Sunday, July 30, 2017

German Court Orders Ban of Diesel Cars to Reduce Air Pollution


A judge in the German court of Stuggart has ordered a ban on polluting diesel cars from entering the city January 2018. This comes after the current Air Quality Plan written by the government of Stuggart was deemed inadequate to bring down air pollution within legal limits.

Stuttgart is home to car makers Porsche, Mercedes-Benz and auto suppliers Bosch and Mahle.

In response to Stuttgart having the worst Air Pollution in Germany, the government drew up a draft Air Quality Plan. Environmental lawyers ClientEarth took the government to court arguing that although it contained some positive measures it did not go far enough to restrict pollution.

"The judge has clarified that a diesel ban is unavoidable," ClientEarth lawyer Ugo Taddei said in a statement. "Stuttgart's authorities must now find rapid and effective ways to solve the region's air quality issues. This should include a more structured approach that acknowledges the emissions issues with diesel vehicles - it must also not put undue confidence in what retrofitting can achieve."

This move comes before the August 2nd summit where Germany’s powerful VDA auto industry, lobby which supports diesel, would meet to talk about changes to make. 

"There are more intelligent solutions than a total ban," VDA said, adding they are expecting an appeal at the Federal Administrative Court to reach a different conclusion to the Stuttgart court.

Car makers such as Daimler has said they would reduce their nitric oxide emissions with software updates. However, Wolfgang Kern, the presiding judge at the Stuggart court, said in his ruling,” Stuttgart must ensure emissions limits were met as soon as possible and said software-based retrofits of diesel cars were insufficient and would come too late.

Elsewhere, the mayors of Paris, Madrid, Mexico City, and Athens plan to ban diesel vehicles by 2025. Sweden’s Volvo states this month that all car models after 2019 would be electric or hybrid.


Growing Tourism in Chiang Mai, Thailand

There’s no doubt that Chiang Mai is a popular tourist destination in Thailand, but in recent years it has gained even more popularity, forcing the tight crowded city to expand. This increase in tourism has lead to the growth of funds that people living there have, this has lead to more privately owned vehicles which means more cars on the already busy streets. It is a common sight in Chiang Mai to see people walking around with surgical masks on to avoid breathing in the exhaust fumes that hang in the air. The article states “Public hospitals are overwhelmed with patients needing treatment for respiratory illness.” This is caused in part by the increase of cars on the road, but also the overall warming of the city during rush hour, which allows the air to become even more saturated with pollutants.


Read more about this issue and what surrounding communities are doing to combat air pollution at http://thediplomat.com/2017/07/can-chiang-mai-avoid-the-environmental-costs-of-development/

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Update on Vietnam's Air Quality

An Update on Vietnam's Air Quality on 1st Quarter 2017




VSEA (Vietnam Sustainable Energy Alliance) updated the air quality statues for the first quarter of 2017 based on data put together from the U.S Embassy and U.S Consulate continuing monitoring air quality in Vietnam. The results showed that the air quality in Hanoi and Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) has been worse in the first quarter of 2017 when  juxtaposed with last year's data. Saigon's air quality reached an average AQI of 101 (86 AQI for 2016) and an "average PM2.5 concentration of 
35.8 μg/m3 (28.3 μg/m3 for 2016). While the Average quality index (AQI) for Hanoi in the frost quite of 2017 was 123 (121 for 2016). 








Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Chinese Forest City to Improve Air Quality

Wondering how we can work to alleviate the effects of air pollution in our cities? Well, what if the cities themselves could absorb air pollution? Italian architectural firm Stefano Boeri Architetti has designed a smog-eating forest city to be constructed in Liuzhou in southern China.

The project will be a 342-acre, self-contained neighborhood and will be made up of more than 70 buildings—including homes, hospitals, hotels, schools and offices—all of which will be covered with 40,000 trees and almost a million plants. The forest city is expected to absorb almost 10,000 tons of carbon dioxide and 57 tons of pollutants per year, while producing 900 tons of oxygen per year.

Air pollution has been a major concern in China in recent decades and the Chinese government is actively seeking ways to remedy the problem. Green-lighting major urban greening projects like the Liuzhou Forest City is just one of the ways that China is moving forward in the search for solutions to environmental pollution.

I think it will take a lot more than a few green architectural projects in a sea of conventional urban sprawl to make a major impact and change the world we live in for the better, but projects like Liuzhou Forest City are at least a step in the right direction.

If you are an architect or are hoping to become one someday, is there anything like this air pollution reducing city that you have worked on or would like to work on someday? Does this kind of project inspire you to design something for the future that can make our world a better place?

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Clean air is everyone's right and responsibility.


The words “carbon footprint” evoke images of industrial factories spewing smog, vehicles idling in traffic, or the feelings of shame for participating in unsustainable air travel. The work of removing CO2 from Earth’s atmosphere is largely done by microorganisms in the oceans and by trees on land. However, issues like ocean acidification and mass deforestation jeopardize the planet’s ability to keep these global systems in check.
According to the United Nations, forest lands now cover less than 1/3rd of the Earth’s solid surface, and this number continues to decline. Forest fires exact a multiplied toll on Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions, with the trees they destroy and remove from the carbon sink equation. Over the past two months, thousands of precious hectors of forests have been incinerated by more than 700 forest fires in the Canadian province of British Columbia (BC). The long-term increase of atmospheric CO2 is not the only negative impact that forest fires have on human life. Smoke from fires kill more than those who die from incineration. The forest fires in BC have resulted in numerous air quality warnings and pose a serious health risk for those with delicate respiratory systems. To learn the current conditions of the air quality where you live, visit: https://waqi.info/.
Being carbon conscious is in the best interest of everyone’s health. Take the time to consider your actions that contribute to your carbon footprint, and most importantly, be fire smart by taking Smokey’s pledge.
Click the video link to watch Sally Aitken's escape through one of BC's 2017 wildfires

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Air Pollution in Spain



This article discusses the detrimental effect air pollution has caused in European countries. In urban Europe air pollution has become one of the leading causes of premature deaths. According to the European Environment Agency, in the year 2013 Spain estimated 29,980 premature deaths due to air pollution. This number is a significant decrease compared to the 33,200 deaths related to air pollution in the year 2012. These high numbers of air polluted related deaths are already uncomfortably large, causing cities to consider alternatives in order to decrease the amount of people exposed to such pollutants. Data collected in 2014 by the World Health Organization, of cities across Europe determined that 85% of urban cities were being exposed to fine particulate matter, found mainly in the burning of fossil fuels. Because of this we have seen an increase in respiratory and cardiovascular diseases.

Taking this into consideration, the European Environment Agency has been collecting data regarding levels of air pollution in major cities in Europe and comparing them throughout the years. Showing that between 2000 and 2014, cities that were being monitored showed a decrease in air pollution levels due to the governments hand in discovering a solution. The main example provided of efforts done in order to improve air quality in highly polluted cities is seen in Madrid, Spain. The city banned non-residents driving into the city, and lowered the speed limit when pollution levels were getting too high; both solutions to decrease the amount of fossil fuels being burned within the city limits.        



Sunday, July 16, 2017

Air Pollution Measurements in the United Arab Emirates

In 2015, to the shock of many, the UAE surpassed both China and India in PM2.5 levels, according to the World Bank’s “Little Green Data Book” (their annual report on global environmental indicators). P.M. 2.5 criteria measures minuscule airborne pollutants smaller than 2.5 microns. In 2015, The UAE’s air contained 80 micrograms of pollutants per cubic meter, compared to 73 microns in China and 32 in India. 


The UAE is the world’s eighth largest emitter of carbon dioxide per capita and is a prominent force in several industries such as cement manufacturing, power generation, desalination, etc. However, the largest contribution of PM2.5 happens to be the dust made of sand which is blown upward by construction and/or windstorms. UAE officials suggest that this skews the data, unfairly placing their country at the top of the list. The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) gathers this data annually by combining satellite imagery, ground-level monitoring and atmospheric modelling to produce the PM2.5 numbers. Some believe this method should be revised, as it is unfair to countries with deserts. 

The 2017 issue of “The Little Green Data Book” places the UAE at 64 micrograms of pollutants per cubic meter, with China at 58 and India at 74. 

Sources: 
https://openknowledge.worldbank.org/bitstream/handle/10986/22025/9781464805608.pdf
https://openknowledge.worldbank.org/bitstream/handle/10986/27466/9781464810343.pdf?sequence=2&isAllowed=y
https://www.thenational.ae/uae/environment/the-grey-area-over-air-pollution-1.44000

Friday, July 14, 2017

Air pollution struggle in Iran


One person dies every two hours in Tehran, Iran becasue of air pollution! In addition, the World Health Organization has stated that the 10 most polluted cities in the world are located in Iran! The issue is incraesing yearly and the overwhelmingly large number of motor vehicles transporting in the cities everyday, has stood out as one of the most important contributers. There are uninspected cars travelling in Iran, plus, there is non standard gasoline being used which both greatly add to the pollution. Often the pollution in major big cities including Tehran reaches a dangerous level which makes schools and some federal offices to close on some days. These factors do challenge people's health, especially children and elderly people. The government is trying to implement anti-pollution measures and signs agreements  with other countries regarding that. Increasing the number of electric cars and the vehicle inspection are other actions taking place.
The pictures here contrast a polluted day and a clean day in Tehran, Iran.




Jamaica, Trouble in Paradise?


 While thousands of tourists flock to Jamaica each year for relaxing, tropical vacations, most won’t see the heavy rates of deforestation, damage to the coral reefs, air pollution in the large cities, and even the various wastes that get discarded into the beautiful coastal waters.  Air pollution has been a significant, yet disregarded, issue for Jamaica in the last decade at least.  With high air contamination and poor air quality, physicians have noticed a significant worsening of medical problems in patients.  Many citizens blame the illegal burning of garbage and the high vehicle emission rates, which have been acknowledged by those with the power to change these things, yet, little progress has been made to control these issues.  At what point will the government finally decide enough is enough?

To read more about Jamaica’s environmental statistics, visit: http://www.nationmaster.com/country-info/profiles/Jamaica/Environment

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

South Korea jumps the ranks of most polluted countries






At the beginning of 2017 as South Korean air quality continues to decrease, there are much larger issues that the country is more focused on; but should they? As tensions continue to rise between the North and South Korean Peninsula, there is not as much focus placed on other issues that actually are literally taking affect on the peninsula(more in the article). It's almost as if a blind eye is being turned on issues such as Air Pollution within the country considering how drastically the numbers have risen. South Korean air is now the third most unhealthy in the world, and as Government officials in the country have stated in the past that it is China pollutants making their way East to the peninsula; that is incorrect. South Korea's coal industry has sky rocketed as it is the leading energy source that the country utilizes.


Reference:
https://www.ft.com/content/b49a9878-141b-11e7-80f4-13e067d5072c?mhq5j=e3

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Vietnam's issue of Air Pollution




Air pollution in Vietnam are at unhealthy levels according to one government study. Vietnam is a home to millions of motorbikes that buzz through major cities like Hanoi and Saigon. A study that took place from 2011 to 2015 found that Vietnam's air has become worse. Nitrogen dioxide concentration in Hanoi was measured at up to 1.3 times above the permitted levels. In Ho Chi Minh, the study found twice the permitted level.  Traffic and industrial activities are major sources of air pollution in Vietnam's major cities. In Ho Chi Minh, 750 motorcycles are registered every day. Acicn.org, a team based in China with close ties to U.S diplomatic missions, ranked air in HCMC as "Unhealthy." Hanoi is home to 5.5 million individuals and 1.8 million motorbikes. The air in these two major cities contain dangerous levels of benzene and sulfur dioxide. Researches have also found dangerous microscopic dust known as PM10, which can potential cause lung cancer. The Vietnamese government's way of combating the rise of pollution is by installing a major and efficient public transportation system. At the heart of Vietnam's air pollution is dirty fuel. Companies in Vietnam have resisted purchasing higher quality fuel because it is more expensive. Vietnam is showing signs of awareness for a country with tightly controlled information.

References:
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/07/06/world/asia/06iht-pollute.1.6529573.html; http://blog.nus.edu.sg/transportpollution/2016/08/27/air-pollution-in-ho-chi-minh-city-vietnam/
http://e.vnexpress.net/news/news/air-pollution-in-vietnam-cities-hit-unhealthy-levels-government-study-3476529.html


Traffic in Frenetic HCMC, Vietnam from Rob Whitworth on Vimeo.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Thailand: Industrial Growth



Thailand has recently made the switch from being an agricultural nation to an industrialized one. With that shift comes pollution of all sorts. Recently the Thai government has called for an increase in industrialized production, which has many local communities wondering how the air they breathe will be affected. With Thailand having a warm and humid climate, air pollution tends to linger, especially around Bangkok. But its not just air pollution that has communities concerned, it is also Hazardous Waste and Heavy Metal Pollution that affects the land and streams, ultimately affecting the overall health of the population.

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Bringing down the house: Brazil and Deforestation

Brazil is widely regarded as one of the most beautiful areas in the world; bright colors are abundant and dense, lush forests keep the country environmentally hydrated and aesthetically pleasing.

Unfortunately, the forests in which Brazil are so well known for face many threats. Home to one of the greatest forests, the Amazon Rainforest, the issue of deforestization is serious. Not only because one of Brazil's most majestic staples is being uprooted, but because a great deal of the world relies on the oxygen this forest produces. The Amazon is actually referred to as the "Lungs of the World."



The leading culprits in deforestation in Brazil include timber and farming industries. Consequently, the act of deforestation by these two industries have not only lead to the destruction of forests in Brazil, but have also lead to increased carbon dioxide emissions from machinery. Unfortunately, this problem is not at the forefront of the country's agenda. Brazil's efforts to protect its forests have diminished significantly. in March of 2017, Brazil cut its budget for enforcing rainforest laws by an astounding 51%, which is likely to be responsible for the 29% increase in deforestation last year.

At this rate, if the rate of deforestation continues, not only will Brazil continue to face animosity from other countries regarding their state of action (or lack thereof) but they will continue to contribute to harming one of the greatest sources for oxygen this world has.

To read more about the deforestation crisis, and what can be done to help, visit the Amazon Fund's website at http://www.amazonfund.gov.br/FundoAmazonia/fam/site_en

Oh, Canada!


Photo credit of tar sands facility in Fort McMurray, Alberta: Kris Krüg; CC BY 2.0
Hundreds of thousands of hectares of Canadian tundra have been indefinitely scarred. Heavy industrial chemicals contaminate the landscape and insufficiently stored hydrocarbons remain suspended in vast bodies of water. These toxic cesspools, which are given the less controversial name tailings ponds by industry, are often found in historic wetland areas. Subsequently, countless numbers of migratory birds die upon becoming contaminated after landing in this liquid effluent. Further, carcinogenic chemicals have been found to leak their contents into surrounding freshwater sources. Such leaches and breaches impact more than just aquatic life, but also land animals and human populations, many of whom are indigenous peoples, that rely on these rivers and streams for food and water.
Why is this environmental travesty permitted to continue? Royal Oil.

Canada’s tar sands operations require such immense amounts of energy to extract, refine and transport the product, bitumen, that these operations are the country’s largest Green House Gas (GHG) contributor. According to reports, tar sand oil emits 111 more kilograms of carbon per barrel than the average barrel of oil refined in America, making it the dirtiest of oils. Environmental impacts from Canada’s tar sands bring consequences that far surpass the air pollution created from burning oil product. Further, the growth in tar sands operations over the last decade have transformed a swath of Earth’s largest-land based carbon sink (the Boreal Forest) into a humungous carbon belching wasteland.

For more information, visit: http://bit.ly/2u8IOQC and please write to your federal representatives and ask them to tell the Canadian Government that this environmental destruction must stop!

Sunday, July 9, 2017

A Clean Future for Japan?


The history of pollution in Japan date’s back to the Meiji Period. The Ashio Copper Mine was linked as the first pollution case that occurred in Japan. After the World War II a large amount of toxin particles were released into the air that were caused by an increase in industrial manufacturing.Terrible pollution-related diseases, including four major diseases such as Minamata disease and Yokkaichi asthma, were triggered. According to Ministry of Environment (Government of Japan), the mid-1990's, Japan had the worlds fourth highest level of industrial carbon dioxide. In other words, Japan had a leading problem with air pollution that strongly linked to industrial factories around Japan.

Today, Japan is making efforts to strengthen their systems to track any PM2.5 (which causes air pollution) and help create a breathable environment for the population. For starters, a factory has been set up to monitor 24 hours of air pollution in several locations around Japan. An apparatus measures and analyzes the elements of PM2.5 of Microparticles. Previously, it was a more complex process to conduct by sending samples to two different locations. With advanced technology scientists are able to see results quicker. As Yusuke Mizuno (official who led the development of the system) said, "More detailed analysis can be conducted much more easily than with conventional methods." With Japan's progress in air pollution, it is good to hear the country is making efforts to protect their country from harmful toxins.  


For more information, check out what Japan's equipment is doing to help reduce air pollution:

Serbia's air quality below EU standards

Image result for serbia air pollution

I'm sad to say that my home country is not doing a very good job of keeping its air clean. Neglect combined with ecological and environmental protection issues have placed Serbia about a decade and a half or about 15 years behind the EU's regulations for ecological standards. However after the recent UN convention on climate change in November of 2016. Serbia has been doing more to meet the EU standards, but they still need to speed up the pace. For example Serbia has begun to introduce automatic measuring units that display air quality at any time, which enables them to intervene as soon as possible. However the fact that Serbia is not an EU state means they technically have no obligation to the EU standards for emission of hazardous gases. So only time will tell how much the Serbs will do to lower their emission.


link with more info: http://www.b92.net/eng/news/society.php?yyyy=2007&mm=03&dd=01&nav_id=39885