Smog-fighting helicopters in Delhi grounded – due to smog

November 14, 2017 by  
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Delhi has been battling choking smog , prompting doctors to declare a public health emergency . The government came up with a plan: use helicopters to combat the air pollution . But there’s a problem: the helicopters can’t fly because the smog is so bad. Delhi’s government had asked state-owned company Pawan Hans to come up with a plan to deploy helicopters to drizzle water across the beleaguered city, with the hope it would help settle the smog. But Pawan Hans told city officials this week the choppers couldn’t fly in the haze. Chairman and managing director BP Sharma told The Indian Express , “Right now, with the prevailing smog, it is not possible for the helicopters to carry out operations.” Related: Delhi residents struggle to breathe as doctors declare air pollution health emergency There’s another roadblock that stands in the way: almost half of Delhi, according to an official, is part of a no-fly zone. This includes the city’s southern quarters where the prime minister, presidency, and parliament are based – and according to The Guardian , the no-fly zone is strictly policed. A Delhi government spokesperson told The Indian Express, “There are a few issues and these will be worked out while creating the [standard operating procedure]. All stakeholders are being consulted.” Experts had questioned the plan – one called it “nothing more than a load of hot air,” according to India Today . Mukesh Khare, Indian Institute of Technology Delhi professor who’s spent years working on urban air pollution, said the solution was impractical and would waste water and money, telling India Today the plan hadn’t been used anywhere in the world to take down air pollution, and that the water would dry rapidly, sending officials back to square one in a few hours. 52 percent of the particulate matter in Delhi’s air comes from dust kicked up by tens of thousands of cars , according to a 2015 study cited by The Guardian. Other factors like uncovered soil and sand from construction sites, crop burning, and slow winds have also played a role in the pollution. Via The Guardian , The Indian Express , and India Today Images via Jean-Etienne Minh-Duy Poirrier on Flickr and Shalabh Gupta on Facebook

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Smog-fighting helicopters in Delhi grounded – due to smog

Delhi residents struggle to breathe as doctors declare air pollution health emergency

November 7, 2017 by  
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Doctors in Delhi, India’s capital region, have declared a public health emergency over the densely populated, metropolitan area’s extremely high level of air pollution , the breathing of which has been described as the equivalent of smoking 50 cigarettes in a day. The Indian Medical Association has called for the capital city’s upcoming half-marathon to be cancelled to avoid “disastrous health consequences” and urges residents to remain inside to protect themselves from the pollution. Arvind Kejriwal, chief minister of Delhi, described the city as “a gas chamber,” according to the Guardian , while he and other officials work to determine an effective response to the crisis. As the region struggles to breath, state and federal government have been urged to take action to protect its citizens. In response to the public health emergency, schools have been closed while transportation routes have suffered delays under the decreased visibility. While the smog contains a number of noxious chemicals, the most destructive are concentrations of fine pollutants smaller than 2.5 micro-meters, which are so tiny that they are able to slip through natural filters in the human body. These fine pollutants, which include lead, arsenic, cadmium and mercury, have reached concentrations in the air eleven times the level defined as safe by the World Health Organization. “It has terrible effects on every part of your body,” said Dr. Arvind Kumar, chest surgery chairman at Sir Ganga Ram hospital in Delhi, according to the Guardian . “It can precipitate an acute asthma attack and in the long run it will increase their risk of lung cancer .” Related: India to only sell electric cars by 2030 Delhi’s air is polluted for much of the year due to open burning of trash, road dust, exhaust from vehicles, and byproducts of industrial activity. However, it becomes even more unbearable in winter when seasonal changes trap the pollution closer to the ground. Attempts to improve Delhi’s air quality have included traffic rationing, shuttering of local coal power plants , and even banning fireworks during Diwali. Unfortunately, to truly tackle this urgent problem, local, state, and federal governments will need to examine the complex systems that result in an outpouring of pollution and craft comprehensive policies to discourage unhealthy practices and encourage healthy ones. Via The Guardian Images via Depositphotos (1)

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Smog-filled Beijing is building a ‘green necklace’ around the city to curb pollution

March 23, 2017 by  
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Beijing’s pollution problem is no secret – earlier this year the city even created an environmental police squad in a bid to stop smog . Now, the nearby province of Hebei  – which contributes to Beijing’s smog with it’s heavy industry economy – is taking some creative new steps to combat the dangerous health risk that kills millions of people each year. The government is turning to nature to create a “green necklace” of trees and green belts as a natural way to fight pollution. People have recently pointed fingers at Hebei’s heavy industry as a source for some of Beijing’s hazardous pollution . The city has suffered from numerous smog outbreaks, often during the winter, according to Reuters. So the Hebei government announced this week both they and Beijing will plant trees and use wetlands and rivers to create a green necklace to protect the major global city. In a website notice, the government said it will increase forest coverage and set up green belts with the help of river systems, farms, mountains, and wetlands near Beijing. Related: China’s crazy smog-sucking vacuum tower might actually be working Transportation rules for Beijing and border areas are also part of the plan, which according to Reuters is part of a government effort to integrate the city, Hebei, and Tianjin, a major port city just southeast of Beijing. What have been described as fortress economies in the area could have prompted a race to the bottom in environmental law enforcement, according to Reuters. The cross-regional plan could also help address overpopulation – around 22 million people currently live in Beijing – by trying to limit urban development on the city’s borders. Beijing also plans to move some industries and “non-capital functions” out to Hebei, hoping such moves will also help cut pollution and congestion. Limited coal consumption is another piece of the strategy to clear the skies over Beijing, and the city just decommissioned the last coal-fired power plant earlier in March. Via Reuters Images via Bert Oostdijk on Flickr and Wikimedia Commons

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Smog-filled Beijing is building a ‘green necklace’ around the city to curb pollution

China to replace Beijing’s 67,000 gas-powered taxis with electric cars

March 2, 2017 by  
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Beijing ‘s air pollution was so bad last December that hundreds of flights were canceled at the city’s international airport due to poor visibility. In an effort to clean up the capital’s notorious smog, China just announced a plan to replace the city’s 67,000 gas-powered taxis with electric cars – and it will require all new taxis to be electric. The gas-to-electric cab conversion project is expected to cost taxi operators $1.3 billion (9 billion yuan). Electric vehicles in China currently cost around $20,000, which is twice as much as conventional cars. Besides the high price tag for EVs, another challenge for taxi companies looking to electrify their fleets is the lack of charging stations in Beijing. When the city added 200 electric taxis to its fleet in 2014, drivers reportedly were waiting in lines of up to six hours at charging stations. Related: China plans its first “Forest City” to fight air pollution While China made improvements to air quality in 2014 with its “war on pollution,” smog is on the rise again because of increased industrial production in China’s steelmaking heartland south of Beijing, according to Greenpeace. Shifting wind patterns have blown air pollution north, with heavy smog settling into the Jingjinji national capital region (Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei). China also recently announced that its domestic railway will expand by nearly 19,000 miles (30,000 kilometers) before 2020, with one-third of the increased mileage to be high-speed rail. According to China’s Economic Daily newspaper, “by 2020, China will have built a comprehensive modern transportation system that is safe, convenient, efficient and green.” Via CleanTechnica Images via Flickr and Wikimedia

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Air pollution is the leading environmental cause of death worldwide

February 15, 2017 by  
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A new report shows that air pollution is the leading environmental cause of death in the world – and the number five cause of death overall. China and India lead the way with a combined 2.2 pollution-related deaths in 2015. These rising trends continue to put pressure on governments and industries that could make a difference. The State of Global Air 2017 report revealed how long-term exposure to harmful, small particulate matter in the air contributed to over 4 million premature deaths in 2015 – the equivalent of 103 million years of healthy life. The study, a combined effort by the Health Effects Institute (HEI) and Institute for Health Metrics and Evalution’s Global Burden of Disease Project , showed China and India as the nations suffering from the most health effects and early deaths due to air pollution. CNBC notes that UK air pollution deaths are also on the rise at 40,000 per year. Related: Beijing creates new environmental police force to crack down on smog “We are seeing increasing air pollution problems worldwide,” HEI President Dan Greenbaum said in a statement. “The trends we report show that we have seen progress in some parts of the world – but serious challenges remain.” Sadly, particulate matter tends to affect the very old and the very young, leaving the most vulnerable populations at a higher risk. Via CNBC Images via Flickr ( 1 , 2 )

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India’s capital of Delhi just banned plastic disposables

January 23, 2017 by  
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While balls dropped, glasses clinked, and fireworks lit up the sky on January 1, India rang in the new year with a death knell for single-use plastic. To ease growing pollution in the capital of Delhi, the National Green Tribunal has not only banned plastic disposables in the territory, but it’s also directing Delhi authorities to take “immediate steps” to reduce waste in the three main dumping sites of Okhla, Gazipur, and Bhalswa, which residents allege use illegal mass-burning technology that creates air pollution. “Each of these sites is a depiction of mess that can be created for environment and health of people of Delhi,” Swatanter Kumar, who chairs the tribunal, said in a statement. The National Green Tribunal had earlier chastened the Delhi government for its “laxity” over the rising frequency of smog so thick and acrid it sears eyes and burns throats. Plants that fail to comply with prescriptions laid out by the Air Prevention and Control of Pollution Act and Solid Waste Management Rules will face fines of 500,000 rupees—or $7,346 in American dollars—per incident, Kumar said. Related: California officially becomes the first state to ban plastic bags Similarly, Delhi’s vegetable vendors and slaughter houses that throw garbage in public places will have to cough up 10,000 rupees ($147) in reparative costs. Delhi residents have hailed the changes as both necessary and long overdue. “This is a brilliant move,” Priyanshu Sharma, who studies hotel management, told the Hindustani Times . “There are dumps around our house and sometimes they do not get cleaned for days. People also have to learn not to litter. A cleaner Delhi will always be a better Delhi.” Others expressed a mix of optimism and caution. “We have been trying to keep our city clean through various programs and it’s great that others will join in too in their own little ways because of this ban,” said Priyadarshini Valecha, who owns a waste-management company in Gurgaon. “Putting a fine is an effective way of reducing waste. But, only time will tell how successful this would be. I wish it the best!” Via TreeHugger Photos by Julian Stallabrass and Tawheed Manzoor

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India’s capital of Delhi just banned plastic disposables

Tesla just introduced the world’s longest range electric car

January 23, 2017 by  
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Tesla just made electric vehicle (EV) history, but you’d be forgiven if you didn’t know. With nary an announcement or social media post, the company surreptitiously introduced the Model S 100D, which boasts an impressive, record-breaking EPA-estimated range of 335 miles. Like the S 90D, the S 100D has a top speed of 155 miles per hour, and can reach 60 miles per hour from zero in a mere 2.4 seconds. If you’re looking for an EV that can prowl the roads for a long time on a single charge, the Tesla Model S 100D is now the car to beat. Compared against the Model S P100D, the S 100D can drive 20 miles further on one charge, and while it takes longer to accelerate from zero to 60 miles per hour (the S P100D can accomplish the feat in 2.5 seconds), the S 100D costs around $30,000 less than the P100D and includes the same 100 kWh battery pack . Related: Check out this adorable $500 electric Tesla Model S just for kids (sorry adults) Surprisingly, Tesla rolled out the exciting new option with little pomp, instead quietly adding an update to their online design studio . The new S 100D starts at $95,000, which is only about $3,000 more than the 90D. Given its extra range of 41 miles more than the 90D, some people may think an extra $3,000 is quite a bargain. Aside from the different battery packs – the 90D has the 90 kWh battery pack – both cars have identical standard equipment. As of December 2016, such equipment includes “collision avoidance and automatic emergency braking,” according to the design studio website. Electrek points out the carmaker has never before offered as many options as they provide now. With the affordable new S 100D, Tesla could see a boost in sales, as many new buyers may opt for the longest range they can get. Via Autoblog and Electrek Images via Tesla and Tesla Facebook

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Beijing creates new environmental police force to crack down on smog

January 11, 2017 by  
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Notoriously smoggy Beijing has created a new police force specifically to crack down on air pollution. The environmental police squad is one of several new plans announced by Beijing’s acting major, Cai Qi to deal with the city’s massive pollution problem . Other measures on Cai’s list include: cutting coal use by 30 percent in 2017, shutting down 500 polluting factories, upgrading 2,500 facilities, phasing out 300,000 older vehicles and getting cleaner gas and diesel to stations as soon as Feb. 15. “Though we have made some progresses, air pollution in winter is still very serious,” Cai told media on Saturday. “That’s why the government must strengthen environmental protection and step up supervision and accountability in 2017. “Open-air barbecues, garbage incineration, biomass burning, dust from roads – these acts of non-compliance with regulations are actually the result of lax supervision and weak law enforcement.” While air pollution is a constant problem in China , it tends to get worse in the winter and often goes beyond WHO safety guidelines. It is so bad it causes school and business closures, flight cancellations, and driving bans. Just one day before making the announcement, the government announced city schools and kindergartens would be equipped with air purifiers. Related: Pollution in China prompts Beijing exodus Strict anti-pollution laws that came into effect in 2014 have taken somewhat of a bite out of the problem, but according to the Christian Science Monitor , an economic slowdown in 2016 dampened the enthusiasm a bit – as the Chinese government supported polluting industries to help drive economic growth. Via Christian Science Monitor Images via Yinan Chen and McKay Savage , Wikimedia Commons

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New Delhi has the worst air pollution of any city on earth

November 9, 2016 by  
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New Delhi’s toxic smog is literally off the charts – and according to its Air Quality Index rating, it’s the most polluted city on earth. Measurements recorded at the United States Embassy in Delhi reveal that the city’s AQI is a staggering 999 – but the AQI standard chart ends at 500. Particle counts in some areas of the city are 16 times the level considered safe by the Indian government. What’s causing the smog in New Delhi ? Some blame fireworks during the Hindu celebration Diwali, but NASA satellite images show crop burning has a role to play in the pollution too, as farmers burn leftover straw. Construction and vehicles are probably also contributing to the poor air quality . Related: Mexico City bans over one million cars as air pollution skyrockets PM 2.5 particles – the most unhealthy type of particles – spiked to levels of 700 micrograms per cubic meter this week. Exposure to this level of pollution is as bad as smoking over two cigarette packs daily, according to experts cited by The New York Times . Over the weekend, people protested outside Parliament and the chief minister of Delhi tried to take some action to curb the dramatic pollution. Construction will cease for five days, around 1,800 schools will close for three days, and a power plant will be closed for 10 days. The government suggested people cleanse their eyes with water and go to the hospital if they experienced “breathlessness, giddiness, chest pain, and chest constriction.” Centre for Environmental Health at the Public Health Foundation of India manager Bhargav Krishna told The New York Times, “These are all decent emergency measures, but they’re not solving the long-term problem.” While some hope for a reprieve as weather changes, during the winter some people in Delhi have to burn trash to stay warm, and as such trash often includes rubber and plastic, the practice will likely contribute to continued pollution. Via The New York Times and CNN Images via Ville Miettinen on Flickr and Wikimedia Commons

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Earth Overshoot Day arrives earlier this year than ever before

August 8, 2016 by  
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The planet isn’t equipped to deal with the amount of pollution humans pump out or the amount of resources we gobble up every year. To show just how unbalanced things are, each year we mark Earth Overshoot Day , the point that we use up nature’s entire “budget” for the year. This year, Overshoot Day falls on August 8 – earlier than it ever has before in history. Think of it as a bank statement for the planet, and from here on out for the rest of the year, we’re bouncing checks. Earth Overshoot Day marks the point where we have pulled more resources, like fish, fuel and water, out of the planet than can be replenished. It’s also the point where we have put more pollution into the air and water than Earth can successfully deal with. Humans have been doing that for a long time, but ever since 1971, Overshoot Day has crept disconcertingly earlier and earlier. This year, Overshoot Day is a full 5 days earlier than last year. That’s the earliest it has ever been. Related: Paris just banned all cars built before 1997 to fight air pollution Obviously, the way we are living is not sustainable. We’d need an entire second planet to maintain our current way of life in developed countries. Since we don’t have a second Earth, our only other option is to learn to live in balance with the planet. We can make lots of individual choices to help, but the biggest impact comes from forcing our governments to take action and electing people who support sustainability . The Dutch are banning polluting cars , entire cities are going vegetarian  and the Paris climate agreement is a major step towards global change. Hopefully, if we keep the momentum going, rather than creeping earlier yet again next year, we can push the Earth Overshoot Day back. Via DesmogUK Images via Beyond Coal & Gas  and  Kevin Gill

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