February 2017

February 28, 2017

Photo credits: whatsupwiththat.com

Air Pollution Is Putting Tiny Particles in Your Brain, and They’re Toxic

By Vlad Mitrache

It’s not like without this piece of news we would have thought air pollution to be good – or at least not harmful -, but it does add a new dimension to the extent of damage it can cause to our bodies.

Previously, it was believed that nocive particles found in the air we breathe were mainly dangerous to our lungs, and it made sense. If your breathers could talk, they’d probably have something pretty nasty to tell you each time you got in the car, while the more educated would stick to “ride a bike, you lazy marshmallow.”

Well, new research published these past days in the Proceedings of the National Academies of Sciences claims – and can prove – that millions of toxic particles can also be found in our brains. The team analyzed brain tissue from 37 people of all ages (between three and 92) living in two of the most polluted metropolis of this world: London and Mexico City.

The scary results showed a very high concentration of magnetite that, researchers said, went as high as a million particles per one gram of tissue. Magnetite is an iron nanoparticle that has been indirectly linked in the past with Alzheimer’s, as well as other neurodegenerative diseases.
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February 27, 2017

Photo credits: Graviky Labs

Start-Up Develops Particle Filter That Turns Pollution Into Ink

By Sebastian Toma

They say that prevention is the best medicine, but it is hard to prevent pollution in an emerging market. An Indian start-up company has devised a way to collect harmful pollution generated by vehicles, and it then turns it into something that humanity can use.

Their idea is to make ink from soot and carbon residue, while also preventing harmful pollutants from entering the air. They have a successful Kickstarter campaign, and the plan is to offer a commercially-available device that will handle the collecting part.

Even if the harmful pollutants were not turned into ink, thus recycling them, the particles would not reach the air and the lungs of the residents of the cities that had its vehicles fitted with the system.

According to its makers, the Kaalink filter can capture as much as 93% of the pollutants emitted by the average internal combustion engine. The creators of the setup declare that it does not affect performance or fuel economy.

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February 26, 2017

SAJJAD HUSSAIN / AFP

Bad air quality is a public problem, yet election campaigns in five states were silent on it

By SANGITA VYAS

I learned the hard way last year that air pollution causes pneumonia. Over the past few months, I have realised it must also cause amnesia. Five states went to polls in February, and one issue that was, and is, glaringly missing from many campaigns is air pollution.

According to the World Health Organisation, 11 of the 20 most polluted cities in India are in Punjab, Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh, three of those five states. Polling concluded in the first two states on February 4 and February 15, respectively, while the process in underway in the last state. Given that air pollution is deadly for babies and the elderly, and can make the rest of us sick, it is surprising that more people aren’t clamouring for a breath of fresh air. After the record-breaking pollution highs across North India in November, which sparked protests in the Jantar Mantar area in Delhi, air pollution has largely fallen off the public radar. Why could that be?

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February 25, 2017

Credit: L.A. Cicero

The moral element of climate change

By Alex Shashkevich

Lawmakers around the world struggle to create policies that balance their nations’ needs and interests with their impacts on global warming.

Trying to figure out what to prioritize is a tough call for many.
Blake Francis, a doctoral candidate in philosophy at Stanford and a Geballe Dissertation Prize Fellow at the Stanford Humanities Center, hopes to help guide those decisions by identifying the harms of climate change and assessing their moral significance.

Through his research, he aims to create a framework that governments could use to evaluate the moral implications of their energy, transportation and other climate change policies in order to consider when it is morally justified for them to emit greenhouse gases.

“We often have debates in climate change about how to trade off benefits and burdens without adequately considering what constitutes benefits and burdens – and whether all burdens are of the same kind,” said Debra Satz, a professor of philosophy and senior associate dean for the humanities and arts. “Blake’s approach introduces an important dimension – not all burdens to people count as harms.”

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February 24, 2017

Photo by Tesla

3 More Gigafactories Coming Soon to ‘Change the Way the World Uses Energy’

By Lorraine Chow

At the grand opening of Tesla’s enormous Gigafactory in July, CEO Elon Musk said he wants to build Gigafactories on several continents. He told BBC he wanted a factory “in Europe, in India, in China … ultimately, wherever there is a huge amount of demand for the end product.”

Well, it looks like Musk’s factory-building plans are well underway.

The company said in its fourth-quarter investor letter on Wednesday that it is considering building up to five Gigafactories.

The letter states:

“Installation of Model 3 manufacturing equipment is underway in Fremont and at Gigafactory 1, where in January, we began production of battery cells for energy storage products, which have the same form-factor as the cells that will be used in Model 3. Later this year, we expect to finalize locations for Gigafactories 3, 4 and possibly 5 (Gigafactory 2 is the Tesla solar plant in New York).”

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February 23, 2017

Air pollution is the leading environmental cause of death worldwide

By Katie Medlock

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.

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February 22, 2017

Rob Schmitz/NPR

The Burning Problem Of China’s Garbage

By ROB SCHMITZ

Sitting inside a glass-encased cockpit, two men fiddle with joysticks controlling giant claws outside. They look like they’re playing at a vending machine at a mall, where you try to grasp a stuffed animal. But these are engineers. The claws they’re manipulating are as big as houses, and they’re sifting through hundreds of tons of garbage thrown away by the world’s largest consumer class.

Trash is piling up in China — more than 520,000 tons a day. China’s government has concluded the best way to get rid of it is to burn it at incinerators like this one, the Gao’antun incinerator power plant run by the Chaoyang district of Beijing.

“Our emissions from burning the garbage are well below EU standards, and our technology is ahead of incinerators in the U.S.,” says Chen Hui, the plant’s chief engineer.
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This incinerator was opened nine months ago. The heat from burning garbage at more than 1,000 degrees Celsius produces enough electricity to power more than 140,000 homes.

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February 21, 2017

Photograph: Stefan Rousseau/PA

London’s pollution is so bad that it forced me to give up my dream PhD

By Vicky Ware

limit within just five days this year by advising Londoners to remain indoors, limit heavy breathing, and eat vegetables – seemingly everything other than not driving – millions of people are suffering serious health effects from exposure to particulate matter, nitrogen dioxide and myriad other pollutants in the air.

Khan said: “Everyone – from the most vulnerable to the physically fit – may need to take precautions to protect themselves from the filthy air.”

Despite these warnings the public seem largely unperturbed – like the frog that stays in water as it’s slowly brought to the boil. In October last year I moved to London to start a PhD at Imperial College, South Kensington. Pollution wasn’t high on my list of worries – affording accommodation and not getting squashed while cycling were bigger fears.

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While the mayor of London Sadiq Khan is acting on the fact that London breached its annual air pollution
February 20, 2017

Man points camera at ice – then captures the unimaginable on film

By NEWSNER

Photographer James Balog and his team were examining a glacier when their cameras caught something out of the ordinary.

The incident took place in Greenland, where James and his mates were gathering images from cameras that had been deployed around the Arctic Circle over the years.

James and his crew were looking for some good shots for an upcoming documentary, but no one was prepared for what would soon unfold in front of their eyes.

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February 19, 2017

Another silent spring. (Reuters/B. Rentsendorj)

A scientist explains the very real struggle of talking to climate-change deniers

By Akshat Rathi

The world needs people like Andy Jorgensen, a professor of chemistry and environmental science at the University of Toledo. One of Jorgensen’s jobs is to create educational material on global warming, its impact, and what we can do to fight against it.

In a conversation with Redditors, Jorgensen talked Feb. 14 about the difficulty of communicating climate change and the tricks he employs to convert climate-change deniers. We’ve curated and condensed the best bits for ease of reading.

How do you communicate the scale of the emergency while mitigating panic and hopelessness?

I use the analogy of a fever. The Earth’s temperature has changed about 1.8 °F [1 °C] in recent decades. This is comparable to a child with a fever. It is not life-threatening. But it should not to be ignored. By 2050 middle estimates of temperature increase are almost 4 °F, which would be very serious for a child and about the point at which climate scientists say irreversible changes would occur on Earth. By 2100, the rise could be 6 °F—and remember that this is an average, with the Arctic seeing about twice this. So like the child’s fever, we must act quickly and decisively.

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February 18, 2017

image by Joshua Stevens

Using Satellites to Size Up the Severity of Crop Fires in Northern India

By Adam Voiland with Hiren Jethva

When I was writing about the crop fires in northern India last fall, it was obvious that 2016 was a pretty severe burning season. For several weeks, large plumes of smoke from Punjab and Haryana blotted out towns and cities along the Indo-Gangetic plain in satellite images.

But I didn’t realize just how severe the fires were until Hiren Jethva, an atmospheric scientist at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, crunched the numbers. By analyzing satellite records of fire activity, he found that the 2016 fires were the most severe the region has seen since 2002 in regards to the number of fire hot spots satellites detected. In regards to the amount of smoke detected, the 2016 burning was the most severe observed since 2004. He used data from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) sensor on Aqua and the Ozone Monitoring Instrument (OMI) on Aura to reach his conclusions.

Smoke and fire in northern India have become common in October and November during the last three decades because farmers increasingly use combines to harvest rice and wheat. Since these machines leave stems and other plant residue behind, farmers have started to use fire to clear the leftover debris away in preparation for the next planting.
For more details about how 2016 compared to past years, see the charts below, which Jethva prepared. His explanation for each chart is in italics.

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February 17, 2017

REUTERS/Jason Lee/File Photo

Smoke and mirrors: Beijing battles to control smog message

By David Stanway and Sue-Lin Wong

In its ‘war’ on hazardous air pollution, China’s government has a dilemma: it needs to be open about air quality data to hold polluters to account, but worries that too much bad news from alternative, independent sources could stoke public unrest.

Beijing has greatly improved how it collects data, made more of it available to the public and cracked down on misreporting, but it’s concerned about the spread of unauthorized or inaccurate data from popular mobile apps and handheld detectors.

The conflicting approach reflects a broader debate about China’s appetite for political reform. The Ministry of Environmental Protection (MEP), under a former academic, wants to create a modern regulatory system based on independent monitoring and the rule of law, but that could rub up against the ruling Communist Party’s priority for stability.

After scandals about fraudulent data, the government also worries that alternative sources of information on pollution levels could erode public trust in official statistics, and undermine its message that the environment is improving.

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February 16, 2017

photo by Unsplash, Pixaby

India’s Air Pollution Rivals China’s as World’s Deadliest

By GEETA ANAND

NEW DELHI — India’s rapidly worsening air pollution is causing about 1.1 million people to die prematurely each year and is now surpassing China’s as the deadliest in the world, a new study of global air pollution shows.

The number of premature deaths in China caused by dangerous air particles, known as PM2.5, has stabilized globally in recent years but has risen sharply in India, according to the report, issued jointly on Tuesday by the Health Effects Institute, a Boston research institute focused on the health impacts of air pollution, and the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation, a population health research center in Seattle.

India has registered an alarming increase of nearly 50 percent in premature deaths from particulate matter between 1990 and 2015, the report says.

“You can almost think of this as the perfect storm for India,” said Michael Brauer, a professor of environment and health relationships at the University of British Columbia and an author of the study, in a telephone interview. He cited the confluence of rapid industrialization, population growth and an aging populace in India that is more susceptible to air pollution.

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February 15, 2017

Shutterstock/Igor Aleks

3 circular principles for healthy agriculture

By Hunter Lovins

Proponents of the regenerative economy are realizing that it is dependent on the circular economy of soil. The soil is one of the key natural capitals on which we all depend. Its loss is our demise.

This chapter advocates three ways to move towards regenerative agriculture: return farming systems to harmony with nature’s cycles; make and use biochar; and implement holistic management across the world’s grasslands.

The challenge: climate destructive agriculture
Most of the climate crisis results from burning fossil fuels, but almost a quarter of the problem derives from agriculture. After 150 years of unsustainable practices, the earth’s soil has been depleted.

Modern agriculture worsens climate change. Unchecked, climate change will destroy our tenuous ability to feed ourselves. For every 1 degree Celsius rise in temperature above the norm, yields of wheat, rice and corn drop 10 percent. Given that more than a billion people in the world already suffer from malnutrition, this is serious.

Soil that has been de-carbonized (lost its organic matter) requires large amounts of fossil fuel-based fertilizer if it is to grow crops at industrial scale. Petrochemical use in fertilizer releases greenhouse gasses (GHGs), especially nitrous oxide, a gas 300 times more potent per ton in causing global warming than CO2. Plowing and poor nutrient management release the nitrogen from soils in quantities. When out of place, both carbon and nitrogen, key building blocks of life in nature, are serious threats to the stability of the climate.

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February 14, 2017

photo by skeeze, Pixaby

Renewable Energy With or Without Climate Change

By Steven Cohen

The new administration in Washington is dominated by fossil fuel interests and has resumed the mantra of “Drill, baby, drill!.” Deep sea drilling, mining in protected and sometimes fragile environments, mountaintop removal, fracking, and massive pipeline projects are all back on the table. It’s America first, fast, and fossil-fueled. Meanwhile, Germany goes solar, China is investing major resources in renewable energy, and homeowners all over America are saving big money with rooftop solar arrays.

Burning fossil fuels is bad for the environment. Extracting it, shipping it, and burning it all damage the planet. Since almost all human activity damages the planet though, the question is, how much? How irreversible? And can we achieve the same ends with less damage? This last question is one of the arguments for renewable energy. Our economic life is built on energy. It has made human labor less important, human brainpower more important, and made it possible for us to live lives our great-grandparents could not have imagined. The energy use is not going away; most people like the way they live. But our use of energy needs to be made more efficient and less destructive.

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February 13, 2017

Greener cities are largest factor in preventing global warming

By Jack Loughran

Greener cities are the most important element in the fight against climate change and sticking to temperature rises agreed upon in the Paris Agreement, according to climate experts.

Signed at the end of 2015 and ratified last year, the deal intends to limit global temperature rise to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.

“Whether we win or lose, or (will) be able to really achieve that goal of 1.5°C – that battle will be waged at the city level,” said Milag San Jose-Ballesteros, director for Southeast Asia and Oceania with C40, a network of over 80 cities representing some 600 million people.

World temperatures hit a record high for the third year in a row in 2016, at around 1.1°C higher than before the Industrial Revolution ushered in wide use of fossil fuels. They will likely rise by 3°C or more by 2100 if trends continue, many projections show.

Keeping global warming below 2°C would limit the worst effects of sea-level rise, melting of Arctic sea ice, damage to coral reefs and acidification of oceans, according to the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

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February 12, 2017

 

Photo credit Pixaby

This Material Can Harvest Energy From the Sun, Heat, and Movement

By Dom Galeon

A RENEWABLE 3-IN-1

First made popular in Asia, 3-in-1 instant coffee makes sense. Instead of adding sugar and cream after its made, just put all three ingredients right in the pack and be done with it. Now, researchers from the University of Oulu in Finland have discovered the 3-in-1 material of renewable energy, so to speak. This one material can simultaneously extract energy from three of the most accessible renewable energy sources at our disposal: sunlight, heat, and movement.

The material is from a family of minerals with a perovskite crystal structure. Perovskites are ferroelectric materials, which means they are filled with tiny electric dipoles similar to the tiny compass needles in a magnet. Accordingly, when ferroelectric materials experience temperature changes, their dipoles misalign and induce an electric current. Electric charge also accumulates depending on the direction in which the dipoles point. Certain regions attract or repel charges when the material is deformed, which also generates current.

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February 11, 2017

 

(Kari Kohvakka)

Biochar: Helps Increase Crop Yields And Mitigates Climate Change

By Matter of Trust

Whenever we hear the word biochar, most of us are thinking that this is not a climate-friendly method since it undergoes combustion process and can aggravate greenhouse effect. Though this is a thousand years old industrial technology technique for soil enhancer, some are still confused if it’s the real deal. Is it, in fact, a too good to be true method for agriculture?

WHAT IS BIOCHAR?
Biochar is a soil amendment is made from biomass through pyrolysis. The method of thermochemical decomposition of consolidated materials at higher temperatures but in the nonexistence or oxygen limited area. To put in layman’s term, this is completed through agricultural waste or any organic material that are heated into very high temperature then decomposed in the absence of oxygen.

One of the examples for using biochar and was known as one of the ancient industrial technology is Terra Preta. It is also known as “Amazonian dark earth” or “Indian black earth,” which is a fertile man made soil found in the Amazon Basin. This extremely dark fertile soil encompasses a fine-grained carbon-rich resource that comes from scorched organic materials like crop residue, manure, and bones that were added to the soil.

In addition to that, Terra Preta is still fertile until today and has led to a wider appreciation of biochar as a soil enhancer that can hold carbon and can result in boosting food security and increasing the soil biodiversity in the world.

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February 10, 2017

Asia Sentinel: Trouble in the Air

By Neeta Lal

This winter, the air quality in Delhi plummeted so low – with record levels of the tiniest and the deadliest particles that can enter the lungs and other organs – that even the National Capital Territory’s chief minister, Arvind Kejriwal, was forced to admit that the metropolis had turned into a “toxic gas chamber”.

The city’s thick layer of smog is no longer merely an inconvenience to residents or a danger to asthmatics. J.C. Suri, head of the respiratory medicine department at the government-run Safdarjung Hospital, says Delhi’s air is a “slow poison” that is ruining people’s health.

The Associated Chambers of Commerce of India, the largest business lobby group, estimates that “several billions of dollars” of new investment are under threat. A recent World Bank study shows Asia’s third-largest economy lost 8.5% of its gross domestic product in 2013 due to air pollution.

The major problem is fine atmospheric particulate matter of 2.5 microns in diameter or smaller, measured by the PM2.5 index. Many major Indian cities are badly polluted by that criterion, but Delhi is by far the worst: this winter saw the index exceeding the maximum 999 level recordable, while the World Health Organization’s recommended upper limit is 25. The level on January 30 was 294, garnering a rating of “poor” (levels over 300 are rated as “very poor”.

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February 9, 2017

 

Kevin Frayer/Getty Images

The best and worst countries in the world when it comes to air pollution and electricity use

By Dave Mosher and Skye Gould

China steals an unsavory global spotlight for the thick, noxious smog that often chokes its mega-cities.

Air pollution has become so bad in Beijing, for example, that Chinese officials aim to slash its local coal consumption by 30% in 2017.

Meanwhile, the US — which currently ranks eighth on the list of countries with the lowest air pollution — could be headed in the opposite direction.

President Donald Trump has said that he intends to fulfill his campaign promise of revitalizing the American coal industry, despite the criticism of fossil fuel industry analysts and the rise of affordable sources of renewable energy. Congress is also working to repeal numerous environmental and health regulations.

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February 8, 2017

 

Shutterstock

The influence of climate change on fire activity in South Africa

By Sheldon Strydom

Fires are often seen as destructive. But when used properly it can be a force for good. For example, the floral biodiversity of savanna ecosystems is largely driven by fire activity. South Africa’s fynbos region – a floral region with plants unique to South Africa – is also highly dependent on fires to manage water and nutrient resources.

Of course, fire can also have a negative effect on the environment. Air quality can be damaged by the release of carbon monoxide and ozone and the release of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases during the burning of biomass (organic matter) has been linked to climate change.

Scientists have spent a great deal of time and effort trying to understand fire activity and how it relates to vegetation communities, topography and – of great concern in recent years – climate change.

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February 7, 2017

 

Photograph: Ulet Ifansasti/Getty

100,000 may have died but there is still no justice over Indonesian air pollution

By Elodie Aba and Bobbie Sta. Maria
At the end of last year, her father told an Indonesian court how she had been taken into hospital, and treated with oxygen therapy, then with a defibrillator. Nothing, however, had worked. After a week on a breathing machine, she died in the hospital, her lungs still full of the foul mucus.

It started with a mild cough. Muhanum Anggriawati was just 12 years old when the cough began, transforming within weeks into a violent hacking that brought up a yellowish-black liquid.

Anggriawati is believed to have been one of many victims of the haze, or air pollution, that regularly spreads across Indonesia because of the huge deforestation fires linked to palm oil and other agribusiness.

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February 6, 2017

 

Image by Gabriel Popkin

Mayans Have Farmed The Same Way For Millennia. Climate Change Means They Can’t

By GABRIEL POPKIN
Dionisio Yam Moo stands about four-and-a-half-feet tall, and his skin is weathered from years in the tropical sun. A “proudly Mayan” farmer, he grows corn, beans and vegetables on a six-hectare farm in Mexico’s Yucatán peninsula. The farm is surrounded by dense tropical forest, and crops grow amid fruit trees in thin soil, with the peninsula’s limestone bedrock protruding in places.

Yam Moo farms using a traditional, rainfed practice called milpa, which has long involved cutting and burning patches of forest, planting crops for a few years, then letting the worn-out land regenerate for up to 30 years, before cultivating it again. Milpa has enabled generations of farmers like Yam Moo overcome the Yucatán’s poor, thin soil and grow a stunningly diverse set of crops — multiple varieties of beans, squash, chili peppers, leafy greens, root vegetables, spices and corn, the plant at the heart of Mayan identity.
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February 5, 2017

New frontier of bio-tech farming

By Wilfred Pilo

A NEW soil platform, known as living soil, is providing a relatively pristine and inexpensive method to grow plants and rear animals.

By using this new method of bio-technology, it is possible to avoid chemical and harmful inputs in the soil, according to Chan Thye Huat, technical advisor of Satoyama Farm Sdn in Kuching.

At the Farm, living soil is enriched by compost, harvested from there, to generate soil micro-organism activities within this new soil medium. It is through such activities that the symbiotic relationship between plants and micro-organisms is created.

Satoyama Farm uses bamboo biochar as a planting medium but not 100 per cent as 10 to 50 per cent of the biochar is mixed with sand and soil to create a new soil platform known as living soil.

“Basically, it’s bio-technology farming or natural farming,” Chan told thesundaypost.

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February 4, 2017

Stop Complaining and Do Something About It!

By Carol Culver De Leo

The smoky season will soon blanket Chiang Mai, causing serious health issues for residents and visitors. As we all know, the annual smoke that plagues Chiang Mai comes from several sources; forest fires are a major source, along with the smoke from farmers burning their crop residue in open fields.

Dr. Michael Shafer, Director of the Warm Heart Environmental Biochar Project located in Phrao, who has been working to find long term solutions to this annual crisis stated, “We do agree that forest fires are a major source of smoke, but this is the government’s responsibility to manage. Greenpeace has offered advice on positive steps that the government can take to help control wild fires. Data from Thai university research proves that most forest fires occur where farms are located within the forests. Others occur where local government officials set fires to clear roadsides of brush.”

According to Dr. Shafer, “Farmers need a way to remove their crop waste. What we can offer them is an alternative to open field burning, which is beneficial to reducing the local smoke problem.” The Biochar Project provides free training on how to build and use a pyrolysis oven, a smoke free burning process that creates a very useful product, biochar.

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February 3, 2017

We can still keep global warming below 2℃ – but the hard work is about to start

By Pep Canadell and Corinne Le Quéré and Glen Peters

Global emissions from fossil fuels have stalled. That puts us in the right place to keep warming below 2℃, but there’s plenty of work still to be done, says international scientists.

Last year we found that the growth in global fossil fuel emissions have stalled over the past three years. But does this mean we are on track to keep global warming below 2℃, as agreed under the 2015 Paris Agreement?

In our study, published in the journal Nature Climate Change today, we looked at how global and national energy sectors are progressing towards global climate targets.

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February 2, 2017

 

Antara Foto/Rony Muharrman/ via REUTERS

Fire-prone Indonesian province declares early emergency to combat “haze”

By JAKARTA (Reuters)

Indonesia’s fire-prone Riau province declared a state of emergency on Tuesday, the disaster mitigation agency said, after President Joko Widodo urged regional authorities to avoid a repeat of fires that smothered Southeast Asia in smog in 2015.

Indonesia faces global pressure to put an end to slash-and-burn land clearances for palm and pulp plantations which send clouds of toxic smoke over the region each year.

Tuesday’s move is intended to help Riau, which sits a stone’s throw across the Malacca Strait from wealthy city-state Singapore, to begin taking preventive steps as dryer weather is expected in 2017 than in 2016.

“The province of Riau today declared emergency status for forest and land fires for 96 days,” National Disaster Mitigation Agency spokesman Sutopo Nugroho told Reuters.

The 2015 fires were among the worst on record, straining ties with neighbors, and costing Indonesia an estimated 220 trillion rupiah ($16.5 billion) in economic losses, or about 1.9 percent of gross domestic product, Widodo’s office has said.

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February 1, 2017

Online drive aims to fight Chiang Mai’s haze problem

By The Sunday Nation

THE WARM HEART Foundation is seeking donations for a Bt1-million project to eliminate 9,640 kilograms of smoke from the air over Chiang Mai during the agriculture fire season.

The “Stop the Smoke!” campaign is the first step in the foundation’s five-year plan to eliminate 50 per cent of the smoke. It is also challenging Chiang Mai communities to do their part in eliminating the remaining 50 per cent.

The project will remove the equivalent of smoke from 688.6 million cigarettes.

Dr Michael Shafer, the foundation’s director, said that though the campaign will remove “just a puff of smoke from our air, it is a first concrete step in the right direction”.

The campaign will run on Crowdrise, from today and all donations can be made via the website.

Funds raised in the campaign will be used to buy biochar from farmers in Mae Chaem district to use as fertiliser. These farmers normally burn 95,000 tonnes of corn crop waste and generate 594,700kg of smoke. Producing 1 tonne of biochar requires 5 tonnes of corn waste and prevents 31.3kg of smoke.

(Full Story)

January 2017

January 31, 2017

Iceland is drilling a giant hole, not for oil, but for geothermal energy

By Lulu Chang

If all goes well, Iceland may have found a way to harness the energy of supercritical steam, paving the way for new geothermal energy techniques.

Drill, baby, drill. But in this case, not for oil — rather, the nation of Iceland is digging a giant hole into a volcano in the name of renewable energy. By boring the world’s deepest geothermal hole in the Reykjanes peninsula (it goes down 3.1 miles), scientists say they’ll be able to take advantage of the extreme pressure and heat to tap into an impressive 30 to 50 megawatts of electricity from a single geothermal well.

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