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

GR: The smoke from burning coal, oil, diesel, and gasoline causes many health problems and deaths worldwide. According to the New York Times, the problem is so bad in India, that the country is going to make electric vehicles mandatory by 2030. The country is also switching from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources. The article doesn’t mention the great loss of wildlife that is also occurring because of human burning of fossil fuels. The danger to humans and every other species from declining biodiversity and ecosystem disruption is immense. Follow this link to get an idea of  the broader context for the problem with air pollution and health.

Smog blanketed New Delhi in 2016. About 1.1 million people die prematurely in India every year from the effects of air pollution. Credit Roberto Schmidt/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

“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.

An Indian farmer walked through his field after burning his crops. A court has ruled that farmers can no longer burn their crops near New Delhi, but many still do. Credit Saurabh Das/Associated Press

“Pollution levels are worsening in India as it tries to industrialize, but “the idea that policy making should be led by government is lacking,” Bhargav Krishna, manager for environmental health at the Public Health Foundation of India, a health policy research center in New Delhi, said in an interview.

“As air pollution worsened in parts of the world, including South Asia, it improved in the United States and Europe, the report said, crediting policies to curb emissions, among other things. The report’s website that provides country-by-country data on pollution levels and the health and mortality effects.

“Environmental regulations in the United States and actions by the European Commission have led to substantial progress in reducing fine particulate pollution since 1990, the report said. The United States has experienced a reduction of about 27 percent in the average annual exposure to fine particulate matter, with smaller declines in Europe. Yet, some 88,000 Americans and 258,000 Europeans still face increased risks of premature death because of particulate levels today, the report said.

“A fraction of the width of a human hair, these particles can be released from vehicles, particularly those with diesel engines, and by industry, as well as from natural sources like dust. They enter the bloodstream through the lungs, worsening cardiac disease and increasing the risk of stroke and heart failure, in addition to causing severe respiratory problems, like asthma and pneumonia.” –Geeta Anand, New York Times (Continue reading.)

Villagers near a newly built state-owned coal fired power plant in southern China. Credit Kevin Frayer/Getty Images

The Eiffel Tower seen through a haze of air pollution in Paris last month. The United States and Europe have made good progress in cutting fine particulate air pollution since 1990. Credit Philippe Wojazer/Reuters

Feds Halt New Drilling on Rover Pipeline After Massive Spills Destroy Ohio Wetlands

GR: Hmm, Energy Transfer Partners–why is that name familiar?

“The U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) halted new drilling Wednesday on the Rover Pipeline until it addresses its 2 million gallon spill of drilling fluids into Ohio wetlands.

“The decision was made just days after the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) slapped parent company Energy Transfer Partners (ETP) with a $431,000 fine over numerous water and air pollution violations along the route of the $4.2 billion project. ETP is the same company behind the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline, which also happened to leak 84 gallons of oil in South Dakota early last month.

“Terry Turpin, director of FERC’s Office of Energy Projects, said in a Wednesday letter to the developer that FERC staff has “serious concerns” about the sizable spill, its environmental impacts and the “lack of clarity regarding the underlying reasons for its occurrence, and the possibility of future problems.”

“The two spills of betonite mud were discovered April 13 and 14 in Stark and Richland County wetlands and was caused by pressure during drilling that allowed mud to rise to the surface, the Ohio EPA said.” –Lorraine Chow (Continue reading: Feds Halt New Drilling on Rover Pipeline After Massive Spills Destroy Ohio Wetlands.)

Zinke Releases National Monument Hit List

GR:  The anti-nature Trump administration guided by our corrupt congress, has launched yet another attempt to enrich the fossil-fuel industry. This attempt is aimed at the nation’s national monuments. And for what? We do not need the fuels. Industry administrators are simply too lazy to switch their focus to renewable energy. So, now we have to cite both sloth and greed as the human forces behind the “death-to-nature” actions of the Trumpeters.

Bears Ears National Monument. Photo by Bob Wick, Bureau of Land Management.

“President Trump’s Secretary of the Interior, Ryan Zinke, today released his list of National Monuments he intends to dismantle.

“On the chopping block, more than 11 million acres of public lands in the American West. These lands include the Bears Ears National Monument in Utah, Canyons of the Ancients in Colorado, Grand Canyon-Parashant in Arizona, Gold Butte in Nevada, Craters of the Moon in Idaho, Giant Sequoia in California, and many more.

“Make no mistake, this is a hit list. In spite of Zinke’s claims otherwise, the American public has made their voices heard loudly and clearly over the years as Presidents have designated deserving American natural and cultural treasures as National Monuments. Since their designations, Americans far and wide have continued to voice support for protection.

“It’s not a surprise. These public lands are truly majestic and unmatched. They’re also major economic boosters. It’s no wonder that even the State of Utah, which is opposed to National Monuments, touts Monuments like the Grand Staircase-Escalante as “phenomenal” landscapes in an effort to drive tourism and generate revenue.

“If anything is unprecedented, it’s Trump’s attack on these American treasures.

“Zinke’s announcement today kicks off a process that will surely lead to the diminishment or dismantling of protections for all of these places. Trump himself called these National Monuments “abuses,” a pretty strong indicator of where this process is going to end up.

“And while Zinke’s move is clearly being driven by the anti-public lands movement, this movement itself seems to be fueled largely by fossil fuel interests.

Bears Ears by Tim Peterson

“As we wrote earlier, the Bears Ears National Monument in particular is squarely in the crosshairs of fracking companies. Other Monuments, including Grand Staircase-Escalante (which has already experienced oil spills), Canyons of the Ancients (CO) (which has already been extensively developed by oil and gas companies), Upper Missouri River Breaks (MT), Grand Canyon-Parashant (AZ), Basin and Range (NV), and Carrizo Plain (CA) also all have potential for fracking.” –Jeremy Nichols (Continue reading: Zinke Releases National Monument Hit List – ClimateWest.)

Pollution From Canada’s Oil Sands May Be Underreported

GR: Almost every day, we learn that the many forces contributing to climate change are more powerful than we thought, or we learn that they are occurring faster than we thought, or both. And apparently, the picture is even gloomier than all the bad news has told us, because our measurement methods have been faulty.

“Canadian scientists have found that the standard way of tallying air and climate pollution from Alberta’s oil sands vastly understates pollution levels there — by as much as 4.5 times, according to a Canadian government study published Monday.

“The study shows that air samples collected using aircraft may be a more accurate way to tally air and climate pollution from oil and gas production than using industry estimates.

Suncor Energy oil sands plant near Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada.Credit: Suncor/flickr

“Accurate accounting of the oil and gas industry’s pollution is critical for scientists to understand how fossil fuel production affects the climate and to find ways to cut the pollution to address air quality and climate change, said Allen Robinson, director of the EPA-funded Center for Air, Climate and Energy Solutions at Carnegie Mellon University, who is unaffiliated with the study.

“Both the U.S. and Canadian governments rely on energy companies’ self-reported emissions estimates in order to count all the pollution from oil and gas operations. Few actual pollution measurements are taken.

“If official tallies underestimate the actual emissions, climate models will likewise underestimate the extent to which fossil fuel pollution is contributing to climate change, Robinson said. The Canadian research shows that the energy industry has been underreporting its emissions and it highlights the challenges the industry faces in accurately estimating emissions from very complex equipment.

“Scientists in both the U.S. and Canada have found that measuring greenhouse gases and other kinds of air pollution using satellites or air samples gathered from airplanes paints a vastly different picture of fossil fuel emissions than those reported by government environmental agencies.

“For example, research using satellite data found a previously undetected hotspot of methane — a potent greenhouse gas — over oil and gas fields in northwest New Mexico. Most leaking methane from oil and gas fields isn’t included in EPA emissions estimates.

“Another study, conducted by Harvard University researchers, used air samples gathered from towers and airplanes to show that methane emissions from various sources in southern states are five times higher than EPA estimates.

“The Canadian research team measured emissions of volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, in the air above oil sands operations in Alberta. VOCs, most of which are not greenhouse gases, have an indirect effect on the climate. They produce ozone, which is a greenhouse gas and can harm human health.

“Ozone can allow methane to linger longer in the atmosphere than it would under normal conditions. The longer methane, which has about 86 times the power of carbon dioxide to warm the globe over the span of 20 years, remains in the atmosphere the more it helps to warm the climate.” –Bobby Magill (Continue reading:  Pollution From Canada’s Oil Sands May Be Underreported | Climate Central.)

An oil sands operation in eastern Alberta. Credit: Kris Krug/flickr