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

Paul Hawken: “Game on” for global warming

GR:  What can we do to reverse global warming? Lots. The list of proposals contained in this work is by far the most comprehensive I’ve seen (Project Drawdown). Recommended. The rest of this blog post is an interview of the project’s leader.

“In this interview, environmentalist, entrepreneur, and author Paul Hawken discusses Project Drawdown, “the most comprehensive plan ever proposed to reverse global warming.” Hawken, who leads the project and edited the just-published book Drawdown, explains why his team felt it necessary to create a master list of the most substantive current solutions to global warming, and how they went about their extensive research. Surprisingly, many of the top solutions they identified and modeled do not involve energy systems, but instead focus on changes in food, land use, and other categories. Hawken speaks about global warming in positive terms, describing it as useful “feedback” that enables humans to take responsibility for what they have done – and to devote themselves to fixing the problem rather than to laying blame.

“If you had asked the thousands of experts at the Paris climate talks to make a list of the top five or 10 solutions to global warming, in any order, I don’t think anybody could have done it. We don’t know. And isn’t that odd? A sixth grader can tell you the five biggest states, but we can’t name the five biggest solutions to the biggest problem humanity has ever faced?” –Paul Hawken.

“They call it “the most comprehensive plan ever proposed to reverse global warming.” It’s a set of 80 solutions that already exist, and 20 “Coming Attractions” that are still emerging. The solutions include the obvious, such as wind and solar power, but the plan doesn’t focus exclusively on renewable energy or even on energy sources in general. The solutions also involve food, buildings and cities, land use, transport, materials, and initiatives aimed specifically at women and girls. Two of the solutions – family planning and educating girls – would be at the top of the list if combined.” –Dawn Stover (Continue: Paul Hawken: “Game on” for global warming: Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists: Vol 73, No 3.)

Learn more about Project Drawdown here.

Merkley, Sanders goal: U.S. on all renewables by 2050

GR:  The U. S. has begun adopting renewable energy. For instance, the number of us solar jobs (not even counting wind) surpassed coal, oil, and gas jobs officially in late 2015 (https://www.bloomberg.com). This story shows some of the powerful support behind the 100 by ’50 Act (100% by 2050). It also includes links to background information as well as the bill and the bill summary.

People in my community are switching to rooftop solar power. The switch stabilizes their costs and gives them independence from power failures of all kinds. Those that live in shaded homes like mine or in multi-family apartments are switching using the Green-e Program.

Look at the list of seven core components of the transition plan and see if you agree that it is sensible. The story from KTVZ.com reporting from Senator Merkley’s home state lists the component near the end:

“Senators Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT), along with Senators Edward J. Markey (D-MA) and Cory Booker (D-NJ), introduced landmark climate legislation Thursday that would transition the United States to 100 percent clean and renewable energy by no later than 2050.

“The “100 by ’50 Act” lays out a roadmap for a transition to 100% clean and renewable energy by 2050. It is the first bill introduced in Congress that will fully envision a transition off of fossil fuels for the United States.

“America is home to innovative entrepreneurs and scientists who have tackled many challenges in our nation’s history — from harnessing electricity, to putting a man on the moon, to curing disease,” said Merkley. “The power to end the use of fossil fuels and completely transition to clean and renewable energy is within our hands, but just as with the moon landing, we need a roadmap, a goal, and a passionate, shared national commitment to get us there.

“If an asteroid were hurtling its way through space towards our planet, we would do everything in our power to stop that asteroid. Our commitment to fighting climate change should be no less. Starting at a local, grassroots level and working toward the bold and comprehensive national vision laid out in this legislation, now is the time to commit to 100% by 2050.”

“The good news is that despite President Trump, we are winning this battle,” said Sanders. “In Vermont and all over this country, we are seeing communities moving toward energy efficiency and we are seeing the price of renewable energy plummet. Our job is to think big, not small. We can win the war against climate change. We can win the war in transforming our energy system and put millions of people to work doing that. We can create a planet that will be healthy and habitable for our children. There is no issue more important.”

“It is no longer a question of if we can power our country with 100 percent renewable energy, it is a question of when,” said Markey. “We know that we have 100 percent of the clean energy resource potential in the United States. And we have 100 percent of the technological capability to achieve this goal. As President Trump launches attacks on investments in climate science and energy innovation, now, more than ever, we need to stand up and fight for our clean energy future. I thank Senators Merkley and Sanders for their help leading this historic clean energy revolution.” –KTVZ.com (Continue reading: Merkley, Sanders goal: U.S. on all renewables by 2050 – KTVZ

Lithium-Ion Battery Inventor Introduces New Technology for Fast-Charging, Noncombustible Batteries

GR: I missed this story earlier, but it is worth repeating. Batteries that cost less, store more energy, charge faster, last longer, and safer when exhausted. OKAY! Solar energy collection and storage in existing batteries is already competitive with polluting fossil fuels. With better batteries, fossil fuel becomes obsolete. And like the batteries, John Goodenough just keeps going. (Thanks to Climatecrocks for bringing this story to my attention.)

“A team of engineers led by 94-year-old John Goodenough, professor in the Cockrell School of Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin and co-inventor of the lithium-ion battery, has developed the first all-solid-state battery cells that could lead to safer, faster-charging, longer-lasting rechargeable batteries for handheld mobile devices, electric cars and stationary energy storage.

Pictured: Maria Helena Braga.

“Goodenough’s latest breakthrough, completed with Cockrell School senior research fellow Maria Helena Braga, is a low-cost all-solid-state battery that is noncombustible and has a long cycle life (battery life) with a high volumetric energy density and fast rates of charge and discharge. The engineers describe their new technology in a recent paper published in the journal Energy & Environmental Science.“

“Cost, safety, energy density, rates of charge and discharge and cycle life are critical for battery-driven cars to be more widely adopted. We believe our discovery solves many of the problems that are inherent in today’s batteries,” Goodenough said.

“The researchers demonstrated that their new battery cells have at least three times as much energy density as today’s lithium-ion batteries. A battery cell’s energy density gives an electric vehicle its driving range, so a higher energy density means that a car can drive more miles between charges. The UT Austin battery formulation also allows for a greater number of charging and discharging cycles, which equates to longer-lasting batteries, as well as a faster rate of recharge (minutes rather than hours).” –Sandra Zaragoza (Continue: Lithium-Ion Battery Inventor Introduces New Technology for Fast-Charging, Noncombustible Batteries | UT News | The University of Texas at Austin.)