, of both outdoor and indoor origin, are anticipated to contribute to asthma attacks."

Sometimes leaving high pollution areas completely may be the only way to limit the risks of an asthma attack. Professor Weschler is aware of numerous U.S. researchers who have had to stop going to China due to attacks. While some families and foreign researchers have the resources and information needed in order to send their child abroad and stay away from high pollution areas, the vast majority of families in Chinese cities do not have this ability.

"On days with high concentration of pollutants, limit activity outside and try to avoid activities that result in deep breathing," Professor Weschler recommends. "Try to work and sleep in indoor environments that have filtered pollutants from indoor air. Keep windows closed on high pollution days to limit the outdoor-to-indoor transport of outdoor pollutants. Avoid the indoor use of cleaning products and so called "air fresheners" that emit organic chemicals. Avoid activities that results in chemicals being emitted into indoor air (e.g., painting, floor polishing). Do not light candles, incense or mosquito coils. Use an exhaust fan/hood while cooking. No indoor smoking."